Tuesday, December 24, 2013


I haven't updated this thing because I always wonder if there's a point in posting if I have no pictures or video to share. I mean, I can try to describe the awesomeness of training, but I feel like it would be more meaningful with video.

We are going back to training on the 1st of January, because my dog is practically a pro, I've been making a huge attempt at tracking with him. We are so far behind. The thing about tracking is that I have limited knowledge on teaching it/training it, and without a club or other people to track with, it's hard to be motivated.

First I guess I will share the limited knowledge I have on tracking, what I use for bait, my track laying method etc and then I will share a couple of videos of my dogs following a track.

In IPO tracking the dog is following the scent of crushed vegetation or disturbed soil. Their nose should be on the ground, they shouldn't air scent.

I use Natural Balance or off brand food logs. The large logs can be cut into small pieces and frozen for later use. They are about $10-$12 for a big one and it gives me 6 sandwhich bags full of bait for all of my tracking and training needs!

I am very limited in my tracking knowledge. I know you should watch for wind and you shouldn't lay a track on freshly cut grass as it can be really hard for the dog to follow. I also think tracking in tall grass almost makes it too easy for the dog because they can see the path of the track - but I don't know this for sure. I think tall grass would be helpful for a dog and owner first starting out because it would make it nearly impossible to lose your track.

I lay a track by finding a spot in a field, you find your starting point, set a flag in the ground to your left and make a scent pad. The scent pad should be like 2ft x 2ft in the beginning to help your dog get used to the smell of crushed vegetation. You basically stomp around in a square, and then put a small handful of treats in the middle. From the scent pad you walk heel to toe, putting food in every step [when you are just starting out]. Initially you should go in straight lines and as your dog builds confidence start adding soft arcs or even circles. As your dog progresses you can start baiting every other step, progressively baiting less and less. You end your track by making another scent pad, maybe 1ft by 1ft, and adding a handful of treats.

There are many ways you can set your dog up for tracking. You can use a harness and 6ft lead[or 12ft], you can simply have the leash attached to their collar, or you can put them on a long line [12ft] and string it between their front legs and let them track that way. I started Seth with the leash attached to his collar but not between his legs. When we trained up in Washington I started putting the lead between their front legs.

Something that I would encourage you NOT to allow your dog to do, is back tracking. When I started Seth the trainer we worked with told me not to allow him to turn around and back track, I would follow next to Seth and encourage him forward if he lost the track. With Seppel, he was allowed to back track a little and it's become a bad go to for him if he loses the track. Instead of turning around, the dog should work the track sniffing the foliage ahead of him to find the "broken" section where you've laid your track. When they have tracked enough they can easily differentiate what portion of grass has been walked on and what portion hasn't.

As far as commands go, I use "such"[sook], which means "track" in German. You could use "Find it" or "search".

When I trained Seth to track I taught him to do so on a loose leash. Seppel on the other hand has learned to pull when he is tracking. As of late I use a 12ft line and I try to keep loose tension. I would prefer my dog not to be frantically pulling but I do want them engaged and going forward on the track. I think whether or not they pull is a personal preference, but most people I've trained with prefer a slack line.

Here is a video of an IPO III dog from here in the NW, he's amazing and has been trained using positive methods, this just give you an idea as far as leash tension and what I think would be preferable:

Another portion of tracking is articles and article indication however we've barely started article training and until I get further into it, or learn more about it I don't really have anything exciting to share in that respect.

Here are some videos of Seth and Seppel tracking:

First track since the summer pretty much! This was 100 paces long with food in every 3rd step.

We did this track on the 22nd, I took both boys out and they both did fairly well! Both tracks are 150 paces long. Seth's food was spaced 5-7 steps apart, Seppels was spaced 3-4 steps apart.

I hope this was a reasonable intro to tracking. Seth absolutely loves to track and I hope in the future he can earn a tracking title or two. Seppel isn't naturally good at it, but I feel like he's coming along and learning to follow his nose more and more! Both dogs seem to enjoy it and know what we're doing as soon as they see the flags.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

IPO Training

Seppel was AMAZING today!!!

Ryan and Jennifer took Sepp onto the field while I hid to try the hold & bark. Jennifer sent Sepp to Ryan and he not only barked at him but also muzzle punched him a few times - something I've seen real IPO dogs do. Jennifer sent him to Ryan twice and both times he sat and barked at him. I came in after that and he did the same for me!!

After that we practiced transports, he was a little forgy, but I hardly corrected him at all today. He was so ON today!!! He's come SO far, we're finally fine tuning things and he just gets better every time.

I'm going to try to get some video next week, I could hardly believe it was my dog out there today and I can't say enough how happy I am to be able to train with Ryan and Jennifer.

As far as Sepp's leg goes he's still using it all the time, it's still smaller and a bit floppy but you can't see the muscle difference unless you really look at him.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

24 Weeks Post FHO Surgery & IPO Training

I think we're at 24 weeks post FHO surgery! I think that means we are 6 months post surgery! ***PARTY!***

Seppel rarely limps or holds his leg up, I will try to measure his leg this week or next week, but the muscle continues to grow and you can hardly tell there is a difference. Since the weather has been cold and occasionally wet I have been running the dogs on the treadmill a few times a week - Seppel doesn't skip a beat. I am very happy that he is where he is at at 6mos, I can only see him being completely back to normal in a year.

Training was really great today. We did some heeling before Ryan came on the field. I think it really helped get Seppel engaged. He wasn't overly amped because he didn't need to be, which made for a better training session all around. Ryan usually gets his gear on in a nearby building, he came out not wearing the bite sleeve. Sepp was heeling really well, but when he caught sight of Ryan he took off for the fence! For a moment I'm like "I really hope he doesn't jump the fence and bite him!" Fortunately Ryan kind of deflected him by moving back and down, Sepp hit the fence but knew he was supposed to be heeling with me and came running back. Just the fact that he was like "Ooops" and came back shows he has come a long, long way. He's getting faster about coming into heel position and is giving me more eye contact, I'm going to try to get some video soon - this dog rocks.

Anyway, after doing some heeling Ryan put the sleeve on and came onto the field. We did a couple of bites, some outs at a distance, and also practiced heeling and transports. Sepp actually did really on everything, he forged a little bit initially heeling, but Ryan slowed the pace down which actually helped. After the transports and bites we tried the hold & bark. Sepp actually let me call him to me and into heel position AND HE LISTENED! The best part was going to blind 6, the blind we always work him in that he will never bark, AND HE BARKED! And he didn't get too dirty and try to eat Ryan. Ryan also had me send him in, without the leash attached to my hand and he came back to me when I called him!

I felt like I really had a lot of control - I mean, sometimes he was still a little naughty, but I didn't have to pull on him hardly at all, and overall he did what he was supposed to do. I really feel like his training is coming together and we are able to fine tune things a little bit better. Today was absolutely awesome. I love going to training, I think Sepp does too, and I also really appreciate the awesome trainers we get to work with.

Here are a couple of pics from last week, my friend Danielle took them!