Practice early: track work for puppies

Tracing, i.e. sniffing traces, is a specialty of many dogs. If you want your animal companion to learn to read tracks from childhood, you can start the training for this at puppy age. It is important that it is always playful. "Where's my food hidden?" Puppies are also fun to search for - Image: Shutterstock / gurinaleksandr

Already with a puppy you can enter the world of tracking - you will be amazed at how much stamina and talent young dogs have for reading tracks. Very important: There is never any scolding, the exercises should be pure joy for the puppy and always short-lived, so that the training does not become too demanding.

First track work: the feed circle

For the so-called feed circle, you first need a few treats - preferably the largest possible chunks - sturdy shoes with a good profile, well-fitting harness for the dog and a light leash of about two meters in length.

Find a quiet meadow and leave your puppy in the car or with an accompanying person on the edge of the meadow while laying out a first track for you little four-legged friend. Step into the ground with your shoes in a circle about 1.5 meters in diameter. Important: The edge of the circle should be well delimited. Now distribute the dog treats generously within the circle. Do not put food over the edge of the circle!

Promote concentration in the puppy

Now your puppy comes into play: bring him to you and put him down directly in the feed circle. There he will immediately start sniffing and searching. Let him eat in peace while keeping the leash loose. You don't even need to say much - an occasional "search!" is enough. Do not pull the puppy back on the leash should he ever leave the circle, but let him find his way back to the food and into the circle. Important: Before he loses interest or has found everything, lift him up and carry him out of the circle.

With the feed circle you can test how long your young four-legged friend concentrates on the track work. The more you repeat this playful search for traces with him, the more attentive and concentrated he will become - and this is ultimately the prerequisite for successful tracking in adulthood.

Increase the intensity

Now it's time to stay on the ball! Your puppy should learn to make the connection between the footsteps - the track - and the food. If you have repeated the feeding circle exercise a few times, you can start kicking a pear-like shape into the ground instead of a circle. In this way you expand the circle more and more until the treats lead out of the circle. Always extend the track and start by placing a treat in each of your footsteps. This way you can slowly get your puppy used to the track work.

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