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Friday, September 11, 2009

Questions on the use of mutts and rescue dogs in blood tracking

The deer hunting/tracking season must be just around a corner as the volume of e-mails with questions on blood tracking has increased substantially. Two recent questions are dealing with mutts and rescue dogs. A.J. Niette from Georgia has a lot of experience with this kind of dogs - read about him here. His website is at

These are two questions we received recently.

Question 1:
I'm an avid bowhunter who adopted Muzzy from a rescue shelter. He's just over 7 months old. He's just a good ol' American mutt, the pound said lab, shepherd, boxer. He's been very active in the back yard chasing, and catching moles. I watch him run the drain tile where they appear to be living, nose to the ground. He also is helping in the squirrel control department. He is neutered. I am very interested in training him to track wounded deer (my buddy and his son lost a total of 4 last year) and would love to purchase your book, however, if it's going to be an exercise in futility, I'd rather expend my energy and create frustration somewhere else. Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.

John's answer:

Hi Jim,
You can’t go by breed labels or mixed breed labels. All dogs are not equal when it comes to tracking, of course, but sometimes you find dogs with decent abilities that come out of unusual backgrounds. Since you already have your rescue dog, you certainly should give him a try. Deer season is not far off. See how he takes to a deer liver drag, or an easy blood line to a thawed out deer skin. Let him track and easy deer that has already been found.

Question 2

I purchased your book last week, received it yesterday and finished reading it today. Very detailed!!! Thanks.

I am a life long hunter and love working with “working” dogs. In the past I worked a K-9 for my department (Arson) and had a great time doing so. What I picked up in the book was some dogs naturally have it and some don’t (Genetics) for this type of work. I live in Central Texas and in your book you like bigger dogs in this part of the county due to the snake population.

How do you feel about rescued (Young) dogs from the pound? We have a lot of them and they put a lot of them down weekly. I know a lot of police dogs (Drugs/Arson) that came from the pound. In your 3rd edition of the book it may be a good subject…

John's answer:

I tried not to have a breed bias evident in my book. Certainly breed selection should be influenced by the local conditions in which you will be tracking. For example I would not use a dachshund in South Texas, but on the Edward Plateau maybe.

Rescue dogs are a gamble and you have to have an experienced eye to pick out a good prospect. Many of these dogs have behavioral problems; that’s why they are in the pound. You can use some of these dogs for substance search and identification, but they may not have the line sense and the willingness to work as a team with a handler that is necessary for tracking under difficult conditions. Thanks for the suggestion to discuss this important issue in the 3rd edition. I have no direct experience with this, but I did take a seminar dealing with these dogs.

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