E337: Lucy Newton - Follow That Track!

Looking for another way you can teach your dog to use his nose? In this episode Lucy and I talk about teaching your dog to track! Join us to learn a little about training your dog for competition tracking. 


Melissa Breau: This is Melissa Breau, and you're listening to the Fenzi Dog Sports Podcast, brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, an online school dedicated to providing high quality instruction for competitive dog sports, using and progressive training methods. Today I have Lucy Newton here with me to talk about tracking. Hi Lucy. Welcome back to the podcast.

Lucy Newton: Hi Melissa. I'm happy to be here.

Melissa Breau: I'm excited to have you. So, to start us out, do you wanna just remind listeners a little bit about you and your current canine crew?

Lucy Newton: Current canine crew is kind of always evolving a little bit, but yes, I'm an instructor at Fenzi Academy, of course. I teach mainly the tracking courses and also a few nosework oriented classes, say oriented because my set theory kind of can be for tracking or nosework, but that's primary. My, my two, two things that I'm involved in with the Academy, a little bit about me and my current canine crew. I have a, basically, I have a dog training business in North Carolina at the moment. I have my previous background, my originally background was vet research technician. I have a science background, that's what I studied in college.

And then I went into law enforcement and search and rescue and then taught some detection trainers courses for quite a while. And then sort of moved into having this dog training business current. I've done quite a bit of coaching, did some police canine and search and rescue canine training. And about five, six years ago started training service dogs for a national nonprofit.

And that's pretty much the bulk of what I do at the moment, besides what I do for teaching through Fenzi Academy is training the service dogs. My, and that's why I was sort of joking in saying that my current canine crew evolves a little bit because I have sort of my own resonant dogs. And then I've always got three or four service dogs in training.

Dogs come to me usually as green dogs. Sometimes people such as yourself, you know, raise, you know, a puppy for the program, but they sort of rotate through, you know, through my house. And then they go to, they get placed as service dogs. So it's an ever evolving, you know, crew of dogs in here.

In addition to my own dogs, of which I have three, mainly for sports, for me currently, primarily the service dogs take up a huge amount of my time. They're 24 7, you know, It's not a job. You take a lot of time off from job, basically. Yeah, Yes, exactly. Because I mean, you think training is pretty straightforward, but it's basically they're living like, you know, pets in my house. You know, it's important for them when they go to be service dogs that they're socialized and have, you know, they're used to living in a house. They're not kennel dogs, but it's also making sure that they all have a quality day too. Do they get exercise, do they get enrichment?

You know, everything that, you know, we want for our own dogs or want to. So, you know, I really get to the end of the day and go, did everybody get enough today? And they, you know, I have always have guilt about that. But you know, as we all do when we're trying to get our jobs,nyou know, do our work and, you know, provide quality time for our dogs, mainly the sport that I focus on right now is that I have a Dutch Shepherd that I do Schutzhund with. I have a retired Dutch Shepherd that had her Schutzhund three and she's almost 13 now. And now I have a younger dog who's four that I'm currently, you know, training in Schutzhund and probably we'll do some tracking with her as well. So that's, that's, that's the long answer to tell me about you and your current canine group.

Melissa Breau: That's alright. I do wanna talk a little more about that tracking piece. So to start us off, take a little bit about what options there are for kind of competition and or applying tracking skills in a working role. Like if somebody's teaching tracking, kind of what's the end goal?

Lucy Newton: I mean, and that's the thing with the Fenzi Academy is that it's kind of, you know, available to people worldwide. So there's a little bit of variation in sort of what, like, I have a lot of Australian students that take the tracking courses, which is just amazing just from, I love track, I love getting the watching tracking videos because they're all come from all over the world. So you, I always want people to like, can you just pan to, you know, to the scenery just a little bit more. I had one person that she was, I forget where she was, but there were wild ponies.

Melissa Breau: Oh wow.

