Friday, September 4, 2009

Sarah: Milo Works Acute Turns

In AKC tracking, there is an extremely high likelihood you and your dog will be lost at some point during a TDX test. At over 800 yards long and at least 3 hours old it is challenging enough but I have seen TDX tracks go in and out of woods, over streams, across sand and gravel, over and along roads and much more. Part of the fun of TDX work is the diversity and demands of it.

But while teams are working all the other variables, it is easy to forget that working through being lost is as important a team skill as handling a road crossing or a change of cover. My mentor, Lily Mummert, advised that a dog should be able to search calmly, productively and independently for 5-10 minutes. There are many ways to build this drive. I present problems to the dog as opportunities well worth working through.

With advanced dogs like Milo, who have tons of drive to track and plenty of experience under their olfactory belts, it can be a bit of a challenge to get them lost and then it is a whole other skill set, as a handler, to allow them to figure things out without giving them any "hints" about where the track goes.

"Hints" include praising the dog when he is over the track and being silent when he is off it, stepping with him immediately when he is right, stopping at the corner instead of waiting for your dog to indicates scent loss, holding your breath and then releasing it when the dog is over or investigating the track... the list goes on.

All of these things are absolutely deadly on test day.

To proof against all this, one thing is to do acute turns, which is exactly what I did here. Enjoy the video - and feel free to ask questions.

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