Finn from the Cascades, Season 4

JLS

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I’m starting this thread earlier this year so as to include Finn’s training. I just mailed off his entry form for the final utility test in the VDD-GNA, the VGP test. This is a two day utility test that encompasses a variety of tasks, such as blood tracking, steadiness, retrieving, duck searches, and so on.

We have been training several days a week, and today was one of our longer sessions. Here are some photos and explanations of what we’re doing and why.

The first thing I do is lay the blood track so it can age. Then, we start the session with a hot dog track. Tracking is something a hunting dog should do on command, not when they feel like it.

The hot dog track is simple. I take two hot dogs and slice them into thin slices. I drop a slice every 3-4 feet or so.

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I really try hard to make tracking a methodical practice. I put Finn in a down stay at the start of the track. I situate the check cord with a half hitch around his flank. This helps control the dog, as you are controlling the pace of this.

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I give the “track” command and let him move forward. I force him to go slow and find every hot dog slice. If I see him start to over run one, I’ll just hold him at that point until he finds it. If he stops searching on the ground I point to it and give the track command. You can really see a dog turn a corner and develop a very thorough and methodical tracking pattern.

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Next is the independent forest search. This is a task where you want to see the dog go search a piece of heavy cover on command, doing so in a methodical and thorough manner. I will find a section of heavy cover and distribute bumpers and/or pieces of game throughout. I mark these as I go in case we miss one.

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Then, you simply send the dog out on a “search” command. Every time they find something they should deliver it to hand, then you send them again.

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This is one of Finn’s shortcomings, so I make sure he covers all of the area, working the heavy cover. If he doesn’t push out far enough, I just walk out with him and let him expand his search. We have some progress to make in this, he likes to work the big open areas because that’s what he’s used to.

Next is a fur drag. This is partly about tracking and also very much about retrieving. I will walk him out on heel, then put him in a down stay. I drag a fox, rabbit, or raccoon. Test regulation is 400m, we did about 300m today. I set the check cord the same way as I did the hot dog track and then give him the “track” command. For this test they have to line the track out on their own. You can’t run with them for the first part of it.

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Once we get to the end I unclip the lead and he has to carry the fox back to the start. We retrace our route. The dog can set the animal down to readjust his grip, but can’t let go 3652951F-CBE1-4CA1-8B4D-D9B628D6BABE.jpeg

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We finished the session with the blood track. This was 4 oz of blood mixed with 4 oz of water, and then dribbled over 0.27 miles. The track ages two hours while we did other stuff.

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At the end of the track is a nice bowl of food and a deer tail to carry.

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It’s amazing how hard it is to see that small amount of blood, even knowing where I put the track. Then, you watch a dog work that out in about 5-10 minutes and you realize what an incredibly valuable tool a blood tracking dog can be.

The last task of the day was to go home and retrieve over an obstacle. The test regulation is a 7 pound fox or raccoon, retrieved over a 27-30” barrier. This is a regulation fox at 25”.

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More to come
 

Sawtooth

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Finn looks to be getting quite the workout. Where will the final utility test take place. Any tests down this way?
 
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1_pointer

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Thank you for taking the time to post that. Should my boys 5 different baseball teams :)oops:) allow some time, I plan on working with Hank on tracking and soon. The multiple visuals give me a much better understanding of how to set up the training. Not something I've always been good at getting from just training books. Hope to get him on a deer track or two this fall.
 
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TwistedSage

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That's awesome man. Looks like a hell of a training day and appreciate you breaking the task/scenarios down.
 
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JLS

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That's awesome man. Looks like a hell of a training day and appreciate you breaking the task/scenarios down.
All told, this session took about three hours, plus 30 minutes round trip of drive time. For whatever reason, the blood track has always seemed daunting to me. 99% of the battle is simply understanding how to set this stuff up for your dog to learn. I bought a training DVD set and it made things 10x easier.
 

rtraverdavis

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Really interesting stuff, JLS. I really admire the meticulous attention to detail in helping your buddy be the uber hunting tool. So cool.
 
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Hunting Wife

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Completely foreign regimen to me, so really interesting to see.

Dumb question spurred by the “regulation fox” comment. Do you trap your own? Or is there a “regulation fox” store? Fox farm nearby? Seems like you would need a few on hand.
 

JLS

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Completely foreign regimen to me, so really interesting to see.

Dumb question spurred by the “regulation fox” comment. Do you trap your own? Or is there a “regulation fox” store? Fox farm nearby? Seems like you would need a few on hand.
A friend gave me this one, I thinks it’s from a farm. I also have a raccoon and a rabbit in the freezer, along with a variety of game birds.

After a number of freeze thaw cycles they get a little gross. The fur on this fox is starting to slip, so I’ll probably need to put a couple of coon traps out.
 

JLS

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Really interesting stuff, JLS. I really admire the meticulous attention to detail in helping your buddy be the uber hunting tool. So cool.
Thanks man. There really is a big difference between testing systems. I’ve tested dogs in NAVHDA and the JGHV both. It’s my experience the NAVHDA (North American versatile hunting dog association) is a little more egocentric. I ran a test in Whitefish and there was a pro trainer dude there who just really turned me off. So did the myriad of folks watching who made me feel like I was at a golf tournament at Mar A Lago.

As I’ve said before, the JGHV testing system really does seem to be much more about the dogs and evaluating their talent and abilities. That said, the DD world has its own folks in it who are about promoting themselves and their dogs, but really don’t know shit about training.

At first, I really didn’t have any desire to be part of the testing program, but it’s made a huge difference in my abilities as a dog handler and trainer. These dogs are absolutely wonderful training partners. My buddy Rich has owned and bred labs for years. His DD Bulliet absolutely crushed his VJP (puppy test). He told me he is continually amazed at the capabilities of these dogs. They truly are special.
 

TwistedSage

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All told, this session took about three hours, plus 30 minutes round trip of drive time. For whatever reason, the blood track has always seemed daunting to me. 99% of the battle is simply understanding how to set this stuff up for your dog to learn. I bought a training DVD set and it made things 10x easier.
Sounds like a great way to work on endurance with a longer training session and trip like that too. Definitely something to keep in mind. What was the DVD set? I've come across sets for training pointers or retrievers but haven't found much DVD or videos on versatile dog training.
 

JLS

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Sounds like a great way to work on endurance with a longer training session and trip like that too. Definitely something to keep in mind. What was the DVD set? I've come across sets for training pointers or retrievers but haven't found much DVD or videos on versatile dog training.
Look up the VDD-GNA training videos on Dogs Unlimited. There is one for the VJP/HZP, and one specific to the VGP.
 

JLS

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We just finished up an overnight track. About 10 ounces of blood over 400m. The overlay is blue = blood, red = track plot. Wind is from 8 o’clock to 2 o’clock.
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After we were done, I went back and would randomly cross the trail to teach him to hit on a blood track so I can cast him out when checking for a hit on an animal.

Last order of business was changing his test entry from a same day track to an overnight track.
 

RobertD

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We just finished up an overnight track. About 10 ounces of blood over 400m. The overlay is blue = blood, red = track plot. Wind is from 8 o’clock to 2 o’clock.
View attachment 183434
After we were done, I went back and would randomly cross the trail to teach him to hit on a blood track so I can cast him out when checking for a hit on an animal.

Last order of business was changing his test entry from a same day track to an overnight track.
Really cool the way this demonstrates the relationship between the track, the wind and his nose. Super interesting to see it laid out like that.
 
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