Lucy Newton: And she's like, the dog's distracted by the wild ponies. And I'm like, well that's fine, but can you show me the wild ponies? So, so you know, that's in, you know, the answer to your, so, but mainly it's oriented towards AKC tracking and that kind of under that umbrella, there's some differences to what people in Australia are doing.

There's, the Canadian Kennel Club has got a similar type of tracking. There's some few minor differences in their rules with the, but, but it's all sort of under that umbrella of, you know, sort of, you know, sport tracking. And then sort of in the other, kind of under the other section is more kind of tracking that you would do more towards if you were, you know, used to call it Schutzhund and now it's IGP. So I, you know, you can, I date myself by calling it Schutzhund, but Schutz slash IGP, it's a more slower, precise, methodical, you know, type of tracking than you are going to be asked to do necessarily an AKC or CKC Canadian Kennel Club. So that's sort of what I orient.

So I kind of say it's AKC in similar type tracking, is what the class is oriented towards. And just as far as you know, options, you know, in this country primarily, you know, most people are competing in AKC, there's some other smaller tracking venues. I did one of my dogs, I also did ASCA, the Australian Shepherd Club of America, you know, offers, you know, tracking titles to other breeds besides Australian Shepherds. But the majority of it is sort of people doing the AKC, you know, levels of tracking.

Melissa Breau: Is there a difference, I know you like come from the working background and search and rescue and all that. Is there a difference in kind of how you approach teaching tracking based on whether somebody's working for that or for like AKC competition?

Lucy Newton: Well, trying not to, to sort of go into my, how my background evolved a little bit was because yes, you're right. I had sort of search and rescue and law enforcement tracking and how I got into AKC tracking is a lot of people who were doing that, that were friends of mine that wanted help with their AKC tracking, particularly more advanced levels like variable surface tracking, which more closely matched what I was doing, you know, as a law enforcement dog handler and, you know, so, so when I started helping them, it's fine to help your friends, but then I got started asking to do, you know, workshops and I felt like if I'm going to present workshops to people, then I need to have done the thing that I'm teaching them to do, even though there's some similarities, you know, so that was my originally was pursuing AKC tracking with, you know, one of my police dogs. So he was a patrol dog and he was also a champion tracker. But that's sort of how my entry into AKC sports was more, you know, if I'm gonna help people, I need to have done, you know, the thing that I'm going to, you know, be helping them do. As far as the different styles of tracking, it's more looking at it from a behavior shaping standpoint is what behavior do I want to shape here and how am I going to set up the training exercise to shape the behavior just like we would do with anything.

And if you think about like, you know, IGP or Schutzhund tracking is very slow and careful and methodical, AKC tracking a little bit less. So the dog has to still follow a track accurately. And then basically like search and rescue in law enforcement, you just want them to find the person at the end. There's no rules to what they can and can't do, you know, in between. So a lot of that is just you setting up training exercises to shape the behavior that you want. So you have to, you have a little bit of that, that mindset. And that's sort of how I've designed the way that I go about teaching the tracking class. The tracking 101 class, which is starting, you know, going on now is it's just really you're shaping a behavior. You're using, you know, how your, you know, your rate of reinforcement to shape the type of, the style and type of tracking that you want to get.

Melissa Breau: When it comes to like, equipment for tracking, what do you like for those teams just getting started? What do they need to actually start teaching the game to their dog?

Lucy Newton: I think well, we'll get into a little bit of, of, you know, locations as far as physical actual equipment for the dog. AKC does require the dog to have a harness, some other venues do not. So the dog just, you just need a harness. You know, you eventually need a tracking line initially, you don't even really, you know, need anything fancy for that. Just, you know, a six foot leash is gonna be fine. That's really pretty much it for, you know, for what you need as far as equipment to get started. And then the harness, you know, we want something that the dog can move comfortably in. So we want something that, you know, is a little bit sort of more designed for the dog to pull into versus harnesses that are kind of designed, you know, maybe to prevent that. So that's something pretty non-restrictive. You know, as far as a harness, the methodology that I use in the tracking class, we're putting down what we call targets down on the ground into the grass and then putting food on top of the targets.

