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field training vs tracking training

 
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trackindog
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PostPosted: 08/20/03, 11:07 am    Post subject: field training vs tracking training Reply with quote

In reading the LONG discussion on coat color I came across something that concerned me a bit. In one of the posts it mentioned that the field trial dogs were bred to scent with a high head and this was desirable.

I had intended to begin teaching our new GWP Gunner (he's 15 weeks old now!) how to track in a couple of weeks. I have read in several places that teaching a pointer to track does not interfer with their training for field trials or hunt tests, all things we would like to do with Gunner.

We got him with the idea of doing hunting and the hunting related tests and the tracking was just a sidelight activity that he and could bond together doing. But if it is going to cause problems, such as a low scenting head, then I will table it and he and I will just find another activity.

What are the thoughts from the people involved in these sports?

Ann
By the way - he is our first GWP and we have become totally hooked!
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Brandon Ward
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PostPosted: 08/20/03, 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What type of game were you going to use with the track? Are you a hunter? are you involved in any dog groups? is your dog a solid pointer? please give us a little more info.
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trackindog
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PostPosted: 08/20/03, 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The tracking I was going to do with him is actually an AKC event similar to search and rescue. The only scent I would teach him to track would be human never animal.

Yes, we intend to hunt with him and yes, we intend to do field trials and hunt tests if we can. This is the part that we don't want to screw up.

But I have seen pointing dogs that have tracking titles and hunt titles so I know it can be done. And I have read that it can be done at the same time as the dogs learn to differentiate activities by different stimuli. They say that when the tracking harness comes out the dog understands this is the activity to be done at this point and when the hunting collar comes out he would know what that meant also.

As far as being a solid pointer well, he's still a puppy and yes, he does point well, but solid I'm not sure I would use that term. He is still in the beginning stages of field training and doing very well at it all the while having lots of fun.

I was just curious as to what the thoughts are on this subject with this group as I already know what the thoughts are on the tracking side of this question.

Ann
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cmmilach
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PostPosted: 08/20/03, 12:35 pm    Post subject: Training for Field Reply with quote

Hi,

Welcome to the worderful world of wires! Aren't they a kick in the butt! I have two & they are as different as day & night.

My male, Doc, is eight years old & I do agility, field trials, hunt tests & tracking with him. He has not problems doing all of them. They are very smart & can learn to do anything you want.

Good Luck.
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dualgwp
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PostPosted: 08/21/03, 5:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most Wires will track naturally without much prodding. But of course to do a long and complicated track will take training.

Teeaching your dog to track should not interfere with his other endeavors, if he can learn to switch gears. Dogs that run naturally with a low head and their noses glued to the ground tend to be tracking foot scent and not body scent of a bird. This can lead to the dog getting much to close to the bird and causing it to flush. Pointing dogs are meant to work body scent (scents wafting about on the air currents) allowing it to stop a good distance from the sitting bird, thereby allowing the handler to flush the game and to get a good shot.

The flushing breeds tend to work this way, and it is frowned upon for a pointing breed. But, both will produce game.

A good Wire will track wounded birds by using his nose to track the blood trail, or the foot trail of the game.They will also track furred game if that is your bag. That's what they should do.

Bottom line, if you want to do competitive field stuff, don't overdue the tracking work until the dog is well underway in his training. Once they have that under their belts, go ahead and do the tracking work.

Just my opinion....
Bernee Brawn
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Jon P
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PostPosted: 08/21/03, 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I would hold off on the tracking until your dog has developed his pointing ability. A dog that is 15 months old and is not showing strong pointing abilities and natural tendencies makes me concerned.

Generally, young dogs (12 weeks and older) can be led through a series of exposure excercises that gets them started with tracking. Generally its best to leave it then and get the dog running and pointing and come back after a year of age and continue the tracking. I would get the dog zeroed in on the ground search and pointing before I spent a great deal of time on tracking at this point.

As an aside, the biggest problem I see with young dogs and tracking is more a temperament issue than scenting ability. At NA tests, we often see young dogs blow the track because they overrun their noses, lift their heads and try to search with their feet, or keep circling back to the point of origin. Big running dogs are often not good trackers because their desire overrides their concentration. The ideal is a dog that can show an aggressive ground search but be able to slow down and be methodical during the tracking game. Unfortunately the NA pheasant track is very easy and not much of a test of nose or focus.
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Vom Britt
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PostPosted: 08/22/03, 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Trackin dog, Jon gave you some sound advice on young dogs and tracking. My three wires to date all have had natural pointing instincts and have tailored my training schedule to suit them. An example is my youngest, Callie, whom Dual brought into my life. I have spent an equal amount of time on land and water with her with slight pressure in the field and no pressure when we are at the water doing NAVHDA style duck searches. When she is let out of the trailer she is free to run and enter the water on her own without any steadiness pressure and especially without gunfire. She has been doing solid four searches and when she comes back with a duck and drops it it front of me, she will reenter the water and continue the search on her own without any commands. I feel at her young age (16 mo.) the most important thing I can do for her is to keep my mouth shut and to expose her to as many birdy situations that I have the time for. Her second and third seasons will be working on the steadiness of the shot, healing, force fetch, etc.

Just some thoughts coming from a guy that has a passion for upland bird hunting and during the off season AKC hunt test and NAVHDA games.

Enjoy your puppy,

Bob
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Jon P
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PostPosted: 08/22/03, 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One word of caution as an addition to Vom Britts wise words of advice.

Pups that show great natural instincts may start to take liberties on the retrieve. If a pup starts to play with the retrieve, or shows any tendency to bite, squeeze, roll, etc the duck or bird on the retrieve, it may be a good idea to limit retrieving opportunities in this early training or be able to control all retrieving opportunities till the dog is ready for FF. You can still shoot birds over the dog the first season, but I would get to the dog and the shot game asap, limiting the dogs time to adopt bad habits. Building desire and run the first year together with lettng wild game "teach your dog" is IMO the most important priority of the first season. I guess what I'm trying to say is limit the chance to learn bad habits which you will just have to break later.

On that subject, retriever trainers have become quite popular for hot weather sport. Make sure your dog IS NOT allowed to run with the shot or you are teaching your dog to break when the gun is fired. Teach your pup rather to stay in the standing position til you give a release command.
Its just as much fun for the pup and the tension if you keep it upbeat will teach your pup to have a little discipline. Do this only occasionally, 3- shots only and you will be teaching your dog steadiness to shot and fall as well as marking - a great preparation for steadying later.
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trackindog
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PostPosted: 08/25/03, 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jon P wrote:
Personally, I would hold off on the tracking until your dog has developed his pointing ability. A dog that is 15 months old and is not showing strong pointing abilities and natural tendencies makes me concerned.
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Jon - did you mean 15 WEEKS? Because that is all Gunner is right now. And if you meant 15 weeks then what exactly would be strong pointing abilities?

Thanks to all for your replies!

Ann

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Jon P
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PostPosted: 08/25/03, 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, I misread - I wouldn't be concerned with Gunner yet, obviously.

I generally will continue with the puppy tracking exposure until I see the pup clearly understand what recognize the excersize. Then I leave it.

Its the same with pointing - when a pup points a bird a couple of times with real intensity, I don't keep putting birds out for the pup. Around here I run them once a week through some woodcock or grouse cover and let the wild birds pump them up and then take them out on short hunts the first fall. Worst thing IMO you can do is continually keep putting out birds -
The dog should run, get out and become independent yet responsive - a delicate balance.
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