What about puppy tracking? Should you train a young puppy to track? What age is the right age? As you can see, Madison is ready to hit the trails and learn to track. Puppies can learn to track easily, but you need to take baby steps and keep it all fun.
You know Bailie has loved to track since the day we got her, and she got her Tracking Dog Title at two years old. Madison, it turns out, is a lot like Bailie. From day one, she has had her nose to the ground and tracks everything from toys to her sisters to people. Mom decided to start training her to be a tracking dog when she was nine weeks old. Puppies actually track naturally in their very early weeks to find their mother’s milk, which is why they learn it so easily.
Teaching a puppy tracking!
- Decide if your puppy enjoys tracking and does it naturally.
- Start slow with very short tracks around ten yards.
- Put tasty treats every few feet to keep the puppy on the track. Mom uses small balls of liverwurst as bait.
- Use a start and end article with your scent.
- Offer high value food reward, or a favorite toy at the end article.
Be patient. It will take a few times for the puppy to figure out what you want. Remember the key to success is to keep it super fun for the puppy.
- Increase the track length slowly. Madison is now up to about fifty yards straight or twenty with a turn.
- Decrease the bait along the track as your dog starts to bypass it.
- Start on mowed grass.
- Once the puppy is solid, add a turn.
- The goal is not to challenge the puppy but for them to have fun and success.
Mom took Bailie to practice tracking in tall grass last weekend and decided to take Madison along too. Madison had only tracked on mowed grass previously, and had started to work on turns. Because the tall grass is a new challenge, her track was just a straight forty yard track with a few pieces of bait along the way. Madison was a bit confused at the start, but she then figured it out and did the entire track, hopping over tall grass and all! She was not super fast, but she was mostly on track, and check that tail wag at the end article! The tail is a sure sign she loves to track and she knows the end article is a good thing to find.
We are super excited to see how Madison advances in tracking as she seems to be a natural like Bailie! Bailie did some simple tracks as a tiny pup, but nothing like what Madison is doing, so it will be fun to see the difference later in life! Pretty soon Madison will need to get into a tracking harness, but since she is still so small, Mom uses her collar and leash. Speaking of small, Madison is growing like a weed. She was at the vet for some immunizations this week and is now 12.7 lbs. She is gaining about a pound a week, and is super healthy!