Tracking SUCCESS!

Thanks to the insight of a couple friends, I got up the courage to track Bailey today. I had a game plan, stuck to it, and it worked! Our last tracking escapade was horrendous, take my word for it! That was the one and only time she tracked after earning her TD... until today.

She has a history of being unable to contain herself when she discovers it's time to track. Tracking is THE most reinforcing and exciting activity for her, ever. She barks, lunges in her harness, and is a general handful. I'm often afraid she'll pull me over or into a hole and keep on going! Do I love the enthusiasm, OF COURSE! Why haven't I done anything about it before... because it's the ONLY activity she does like that. A complete love for the game! I was afraid I'd dampen her enthusiasm, so I needed a plan first.

The Game Plan:
lay track for dog, very close to the front door, 4 articles
cut up NB roll into bigish chunks (so I can drop or throw if she starts grabbing)
wander around house c/t dog for being calm
get tracking line and put in greenhouse, c/t dog on way to greenhouse
get harness and collar, HIGH rate of reinforcement on way to greenhouse
display tracking gear, c/t for nosing it and keeping four feet on ground
*I was actually able to harness her without ANY dancing around, she stood very still

put lots of treats into hand, attach line to collar, c/t the whole way out the door
*we were actually pretty good until she saw the first article
-I should have thought to bury it better
walk towards article, c/t for dog being calm and attentive to handler
circle if necessary (she did lunge a couple times)
when dog is walking calmly by article and not dashing for it, switch line from collar to harness
do NOT cue dog, let her happen upon article
*beautiful indication, straight on, attentive, c/t 3+ for maintaining indication position
do NOT use loaded "track" word, instead--re-grip near harness attachment and allow her to move ahead when handler releases tension with a whispered "ok"

She indicated all articles, worked with her nose down and NO frantic tracking today. Indications 1, 2, and 4 were absolutely perfect. The 3rd she indicated but tried to get up and track before I reached her. I did not re-approach the article, just waited for her to re-indicate then c/t multiple times for maintaining position.

We started the track in a calm manner, she worked quickly, but still with her brain, and we ended it calmly (but quickly--yes, there's a trend of QUICK here). I c/t the whole way back to the house for controlled walking near me.

It was a short track, not aged a whole lot, on short grass with just a patch of gravel, barely any wind, pretty warm weather.


Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

Congrats!!! I know absolutely nothing about tracking but it sounds like your plan is really going well. I don't think you can dampen enthusiasm for something they love so much, especially since you're not using punishment, you're just getting some impulse control. You're certainly making more progress with her then I am with Vito and his tennis balls!

Megan said...

I don't know how much actual progress we made, but she got to track and I didn't die. That's a success for sure!

Stories about Vito's screaming make me shudder about if he should go over threshold. I can imagine why I wouldn't have been working on it!