And those are literally, you know, little squares of foam that, you know, I buy them like in bulk from Michael's, you know, I'm like, you know, I'm sure they think I'm super crafty, you know, but I mean like, like all of us, you know, like all of us, how many times have you bought stuff from like Michael's or someplace, you know, or Home Depot and it's just totally a dog training thing. But I was buying, I was buying felt from Michael's once and the lady there for the same thing to make out, make targets. And the lady at Michael's was super excited when I went to check out and she's just like, we were so excited, we just got this felt in and I'm was literally as she's bringing me up thinking, please don't talk about felting because I'm sure she's gonna be like…I'm like, no, I'm just gonna cut these up into pieces to train my dog. You know, she's probably gonna, you know, not sell them to me. Yeah. But she was just giddy with the fact that they had felting materials in, so…

Melissa Breau: That's so funny.

Lucy Newton: So yeah, it just literally, so these and, and people that don't have access to Michael's, you know, I mean, I started out, originally when I started doing this, I was using the little lids off of butter dishes, you know, for my own dog, you know, and you know, then it sort of just evolved because, you know, how much butter can one person eat? So I needed to come up with, or like, you know, baby food jar, you know, the, to lids off of baby food jars. So there's a little bit of flexibility if somebody doesn't have access to Michael's. But it's, you know, it's something you, something pretty cheap that you can put down.

That's pretty much it. And then just, you know, a few flags so that you know where your track's been laid. I don't, yes, we do get, wanna talk about the biggest thing for jumping ahead a little bit about as far as equipment is really is your, your train what you have available for the dog to track on. And it's a little bit like setting up any environment, you know, the track is doing the bulk of the teaching for the dog. So I'm kind of, you know, I mean there's a lot of flexibility. I mean, most people can find something, but they'll find, you know, I'm pretty fussy with, I want good, you know, a certain length of grass, I want a sufficient cover so I can put the targets down without the dog being able to see them from a long distance away.

But we want to, you know, it doesn't have to be a pristine, like completely clean area, but we also don't wanna use like, you know, a soccer field, you know, in the afternoon after, you know, kids have been on recess on it all day. So we want to choose those locations, you know, pretty carefully as far as are we setting things up, you know, for the dog, you know, to be successful without saying that they have to be perfect. You know, I've got one person in the, in the class right now, and it seems like every time she lays a track, a flock of geese go overhead, you know, there's just a brief moment where her dog is like, wow, you know, and then he's back to tracking. That's fine. It does not have to be, you know, this, that's always going to happen, you know, no matter what. But we want to, you know, do our best to set the dog up to be successful. And a lot of that is, you know, setting up, you know, an area that matches their, their level of, you know, of skill, you know, and different, you know, surfaces. Obviously dogs can track on a lot of different services. That's not, you know, we're saying, but we wanna get those foundations in place before we ask them to work in somewhere that's much harder. Like a lot of contamination or a surface that doesn't hold as much scent.

You know, something that's a lot, you know, there's not much grass. But that's something I sort of work with through with people when they take the class. And a lot of people send me, you know, pictures, here's what I've got to to work with. We're also not doing huge tracks at this point, so people don't need to have acres and acres, you know, of area available at first few tracks. They're basically putting targets down every single step for 30 steps. So you need to be able to walk, you know, 30 to 60 steps and basically kind of do enough of a loop to walk back to wherever your dog is, you know, and get your dog. So there's not a huge amount of area, but you do need some, you know, need some grassy areas.

Melissa Breau: Okay. So that sort of answers what I was gonna ask about. How much space does a team need to get started? It sounds like 30 to 60 steps worth of relatively uncontaminated grassy area.

Lucy Newton: Yeah. And you're gonna want to not be using, yes, you're gonna want to not be using those every day. So, you know, I have sort of, you know, like with all of, you know, the Fenzi classes, we generally have like, you know, a three, a three video limit for the week. However, you know, some of that varies depending on the instructor's preference, whether it's time or number of videos. But you kind, and that, that seems to work out pretty well as far as a good frequency is, you know, three times a week. So you wanna give that original, like if you laid a track today, you wanna give it a couple days to, you know, to rest and, you know, not be contaminated so you're not laying the same track over and over again in the same spot. So maybe if you have two or three areas, you know, that are big enough to, to do that, then that would be ideal.

