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The First Step - Track

by Sean Reidy

          The next stage in Tracking Training is to introduce an easy directional track that allows the dog to go forward, but encourages him to adopt a left-right rhythm as he does so. This next stage is a short one, just a few tracks, but it is quite important. What I do is to lay a track composed of footprints that are continuous, not separate. This is not the same thing as dragging one's feet, which gives tramlines. Here, I kick in the footprints, but they are joined heel-to toe, and they do not point straightforward. The reason for this is to get the dog into the left-right rhythm he will need later for step tracking.

          There should be about 40 footprints in the first track. Subsequent ones get longer, if the he does well. Kick or stamp in these footprints, to give a really strong ground-scent. Use a type of meat that he loves. You need about 60 pieces the size of the tip joint of your little finger.

          Keep the line absolutely slack, but don't use more that about six feet, and keep it in your left hand. At the start, you may need to use your right hand to show him where the food is, in the first few prints. Give the "track" command when he finds each piece of food, at the beginning, and then just stay silent if he is doing it by himself. If he lifts his nose, or leaves the track, use your hand, and the command to get him back on track. This help is just for the first track or two. After that, he should do it on his own, or just on command.

          Remember, let the line drag on the ground! I attach it to the dead ring of a choke chain and out it through the front and hind legs, so it goes underneath. The tracking harness will come later.

          Make a big fuss of him when he reaches the end, then but him away so he can have some quiet time to absorb what he has learned. Putting in footprints this way seems comical, but it works very well.

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).