Because of multiple ongoing issues, Sadie's training has been very inconsistent over the last couple of years. I have been trying to keep up a tracking routine, but sometimes we don't track for weeks at a time. I had decided that, since it had been over a month since we tracked, we were going to make a point of tracking this morning.
Since it had been a few weeks and because I made a huge mistake when I taught her the first time, I have been reteaching some elements. Today would be no exception. However, when I got to the preselected field that I had scouted earlier in the week, the field was freshly bushhogged, except for about a 30 yard swath around the perimeter. To boot, the wind was howling. Undeterred,I chose a corner where the wind would play into my plans, and I laid our new beginner track in the uncut grass.
Sadie had never done a road crossing, but I had no choice but to cross the road, and right where it changed from cement to gravel. Figuring that we would either conquer both or fail altogether, I cut across diagonally, laying track on both surfaces. To further complicate matters, a vehicle pulled into the drive and crossed my track after it aged.
Sadie handled the crossing perfectly!! Well, almost. The first bait on the roadway was swarming with ants. She didn't want to skip it, but I gave her a little pop and a "such" command, and she tracked beautifully across both surfaces. She showed no sign of noticing the cross track.
Duane, I can definitely relate to having non-dog-related life issues constantly coming up that cut into dog training time! It's frustrating but sometimes unavoidable.
It sounds like Sadie has an excellent memory for what you've already taught her and is using her knowledge to figure out a new scenario like the road crossing. Good job, Sadie! And clearly you've done a good job on the training, too, Duane, even if you can't do it as often as you'd like.
Thanks, guys. I do trust my girl. My uncertainty was actually due to a lack of commitment that she had the last time we tracked. The new tracks have much less bait, so she is not quite as enthusiastic at the beginning as she used to be. Once she finds the first article, her drive starts to peak. By the time we got to the driveway, she was fully engaged in what she was doing.
Sadie has insane food drive. I didn't know what I was doing our first season, and did not remove enough food. I spent the next three years teaching her to track over less and less bait. We have now come full circle and are tracking over a new beginner track that has less food but lots of articles. I am adding distance between the articles gradually, then baiting the track after two or three articles. I am also adding challenges randomly and polishing my technique on the line. This is working really well. I plan to have my next puppy tracking in a season or two, by the time he's old enough for an IPO1.
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