Melissa Breau: That makes a lot of sense. What, what kind of factors kind of influence all of that? So we talked about the amount of space, but are there other things to look at in terms of location, whether or other things nearby or like any of that, that kind of influences appropriateness of locations?

Lucy Newton: Not so much. Like I said. I mean, you don't want something that's heavily contaminated. If it's something that's getting, I mean, if you're going to a park where some random people are walking through the park in the morning, that's fine. You know, it's just, you know, you want to sort of be able to lay a track and have that be the primary set the dog is following without having them have to work through a lot of scent, you know? And it also depends on the challenge of your dog too. You know, if you're, you know, someplace where there's a lot of whatever, you know, if your dog is very birdy, you know, and you're someplace where there's, you know, a lot of bird distraction, then that's kind of not ideal. Eventually you want to be able to work your birdie dog into, you know, where there's, you know, that type of distraction, but you wanna kind of find a place where you can lay that foundation and have the dog really come to love this game before you, you know, offer that. But otherwise it's pretty flexible because we want pretty much the dog to stay focused. We don't, we want them to not even, you know, really be noticing those right now. It's kind of like everything else, you know, eventually we want them to, you know, notice the distraction and be able to work through it.

But for this foundation stuff, I wanna really keep them sort of under threshold and really develop, you know, a love for, for this game. So, but if, if people have specific issues as far as, you know, they're not certain about something, like I said, that's something that they can always contact me and go, you know, here's what I have to work with with this group. You know, I've had people that go out and have taken video and sent me video and, you know, and just, you know, let me know, you know, what's gonna work and, you know, not this time of year because it is cooler for most places, you know, and getting back to sort of when the, you know, I offer tracking 101 twice a year. I offer it starting in December, and then usually we go tracking 101 and tracking 102, and then some people stick around for skill building, which is basically a little bit more practice as to, you know, what you were doing in 102. There's not a lot of new lecture in skill building.

A lot of people come back to skill building later on. Like if they took tracking 101, you know, last year, then they might jump into skill building, you know. But I try and offer 101 twice a year, December and April, so that different parts of the world, it's more favorable. Like I'm in North Carolina, it's a really good time right now to start teaching tracking.

If I start in April, April's not bad in North Carolina. But then, you know, as I continue on, like skill building for when I start in April, skill building will be offered in August. In August potentially depending on, you know, you and your dog and you know, how, how you know how much flexible your schedule is. You know, can you get up early enough in the morning, then it's not gonna be miserably hot. But getting back to your question, when it's hot, I usually try and track in the morning. I want moist grass and I want, it's just be better, more favorable scent conditions usually in the morning this time of year, at least where I am, you know, like right now in North Carolina, there's a little more flexibility. You know, I can track at noon in North Carolina today, I probably don't really want to track at noon in North Carolina in August. No, a because, well partly, I mean because it's hot, but also because it's not the best scent conditions, you know, you're just, everything is dry and crunchy.

You're offering the dog a little bit less scent to follow, you know, they definitely can track at that, you know, time of the day, but they're gonna need to be a little more proficient for so young dogs, I want to give them the best conditions, you know, that they can have. So definitely this time of year for like most of the United States anyway, there's a little more flexibility because it's not going to get, you know, unbearably hot.

Melissa Breau: Yeah.

Lucy Newton: Except for those folks way north. And then they can take it in April.

