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This question is just one of curiosity at this point. It may become more relevant if legislation ever gets passed to permit blood tracking dogs in PA, but at this point, I'm just curious from a training/dog handling standpoint.

The thread about the stalled legislation on blood tracking dogs in PA got me to wondering about the training involved for this activity. Lots of info out there, and like anything on the web, one has to be adept at filtering the bad info out and reading the good info. I get that.

Reading some comments and articles, there seem to be two schools of thought, and I'm curious what folks here think.

One line of thought holds that training a dog for tracking deer and also for bird/upland hunting is a mistake. The fear is that while the dog is bird hunting, it will come across deer scent (entirely plausible) and it will follow that scent, as it's been trained to do so. Then the hunter has to "break" the dog of chasing after uninjured deer they come across while bird hunting.

The other line of thought is that the dog was not trained to follow just any scent it finds, but rather to follow a specific scent it's been exposed to and directed to follow.

Being a modestly capable dog trainer, I can see where either line of thought could be plausible.

What do you folks think?

At this point, it's just hypothetical. I do, however, have an adult lab with a strong nose, and a lab pup who is soon to start upland training. Should tracking dogs be legalized at some point, however, I'd be interested in either of them, or both, being trained to track deer. Between the folks I hunt with and people I know in the area, it seems there's at least one tough track a season, and having a dog on hand to help when that occurs would be awesome.

That said, I don't need to be in a hurry since there's nothing imminent on the legislative front. I'm really just curious about this potential issue, as reading on the topic got me wondering about it.

And no, I'm not planning to take my dog out to find deer unless/until it's legal to do so.
 

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I own a Drahthaar and it all comes down to training. She basically hunts what I tell her to do at a given time. Tracking, to some extent, is a trained behavior, similar to any other command. Also, tracking blood of any animal is totally a different world than tracking hoof or foot scent from a deer or bird. For instance, my dog will point any live uninjured bird. Now, if that bird is wounded and there is even the tiniest amount of blood scent it's game on and go retrieve that bird.

When I bring her up to a blood track she has a different collar, different lead, different everything. She picks up on which "gear" I'm carrying whether it's a tracking lead or a bird vest or duck decoys. It sounds hokey, but they quickly learn what game we're pursuing and how to handle each type of game.
 

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Before a dog becomes useful for finding wounded deer he must be able to maintain concentration on the old wounded deer scent line even when confronted by a healthy deer or a hot line. Once the dog knows what is expected he should be worked over blood lines laid where deer are known to be present.
Deer Search

Apparently the dog is trained to only follow the wounded deer and your line of thought that the hunter has to "break" the dog of chasing uninjured deer would be incorrect.
The dog does what it's trained for, follow the blood trail, they don't follow a trail of healthy deer.

Now I suppose you could be upland hunting and your dog could come across a deer blood trail but what's the chances of that happening?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm not really trying to bias toward any line of thought...those are just the two that came out in some of my reading on the topic, so I was curious what others thought on the topic.

Essentially, I would very much be interested in training my dogs for this when/if it becomes permissible activity. Just sort of reading and learning on the topic because it was recently being discussed, and because I'd want to train for it if it was an option in the future.

I suppose a dog could hit a blood trail if small game hunting during the overlap with archery season. I can see how that wouldn't be completely unthinkable. Not sure how frequently it would happen, but I could see it occurring on a very infrequent basis.
 

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There's no doubt a Lab could be easily trained to do this job very well. Sounds like it's best if you start the training at an early age though.
Guess you'll just have to get another Lab when this becomes legal in Pa!
 

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I would guess some dogs are quite capable of doing both regardless of breed. Some dogs are tractable, others not so much.

It would be quite apparent to any observer when a bird dog stops hunting and begins tracking or following a track. Any other dog as well. So the hunter would know if he has an eye on the dog if the dog is hunting for game or on a track.

Personally, I would not be training for blood tracking with my hunting dogs..
 

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tdd said:
This question is just one of curiosity at this point. It may become more relevant if legislation ever gets passed to permit blood tracking dogs in PA, but at this point, I'm just curious from a training/dog handling standpoint.

The thread about the stalled legislation on blood tracking dogs in PA got me to wondering about the training involved for this activity. Lots of info out there, and like anything on the web, one has to be adept at filtering the bad info out and reading the good info. I get that.

Reading some comments and articles, there seem to be two schools of thought, and I'm curious what folks here think.

One line of thought holds that training a dog for tracking deer and also for bird/upland hunting is a mistake. The fear is that while the dog is bird hunting, it will come across deer scent (entirely plausible) and it will follow that scent, as it's been trained to do so. Then the hunter has to "break" the dog of chasing after uninjured deer they come across while bird hunting.

