Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sniffing with a Purpose

As you know I love to track. I get to use my nose to find interesting things, solve problems and get big rewards! What is not to like. Some of you have expressed interest in tracking and I am sure that you would love it if you tried it. If my goofy little brother Ambrose can do it, you will be brilliant at it. I thought I would show you how to get started.

Here are some of my tracking articles that I get to find. They can be cloth, leather, plastic and metal. All you really need is some of your person's socks. Barbara puts my articles in a plastic bag with a t-shirt that she has worn to get the articles nice and smelly.

You can start with just your flat collar and a leash. After you get into tracking you will want a non-restrictive tracking harness, and a long line. Mine is from climbing rope because I am so strong and Barbara has to wear rappelling gloves because I pull so hard and the rope would burn her hands. Tracking is the one time I am allowed to pull so it makes it a lot of fun.

I am modeling my harness. They come in many colors but you can never go wrong with basic black as a fashion statement. I only get my harness put on right before we start to track.

Then your person or a friend has to lay the track. It is vital that your person knows where the track is so they can use survey flags to mark it (gardening stakes with surveyor's tape works well). Here is a flag with the start article, a black sock.

All your person has to do is take a couple of steps and put a treat down in their footstep. See the piece of string cheese by her foot? They do this a couple of more times and then put an article down with treats. Then a few more steps and another article.

Your first tracks should be very short and your person should help you a lot and of course praise you. They should make an extra big fuss when you find the articles. I don't need the pieces of treats at the beginning of the track anymore because the scent is enough.

Barbara and I have little routines that we do at the start of the track to help me get ready to work. I have to lie down near the start flag and sniff the article. This is boring because I really want to just run the track but Barbara wants me to think.

Then off we go with me with my nose down, following the track. What is it that I am smelling? Some of it is the crushed vegetation from where it was stepped on. Some of it is smell from the person. People think that with all their baths and showers they are so clean but they are shedding skin cells and smells all the time. They have no idea because their noses are almost useless compared to ours.

The scent behaves differently depending on the weather conditions and the terrain. It is fun to figure out where the track goes and of course get the big reward at the final article! Look what I found this morning!

If you and your person want to start tracking there are good books that can help you such as Try Tracking by Carolyn Krause and many others that you can find at Dogwise.

Use your nose!!


Ludo van Doggy said...

Thanks for that very informative and interesting post Niamh!

Tom and Tama-Chan said...

Very interesting info! Thanks, Niamh!

We tagged you for a meme on our blog today!

Your Friends,
Tommy and The Girls

the TN Bull Terrors said...

Very good! We have a Bull Terrier friend that earned his Tracking title last year! They say us Bullies are too hard to teach, but ha, what do they know?? Who is "they" anyway?

Feather, Darla, Pappy & LizzaBella

Agatha and Archie said...

Well this looks like SOOOO much fun...PL2 is trying to think of where we could do this...Archie said maybe on the trolley that goes downtown but PL2 said she thought that might not be a good idea.....Love A+A PS you can NEVER go wrong with black.....

Gus, Louie and Callie said...

OH what fun. We may have to try that at the lake... of course mom may have a hard time keeping us out of the water..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Maggie and Mitch said...

Tracking sounds like fun, Niamh - especially the treat part! Do we see a hotdog in that treat bag?

Love ya lots,
Maggie and Mitch

Samantha ~ Holly and Zac ~ said...

Your tracking looks fun Niamh. Thanks for the info. We think we would like to track and find tennis balls...hehe

Have a great weekend.

Holly & Zac...XX

Mango said...

At least you got to have some fun after that grooming torture. However, I am going to distract my momma from reading that lest she decide to teach me yet another thing like tracking. Although it might be a good entertainment for pee-wee.


Lorenza said...

Hi, Niamh!
Your post is very interesting.
I hope my mom can find a place where I can do that!
Kisses and hugs

Honey the Great Dane said...

Hey, Niamh - this is a great post! Thanks so much for teaching us about tracking - I loved reading all about it. I don't think I'd be any good at it, though - my humans say that my biggest problem is that I don't have this thing called Motivation and so if anything is too much effort, I just lay down and have a nap instead...

She does throw treats in the garden for me to find with my nose sometimes...but I'm so useless that I often miss them (she knows because she is standing there watching me) - she often has to point them out for me. And then days later, she will be walking past and see another unfound treat in the grass!

Oh well, I guess us Danes weren't really bred to track properly anyway...

Honey the Great Dane

pointerpandemonium said...

Hi Niamh! Thank you for that post, we is very interested in the tracking, cos my Sophie Sis be a real sniffer when we out, so mummy thinks she will enjoy it.

We has a question, probably a stoopid one...but does you have to not be there when Barbara puts the items down? Does you have to look away? Or does that not matter?
Love Scotty xx

Stanislaw said...

I track all the time! For example, last night I found a tiny stuffed kitty that someone dropped downtown. SUCCESS!

Dughallmor Beagles said...

Thank you for that Niamh, very interesting and helpful. As you know, as Beagles our noses sometimes get us into trouble and Mum has thought about tracking for a channel our high prey drive into something constructive. We'll definitely give it a go now we know how to get started! Thanks again :D
Slobbers xx