Melissa Breau: Yes. Yeah. Well that's the, I get, that's actually a big question is what about snow and dogs absolutely can, I mean, you know, tracking snow that was, you know, my nine months out of the year was, was tracking and, you know, snow, it seemed like it's not something I generally want to train dogs to track in snow because they are gonna learn to landmark off of footprints. If you have a dog that's trained to track, they're following scent, the footprints are gonna be relatively irrelevant because they've, their foundation is following scent, and if they're in snow, they're still following scent. But for these foundation dogs, I try and, you know, really sort of avoid, you know, a heavy layer of snow. So it's a gamble. I definitely have people in tracking 101 and we're really kind of going, if that weather could just hold off, you know, I don't wanna promote climate change, but, you know, if we could just not get snow, you know, through like a couple weeks, January, that would be great. Yeah. So, and, and it's not a complete deal breaker. Like if you're in a place where you get a dusting and it melts, that's fine.

You know, we just don't want to go, well, I've got a, you know, a foot of snow and I get an inch more every night and that's it until April. That's, it's probably better off to wait in, wait until April. Yeah. And again, if, if people aren't certain about, you know, that, I mean I can't predict the weather. That's the only thing they can contact me, you know, and ask me about the, you know, if they think they can do it. But you know, all I can do is think good thoughts about snow holding off.

Melissa Breau: Fair enough. Can you talk a little bit about, so I know we have lots of folks who, you know, dabble in nosework or maybe even compete really heavily in nosework. How do kind of nosework and tracking compare and, you know, are there more similarities? Are there more differences? Yes, I get that question a lot as far as, you know, can you do both?

Lucy Newton: You know, and you absolutely can. And you know, sort of what I, you know, point out is, you know, all, most, like my law enforcement dogs all were tracking and detection dogs, you know, so the dogs are pretty clever at figuring out context. They're going to get a feel for a difference in context. And, you know, we like sort of talk a little bit about, you know, establishing a starting routine for tracking.

So sort of our start routine and our equipment and the context of the environment. All those things are going to tell the dog that they're tracking versus telling the dog that, you know, they're necessarily doing nosework. You know, those two things look very different to the dog and I think they're very capable of figuring out, you know, the difference. Probably the only thing I would, you know, in response to that question that I would say is I probably wouldn't teach, like I wouldn't introduce both at the same time. You know, you totally could if you had to, you know, and if you like had, you know, were a trainer and, you know, but it just, to me it seems like it would be simpler just to introduce one and, you know, then add the other at some point. So you wouldn't necessarily maybe wanna not take nosework 101 and tracking 101, you know, the same term. But other than that the dogs can just, you know, you know, figure out the difference in the context. It's just, and it's also a little bit of a burden on you to just be consistent, but the, the environments look different enough that I don't think that, you know, the dog's gonna think, you know, when they're, when you're asking them to track, they're necessarily, you know, looking to do nosework and vice versa.

Melissa Breau: You mentioned starting routines in there. Can you talk a little more about that? So how important is that as part of the picture and then what does that kinda look like? What's an example maybe?

Lucy Newton: I mean, it's, it's kind of something that I nag people about as far as, you know, how they approach the start of the track and how they direct their dog to the track. It's not quite so much like, you know, we do it, we think about it in some other environments as sort of like to get the dog in the right mental space, you know, like for my Schutzhund IGP dog, you know, I have a starting routine that's kind of really kind of going, okay, are you ready to do complex obedience exercises? Or, you know, so I'm sort of, that's in that sense, the starting routine has sort of a mental management part of it. There's a little bit less, and that's why tracking is kind of cool, especially for puppies because there's a little bit less of, of that, especially like for IGP or Schutzhund tracking, you know, I need my dog to heel up to the star of the track and to lay down and then direct the dog. And it's very, you know, it's kind of the, like, almost like the beginning of an obedience routine, AKC and the sort of the types of tracking that fall under the umbrella of my course. There's not really any of that, you know, I mean, you can have your dog, you know, you wanna have a control of your dog basically, but there's not really the requirement of that. But it's more just how you bring the dog up.

I, so the starting routine for me is more me pointing out the dog, which track I want them to follow. So if you're working sort of when you get to the variable service tracking level where there's a lot of contamination, I want the dog looking to me so that I can direct them to go, well, here's the start of your track.

