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Monumental A to Z High On Liberty
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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tracking Seminar notes

Here are my notes from the seminar.  Nothing earth-shattering, but good info if you ever plan to do tracking...
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No exhibitor may show a dog under a judge if the exhibitor has participated in a training session taught by the judge within 30 days of the test.  If you have simply trained with the judge as a training partner, this rule does not apply.  Also the rule doesn't apply to tracking certification.

Articles must be in the tracklayer's possession long enough to ensure scent is well imparted, tracklayer must have an extra start article, all articles must be inconspicuous in color and not visible from 20 feet (except start article) and will not be covered or concealed.  She suggested a tracklayer stuff the articles in their shoes overnight, which is certainly more comfortable than sleeping with them, as I have done.

When finding an article or rescenting: praise and petting at article finds is allowed, no play with articles when testing, no tossing them to the dog and no throwing them on the ground.

Re-scent – Allowing dog to take scent from an article in a way which does not indicate direction or a point on the ground where the dog should begin to search.
Re-start – A behavior by the handler which would indicate to the dog to begin searching a specific area or track in a given direction.

Obstacles for TDX and beyond, test one or more of the following:

– ability to work changing scent conditions
– ability to continue scenting while overcoming physical obstacles
– ability to continue scenting under difficult and varied handling conditions 
The dog may be physically assisted by the handler when (physical) obstacles, barriers or terrain require it.

Exhibitors with disabilities are welcomed.  They should contact the club in advance and see the judge prior to the draw.  Judges should make reasonable accommodations at the test.  The accommodation cannot give any type of advantage.  The track must allow wheel chair access in, but beyond access to get in, it would be an ordinary track.  The exhibitor may have someone to follow in case their chair gets stuck.  A blind handler may be accompanied by someone to advise of holes or to assist if the handler falls.  Assistants may not provide any information instructing the handler regarding handling the dog.

Handlers may bring plain water or ice along on the track, but no food or toys within 30 yards of the track.  Praise or petting is allowed.  No excessive play with articles or throwing articles to the dog or on the ground, until after the test is complete.

Leash/line must be 20-40 feet in length and attached to the top of the harness and the handler will follow the dog no less than 20' for TD/TDX except while in dense vegetation, no less than 10' for TDU/VST.  Handler may unsnap the leash to untangle the dog, but the dog must remain under immediate control.  Any collar worn must conform to the obedience regulations.  Harness must be constructed of straps of plain, pliable material and only minimum restriction of the dog's movement is permitted.

To pass: The dog must closely follow the path walked by the tracklayer and find the article(s) dropped along the track.  The handler follows the dog, allowing the dog to work without guidance from the handler.  Judges must not pass a dog which has not met the minimum requirements of following the track unaided.  If the dog is not considered to be tracking, it will not be passed even if it finds the article(s).  Both judges must agree for a "pass".  If they do not agree, both judges will mark the dog failed and the exhibitor must not know there was disagreement.

Restraint vs. Guiding
Restraint is permitted to slow a fast moving dog or in event of an unusual distraction.  Repeated restraint which influences the dog's direction is NOT permitted.  Hanging on for dear life is not considered restraint.  Guiding which influences or determines the dog's direction is prohibited.  Verbal encouragement is allowed, BUT commands, signals or body motions used to indicate location or direction are prohibited.

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I got to talk to Sil Sanders and told him about how fast Gimme likes to go and specifically how she still gets her corners and articles, even at speed.  I wanted his opinion because a couple of people have recommended slowing her down.  He said he doesn't recommend slowing a dog down if you can move along with them safely, because so many dogs develop other habits, such as excessive circling for no reason, in reaction to it.  Since I obviously can't run a whole track with her, I told Sil of my plan to reward Gimme with speed when she is going well, dead on the track and nose down.  He thought this was a good idea.

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