A dog is a man’s best friend, a famous line we all know. But that line wasn’t created without reason. A dog is a fun, entertaining, and a loyal companion, some even say they can sense emotion and sympathize with owners. Dogs also have a sharp sense of smell and reason. In this article, we will talk about how to teach a dog to track.
Tracking comes as a natural ability for dogs. When dogs track, they use their nose to follow a particular scent. This ability might be the first thing dogs know. When coming out of the womb, with eyes still shut, a puppy will use its sense of smell to get to its mother. What we want to do is refine a dog’s skill in tracking, and this is how to teach a dog to track. Let’s get started.
Starting The Training
Training is the first step to know how to teach a dog to track. When your dog has reached the age where the dog can run and jump, identify you and other individuals, your dog is ready to be trained.
Training indoors or outdoors
Dogs’ training is practical to start indoors. Practicing indoors eliminates significant distractions from the elements outdoors, like odor, bugs, other animals, and many more. Training indoors will also help your dog focus better. Learning the basics indoors is advisable for a dog before they are ready to be trained outdoors. Before you begin, do away with potential distractions, such as your other pets, people, and loud noises.
Selecting the tracking object
There are many ways to train your dog’s natural tracking instincts. But the easiest way to do it is by using their favorite toy. A dog’s favorite toy is something they can hone in on right away. Use this for every training session moving forward.
Game Of Fetch
A game of fetch before starting each training session is a perfect warm-up for your dog. To get the blood pumping through a dog’s veins and to keep them excited to train. Fetch is a great game to play because it is similar to tracking. Do this for about 10 to 15 minutes every time before training sessions.
Sit and stay on command
One of the necessary skills a dog should learn before you proceed in knowing how to teach a dog to track is how to sit and stay on command. Spend some time training your dog to master this skill of sitting down and waiting. This exercise will teach the dog to learn patience and obedience. Patience is very crucial if you want your training sessions to run smoothly. Patience also goes both ways.
Exercise with the tracking object
This exercise will be the first real step to take in knowing how to teach a dog to track. What you do is have your dog sit or stand in one place while holding the tracking object in front of the dog. Move away from the dog and let the dog watch as you put the toy where the dog can see it, 10 meters away should be fine. Although your dog’s visual senses are sharp, it is good to let the dog focus and concentrate on the object and be familiar with the exercise.
Retrieve on command
When performing the exercise with the tracking object, give the dog a verbal cue to get the toy. Signals like search, seek, and go dog, are usually the common cue words to use. There are times when the dog may follow your command at the first go. But if your dog will not understand you right away or is having a hard time, try to follow these steps to help him out with that:
- Leash up the dog, say the verbal cue, and guide him with the strap to the object to track.
- Having the toy in his mouth, let go of the leash, run back to the initial position where you started.
- While running, call the dog. Encourage him to follow you while the toy is in his mouth.
- Repeat this as many times as possible, until your dog is familiar with the process and succeeds doing it without the leash.
Tell the dog to drop his toy willingly in the beginning. Every time your dog successfully retrieves on command, it is crucial to praise the dog and award the dog with treats.
Hiding the tracking object out of sight
The next challenge to know how to teach a dog to track is hiding the tracking object. When you hide the tracking object out of plain sight, your dog uses the nose rather than the eyes. You can hide the object under a box, furniture, or even in a separate room. The actual steps to take are as follows:
- Let your dog have a proper sniff of the toy or tracking object.
- Having your dog sit and stay in place, go out of sight, and hide the toy in the spot you have allocated.
- Once the object is hidden, go back to your dog and use the retrieve on command exercise with the proper verbal cue. The signal will trigger him to search for the toy.
- Observe the dog as he looks for the toy. Make sure to reward him immediately when he finds it and brings it to you.
Train your dog at least four times a week. Every training session, you should make it more challenging for your dog. Remember always to praise the dog and give your dog some treats for every successful exercise. Being consistent with your rewards can also provide him the energy to deliver consistent results. And that is how to teach a dog to track. These are just the basics techniques, and there are still a bunch more advanced techniques your dog can learn.
Going through the basics of knowing how to teach a dog to track should be fun. You can pass this knowledge on to other dog lovers. I’m sure they will be impressed with the result your pet will give out after you’ve done these training exercises successfully. I hope this article has shed some light on your pet training skills as a pet owner. Just remember to be patient with your dog, patience goes both ways, and practice makes perfect. Good luck. Get more tips on pet training.