Monday, June 20, 2011

Tracking and Herding

We're getting back to our instinct outlets at last!

Dustin's run a couple of 75-pace tracks lately, one with four articles, one with just one at the end. He's doing them well, and I think we're ready to start doing longer work at last. His concentration is better. He's also finally getting over his pine-needle hangup.

After Sunny died, the last place he smelled her away from home was at a local dog park, where she'd loafed on pine needles the week before. Since then, he wouldn't work them. Just wouldn't. He didn't mope the last few times I tried, but just wandered off dinking around. Finally I phooeyed him, put him back on the line, and gave him a really high-value treat for completing the track which had ended under the pines. Now I randomly use the higher-value treat at the end of some tracks and he works wherever I put him.

We're also going to get back to non-grass surfaces pretty soon. He's used to driveway crossings, but working along a sidewalk is something else again. Training Sunny, I gave her a couple of tracks laid barefoot with twig-sized scent articles in the sidewalk cracks, and that appeared to work. The best articles appeared to be foil gum wrappers rolled up to toothpick size, which slipped in well, were overlooked by local custodians, and weren't too hard to remove.

Bruce is also getting back to his tracking, to his delight. I'm still trying to get through to him that it's good to stop at the articles. He happily goes from footprint to footprint and keeps right on going past anything that might earn him a treat. It won't be a problem to take him to greater distances, but I'd really like to be certain he'll find the final wallet or glove and let me know about it, rather than carrying on through the tracklayer's subsequent motions and then barking furiously upon finding him or her.

And Dustin and I are also herding again. He's getting taken back to the very beginning of all things, in hopes of improving his outrun and getting rid of his overflanking, and in hopes also of getting him to stop working brilliantly for a puppy and start just plain working brilliantly. Besides, (confession time!) his handler has forgotten a lot.

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