Another report from Darren Doran from New Jersey who is working with his new puppy Theo. Theo is a son of Moose (FC Nurmi von Moosbach-Zuzelek) and Paika (FC Paika von Moosbach-Zuzelek SW). He turned three months old yesterday.
Rich Stolery called and wanted to do some training this Saturday and meet Theo for the first time. Rich is on the New Jersey tracking permit and owns November, a three and a half year old smooth dachshund our of wirehaired parents. Ember for short, is a sister to my other dog Karl. The heat has been unbearable and Saturday was going to be nasty. We put out two lines by Rich's house at 7:30 pm Friday and we were going to meet at 6 am to try to beat the heat.
Theo's line was very similar to the last one. It was somewhat longer at about 125 yds with two left 90-degree turns. It was made with tracking shoes with doe feet. I scuffed up the dirt at the turns the best I could and added extra blood.The line would end at a deer skin. The area was a ridge top with mature oak and cedar. The soil is what's called red shale around here, and it was dry and baked as hard as cement. There were a few small cedar dead falls, not much underbrush or leaves, and the weeds were burned brown and brittle. I didn't know if the shoes would leave much scent in these conditions. This area also has a high number of deer, and we pushed out a couple sets of does and fawns while putting out the lines.
I'm still trying to learn Theo's working style and ability level with these early training lines. It's important for a young dog to be successful on the training line. Because of the conditions I decided that I would squirt more blood on the ground and bloody the hoofs more while putting out the line. I used 4 oz of blood on this training line. I also had the small pieces of raw deer meat with me that I could toss over his head to re-focus him if needed.
The goal of this exercise was to expand on our last exercise and add a new variable. We were going to drive to a new place, walk in on a lead, track with the collar and tracking leash, go through our starting routine and add the new variable, Rich. Rich was going to be the hunter and accompany us on the line. I also wanted to see if Theo would be affected by meeting a new dog or if the hunter tagging along would impact his focus on the line.
Theo was going first, and it was already 75 degrees. The line was 11 hours old. We walked out Rich's backyard to the training line. Ember was whimpering in the yard by the fence, and Theo left with us and didn't pay any attention to her. We got to the hit site and I tied up Theo. Rich and I pretended to looked over the site. I put out some water for Theo and got out his tracking gear and hooked him up. I picked up Theo and put him down at the hit site.
Theo sniffed around a little and took the line immediately. He tracked to the first turn and right before he got there, I tossed a piece of meat ahead of him. Theo found the meat, but tracked past the turn anyway. He went about 8 feet and turned around, lifted his head and looked at me. I said ''where did he go?'' He started tracking back to the turn, past it and back the way we came. He went about 6 feet backwards, turned around and went to the turn and took the right direction. This was the only time he picked up his head and those were the only words I spoke to him on this line. Theo tracked to the second turn and I tossed the meat. He missed the meat but took the turn perfectly. He tracked the home stretch great and corrected himself a couple of times along the line. I was working hard behind him to keep his leash from snagging. It did get hung up briefly a couple of times, but it wasn't enough to affect Theo. When Theo got to the skin, he was concentrating on the line so hard it surprised him. I started to praise him, and he got hold of the skin and started chewing it up. He got the rest of the meat for a well deserved reward.
It took 10 minutes to do this line and the goals of the exercise were met. Theo was unaffected by the ''hunter'' with us or the other dog he met earlier. Every time I train with this dog, he impresses me. He has excellent line sense. His methodical and matter of fact working working style doesn't waste any energy or heat him up in this weather. This will be a benefit on a long early season track later. His ability to quickly recognize and correct himself when wrong at this age, I think is excellent. I'm satisfied with his ability to handle different variables and stimuli associated with the training line but not directly related to the line itself.
The last three training lines have been kept similar for a reason. Although called training lines I didn't conduct any real training on the lines themselves. They were simply for observation and they have provided me a road map to move forward with Theo's training. In the future I'll add more variables to the training line itself. Each line will have a specific goal and be evaluated. Theo is still a pup and I don't want to push him to hard. I want to challenge him, but I don't want to make it to hard that he fails.
|Rich, the "Hunter" and Theo at the end of his line|
|Rich and Ember at the end of their line|