Tracking Class Week 2 12-15-08

It is Monday morning and it is a beautiful day. We are off to attend our second tracking class. This time our class will be in the fields around Dawn’s house in Saylorsburg. We have two sets of fields some off of Spruce road and another off Tittle Road. We can also track in the fields directly behind Dawn’s house. Our track will be one of the last ones worked since it can be laid late and does not need to be aged for long. I am also taking Dynamite along for the ride and to get her use to hanging out while waiting to work. I will not work her in class this week. I am headed over early to watch some more advance teams work and to help Deb lay a track or two.
I really enjoy getting to see the other teams work their tracks. As an observer you get to follow along with the instructor and track layer. It is a great way to learn from other teams and to get a better understanding of how to read a dog and what to do when the dog is struggling to find its way on a track. My favorite part of today was following along as Deb and Alex worked their track. They have their TD and are well on their way to training for a TDX. The tracked they worked is blind (no flags other then the start line) and a couple of articles to find along the way. Alex’s track was pretty hard starting off in Dawn’s front yard, with lots of early cross tracks, and then it headed off through the woods. The goal of this track was to help build Alex’s and Deb’s confidence in working terrain changes (cover). At his point Alex is not real sure of himself when the cover changes and he needs to go into a new area. He wants to be sure and tends to work all around the old cover before finally committing to the new terrain. Deb has to learn how to read his body language and wait for him to commit to a new path and not move forward rushing him past the turn into the new cover. She tend to move forward when Alex is casting back and forth trying to determine where the track goes and by doing this she can push him past the track and into trouble. It is the same issues they can have at cross tracks as Alex can go pretty far off on a cross track, checking it out before returning to the real track. Alex had to work very hard just to find the tracks beginning as again there is no flag marking the direction of the track but the boy worked hard and finally found it. With each change of terrain you could see Deb get more relaxed letting the dog figure things out and the dog begin to believe his nose a little more and commit to the changes in terrain. It was a great learning experience for me.
It is also interesting to see a team work a track that you laid to see if the cover changes and turns you have laid create any problems for the teams. It is also very interesting how each dog works and figures things out.
Dixie’s track was laid behind Dawn’s house and was in some medium length grass and cut corn. It was a serpentine just like we have been working at home. She did an excellent job. Dawn had put out less food than the last class and it really helped Dixie focus on the track. She continues to cast back and forth over the track as she moves down the line. If she runs into trouble and starts to stress while trying to figure things out she will stop and scratch or brag at me, just like she does in agility.
After finishing the days track I introduce Dynamite to everyone there and Deb happened to have a harness that would fit her. We also placed orders with dawn for a longline and Harness for Dixie girl.
Happy Tracking!

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