Versus if I've got my dog's head down and there's, they're processing a lot of tracks, I want them sort of focused and oriented on the scent that I want them to follow. So I do nag the tracking 101 people a little bit with that as far as, you know, bringing the dog up, directing them to the article, you know, and then starting from the starting article. But it's mainly with that end goal in mind, if that makes sense.

Melissa Breau: It makes a lot of sense, especially when you, when you kind of think about the fact that eventually you're gonna want them to follow not just your scent, but scents that you specifically want them to follow I, you know, say that.

Lucy Newton: Yes, yes. Yeah. Yes. And, and when we're, like, when I said, you know, we're looking for these areas we're, we're start laying a track in a pretty clean, pristine area that only has our track sent in it later on, it's going to, there's potentially other, you know, other track sense that we want them to not get focused on. So I really, like with my dogs, they're looking to me sort of going, you know, and I used to play this game with one of my dogs. I'm like, do you see your scent article? You know, and he'd be like, you know, it was this game of like, you know, I'm like, and then I'd be like, there it is. You know, and he would pounce on it, but I want him, I want him like going kind of from the car to the scent article and then following that track.

Melissa Breau: That makes a lot of sense. And I mean, it's kind of crazy to think about the fact that you start off with just your scent and then you have to kind of introduce somebody else's at some point in the process.

Lucy Newton: Yes, right. Like that piece of it. And, and I used to, I know, and I was as resistant to that as anybody, you know, at first, because my background is like search and rescue and law enforcement and you never, you know, you always had somebody lay in your track, you never laid your own track. And I, you know, I really wrestled through that for a long time because it's also, if you're dependent on other people to lay your track, you're also depending on people to follow directions properly. And that was a huge challenge. So that is a little bit of my, you know, there's a pros and cons. We're not with this type of tracking, we're not following this track to find the person at the end, you know, we're going follow this track and, you know, basically this track leads to articles that I've put on the track because you have to find all the articles to pass, you know, whatever level of, of title that you're working towards.

So thinking about the track is basically just the clue that leads to the articles. So that really, whatever track that I designate out and show you, I want you, this is the track that fall, you know, leads to the articles. It does require me to make the articles have some value, the articles have to be valuable to the dog, so that they're going, oh, this is the fastest, most efficient way to get those articles is to, you know, follow this track. But it doesn't require, you know, you to have, and that is a question that I do get is do I need another person to lay tracks? And the answer is no. Eventually we will have other people, because we do like different people, you know, have different stride lengths and you know, other people are gonna lay a bit of a different track than you in addition to, you know, having a different scent than you do. So we will sort of towards the end of 102, we want to, you know, have people laying, you know, lay some tracks for you, but we really treat that as a variable rather than you need a training partner. It's like, that's just one of the variables, you know, that you, you know, have this person go out and have them lay, you know, lay this, you know, 60 step track, you know, and let your dog follow it. So we really control that as, as another variable onto the track. But like, you know, for my, you know, most of my dogs, the majority of the, my tracks are, you know, that I've laid. And the bonus of that is, like I said, we're really relying on this track to do the teaching. And I, you know, I know exactly what I want to present to my dogs, the level of challenge, you know, that I want them to, you know, to experience within that session.

But there's also the other part of that, you know, and this is sort of like something that we really have fun with, and in 101 and 102, usually more in 102 than than 101, depending on how things are going. But I also, since I know where all my tracks are, we also, you know, I want to be careful that I don't guide the dog.

I don't give them some subtle body language or line handling because I know where the track is. And we sort of, there's some ways that you can sort of avoid doing that in one of the ones that we kind of have some fun with, with one, oh, you know, especially in 102, is can you close your eyes and just, you know, have your, let your dog, you know, lead you down the track. And I do that a lot with my own dogs because I lay so much of my own tracks is really, you know, close my eyes at least when I'm coming up on any difficult spots where the dog has to figure something out. In fact, there's a video deep, deep in my GoPro videos of literally out in the middle of a field, it was a flood plane, you know, it was sort of, you know, in kind of a weird area. But there was a fire hydrant out in the middle of this field, and my dog crossed the road, was not exactly on track when he crossed the road.

