VST (and to a simpler degree TDU) tests the dog’s ability to work field and urban on the same track. Issues are:
▪ heavily contaminated lawns
▪ turns near or onto hard surface
▪ hard surface transitions
▪ turns on hard surfaces (MOT)
The key to success is building value into every article. Each and every article should be very exciting to your dog.
▪ have a small party at start sock and intermediate articles
In training we may hint at the solution to help our dogs. Over time we need to remove hints and shift responsibility to the dog for solving problems. Hints are:
▪ facing in the direction of the new leg
▪ quickly following the dog when s/he is correct, but not yet committed
▪ taking suggestive steps in the direction of the new leg
▪ encouraging/praise talk when the dog is looking in the right area
▪ lead check/tension when the dog is heading in the wrong direction
▪ negative talk when the dog is checking the wrong area
▪ in a test, spectator movement before the dog/handler commit
Three methods to age the track:
A - starting with a young age, adding steadily
B - using older tracks for some TDX dogs
C - same as A, but slower for less confident dogs
Do intentional contamination and island hopping tracks continually throughout the dog’s career – you are never really done with these.
Sil set up 6 simple zig-zag tracks, 20 yards apart, but side-by-side. There was a start flag, flags on both corners and at the end. There was a start sock, end glove and an article mid-leg on each leg. After they were laid, Sil and Kathleen walked a contamination pattern (dashed lines) over them. The tracks were only aged as long as it took to lay them and get everyone in place to run them simultaneously. All the dogs seemed to do really well at it.
During lunch I prepared an article circle for Gimme, with 7 legs and 9 articles. She loves the predictability of article circles and always finds them very motivating. On the second leg, right after the third article, she spied a plastic bottle to the side and had to run over and check it out. She quickly dismissed the boring bottle, but then she was just standing there looking around, having “forgotten” what she was doing. I encouraged her to return to the track, re-scented her and cued her to “track-on”. From there to the end, she did very well, getting faster and more excited with each article.
After lunch we laid tracks and watched dogs run them. I was only auditing, so there was a lot of watching for me.