Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Puppies work a deer liver drag

Today our forecast called for more rain, and indeed we got several thunderstorms and huge downpours throughout the day. As I am writing this post at 9 pm, we have standing water in our garage, mudroom and my office. However, in the morning there was a short window of opportunity to work the pups so we did.

This time I did a liver drag for the pups in our 12 acre enclosure. The pups are very familiar with other places around our house, and the field in the enclosure gave us fresh ground to work them. The line was long, around 170 yards, which is at least double of what they have done on blood so far. There were four turns, and a big chunk of liver was placed at the end. The temperature in shade was in the low 70s and rising. Parts of the line were exposed to the sun.

I ran Poppy first on the drag, when the scent line was an hour old. Poppy knew where the line was and never overshot it or lost it. Her work was quite slow and precise. However, her problem was weak motivation and desire - she needed a lot of encouragement to make progress. The good news was that she went nuts over the liver, and was extremely possessive of it. This is going to be a good motivational tool for Poppy.

The second pup was Grock. His desire was excellent and he was very fast. One time he was distracted when I praised him but was able to go back to the line by himself. The second problem he encountered when he was just 15 yards from the liver. He turned left instead of going straight. It did not look like he was going to correct himself and I had to bring him back. His loved the liver but was not as possessive of it as Poppy was.

The third pup running the line was Paika. On the last two lines she got the lowest scores but this time she aced it. She was a bit sloppy, but her desire was strong, and she never needed to be encouraged or corrected.

The last pup was Pushkin who did the best of all the pups on the last two lines. By now the scent line was two hours old. He started very well; he was precise, slow, methodical. But he lost his focus on the last leg of the line (last 1/3rd) and needed a lot of help there. He liked the liver but it was not too difficult to take it from him. He looked tired at the end of the line.

Since Poppy seemed to be so motivated by the liver at the end, we ran her on the same line second time. This time scenting conditions were more difficult. The line was trampled by other pups, was much older, around 2.5 hours old, and it was getting hot. As I suspected her desire to track was much stronger this time. Her work was not as clean as the first time around, she veered off the line some but she was able to correct herself and did not need any help. Several times she stopped for a moment and looked at us but this time we did not say anything and ignored her. She resumed her tracking right away. Again, once she got to the liver she wanted to devour it. When we tried to take it from her, she growled and snapped. This kind of behavior can be corrected but this possessiveness provides a good foundation for motivating Poppy to track.

All the pictures included show Poppy on her first track.

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