Grooming a Working Dog: The Do’s and Don’t’s


Welcome to this week’s short set. I’m excited to bring you just a small snippet for you to get your short set in for this week. And I’m excited to talk a little bit about tracking. Probably one of the hardest things we do in the working dog realm is track. The reason being is there’s so many variables that we don’t have control over, even in training.

One of which is we can’t control odor. We don’t know the timeline of odor based on the particular environment that we’re working on. We can guess, but we don’t know specifically. But there is one type of track that we like to run, and we teach this to our handlers so that they can really concentrate on the fundamentals of tracking, and that’s what we call concentration tracks.

We can adjust every variable within a track with a concentration track. And that’s a known track that we use in order to know exactly where that track is so the handler can work on leash control. They can work on the dog really digging in deep to that track and tracking human odor or vegetative odor or any other odor we want to present to that dog.

And once we start teaching the spectrum of that, we can also work on sit times. We can also work on cutting into the track. But again, that’s that known track. that we can really hone in on the very specifics of tracking. And this is an example of that. I’m going to have Boyd run this. And for those viewers that may not be watching a video on YouTube, I’m going to explain verbally on what he’s doing.

So now he’s already laid the concentration track, which is that known track that he knows where it’s at. And he’s going to present his dog, give the command and present. That track to the dog. Dog will automatically place his nose down. Boyd will control the track with his, uh, hands, making sure he keeps his hands in a tactical position.

And then control the track fully. He also placed a turn in this track. So he can also see how the dog responds to the turn and how far the dog may pass the turn. And learn the dog’s negatives, which is the behaviors that the dog tells him when they’re off the track. So we’ll let him get started. So

you can see the dog’s head down because Boyd knows where the track is. He can read when the dog is actually tracking and what that looks like. So important on reading the dog and the tracking dog in the real world environment and so this gives and affords that opportunity for Boyd to read that behavior.

He then can also feel it on the leash. I talked in a previous session about the three ways to read a detector dog tracking being part of that detection that detector dog set at least one of the areas of detection. So Boyd is not only watching what the dog is doing when they’re on track. He’s also listening to the breathing pattern and also filling the leash and how the dog feels when they’re on track.

On this particular track, we left a toy at the end of the track as to not utilize airborne odor at all. So it’s all ground scent that the dog’s tracking on this particular track. The other important element that I want to mention, guys, is don’t forget to incorporate all the elements into your particular track, right?

So the other things that you may not have seen on the video that this handler is working on is his hand position. And that’s very important because we go off muscle memory in law enforcement. And what is muscle memory? We talk about our office space or our work space. Uh, as some of my military trainers talk about.

And, uh, that work space being right here in the center of the chest. Again, creating muscle memory. I can leave from the center of my chest and go straight to my weapon. I can transition to a rifle. Uh so, I make many movements, muscle memory movements from the center of my chest. So, even in his tracking, he’s taught to keep his hands in the center of his chest.

So, don’t forget the minute details that go into making you a great handler. Oftentimes, we forget that in training and we just go through the motions of tracking, go through the motions of training. But we don’t concentrate on those small details. And even though small details matter, especially in a stressful environment, we want to go right back to our muscle memory and condition that and condition our bodies to work within that muscle memory, in that muscle, uh, memory space, if you will.

Uh, and that’s why we enforce that even in our tracking element. Stay here and work from the, uh, the workspace that you’ve been conditioned to work from. Alright, that concludes our short set. Remember, you can follow us on all these different platforms, whether it be Spotify, you can find us on Apple Podcasts, and even on YouTube Podcasts as well.

Look forward to, uh, teaching my next short set next week, right here on Tuesday, as all the other short sets are released on Tuesday and Friday, our long, um, podcasts, usually with a guest. But, uh, work on your tracking this week. Focus on the minute details that make you and your dog successful. Have a great training week.

Interested in making a guest appearance? Have a topic you want us to discuss? Send us a message!

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