Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tracking on a Retractable

This morning I laid and ran a short track for Dustin -- it's getting too hot too early to do much work, but he had an eighty-pace track (plus bonus stretch) with several turns and a couple of different surfaces. I walked on a low balance beam for part, for instance, which gave him no particular problem. Some of the grass was short enough to be nearly bare earth, some quite tall, as the neighbor mows more religiously and more thoroughly than I do. Articles were cloth start; metal, plastic and paper in the middle; a leather/cloth wallet to end formally, and twenty more paces to a tennis ball -- which he also treated formally. This is, after all, the dog who will lie down and stare at a food bait instead of gobbling it.

He's not working perfectly footprint-to-footprint, but he is getting pretty clear on the concept of working closely. This is good enough for AKC tracking rules. He is gradually learning I don't like him to get distracted. He's weirdly sensitive to pressure on the tracking line for a dog who will merrily drag me everywhere on his leather collar and a walk. Right now I'm working him on a retractable leash, which puts very little pressure on his harness. If he is clearly dinking around, I can just give the handle a shake and convey just enough wiggle to let him know I've noticed, and that's just enough to wake him up and get him back to work. If he's feeling confident, he can get well out in front of me, and if he's not he can fall back without entanglement. We're both pretty happy with the retractable as a training tool.

I apologize for the lack of pictures. My hands are full, and the kid is still too young to take good ones.

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