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Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to train your experienced blood tracking dog: a training report from Darren

This is a report from Darren Doran describing his latest training line for Theo. Regular readers of the blog are very familiar with this tracking team from New Jersey. Darren used a new design of tracking shoes, which is produced by Ray Holohan. We will have a separate post about them soon, when Ray is ready to start selling his product.

The line is 1000 yds. long. This line was my first line using Ray Holohan's buck shock tracking shoes. 4 oz. of blood was used. Blood, feet, and articles were from the same deer. The line will be 36 hrs. old when ran and is set in an area the County burned this spring. The soil is very sandy here. The vegetation is sparse due to the burn and the woods are mostly oak and pine. Visibility is good here and the over story is somewhat open. There are numerous 90’S and one backtrack and one wound bed. Three articles were used on this line and were made from deer skin about 2 X 1 stapled to a 4 inch by 1 inch diameter dried piece of stick.

The goal of this exercise is to work on article identification, stopping and re-starting on the line and the backtrack. I will also start this line as a controlled search and see how Theo does.

It was 71 degrees, overcast and humid this morning. I started Theo in a controlled search about 80 yds. from the line and about 50 yds. into it from the hit site. I asked him to search and “find the blood”. He worked nicely in a left to right forward arc until we hit the line. He took the line back towards the hit site and through it and began searching. He looped back to the line and took it back to the hit site and was about to pass through it again when I alerted him on it. He stopped and smelled the hair and turned around. I gave him a piece of meat and we started tracking.

I thought this was going to be harder for Theo but his tracking speed told me differently. We did numerous stops on the line and I would reward him with a piece of meat and give him water. He restarted nicely. He found the articles and these were too big for him to swallow. Articles in the past were small pieces of skin and hair that he would pick up, swallow and continue tracking so fast I was not able to reward him for finding them. He took all the turns but one perfectly. The one he missed only took a minute or so to require the line. His tracking speed also caused him to miss the wound bed. The backtrack took seven minutes to work out. This line took 33 minutes to finish and does not include the controlled search.

Theo did real well on this line. What I thought was going to be difficult was very easy for him. He handled the controlled search excellent. There was no mistaking his reaction when he hit the line. Stopping and re-starting was good. The larger articles got him to stop and be rewarded for finding them. The backtrack still needs work but is getting better. Theo has a natural tendency to search forward and away from the last scent. When he circles back he doesn’t always make his circles large enough to cross back over the line. He does handle and when asked to “search here” he will respond. I’ll repeat this line and add 12 hrs. to the age and see how he does.

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