Archive for January, 2013


Last weekend we started Tracking. I’ve just finished “The Dog’s Mind” which talks a lot about a dog’s relationship to the world through scent. Even having just read this, “a deodorized pine stick was held for two seconds in a subject’s hand, was then handled by four other people and was finally placed among twenty other similar sticks. The dog was allowed to sniff the subject’s body and then consistently found the handled stick” I still had doubts and questions, like did the type of shoes you were wearing matter? What if they were brand new shoes? I think that since our world experience isn’t filled with scents a dog’s world we have a hard time grasping just what they can detect. Or at least, I seemed to!

Of course different breeds have been bred for different things, and some dogs are better at scent than others. The book also mentions taking a mouse and letting it loose in an acre field. The beagles, it states, found it in a minute. Fox terriers in fifteen and Scotties never found the mouse. I do wonder if they’d changed the mouse to a hotdog if the results would have been the same, but clearly there are differences in innate ability based upon things we have chosen to breed different breeds for.

So last weekend a group of us met with our trainer. We had several Golden Retrievers of various ages, my Beagle and Labrador and a Shih Tzu. The book we based our training off of is “Try Tracking.” You begin by using, nice smelly treats. We used hotdogs. I watched my trainer lay the trail, dropping hotdogs as she went, and was convinced my dogs would just move hotdog and hotdog. I was wrong. The Beagle went first, eating the hotdogs on the glove, and then nose to ground led me straight and true to the next glove, skipping over several hotdogs, but still obviously on the path that’d been set. I was surprised and pleased. When the track was laid for the Labrador the wind shifted, which can move the scent track downwind of where the tracklayer walks, and sure enough the Labrador moved about a foot of the main track, but was clearly tracking the path, skipping even more hotdogs as she trailed from glove to glove!

Now our tracks are only 5 and 10 yards at this point, but we’re just starting. I find it a fascinating glimpse into their world, watching them track something we have to mark with flags because we can sense no evidence of it without those external markers. This should be fun!


Read Full Post »

Sometimes I think I forget how long it took to train sit. Or that I’m still training sit under new conditions. When training new things I need to remember that it takes time. “Patience,” as my trainer says. It needs to be my mantra.

Over the holiday I set a goal. I wanted the Labrador to take and hold the dumbbell while staying in a sit. I was getting frustrated because every time she took the dumbbell she rose out of a sit. I was convinced that she was convinced she couldn’t hold something in her mouth and keep her butt on the ground! So, with three weeks off work the goal was set! By the end of my time off work the Labrador would sit in heel position, take the dumbbell, hold it and then give when commanded.

I still have five days off. The Labrador will sit in heel position, take the dumbbell and hold it (mostly without mouthing) and then give it on command!

There is something to be said for setting a goal and working towards it. Did I train other things during this time, yes, but I made it a pointed effort every day at least once to do five repetitions with the dumbbell. I tried to do at least twice. Some days we even managed three times. Perserverence, patience, and practice.

Read Full Post »