The other line of thought is that the dog was not trained to follow just any scent it finds, but rather to follow a specific scent it's been exposed to and directed to follow.

Being a modestly capable dog trainer, I can see where either line of thought could be plausible.

What do you folks think?

At this point, it's just hypothetical. I do, however, have an adult lab with a strong nose, and a lab pup who is soon to start upland training. Should tracking dogs be legalized at some point, however, I'd be interested in either of them, or both, being trained to track deer. Between the folks I hunt with and people I know in the area, it seems there's at least one tough track a season, and having a dog on hand to help when that occurs would be awesome.

That said, I don't need to be in a hurry since there's nothing imminent on the legislative front. I'm really just curious about this potential issue, as reading on the topic got me wondering about it.

And no, I'm not planning to take my dog out to find deer unless/until it's legal to do so.
If you ask me, the supposed first school of thought you mention is born of shear ignorance by folks that probably have no clue on tracking and blood trailing dogs. Tracking and blood-trailing are specific trained skills. When a dog is put on a tracking or bloodtrailing task it is typically given a command to do so and may even be put on a specific type of collar and leash for the job, that the dog has come to directly associate with the task of tracking or blood trailing.

Versatile breeds, like Drahthaars, have been specifically bred to perform (with proper training) all of these tasks: find & point upland game, retrieve game including waterfowl, dispatch vermin and track and even bloodtrail wounded game. A dog that, while performing other tasks (like bird hunting), breaks to chase deer or track deer scent is simply one that hasn't been trained.

My own DD has been a good natural tracker from the get go and though I haven't trained for it much or task him with doing it much I do occasionally let him stay sharp and have fun tracking things like rabbits or foxes that we may come across during our daily hikes. Now if we're out birdhunting & a rabbit jumps up in front of him or he hits a fresh track he may initially look to follow the track but a simple "No" or reminder of "Birds" is all it takes. Broke off running deer is broke off running deer so even a dog that may be specifically commanded to track a deer at times shouldn't then chase deer on its own. If so it just hasn't been trained not to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That makes sense to me. I was sort of leaning that way from the start, but wanted to hear some others' thoughts, too.

I may just start "tracking" training....tracking non-deer items (upland trainer I work with recommends making trails to track with left-over training birds, starting sometimes with a hot dog or something else really strong in scent and very appealing). Just getting the concept formed for them. My oldest did it naturally...not sure yet on the younger one.

Once they get the rules of the "game," it shouldn't be a hard thing to teach them what they are to track, and if deer tracking is legalized, then we can go that route.

I have woods on my own property now, so I have a good area to use to train.
 

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As young pups you can start them off to learning to use their nose and track with hot dogs, even to it just in the house or backyard. You can also use a wing. The first official tracks my dog did was with a dead duck and dead pheasants & even chukars. Start out simple, straight lines and as the pup progresses then start putting turns & other difficulties into the track. Then try some live birds if ya want. Also if you're out hiking with the dog and see a rabbit that disappears before the pup notices you can then bring the dog up to where the track starts and do that.

For the NAVHDA Natural Ability test they use a live pheasant with its primaries pulled. The judge also pulls some breast feathers from the bird and places them on the ground at the point the judge releases the bird. The bird is released into a field and the judges kind of "herd" the pheasant to make its over into the thicker cover. The handler and dog (who remain out of sight of the release & track) are then called up to the release point and the handler puts the dog on the track and releases it once the dog indicates it has the track.
 

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question ryan ,
in the NA test..what is the dog supposed to do with the bird after its tracked into the heavy cover?
point? catch the bird? pressure it till it bolts?
 

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If anyone wants a good book to read about the subject. John Jeanneney's Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer is a good read. I don't have blood tracking dogs, but found is book to be very informative on the subject. As with most hunting/working dogs even though the game may be different alot of the principals are the same.

http://www.born-to-track.com/
 

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twistedoak said:
question ryan ,
in the NA test..what is the dog supposed to do with the bird after its tracked into the heavy cover?
point? catch the bird? pressure it till it bolts?
At that point the dog doesn't have to do anything. Some will point the bird, especially if it has remained in cover, and some will run it down, catch it and retrieve it. The dog is only judged on its tracking, however if it points the bird in cover it would count towards its pointing score. In the NA test there is no retrieving score though. When I ran Quade in the NA he tracked the pheasant turn for turn and then found it in the woods, ran it down, caught it and reemerged with it, bringing it back to me. The whole time I thought he blew the track, which he had never done before, and instead went into a field search (only afterwards did I learn he wasn't searching, the pheasant actually ran in a couple of wide circles in the field before finally taking a line into the woods. He had aced the track.)
 
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