Dear Rod,
Having suffered an accident a few years ago I now find that my usual method of teaching a dog to track needs to be re-evaluated. The main reason for this is the dogs strength and commitment - I simply can't hold him, have you any suggestions on how to slow the dog down without losing motivation.

Too much speed is a real embarrassment as you go through the stakes, the legs get shorter the articles smaller. In the dogs early tracking training, most of the work is slanted towards drive and power. When the dog is moving up through the stakes speed and impetuousness start to cause problems. Time to steady it down.
To do this, without losing motivation, power, and concentration can be difficult. The need is to teach the dog to restrain itself. If we try to do it by holding the dog back, the tendency is to confuse and demotivate it. Restraining, either turns tracking into a Tug-of-War (which the dog can find very exciting and so has totally the wrong effect) or overbear the dog and cause it to cast or even give up. This is how I tackle the problem. The handler is to lay an easy 6 or 7 leg track walking into the corners on a normal stride but scrubbing the first 15 paces of the next leg, When the track is about 30 minutes old. Bring the dog out, harness it up, then get it to lie down at the start pole with the handler kneeling down at the side of it talking quietly and stroking it from neck to ribs slowly and calmingly. Gently give the dog the command to track - then let it take only about 6ft of line, talking quietly, tell the dog steady - then immediately encourage the dog to track. I say "Steady, steady, Go on - Track On" (if the dog is not used to being talked to while it's tracking you will need to keep the level of your steadying commands and encouragement to background affirmative noises rather than attention grabbing commands). It is unlikely that this level of input will be sufficient to steady the dog. If you twist your wrist back and forth the vibrations you cause in the line will make the dog aware that something different is happening, this should allow your verbal input to take effect. Encouragement and verbal restraint should eventually take effect but it might take a long time.
Be very careful about your level of input, with a strong dog the temptation will be to be as forceful as he is being, but if you over-do it you can't say "sorry I didn't mean to", it will just take weeks to rebuild the dogs confidence. When the dog reaches the corners the 'scrub out' should make him pull strongly; if you physically restrain him while you verbally encourage him it will help enhance the indication of the next leg.

This whole process can take a long time. It took me 2 years with a really mad BC, but he ended up a brilliant tracking dog.
WARNING-IF YOU USE THIS METHOD BADLY YOU MAY STOP YOUR DOG TRACKING. If it is done well you can finish with a superb tracking dog. You are the only one who can make decision to do it or not. The key is the dog must learn to control himself.
The Very Best Of Luck
Rod

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