This past weekend CB and I traveled out to Raven Alberta for an introduction to tracking seminar with CKC tracking judge Donna Brinkworth. In a nutshell it was great and it turns out I might have myself the makings of a nice little tracking dog. But I’m jumping ahead of myself.
CB’s posture in the above photo (head down and sniffing) has been seen at the occasional Rally trial. It’s cost us a few “teamwork” points and I signed up for the seminar thinking I may as well not fight his natural ability to track if he has it – and I was also thinking that maybe I’d be able to re-direct his “sniffing” into a tracking reward for him if he liked it and hopefully see less of it in Rally. Well see how that goes with practice.
This weekends seminar was over two days. Yesterday we learned about scent/tracking theory and we had an opportunity for some practical work with scent pads and footstep tracking. It was so neat seeing all the different dogs working – there were two miniature/Schnauzers, an Australian Shepherd and a Basset Hound in addition to CB. Michelle of Sufat Sheleg Canaan Dogs graciously hosted the seminar on her property and has some great photos of all of us working on her blog.
We first worked on scent pads and creating an association with the scent and the bait. CB really liked this part as he is very food motivated.
Next we set up a scent pad leading into a serpentine footstep track with bait in every footstep. This is Michelle demonstrating a serpentine track with her Canaan Dog Ash.
Donna demonstrated tracking with two of her dogs (Caden and Jet) and we also got to practice line handling to better understand how our leash/body pressure on the dog may change their behavior on the track. Pretty neat stuff and it was so cool listening to CB taking in the scent as he was following his tracks.
Today we set up tracks for Donna’s current students. The tracks were blind to the handler and only Donna (who judged) and the track-layer knew where the tracks went. This was a mock trial for the handler’s and it gave them an opportunity to see where their training is at. It was also a great opportunity for us ‘newbies’ to see some teams getting ready for their first TD test – in action. I set up a track for a gorgeous Afghan – and it was really neat to watch him working. I then got to run the track with CB after it was loosely baited – I was amazed at how quickly he got down to business of following the track. So cool.
We finished up the day with more scent pads and serpentines. CB and I both slept — er, I mean CB slept on the drive back to Calgary. Using his sniffer seems to have tired him out.
It might seem kind of strange to be training a Pomeranian in tracking but it’s really not so. According to the Pomeranian Club of America the first pom to receive an AKC TD was Georgian’s Betty in 1948. Don’t know if we’ll ever get to the point of attempting the TD test – but we’ll be far from the first if we do.