By John Jeanneney
We use deer liver drags in our early puppy work, and we call it “early conditioning” rather than serious training. The scent lines produced by the fresh liver drags are easy for the puppies to follow and the puppies develop an enthusiasm to use their noses to find something good to chew on.
In early work on fresh, easy lines we prefer the liver drag to a fresh blood line. The liver leaves good scent but there is no fresh blood on the grass for the puppies to stop and lick instead of moving ahead. The pups also learn to identify the deer liver scent on the ground with the good chew on that same liver that we have left at the end of the line.
Deer livers are easy to collect during the hunting season. Most hunters seem ready to leave the liver for the coyotes, so I scoop it up, along with the heart, and carry it all home in a gallon Ziploc bag. I collect the blood at the same time for more advanced work.
There is some good scientific research to support this sort of early conditioning. When very young mammals, from human babies to baby mice, are stimulated in a certain way, the brain circuitry responding to that stimulation grows denser and more efficient. It’s possible, in theory at least, to improve future brain function beyond the level of simple genetic inheritance. This seems to work for us!
To see what our puppies have been up to go to our puppy journal at http://borntotrackpuppies.blogspot.com/