Teaching Dogs Tracking in Northern Virginia

Dog Tracking Classes Northern Virginia

Do you want your dog to do tracking in Northern Virginia? We can help!

While a hunting dog may be motivating factor in breed choices and dog acquisition, there are some natural dog abilities that should be taken into consideration before training begins.  As far as scent training is concerned, dogs are already far ahead of you.  You are  simply reinforcing something they already know.

Get your dog ready for tracking  with commands and games geared towards what you will be doing out in the real terrain.  The commands need to be simple and clear.  Trying to teach too many different commands will get confusing.  Think through what actions you would like your dog to complete and narrow down the amount of commands.  Common specifics include differentiating between things like the dogs own items such as toys, and human or animal scents.

Games start at home with fun.  Dogs love attention from their favorite humans.  Simply playing repetitive games with your dog will help with scent training.  You can start with a basic game using your closed fists to hold different items.  Teach your dog the name associated with the scents and help him learn to smell each of your hands to find the item. Take care to choose an alert method that will work in all situations and stick with it.  Some common indicators are pawing, scratching, or nudging with nose.  Make sure that your dog knows when he has done a good job by “marking” this behavior verbally (“yes!”).  Kind words and loving attention go a long way.

After your dog understands he will be looking for and identifying items, a larger scale search can commence.  This will involve hiding items throughout the house.  Follow the dog around the house and reward him when he finds the items.  Treats, toys and playtime, and praise can all be used as rewards. Once this exercise is understood well by your dog, you can try it without the lights on to strengthen use of smell.  Be sure to keep using your chosen word to command your dog to search for and find the targets.

Your dog can also be taught to look for you or other family members.  Be sure to stay quiet in your hiding place to encourage use of scent instead of hearing.  Another family member may need to hold the dog while your find your destination out of site.  Be patient and wait for the dog to find you, let another person guide or give encouragement.  Your dog can also be taught to look for your items when lost.  Start by “accidentally” dropping items on a walk or leaving them around the house.  Make sure to use body language showing your dog that you are looking for something.  He will eventually catch on to help you.  When you near the item, let the dog find it himself and use his indicator signal.

You really don’t have to teach your dog to use scent to search for things, you are basically just speicifiying what you want him to search for and how to tell you when it is found.  Games and exercises are great for getting started with this, as well as for initiating a good bond with the owner.  Both will help when it is time to but the skills to use.

If you want to take your dog’s detection or tracking to the next level, contact us at Off Leash K9 Training!  We offer nose work, detection, diabetic alert dog training, and tracking!

http://dogtrackingvirginia.com/ or http://www.offleashk9training.com or 888-413-0896

Nick White
Owner/Founder
Off Leash K9 Training

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