Well known for their ability to perform incredible work both professionally and for fun, German Shepherds are one of the most popular breeds when it comes to filling a need. These hard-working and steadfast dogs are incredibly intelligent, loyal, and are always willing to do what it takes to get the job done. In many positions, this includes things like protection, guidance, guarding, and tracking.
Tracking, in particular, takes some dedication to the work, as there are constant distractions in the typical field scenario. Other animals, traffic, people, and a countless amount of other scents are always bombarding a tracking dog as he follows his trail, though a good worker will ignore these distractions and continue until he catches his quarry. Whether it be a person, an object, or a substance, teaching your German Shepherd to track is no easy feat.
Tracking training generally begins fairly early on, especially for dogs who will go on to work for official forces such as the police or the military. However, if you’re choosing to train your German shepherd for personal use or other purposes, training can begin whenever you’re ready for it to and should take about three to six months, depending on how quick your dog picks up on each step of the training itself.
There are multiple methods for helping your German Shepherd understand the steps of a good tracking procedure, and all are very involved. Be ready to be present and to go the extra step in helping your dog get familiar with the ins and outs of the work you want him to perform. Consider getting the rest of your household involved as well, if possible. The more people to support your working shepherd in his tasks, the better.
German Shepherds are incredibly motivated dogs, though they still need a level of reinforcement. You’ll want to take some tasty treats to use for rewards, while also gathering a few of your dog’s favorite toys to use as training tools. The more attached he is to them, the more likely he will seek them out fairly quickly. Besides these things, you’ll also want to enlist the help of a few volunteers to assist with your training sessions so you can be free to hide objects without being followed by your dog.