Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Blood tracking training session with 12 week old puppies - part 1

Recently the weather has not been cooperating with our puppy training schedule at all. For days it was very wet and impossible to do any blood tracking training. Then when we got short periods of sunshine, we had some other commitments and appointments. So last evening, even though the sky looked a bit threatening, we decided to do the training line for pups. The conditions were not ideal as it was very breezy. But we wanted to know about Pushkin, whether he was starting to show interest in deer blood or not. So far every attempt ended up with his score of 0.

So the first line was for Pushkin. This was not a liver drag, but 60 yards of blood line prepared with deer blood, with one left turn, and there was a deer hide at the end. The line was fresh, aged 30 minutes, but a strong breeze was blowing making for tough scenting conditions.

Pushkin showed good scent recognition, and was slow and accurate. He did not not need corrections or help. He made the turn (which was in the open field) very well, and was very aggressive towards the deer skin. John wrote in his notebook "Pushkin seems to have found himself". First five pictures show Pushkin in action.

Then we ran Paika (picture number 6) on the same line, as we often do with multiple pups and dogs. She was very eager but went too fast. She overshot turn by quite a bit and had to be called. She was very good on the skin.
In summary she was not as good on this line as Pushkin was. These two pups exemplify very well how difficult it is to evaluate puppies' potential for blood tracking.

1. First, not all dachshunds can be developed into the top notch blood tracking dogs, no matter how much training they get. Genetics matter! But genetics is very difficult to work with and control. I envy some breeders who sell all their pups as blood tracking prospects just because parents came from German hunting bloodlines. Not all dachshunds have it even though they come from a working stock. Usually we keep only 50% of imported dogs as suitable for breeding because the other 50% are not good enough. We know that not all pups we breed will have "it", and this is why we keep the pups until they are 10-12 weeks old.

2. Sometimes puppies are late bloomers, and sometimes the late bloomers will make superior tracking dogs. Sometimes early overachievers will get wilder and sloppy with age, so it is very, very hard... well, almost impossible to predict which puppy is going to be great as an adult. Yet, all puppy buyers would like to have a great tracking puppy (even when they are not going to put much training into it).

3. Puppies are inconsistent - one day they are brilliant, the other day they look pathetic. Pushkin and Paika are a good example. Paika was tracking when she was 6 weeks old, and now at 12 she certainly looked not as good as Pushkin.

4. Which pups we rate as "pets-only"? The ones who have no interest in the smell of deer blood even though we expose them to deer blood repeatedly. The ones who show no sustained focus, and get off a blood line frequently, and have no desire to get back to the line. The ones who are afraid of a deer hide even though they are encouraged to play with it. Oh, so many things can go wrong! Anyway, we will continue these observations and reflections in the next post.

By the way, the last picture shows Pushkin (left) and Paika (right).

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