The tracking seminar last month was a fun and informative time for Mom and Bailie. Being held at Shamrock Park, it sounded like a lucky event to be a part of! Bailie has her TD, Tracking Dog, Title and needs to work towards her next title. Her options are TDX, Tracking Dog Excellent, or VST, Variable Surface Tracking. After the seminar, Bailie and Mom decided to work towards a VST Title. A TDX involves finding fields, woods, streams, much more difficult in our suburban area. VST works in any park.
What does a VST Test entail?
A VST Test is no easy feat, but Bailie can do it, we are certain of that. The biggest enemy would be a squirrel during a test, but Mom and Bailie need to practice for that. VST tests are often held on college campuses, which means lots of distractions. What are some of the specifics of a VST Test?
- The track is 600-800 yards long
- The track must be on at least three different surfaces, two being non-vegetative such as asphalt, dirt, or concrete
- A track must be aged three to five hours
- There will be four to eight turns
- The dog must find four articles, one of each: cloth, leather, plastic, and metal
What was covered at the tracking seminar?
The seminar for VST had three work stations. Bailie’s first stop was to work on starts. She doesn’t like to get going, but once she does, she doesn’t stop. Next she worked on tracking along buildings and walls with a turn. Airflow can be really funky on buildings and throws off a lot of dogs. The third station was crossing parking lots: grass, asphalt, grass. Some of the sessions used cloth articles which Bailie is used to, but some introduced leather, plastic, or metal.
What were some of the best tips?
There was so much to learn at the tracking seminar, but one always takes away a few things that really help in your own life experiences. The best tips Mom got were really simple, but things she never thought about.
- Work on tracking in small segments. Practice certain parts of the track, not always the entire thing. Work on starts, or work on turns, work on tracking down a sidewalk vs crossing a sidewalk.
- Remember to always help your dog have success. Practice is not a test, it is for learning. A positive learning experience will have a positive effect come testing time.
- Reward, and reward big, EVERY time, no matter how small or large the success is.
- Keep the practice fun. If you or your dog is frustrated, do something simple to end on a positive note and quit for the day.
- Play article games to teach the dog to down on every article they find.
- Only run a full track once every few weeks.
Was the tracking seminar worthwhile?
Definitely! Mom is new to dog sports, but when it comes to tracking and nose work, we take in all the classes and seminars we can. Handlers learn so much by watching others, getting help from others, it is simply a fantastic way to learn. Many tips we get for one sport also carry over to other sports. Mom, Bailie, and I went out tracking the other day, I worked on my TD skills, and Bailie’s goal was to change surfaces and find a plastic article. Mom laid shorter easy tracks, and made them fun for both of us. We both did awesome. I
ran slowly sashayed down my short track better than I have in ages. Bailie ran bolted down hers like a mad woman, crossed the asphalt as if it wasn’t even there, ignored people walking, and came to a screeching halt at the plastic article. The tracking seminar was definitely a success for us!
Speaking of tracking…don’t forget to enter our Pawlympics Wabbit Tracking Event by July 15th!