How Long Should My deer Tracking Dog Training Lines Be?
Question: I have a 7 month old Blackmouth Cur that I'm using your deer tracking kit to train with. She has only been started now for a few weeks. I usually only let her search once a week. She locates the hide every time but I notice her after only following the scent trail about 40 feet she will start rapidly zig zagging and just trying to frantically scent it in the air. I've kept the track down to about 100 feet so she locates it soon after but I'm concerned she isn't staying nose to the ground and following the trail. Is this something young dogs do or is there something I need to change? If we are working into the wind she finds it fast if not takes a few extra minutes of her basically grid searching rapid till she winds it's location.
Answer: I think you have to a look at the big picture. It sounds like your off to a good start and that's important, but also understanding that you have a 7 month old dog is important. In addition to that, understanding all the variables including scenting conditions, wind, your setup, the style of hunt the dog has, etc all also very important.
From what you have messaged, I personally think that setting up a pup that age on a weekly track like your describing could be part of the issue. If the dog is finding the target within the first 100 feet, there isn't much time for the dog to even settle in and track. It's too short for much to be accomplished. I think simulated tracks can be good "tests" for dogs but probably are more valuable to us as the handlers by simply allowing us to observe the dogs behavior while on the track we laid for them. It gives us a chance to read body language and better understand what it looks like when the dog is on the line and when its off the line. They also allow us to better understand how and when to "help" the dog. But that all takes some time and length to figure out and then apply. I think that a short line like you are doing is good for very young pups to simply understand the idea that this is a game of hide and seek.
I would start looking at how you set up your lines. Lengthening things, adding in some challenges (turns, breaks in the line, barriers, etc, time or aging before you track, etc). This will allow you to get some more things achieved. Keep in mind that these types of things should be added in slowly in layers. Too much too quickly will be evident by the dogs struggles, but at that same time...not enough challenges makes for a dog to start getting lazy and assuming that they can find it without much effort because its always so simple.
I hope this makes sense. As always, stay patient. Jeremy