You spend many a weekend slowly creeping through fields hunting. It’s quiet, you’re out in nature and it makes for a nice break from a busy week at work. You wouldn’t swap it for the world! However, you wouldn’t mind some company in the form of a tenacious German Shepherd. So, you went out and bought Charlie, who is full of life and would make a great hunting companion. Alternatively, perhaps you want to train him to be a tracking police dog.
Whatever the reason, German Shepherds naturally possess many of the qualities needed to successfully track. The training itself is actually good for them too. It enforces your position as pack leader. It teaches them discipline, which can make teaching them to do any number of other behaviors easier too. But most importantly, this basic training could help improve your hunting results and give you an effective tracker.
Training Charlie to track will come with challenges. You will need to find the right incentive to keep him focused on a particular task. You will also need to train consistently, starting with small and easy scents trails, then working your way up to more challenging tracking. You will also need to get your dog used to training with distractions around and get them excited about the particular item you want them to find.
If your Shepherd is a puppy their brain should be like a sponge, making them easy to train. This means you could see results in just a few weeks. However, if you’re taking on an older German Shepherd who is stubborn and not a keen student anymore, then you may need several months. If you get this basic training right you could set your dog up to be able to track down everything from animals and drugs to cash and firearms.
Before you start training you will need to check you have several things. Treats and toys will play an important role. A friend will also be required for one of the methods.
You will need a generous amount of space to train in, where you both won’t be distracted by other people and pets. A house and yard will do to start with, but then you may want to head out into local fields or parks.
Once you have all that, just bring patience and an optimistic attitude, then work can begin!