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Friday, August 28, 2009

Working with young blood tracking puppies

We received this question recently:
How many lines had the dogs in the videos at the bottom of you blog completed before the videos were taken? Those seemed to be some fairly advanced lines and I'm wondering what kind of progression would be considered good for a dog. Thanks.

John's answer:
The dogs shown in the video were 13 weeks old at the time. They were conditioned from 4 weeks of age to associate deer blood and tarsal gland scent with good things. At six weeks they began to work 25 foot deer liver drags, about two per week. Gradually the drags were lengthened up to two hundred yards with the sharp turns that you saw in the video. We usually work them on a twice-a-week basis, and always in a different place.

I think that this work, which is not unusual, is based on good genetics and early tracking work while the puppy’s brain is still developing. There is a big difference between the work at seven weeks and the work at 13 weeks. Some puppies take a few weeks longer to get their act together. And a few just don’t have it. Last spring and early summer we had 19 puppies. 18 of them were doing very good work when we sold them to tracking/hunting homes. One was a nice bright puppy, but she never developed the desire and line sense that we insist upon. She went to a pet home.

Two conclusions can be drawn from this: 1. Make sure that your puppy is stimulated to track at a very early age. 2. Don’t let a breeder sell you a seven week old puppy. This makes much less work for the breeder, but you can’t judge what you are buying.

Jolanta's comments:
Right now Andy Bensing is working with pups, which were born on June 18. I saw them a week ago when they were 9 weeks old. Andy was working them at the time on a 40 yard long drag made with deer liver. The line had one left turn. This is an example of puppies' work:

This is a precocious litter, and it is nice to see most pups working so well at such an early age. More video clips of Andy's pups (their names start with "B") are posted at For more info contact Andy at 610-413-7094 or

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