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Puppy diary volume... I've lost track
by, 29-06-2015 at 13:37 (588 Views)
I just wanted to post a little update on my amateur efforts at deer dog training. Poppy is now about 15 months old, and whilst she's still very immature in some ways she's growing up a bit and starting to show her personality a bit more.
I've not done a lot of tracking with her recently, preferring to polish her general obedience a bit and also working on some retriever skills with her. I'll likely never want or have the opportunity to work her on a driven shoot but I do aspire to having some pigeon or rabbit shooting one day and it would be good if she has a basic ability to come along with me.
Anyway, I decided it was high time I got her tracking again, and so yesterday I defrosted one of my precious fallow hooves and a little patch of hide overnight. I made up a tiny amount of blood from powder and first thing before the dog walkers got up I drove down to the local playing fields. I use this area a lot, as behind the field is a large area of open grass meadow with patches of bracken, the odd small corpse, and lots of variations in elevation. It's all part of the "recreation area" and open access, and at this time of year the grass between the well used dog walkers paths is high, between knee and waist height.
I got the dog out and did a few minutes of basic obedience stuff and some easy fun retrieves, then put her back in the car and set off with my hoof on a stick and my squirt bottle of blood concentrate. I decided that as it had been a while I'd make it easy for her, and laid the trail using the hoof and a little blood every other pace straight along the margin between the short well kept grass of the cricket pitch and the rough long grass and bramble that marks the "boundary" between the pitches and the rough open ground. After 20 yards or so I veered in a curve back onto the pitch for 10 paces, and then back to the margin, and then after another short way I followed a little track made by an animal into the bramble, where I poured out a little more blood and left my bit of hide (the hoof is precious and goes back in the freezer for a second use).
Again, I wanted to make it easy for Poppy, so I marked exactly where I'd started the trail and brought her from the car right to the spot, before telling her "find it then!".
I had no idea how well she'd remember her previous tracking session probably 5 or 6 weeks ago, but I needn't have been concerned. She picked up the trail and pulled me like a train, following exactly where I'd been without hesitation or any confusion over direction changes.
A big fuss was made, and of course she claimed her prize of deer skin which she proudly paraded back to the car before getting home and playing with it in the garden for a few minutes. Then she retreated to her kennel for the serious business of eating it, fur and all.
I was pleased with her, the track was easy and only 15 minutes old, but she'd succeeded and enjoyed it, and those were the only two things I really wanted from the session.
Next time I'll make it a wee bit harder and see how she gets on.