Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Leerburg Tracking

What does tracking wounded game have in common with police or Search and Rescue work?

Getting the job done is more important than how you look when you're doing it.

There is a lot to respect in Schutzhund, but my reluctance to adhere too closely to their training methods arises from the fact that strict adherence to form (smelling each and every footprint) is substituted for effectiveness.  I'm glad that tracking clubs help people get out of the house and do something with their dogs, but as long as they tow the AKC line, my non-AKC unspayed bitch is not allowed to compete.

Tracking a wounded deer is easier while the sun is still up, so speed of progress plays a roll.  A police officer tracking a bad guy, time is even more important.  Both parties are more interested in finding what we are tracking than how we look in the process.

No one cares who the sire was when you're hunting down a rapist.  No one cares how much time the nose spends up or down when you're tracking a wounded buck of a lifetime.

Enter Leerburg's Introductory tracking video.  It's not cheap, even hunting for a used copy I still spent $40, but it was worth the expense.  I watched it once this weekend and need to give it a second go through when I can take notes while watching.  I will probably watch it once a year on an on-going basis as I try to figure out how to train in the off season.

The video addresses a couple of issues we ran into in our first year of tracking wounded deer and gives a few ideas how I can start to train for them in the off season.  First and foremost, starting a track when no one can tell you where the track begins.

I'll look into the other videos and training they offer.  I've always found the quality top notch, it is just that the price is as well.  It is a great product but if you're starting out, training in a small group with an experienced tracker, even if they're not a wounded game tracker, might be a better use of funds.

Disclaimer: While I don't know the folks at Leerburg, they are located less than twenty miles from my home so that makes them a little bit of my hometown team.

From the website:

There are 2 types of tracking, "foot step tracking" and "tracking thru drive." Foot step tracking is taught with food and a ball. It is designed for sport dogs. Tracking thru drive is designed for service dogs. Here the dog is taught to follow the track at a dead run and there is always a man at the end of every track. Tracking thru drive is the only way to train a police service dog. 
If you are a K-9 officer who trains his service dog with food & a ball you already know that you only catch 3% or 4% of the people you track. The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) catch 45% to 50% of all the people they track (this includes suburban and urban tracking). If a suspect runs in the country, they catch 95% of them.
This 2 hour video was filmed in Alberta, Canada at the police dog training center for the RCMP. The RCMP instructors are the best tracking dog instructors in the world. They have been training police tracking dogs since 1935. I filmed three videos with them. This is the first video. This video will show how the RCMP can train a dog (in 60 training tracks) to follow a 1 hour old, 5 KM unknown track that contains back tracks, road crossings, fence crossings and articles. 
The RCMP has 3 Levels of tracking. This video covers Level One or tracking in a rural environment. Level two and three (Video 208) deals with suburban and urban tracking.
I have had literally hundreds of K-9 officers call or write and say, "This is the only way to train a police dog to track." They wish they had seen this video when starting to train their dogs. Many officers have said, "This training method put the fire back into my police dog. Now he enjoys tracking and we are catching people that used to get away."
The RCMP now uses my three videos in their police dog training center in Alberta. They also send them out to their handlers in the field. 
The other two training videos done with the RCMP are:

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