Getting started with game trails part 1

A dog that gets out in the woods and fields and uses its amazing nose will be calmer and more at ease in everyday life. It’s a fun activity for both you and your dog.

Track laying
Before you go into the forest, you need to make sure that you are allowed to lay tracks there. You need to contact the hunting rights holder and ask for permission. Lantmäteriet has information about who owns a particular piece of land, you can find out through the landowner who has the hunting rights if it is not the same as the landowner.

How often can I lay tracks?
Imagine that you go to Liseberg once a week. Every time you are there, you ride the Coffee Cups followed by the Liseberg Railway and then you eat spun sugar. At first this is really fun, you look forward to going there and riding those particular attractions and the cotton candy is really yummy. But after a few weeks, the novelty wears off somewhat. You start looking at FlumeRide as you sit there in your carriage on the Lisebergsbanan. You think about how the waffles. This is exactly how dogs work. At first, you think your dog is tracking really well, but as time goes on, you find that he starts to get sloppy and rush around the track. This is not at all unusual, it is just an effect of training at the same level, too often and for too long. The key is variety. The more you vary your exercises, the more often you can train in general.

How do I lay tracks?
To make track laying as good and easy as possible, here are some basic tips on how to get started. I usually set up my training by putting a shorter motivational track and a slightly longer track of about 100 meters, with some angle. I rarely train my dogs on longer trails, but focus on trails where I maintain the dog’s motivation. A motivated dog becomes persistent.

The game part and the blood
In one hand you hold the string with the game part, preferably a deer hoof. In your other hand you hold a bottle of blood. There should be a small hole in the cork. You don’t have to have string and blood in the same hand, but make it easy for you. Bleed a little extra in the beginning, you should be able to see the blood stain after a few hours to be able to identify the dog correctly. Then, when you start moving forward, think that every time you put your leg down on the same side as the bottle, you angle your hand and drip a little blood. When you move in this way, with the game part just moving along, the blood bottle angled every two steps, you can more easily keep track of your surroundings to know where you are going. At the end of the track, you can also drip some extra blood where you put the game part.

Chalk outlines
You should put the starting line right where the start is. It’s easy to forget exactly where you started, even if you only wait an hour before walking your dog. It is important to be able to demonstrate the dog exactly at the start in the beginning, because this is when you put into words what it should do. When placing carvings at angles, it must hang high and preferably be wrapped around a branch or sit close to the bark of trees. Dogs are very observant and if they see a signpost flapping in the wind, you can expect them to go there to check, but without using their noses. Instead of using markers, you can use signs in nature, so you don’t have to take down markers afterwards and you don’t run the risk of subconsciously controlling your dog in the same way.

Motivational tracks without interference
Motivational trails are suitable for all dogs regardless of skill level and are easy to lay. The dog is explained what it means to follow the track you present to it. Vary the trail with different surfaces and in different weather conditions. Make it difficult by placing the trail where there is a lot of wildlife movement.

Lay the track like this
Here you should have a marked and clear start, so set the marker so you can point the dog in the right direction when it’s time to track. The track is laid straight. You can add two to three short tracks at the same time. Place a piece of game at each end of the track. Feel free to leave the trail for at least two hours, even for a beginner.

Walk the track like this
Keep the dog in the harness while pointing at the trailhead. When you feel the dog is focused, you say calmly and well, track. Release the harness and stand up, remain standing until the dog has advanced four or five meters. Focus on reading dog here, what does your dog look like when on the trail? What does it look like when it goes off? Keep in mind that the track core can be very wide depending on how short the track has been laid and the weather conditions. Focus more on the dog’s movement pattern than on its nose on the ground.

You keep walking in the core of the track until the end, where the importance of the exercise comes in. When the dog arrives, reward the dog properly. Sit down and pet, play and bring out your tasty reward. Here you need to reward with something the dog may never get otherwise. A perfect reward allows the dog to see value in choosing the trail instead of interference. The dog needs to feel that it has achieved something really good, no matter how easy the track was.

Good luck on the trail!

Helena Lyckoskog