And there's a video somewhere in my collection of me running right into that fire hydrant. And you can see it coming. You just can't, it's just like, you know, it's like a, you can see the crash coming and you're just like, how is this, I have another video of having put down an article and one of my dogs, and I forgot that I put an article down and I feel her come to a stop on the track and I'm kind of waiting and waiting and finally I open my eyes and she's like, really? You know, and she's just hanging over this article like, you know, those make for really awesome videos too, by the way, you know, but, but it's a way of me sort of like laying my own track, but asking myself, you know, am I, am I influencing the dog's behavior, you know, in any way? And that's what I'm sort of, my training goal is, is to develop independent, you know, I don't want them looking to me for information.

Melissa Breau: And that kind of gets leads into sort of, people ask, you know, can you know, can we have puppies in the class?

Lucy Newton: And puppies are the best. 'cause puppies have not learned to look to us for any information. You know, if I get handlers that have done like a lot of agility, you know, I work with a friend that does a lot of agility and the things that you want to do in agility is the exact opposite of what you wanna do in tracking. Because in agility, you're basically telling the dog where, where to go with your body. You know, you want a dog that's very in tune to these body language cues that are really direct them around the course, whereas the tracking is the exact opposite. You don't want the dog, you know, queuing into your body language. You want them just following the track. So I find puppies are just the most fun because they, they just think it's this great, you know, I mean literally they're just, you know, it's like I can just go out and eat. You know, it's like, you know, you really get dogs sometimes when they first start in 101 that just kind of like go, this can't, it can't be this easy, you know, there's gotta be, 'cause we do, we teach them all these complicated things and then in this one it's like, why don't you just go eat food off the ground in a line? You know? But I do, I love, I love puppies, you know, I've always like, you know, think, can we give a discount so I can get more track puppies in the tracking class?

Melissa Breau: But no, fair enough. So kind of to that note, can any dog kind of learn tracking? Are there, you know, specific capabilities that you kind of need the team to have?

Lucy Newton: In theory, yes, you can say in dog, but it's sort of like you're shape, remember you're shaping a behavior, so you kind of need to have the right, you know, value for some, a reinforcement that the dog, you know, wants.

And, and generally I really push for, I want dogs that, you know, have some, if they're not interested in food, then the method that we're teaching and tracking 101 is probably not the ideal one. But we also do a lot of work with, to have a lot of suggestions for people to, to bump up the dog's interest in food.

We're really putting like a small amount of food, every one to two steps on those targets. So the dog figuring out to go from one target to another is really dependent on how much they want to find that, you know, next, you know, piece of food on the next target. But we also do quite a bit of, you know, experimenting with, you know, well what kind of food works best for them, you know, what can you, you know, offer that's going to, you know, really interest them? Because remember, like for the reinforcement value of it, we want them, has to have enough value for them to wanna continue the behavior. So the dog might take food, but is the food going to, like with any other type of training that we're using food for, is the food enough for the dog to go, well, I want, you know, I wanna do that behavior again to get that reinforcer. So there's some things that we can do. I've got some suggestions, you know, for, you know, how we can manipulate that. But generally for, you know, working through the class, it's really ideal that they have some interest in food as a reinforcer. There is ways to do it with toys, it's just not quite, that's not quite how the method in the class, you know, is designed. So I kind of leave that out. Like I usually add in toys later on, you know, I start with food and then if the dog is very, so they don't have to be crazy food driven, we can, you know, start with food as long as they will work for food initially. And then later on as they get a little bit more proficiency, there's a way to sort of add in, you know, toys if that's, you know, value. I have several dogs of my own, they'll work and train for food, but you know, the toy is, has more value. So I can, you can put that in a little bit later, but at least for this basic starting out, we want to have there to be some high value food item that they're, you know,

they're interested in working for.

