Ben’s New Year’s Eve Snow Track

This afternoon after a fun walk, I laid a short 370 m snow track for Ben.The dogs and I all walked in a coulee for almost an hour before this track, so Ben was well exercised and could put his mind straight to tracking. It has been very cold lately, and we have not been out a lot, so making sure he was focused was important!
Ben, Jet and Ted at the coulee, with the South Saskatchewan River in the background
I was losing light, and decided to make the track short, because he hasn’t been out in a month, and you don’t need a long track to practice well! I used kibble here and there in my footprints too. I laid it, then ran it at about 20 minutes old. It crosses other tracks, dirt dips with tire tracks where footsteps can’t be seen, plus includes some hard packed snow and bare asphalt road.
MAP (picture snow)
The track is 370 m. I had to draw in the roads, which are not shown in this Google Earth map. You can see the dead end before one road – with the wind at our back so that he was set up to keep going. I also took a BIG step when I took the turn towards the playground, so that he would miss that footstep as he headed to the dead end. The legs here are quite close but with the wind coming from the top (north) and snow, it’s not a big issue. You can see the curb serpentine as well – I had to draw in a thin line for the curb in this map.


Here is a rundown of what I see in the video, to guide you along:

  • Started in the shelter of the building – grass is evident, no wind, walking start
  • We turn into the wind on turn one
  • I wonder if he will cut his second corner, I place one piece of kibble on the turn itself and sure enough, he cuts it by about one body length but turns back to hit the corner (brown dirt spot)
  • His next turn puts the wind at our backs again and about half way along this leg is a turn left, but I went straight first to create a dead end
  • At the dead end, Ben TURNS BACK towards me as he’s been taught! When he loses scent, he has been taught to circle back
  • This is where a chest harness and video camera will let me handle my line better! I encourage him verbally and as we back up, he hits the left turn and then finds his wool mitten
  • We carry on, turn in the play area, then cross a road – he has a hard surface turn here on the road but the wind pushes him to the boulevard, which I let Ben figure out.
  • He finds the track in the curb – then finds the step up onto the boulevard
  • At the next step off, I stepped onto the hard surface and not the snow and he shows lovely loss of scent and works very hard to find the leg; I wished i had better line control here (hands were freezing) but he finds it with my verbal assistance and I tighten the line a bit
  • The end! his second article indication is non-existent as a woman is walking to her car and it throws Ben off however I don’t mind after this nice bit of work, good boy!

It is not his most stellar track, but for an impromptu track after a month off, I am very happy with him. We need to work on the articles, and as always with Ben, his distraction factor as you see at the end, when he loses focus because of one person walking to her car. Sometimes he is fine and other times he really seems to be bothered by this. Lots to work on for May!

I took this when I went back to collect my flag. You can see our track, and the pattern of my line dragging in the snow. I did not make a scent pad but actually did a walking start here, and placed the flag about 15 steps up from my walking start with one piece of kibble. A walking start is a faster start than a scent pad and lets the dog build up flow right away.

I hope this inspires you to try winter tracking!

Your Coach

Spiritdance > Tracking and Dogs menu tab for lessons and seminars


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