me introduce myself: My name is Rolf and I'm a seven-week-old
Rottweiler puppy from Germany! I am going to tell you all about
tracking, one of the three exciting phases of Schutzhund work.
I feel this is a wonderful opportunity for me, being as young
as I am! All I ask for is your indulgence due to my age and the
fact that I'm not very well versed in English yet.
the information I will be giving you has been handed down to me
through generations of hard-core, Schutzhund-titled breeding.
Since the day of my birth I have been learning about training
procedures from my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.
And who better to learn from than those who have already been
I will be exactly seven weeks old. My strongest imprinting stage
starts at 49 days (7 weeks) and ends at 84 days (12 weeks). They
tell me my new two-legged friend named "Melissa" will be coming
to take me to her house so we can begin Schutzhund training. I'm
hoping she knows what she's doing so I don't develop bad habits
or irreparable damage to my personality! Dad has told me over
and over, "There aren't any shortcuts in training. Respect, love,
and gentile direction are the only ingredients in a good relationship."
has come to visit me many times in my pen, and listening to her
talk, I think that I am lucky to be going home with her. I overheard
her saying that she doesn't care how long an exercise takes to
learn, as long as her dog has fun and maintains emotional stability.
She also said that she doesn't want her dog to get bored trying
to learn the same exercises over and over again, but with her
bag of tricks, she is well prepared to solve any problem. She
does not believe in physical corrections, and knows that all behavior
can be taught and corrected with positive reinforcement and positive
directioning. And that sounds really good to me! Having a friend
with an attitude like this, I'm definitely in for the long haul!
If she really has this attitude, we can become the top team in
the Schutzhund world and achieve the highest honors! And I, her
honored canine friend, will live a happy and fulfilled life!
have been with Melissa two whole days now, and she is keeping
her word, and laying a stable foundation for me. Our bond is becoming
extremely strong, and I am starting to trust her fully. No matter
how many mistakes I make, Melissa's love, patience and understanding
example, yesterday I was chewing on her antique wooden couch leg.
She didn't get angry at all, but gently showed me a delicious
sterilized bone filled with peanut butter. Sayonara to that couch
leg! She never uses the "no" word, but always plays this substitution
game. I think this form of training is great! I really don't want
to do bad things, and she is showing me that her substitution
game is always more fun. What a great way to live! Tomorrow will
be my first day of tracking. Melissa has been in the kitchen all
day making something called "liver", which smells really great.
I can't wait!
smokes! Sure I wanted to go tracking, but how could she wake me
up at 5 AM? I cannot believe she is getting me up this early.
Well, for two days she has been doing everything according to
Hoyle, so I guess I will trust her with this decision. When great-granddad
said that tracking is fun, and you have to get up early in the
morning for beginners, I didn't realize he meant this early!
drove to a well-manicured field where the grass is 3 to 4 inches
high. I never saw so much water on the grass before! Melissa explained
that the water is called "dew", and it will help me with my tracking
work. She now has a very light chain hung over the branch of a
tree and I am hooked on to the other end. This chain, or "tie-out"
as she calls it, is high enough so that it swoops gently past
my shoulder. I can stand and lie down, but I cannot get my legs
caught in it. She told me that it's much better to be tied-out
and free instead of inside a crate. The tie-out gives me better
visibility, makes me feel more secure in my new surroundings,
and helps develop the bond between us because there are no barriers
between me and her.
is approximately 10 feet from me, and tamping down the grass in
a 20"x20" inch square. She has made three squares like
this, and each square is about 15 paces apart. She has told me
that these are called "scent pads" and they are the most important
thing in tracking because if a dog gets a good start at the pad,
he will not get lost on the track. She also explained that as
I get older the pad size will gradually increase to 3X3 meters.
On each pad she is lavishly spreading the food called liver that
she made yesterday. Boy, does that stuff smell great!
liver has been cut into squares that are 1/8x1/8 inch. She has
also placed 4 flags on each corner off the pad. My friend is ingenuous
because she has taken the straight leg of a wire hanger and has
attached pieces of ribbon to it so she can see which way the wind
is blowing. She said that for pad-work it does not matter so much
about wind direction, but when we start doing "legs", or straight
tracking, the wind direction will become crucial. So far she is
doing everything according to what I learned from my family.
has now taken me off my tie-out and has put water on my mouth,
so I will lick it. Melissa says that not only do dogs smell with
their noses but they also smell with their tongues. The water
will clean-off my tongue so that I can use it on the pads. She
then carries me over to a place (since I am only seven weeks old,
getting distracted the way I do this is easier to facilitate training)
where I can go to the bathroom. Boy did that feel good! I am then
being carried to the pad and placed approximately 6 inches away.
Holding the lead with her left hand, she then points to the pad
with her right hand and says the word "FIND". Well, as my Dad
says, never pass up a meal and I did not disappoint him!
this takes a lot of concentration, but Melissa does something
very nice while I am on my first pad. She is very quiet, and keeps
looking at a thing called a "watch", and every so often she reaches
down and gently pets me on my back. You have no idea how reassuring
that feels, and it makes me want to find every piece of liver!
