Dog trains man

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Identifying articles on the track

After a long winter stop, the arrival of spring also announced the start of a new tracking season.

Kenzo was excited to be reuntied with his tracking buddies in tracking class. He tracked, sniffed for marihuana and searched like there was no tomorrow.

Nothing was forgotten or needed rehearsal. We picked up right were we left before winter. After two hours of tracking, I got a very tired and satisfied pup home with me.

After the new start we made last year, armed with all we learned on our nose work summer boot camp, I wanted to set some goals of what we would like to achieve. Kenzo's tracking style is now very good. His style is methodical and nose down, as it should be. He excels at finding the start of a track, is not distracted by turns and corners. If there is something "big" left wishing for, it is how he identifies the articles found on the track.

Kenzo does stop and quickly inspects any article he finds on the track, but now the track has become such a great reinforcer for him, he quickly resumes tracking again. What I would like him to do - like you see the tracking champs do - is to lay down when he finds an article, with the article in between his front paws, while he waits for me to come and pick it up.

Here is a short video on how you can train that:

Easy, right? This is how:
  1. Lay some treats on the article, Kenzo will stop to eat them
  2. Give a "down" command, while laying some new treats on the article
  3. Take away the article while laying some new treats, to keep Kenzo down
The idea is, after enough rehearsal, Kenzo will know the drill and starts to lay down himself for each article he finds. Enough rehearsal is the culprit here, and last year we trained it at least one-hundred times, I called the trainer in despair. She asked how many times we trained, "at least 100 tracks" I answered. "Try 200 tracks" was the reply. "and if that doesn't work, try 300 tracks". "Kenzo needs the time Kenzo needs".

And there is no shortcut. Some in class start training it separate from the track with a clicker. This made things worse because their dog is now identifying all articles by laying down. You only want them to identify by laying down when they are on the track.

We are past the 150 mark now, and I promise to show you a video of Kenzo identifying articles all by himself. Only Kenzo knows when that will be.


  1. Good job Kenzo!! Have a Happy Easter!

  2. I love that advice: "Kenzo needs the time Kenzo needs." It's so simple but it is so hard to get. I try really hard not to play the comparison game with other dogs. Every dog is an individual and moves at his own pace. But it's a struggle when others seem to be doing something without issue and Shiva and I can barely get off the start line, especially when those others haven't been practicing for nearly as long.

    But Shiva needs the time Shiva needs. :-) Thanks for that.

    PS. I can never get enough videos of Kenzo. He is so gorgeous!

  3. Hi Y'all,

    Thanks, great info! Good luck Kenzo!

    Just hopped by to catch up on your happenings and say hello! Have a great week and a happy Easter!

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  4. Yaay, tracking season! It sounds like Kenzo has things under control.

  5. How great that Kenzo picked up right where you left off! He's such a smart boy - and the identifying will come. At least you're all having fun in the meantime. =)

  6. I tried training it separate, when I was still having Bajnok marking stuff, and we were still doing people tracks, and it worked superbly. Just didn't over train it. First we did a volunteer down session. Then I had him lie down with stuff. All kinds of stuff. Did perhaps 3-4 sessions, then we went into the tracks. When we met an article in the track, I stopped him and let him think. It took about 30 seconds, and there it was. Big party for lieing down, lots of treats, tug, etc. Then I brought him back to the article, he thought, lay down, was treated and we continued. Did this a few times, and it worked very well.

    When you keep telling him what to do on the article, you're not letting him think, and perheps Kenzo is the kind of dog that needs to think to get it, or perhaps he needs to learn how to learn through luring outside or tracking before he gets it?

    But boy, Kenzo's thorough! :P And gorgeous!

    1. I did it with a clicker, I mean. I can see that didn't come across quite clearly. lol.


Blogger Template Created by pipdig