On Saturday the goldens and I went to a tracking workshop. I took Blaze and Griffin... and was intending to flip a coin to determine the working dog. But, it ended up being activities I thought Griffin would get more out of. I intended to work Blaze when we did articles, but Blaze ended up working the whole session.
We started with some discussion about what tracking is and the requirements for the tests and then went out for some training.
The first few activities were to get the dogs to understand the difference between stepped-on-grass-dirt and not-stepped-on-grass. We stomped out circles (and throughout the middle) while dropping treats. The dogs were then brought out to find stopped grass=treats and regular grass= nothing.
After a number of repetitions, we went to straight lines and then a 90* angle. Articles were added when we did straight lines with food on top and under the article.
Griffin was great. Other than his loose leash walking parts. He was PULLING and SNIFFING when going from the car to the track or the end of the track to the car. I ended up just holding his collar and leading him that way.
But his tracking was very enthusiastic, he would work even ~20' from the neighbors barky dog's fence line, even with someone standing and talking to us as he worked. And when he finished THEN he would turn and jump to greet.
We've done a handful of tracking sessions at home, but I did not expect the level of focus or enthusiasm he gave me.
The only disappointment for me was the level of emphasis placed on article indication and the very little time spent actually training it. I'm still not sure what will be best for Griffin and Blaze and how to transition to a good working response. Griffin should be straight forward with training it in another setting and getting the behavior on the tracks... but Blaze has spent 6 weeks with 1-2 weeks with a different article indication training method and essentially no improvement.
We'll keep working and probably try for a test in the spring.