Melissa Breau: That makes a lot of sense. I, anything else you kind of wanna share on the approach you take in the class for those who haven't kind of picked up on it? The class is on the schedule for December, so registration is open just a little bit longer. It closes on the 15th, the end of the day, but do you wanna just kind of talk through your approach in the class and anything else maybe that folks need to know to kind decide if this is for them?

Lucy Newton: I think the only thing you know, and, and this is something that we've worked through and people, you know, can contact me, you know, as well and ask questions as far as it can be a little bit of a challenge as far as videoing, because I sort of want to see, I like to see the, the range. I like to see what the handler's seeing. So now, now that phone technology has improved a lot. You can get harnesses for a lot of phones and I can work with phone video. So people either have a chest or a head mark mounted, you know, harness for their phone.

You can't really hold your phone and, and do this. It doesn't make for the best, you know, view tracking and you know, that joke with dog handlers need three hands. Yeah. So, you know, it's, if you've got one, you know, it's already, so if you're, you know, if you're taking away one and you're down to one hand, then that's even harder. But that's what I'm looking for. You know, some people have people that will vid for them and that kind of works. But you know, it, it's kind of a little bit of a, you know, a joke in the classes is, you know, so many people's spouses have bought them GoPros, you know, and just as a reminder, tracking them 101, you know, it's December, so you know, if somebody wants a Christmas present, you know. But yeah, I've just, I have lost track of, you know, how many people like have, you know, come on and know, started with like, you know, their spouse doing the videoing, you know, and then, you know, well, you know, my husband bought me a GoPro today. You know, literally one lady is like, she said he literally threw it in the cart, you know, it's just like, so, but it's not, I mean, it's cool to have a GoPro, you know, but it's not, it's not something that's vital, you know, to the, to the program. There's a little bit of a workaround, but you need do, need some way to video where you have sort of a view of the dog and that we're looking down the track a little bit.

Melissa Breau: Yeah. Any maybe final thoughts or key points you would just kinda wanna leave listeners with when it comes to this?

Lucy Newton: No, I think, you know, like I said, you know, people just, if you have questions, if you're not certain, especially, you know, I, I really try and have, try to really design the class so that the bronze students can follow along and do, you know, do the class as well. It's a little bit, you know, everybody's kind of tracking probably a little bit closer than they might in some other classes just because it is a one-on-one class, you know, there's some dogs that will pick up things a little bit faster, but it's not quite to the point, you know, like, like when I teach my nosework alert class, you have a lot of different dogs that have different kinds of alerts and they're working on different things or they might have different challenges.

So that type of class, you know, I tell people, you know, pick out one or two dogs that are most similar to, you know, the issue that you might be having or what you're working on this class. They're more in a little bit more of a tightly close bunch that they're kind of all pretty close to the same, you know, same skillset and same level. But I really try to make it something that, you know, even the bronze students should be able to, you know, if they follow sort of the steps that the dog handlers are following, you know, in the class. And if they sort of look at the types of things that I'm adjusting with each. 'cause everybody I'm for the first week, you know, I'm kind of making almost the same suggestions to everybody. But that's sort of, you know, really what I, my, in the back of my head, my goal is that, you know, the bronze students can, you know, be following along and be able to do this as well. There is a TA for the class too, so there is a Facebook group for, you know, for bra students to, to post videos and, you know, interact with each other as well.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. Alright, well thank you so much for coming on the podcast, Lucy.

Lucy Newton: Thank you for having me. Absolutely. And thanks to all of our listeners for tuning in. We'll be back next week. Don't miss it. If you haven't already, subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or the podcast app of your choice to have our next episode automatically downloaded to your phone as soon as it becomes available. Today's show is brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Special thanks to Denise Fenzi for supporting this podcast, music provided royalty free by ben sound.com. The track featured here is called Buddy. Audio Editing provided by Chris Lang.

Thanks again for tuning in and happy training.


Today's show is brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Special thanks to Denise Fenzi for supporting this podcast. Music provided royalty-free by BenSound.com; the track featured here is called "Buddy." Audio editing provided by Chris Lang.

Thanks again for tuning in -- and happy training! 

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