Your pup has a wonderfully sensitive nose that can smell things such as human scent and then follow it to its source. What you may not realize, is that your pup has been using his nose to track since the day he was born. How, you ask? When your pup was born, his eyes were closed, yet he still had to find his way to his mother in order to nurse. To do this, he used his sense of smell to locate his mother. The goal of this training is to take this natural skill, refine it, and teach your pup to use it for a particular purpose.
The early you start training your pup the better, but you can also teach this skill to older dogs. However, training older dogs can be more challenging and take longer. You can train your pup to track humans over grass, snow, and on hard surfaces such as tarmac or concrete.
The task is a little different than most types of tracking in that you are going to be asking your pup to track humans. Unlike animals whose scents are very similar by species, humans all seem--at least to us-- to have extremely different smells. However, no matter how you look at it, training a dog to use his nose to track humans is really not that different than teaching him to track any other form of game. A well-trained dog can track humans via the trail they leave on the ground and by sniffing the air.
Once you teach your pup how to track by scent, you will be able to give him an item from the person to be tracked and he should have no problem tracking them down. However, just as you have probably seen on TV, your pup can only track via air or ground. If his quarry goes into water, your pup will not be able to track them anymore.
You can teach most dogs to track, though some breeds are much better at it than others. When it comes to age, the earlier you can start training your pup to track the easier it will be for him to master this skill. However, there are a few supplies you need to gather, including:
The key to this training is understanding that while your dog may be a natural sniffer, he still needs to be taught how to use that big snout to track down your quarry, which in this case just happens to be humans. Be patient, be consistent, practice frequently, and keep practicing even after he seems to have mastered the skill. Remember, practice makes perfect.
I am working with my dog to become a service dog. I want to train her to go find my mom and bring her to me when I need help in a store or at home or anywhere. I'm not entirely sure how to do this. Thank you!
Hello Haelie, I suggest playing the "Find ____" game. First, clip a leash on your dog. Have your mom sit across the room or several feet away. Tell her to "Go Find Mom" and lead her over to your mom. When she gets to her, have your mom give her a treat. Repeat this until you can say "Go Find Mom" and she will go to your mom without being lead. Your mom can make a little noise as a hint if she seems confused. When she can go to your mom in the same room, practice this randomly throughout the day when your mom is close by. If she won't do it, have your mom make a noise as a hint or you walk her over to your mom, then have your mom reward her when she gets there. When she can consistently do this while your mom is within eye-sight, start practicing it while your mom is in another room close by or further away outside. Give her hints by having your mom make a little noise or walking Amora to her if she cannot figure it out after seven-seconds of trying on her own. When she can consistently find your mom in any room or the house or outside, and has learned how to persistently search for her until she locates her, then have your mom practice the same thing with you, telling Amora to "Go Find Haelie". Practice Amora finding you just like you did with your mom, starting in the same room with her first, and gradually adding more distance as she improves. When she has learned what "Go Find Mom" and "Go Find Haelie" mean and can do both well, then practice the commands on a long leash on walks, parks, fields, and dog-friendly stores. Have the person she is supposed to be finding hide somewhere nearby when she is not looking, like the next isle over or behind a bush. Tell her to "Go Find Mom" or "Go Find Haelie" and give her hints if she needs them. When she finds the person, give her lots or praise and rewards. When you need your mom, you can tell Amora to "Go Find Mom" and when Amora arrives without you, your mom can tell her to "Go Find Haelie" so that she will lead your mom back to you. If you practice having your mom automatically telling her to go find Haelie every time she finds your mom at this point, she will likely begin to lead your mom to you automatically, even before your mom tells her to. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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