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How does one go about teaching a hound to track? Can it be done by oneself? Are there groups to join? Is there really a whole lot of teaching to be done for a dog whose nose is ALWAYS to the ground? How do you a teach a dog who can't be trusted off-leash to do something like this? Twinkie's a beagle/basset mix, so she's got the instinct from both sides. I'd love to give her an outlet for her natural instinct, but need ideas on how to get started. Thanks for whatever advice you can give!

Janet 'n Twink ("Mommie, the last time I got off leash, I was taking a walk down the road to town -- nose to the ground, of course!")
 
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Teaching a hound to track is easy...They either have it naturally or not...The hard part is teaching them to track what you want...For example ...my dogs run rabbits...rabbits will generally run several acres and circle back..Fox and Deer will run for miles and miles in one direction...You can see how one would be better than the other...

Yes it can be done by oneself. Its easy if you understand the basics and have a training collar...A training collar is not needed but it makes training a WHOLE lot easier and safer..

As far as your off leash comment...my training collar has a mile range ...thats a very long leash !! Once trained you will be very suprised how much they check in with their owner...on their own

Two clubs that come to mind are the AHBA and the AKC's BHCA.
 

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Tracking is done on a tracking line, so you don't have to worry about the dog being off-leash. In fact, I start my beginners on a 6 ft. leash and buckle collar. When they have a good understanding of the basic idea, I move to a harness and longer tracking line.

Teaching is pretty straightforward. I use food--good smelly stuff like hotdogs, cheese, or liver treats. I rub a bit on the toes of my shoes, take baby steps and put a little piece of food down every step or two to start. You want to lay your starter tracks in short, straight lines or very gentle curves to begin with, and they don't need to be more than 20-50 steps long. At the end of the track, you want to lay an article (glove, sock, etc.,) and put food in it, on top of it, and underneath it. Finding this article is the goal. Put a marker, like a sprinkler flag at the start of the track and at the end, and as your tracks get longer, put a flag or two along the track, so you'll know where it is. Also when you return to the dog, arc around and give the fresh track a wide berth; don't cross over it.

You'll need to figure out what to do with the dog while you lay her tracks; consider leaving her in the car or having someone hold her. Having someone hold her near the start works well to get her revved up.

As the dog progresses, tracks get longer, turns are introduced, age and more turns are added. The food also gets faded.

Here are some excellent articles by Craig Greene, longtime basset owner and tracking judge.

Craig Green's Tracking Articles

Here are some other references that are usually available through vendors like Dogwise or 4-M Dog Books

Tracking from the Ground Up, Sandy Ganz and Sue Boyd (another Basset person and tracking judge)

Enthusiastic Tracking: The Step-by-Step Training Handbook, Sil Saunders

Bring Your Nose Over Here, Wentworth Brown--hard to find, but worth the effort. Various obedience and tracking clubs have copies for sale.

You can also subscribe to the Tracking_Dog e-mail list.
 
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Thank you both for the info. Betsy, I think I will give the starting method you suggest a try just to see if Twinkie's interested. I can almost do that in the yard and then move on to something bigger. Thanks much.

Janet 'n Twink.
 

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What Betsy said is right on. That is how we started Scarlet tracking and let me tell you she thought it was a really fun game. She did get sick on the hotdog though, either that or my mother-in-laws hotdogs cannot be trusted, who knows. Anyways, I have a good book that was given to me. Its really old but has alot of good info in it from basic to advanced. It is called "Go Find! training your dog to track" and its by L. Wilson Davis. The hard task around where I live (an urban area) is finding a good place to lay tracks because everything is either freshly mowed or too long. Good luck in your tracking endevors!

CTG
 
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Bumping this up for a question in the general discussion board.
 
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