Hard Surface Tracking

  • How do you teach hard surface tracking? Tracking is my favorite task to teach during a Patrol Dog class taking up the majority of the class itself. I also teach mostly off lead tracking. Just curious to see how others teach hard surfaces.

  • Yes Sergio any other surface than vegetation. I start tracking for PSD with the bite as motivation. Once the K-9 is performing well in the woods on non distraction tracks I take them on to a road way on grass. I initially start the dog on grass allowing him to settle into the track. Once he is working it well I slowly begin moving toward the edge of the road. I continue onto the middle of the road then walk down for about 50' then curve back to the grass and allowing the dog to continue on to the end of the track. We continue this method for about a half dozen or so short hot laid tracks.

    Once he is performing this with little to no problems we lay the track using the same method but this time crossing the road then continuing on until the find. We next continue lengthening the track and age up to 30 minutes on the concrete before returning to grass until we start having him find the quarry on hard surface. Initially these tracks are done downwind which is the only time I care what direction the wind is blowing during the course. I also only on occasion lay tracks at 30 minutes as we are able to respond on most occasions to a call quickly 10 minutes or less so we train using this time frame for most sessions.

    When he has become proficient at this phase we next move into quiet neighborhoods to begin urban tracking where he will deal with some distractions as well as get introduced to other surfaces as well. Once they are confident, I begin off lead tracking prior to taking them to rest of the city for training.

    Since urban tracking takes a toll on the team on Fridays during the course I return them to the woods for those non distraction vegetated tracks so they don't forget the basics. In addition once a year I pull my teams off the streets for three days and go back to the woods for the same thing to clear up any problems they may have gotten during the year. The dogs really seem to enjoy this time.

  • I forgot to add once we hit the business area we at first go back on line and start our tracks on concrete from vehicles, gas stations, fast food joints, etc: with the dog having to locate the track himself at times or having the handler start from a known point. The majority of these tracks will be mostly hard surface with some being all hard surface.

    When the dog is proficient at this we go back to off lead tracking with a ratio of 1 in every 5 tracks done on lead. Also all wooded training tracks from this point on are done on lead.

  • Wow, that is some introduction to hard surface tracking Phil :thumbsup2:

    It,s been probably 10 yrs since we trained a tracking dog for the local police. My old man had an old yellow and green koehler tracking book. Nowadays I usually do tracking as a hobby or just to keep the dog busy but it is always done on grass.

    Just to clarify, I know 3 types of tracking dogs, "find and bite" are used when in pursuit of a dangerous suspect and should always be trained with the bite as reward. Bark and hold dogs are used by rescue teams and can be trained with toys, treats and praise. Finally the dogs used for illegal materials (drugs, gunpowder, explosives, etc...) can be trained also with toys and treats.

    I do remember training on concrete but It was done without much ceremony. Once the dog was performing well on grass we gradually switched to concrete then empty streets, houses and finally live scenarios. Of course tracking is not my "forte" :D

  • I prefer the bite and hold as the majority of my tracks are at night and we are usually on top of the perp before we know and can have time to react a lot of the time. Also tracking off lead at times they get a little ahead and will make contact out of sight of the handler. We were confined to serious misdemeanors or felony tracks only. We were fortunate however in that our neighboring county utilizes bloodhounds exclusively to do their tracking so we use them exclusively for lost persons, Alzheimer patients, etc:

    I taught 2 people using Koehlers book to teach tracking just for fun. It is time consuming but the dogs turned out as well as any dog I have taught using my own method or others I observed. My tracking book and guard dog training books are both signed by him as well.:)

  • Thanks for the detailed info Phil. So you met Bill Koehler or acquired the books signed?

    My only knowledge of tracking for PSD is theoretical from the Leerburg DVDs done with the RCMP this one Leerburg | Tracking Dog Training for Police and Search & Rescue DVD and this one Leerburg | Urban & Suburban Tracking: Training Police Tracking and Search & Rescue Dogs (S&R) DVD. Both very good videos, maybe the best one's he produced.

  • Yes Dan I first met him in my home state of Washington where he retired while in the military during the late 80's. He was judging an obedience trial. We hit it right off when I told him I was a MWD handler stationed at Ft Lewis, Wa. While talking I asked if he minded signing both books. He stated no. I was so excited I ran back to the car like a little kid and retrieved them. We ended up talking for about an hour.

    My method is based on tracking thru drive as well as from the very first track with agitation from the quarry all the way thru the course will involve finding the quarry and engaging him on most occasions.

    Those are 2 great videos indeed. Hard surface tracking has come a long way since those videos were produced. Many trainers today are actually starting the dogs tracking on hard surface first. I am looking at doing it myself with my new pup coming in next week.