I have been on the first pad for about 9 minutes; all the food
is gone, and I am really tired. I lifted up my head to quit, but
Melissa put her hand on the pad and said "find" again. Her hand
was pointing to another piece of liver. When I ate it, she praised
me, gently picked me up, and put me back on my tie-out. She gave
me some water and said I must rest for at least 15 minutes before
attempting another pad. This is fine by me! She sat down next
to me, and with her soft, endearing petting and her silence, I
felt truly loved and knew that I wanted to work with this person!
I was resting, I realized that the last piece of liver that Melissa
pointed to came from her hand, because I remember eating all the
other pieces. She said I was right, and there are some very important
reasons for her doing what she did. First, even though I wanted
to quit, I was shown that I should always push myself that extra
bit. Second, it was a bond-building exercise. It showed me that
her and I would work together, so if I couldn't find all the food,
she would help me. Third, it helped reinforce the "find" word
minutes have passed and Melissa is undoing me so we can attack
the next pad. She follows the same procedure, water on the mouth,
a walk, and being carried to the second pad. She puts the lead
in her left hand and her right hand again points to the pad and
she says find - I start to eat. While I was tracking the second
pad I remembered something my Mom had told me. She always use
to say if you are doing a job you should always enjoy what you
are doing or it just is not worth doing. She was 100% right. Where
else can you have a job where all you have to do is eat delicious
worked this pad for 11 minutes. Same procedure, I had eaten everything
except for that one piece that Melissa found when she pointed
and said "find". I did happen to make a startling find when I
was working the second pad. In between the liver pieces was Melissa's
scent! I had better log this scent identification procedure into
my brain because I think it is going to come in handy for future
tracking work. Now back to the tie-out to rest another fifteen
did that fifteen minutes go fast! But I am ready to take on the
third pad. Melissa does not miss a beat she is very consistent,
every step she had taken on the other pads she utilized on this
one and there I am 6 inches away from the third pad. My great
Granddad told me that some puppies can only mentally handle in
the beginning one or two pads for the first time out but I am
Rolf from Germany and I will not let down my partner-that you
can take to the bank!!! I worked the last pad for 10 minutes I
am exhausted but elated. My partner and I really accomplished
something today and I look forward to tracking with Melissa in
the way home, Melissa explained something that nobody in my family
ever told me: A Schutzhund I track should be aged for at least
30 minutes. Melissa said if we added-up the time for today's work
we'd see that the last pad was aged over 1 hour and 21 minutes:
the total time for the last pad is 1 hour and 21 minutes of aging
time. Now according to Melissa, to learn the rest of the tracking
(turns, crosswinds, etc.) is like falling off a log. She says by
the time I am six months old I will be doing FH tracks effortlessly!
Boy, this is a great way to learn tracking. Not only do I make progress
in leaps and bounds but the training sessions are put into place
in such a way that I can understand them. I do not understand why
I hear all these horror stories about forced tracking, problems
on the track, other dogs shutting down mentally, owners yelling
and disciplining their pets, when it is so easy and pleasurable
doing Melissa's way. I am truly lucky to have such a compassionate
and learned teacher on my side.
minutes to lay each of 3 pads=21 minutes
15 minutes of rest between each pad (total 2 rests)=30 minutes
10 minutes to track each of 3 pads=30 minutes
by Neal Seaman
today's dog training world, there is a lot of misinformation being
spread around. There are some popular training methods I would
like to discuss. When you work your best friend, train him for
the house or even just let him be a couch-potato, you can avoid
making some terrible, abusive mistakes:
methods include using electricity are sometimes signified by such
popular buzzwords like "alpha" and "pecking-order". Advice that
goes along with these words usually includes: look at your dog
till he turns away; press your dog down until he submits; the
owner must always win for perfect compliance and obedience; it's
good when your dog's ears are back or his tail is between his
legs, and or he shows other signs of submission.
who give this advice obviously cannot imagine what it is like
to be on the receiving end of these so-called "training" techniques.
You NEVER have to push or force your dog into submission to get
obedience or cooperation. You never have to assert yourself to
be "top dog" to get your dog to work. The purpose of training
is to establish a working relationship between partners. Submission
is not training--it is ABUSIVE AND EMOTIONALLY DAMAGING.
horrible results of this abusive "training" advice: if your dog
is emotionally damaged, he will be unable to enjoy his life. This
makes it even more difficult for future training, because he will
be a nervous wreck and unable to concentrate or learn productively.
He will develop all kinds of aberrant behaviors in other areas
of his life. And finally, any bond of love and friendship will
be lost, because your dog will be unable to trust you. Most importantly
nobody has the right, no matter how high they are on the evolutionary
ladder, to use abuse. People who give you this advice are not
dog trainers they are not even human because they have forgotten
the words compassion and love.
dog trainer that abuses an animal to get scores in a trial so
he can make more money, be sponsored, or whatever, when detected
should be blackballed in participating in all future shows. Judges
at these shows whether they be AKC, Schutzhund, Ring-Sport are
propagating abuse by allowing these individuals to continue their
reign of terror. An abused animal, with a judge's trained eye
is very easy to spot.
real dog trainer trains. A real dog trainer will always be able
to channel aberrant behaviors into acceptable behaviors, without
ever damaging the emotional state of the dog.
by Neal Seaman