My sponsored DSC1 and route to stalking PLUS puppy diary

Another doggy diary

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Those of you who are avid followers of my blog will have seen my recent entry about Poppy's latest artificial track, which was a deliberately easy trail that I'd hoped to use as a refresher and confidence booster for both the dog and myself.
I was pleased with the outcome and so, invigorated by success, a couple of days later I decided to have another crack at something just a little more challenging. I defrosted the same hoof as before and made up a little blood concentrate, and once again headed out early to beat the crowds of pre-work dog walkers.
Same drill as before, I got Poppy out for some obedience and ball chasing, then bundled her back in the car and set off to lay the trail. This time I decided to keep the distance similar, but to go "cross country" so that the terrain would be more challenging and there'd be no physical line of any sort to to stop her from straying left or right from the track.
I walked to a point on one of the walkers paths that I could easily recognise in case Poppy couldn't find the "shot site" and then set off straight off the path into the nearly waist high grass. The ground was a reasonably short, steep rise and I walked as straight a path as the terrain would allow, with a couple of slight zigs and zags. I used blood randomly now, every few paces anything from a tiny drop to a quick squirt. I took care to get it on the stems of the grass, as a bleeding deer would, rather than unrealistically adding blood to the hoof scent.
I aimed at a patch of bracken and after a couple of paces chucked the hoof 2 yards ahead of me and gave a decent squirt of blood in its general direction.
Satisfied, I headed back towards the car, walking out away from the laid track to avoid confusing the dog later. I brought her towards my "shot site" and instead of putting her directly on the scent, I lengthened her lead out several paces short and with a gesture and my command of "find it, then!" set her quartering to pick up the trail. With an obvious change in body language she pressed on up the hill and I knew she was on target.
The terrain seemed to slow her down just a little but if anything that only added to her concentration, and it certainly made it easier to keep up! She went straight to the bracken where I'd left the hoof, not phased by the rougher ground or the reduction in blood that I'd used.
I let her carry the hoof back to the car and then have a play with it before taking it off her and giving her back just the meaty skin.
Again, I know this is simple stuff, but enjoyment and ssuccess for the dog is all I'm after. Next time I'll try her a much longer trail over the rough stuff, and if that goes well I'll start extending the age and further reducing the blood used.
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