Thoughts on Blood Track Training in Snow

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Thoughts on Blood Track Training in Snow

Postby bwana_don » Mon Feb 08, 2016 7:11 pm

Does snow make it easier or harder for a dog to track?

Does anyone have any experience training in snow and then transitioning to no snow? Did it help, cause problems or make no difference for the dog?

Yesterday was track number 20 and it went really well. Which got me thinking, is the snow on the ground making it too easy for the dog to track. The last 2 tracks have been in snow 10 inches deeper. Yesterday's track was 500 yards, 10+ hard turns (90 degrees or more) through some very thick woods with lots of under brush, some fresh Bobcat tracks when I laid the track and I also put a duck down 10 feet off the track for the first planned distraction. The track was aged 3 hours, blood was dripped every other step, a couple inches of snow had fallen, some of the blood was no longer visible and the wind kicked up to about 20 mph, the temperature was just a little below freezing. He got off the track 3 times, obviously it was easy to see my path and let him know immediately when he was off the track. I laid him down once when he missed a turn and followed the Bobcat trail, the other times he recovered quickly on his own. He did veer off to the duck, never picked it up, when I said ahhhnnnt! and track! he left it and got back on the track and finished.

I really like doing the tracks in snow, no clothes pins to pick up afterwards and I can see instantly see where he goes off track.

Is the snow holding the scent better, creating a visual track that becomes a crutch or creating some other issue?
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Re: Thoughts on Blood Track Training in Snow

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:57 am

Well no one has commented and I have some experience and impressions to draw on so I will offer some thoughts. But I start with a disclaimer that at times I think the more I observe the less firm my opinions are about such things as dogs and scenting conditions. Lots of variables make 100% conclusions uncertain at times.

That said, the most difficult is dry, bare ground and high winds. Generally as moisture goes up, cover gets denser providing more things for scent to cling to and wind declines allowing scent to settle vs disperse, scenting gets easier. So snow in general provides more moisture and helps contain the scent. Melting snow can lead to scent dispersal, which initially is helpful, but past a certain point (more time more melting) yields faint and hard to follow dispersed scent.

I have done my blood track training and most actual recoveries on dry ground. But I have hunted birds and fur with my Vdogs and hounds a lot in the snow. I think most consider snow easier than dry ground. Houndsmen in particular seem firm in that view, although a lot of that has to do with the ability to search for and run better, fresher tracks when aided by snow.

Snow seems to hold scent better than dry ground. Icy conditions are often the opposite and make for difficult scenting conditions.

I have found a lot of challenge in laying tracks is avoiding leaving foot scent for the dog to key on vs blood. I use knee high rubber boots kept clean and outside in oak leaves under the eaves of my house and a spray bottle to direct the blood well off to the side of where I am walking. I mention this because a smart dog will begin to key in on the visual of tracks in the snow. Fairly common for houndsmen to observe their dogs running Mt Lion tracks visually in the snow. So is it possible your dog could learn to visually key on your tracks in the snow, hence why I mentioned doing what you can to spray blood off to the side. Spraying the blood as far off to the side as possible and laying tracks cross ways to the wind should help you diagnosis whether this is occurring or not. The dog should be downwind of the blood if it is running scent vs visually keying on your boot tracks.

Master of the obvious here. I would include bare ground tracks in your training to ensure your dog is ready to handle what comes your way when real recoveries are needed. PS I just ordered a Garmin Alpha and I think this tool will offer a lot in the area of blood track training. Lay the track and mark with GPS as you go so no need to place visual markers and then observe how closely the dog is working to the line when it is working the track, is my plan with this new tool and my puppy coming in April. Good luck.
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Re: Thoughts on Blood Track Training in Snow

Postby bwana_don » Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:27 pm

Thanks for the response.

You got me thinking about doing tracks on some bare ice as the snow melts down on the lakes. Might be close to dry bare ground, at least until there is dry ground.

I will be watching him more on scent verses visual tracks. I know early on he was tracking people scent, even on an overnight track.

I do the rubber boot routine as well. Have thought about going to the extreme with clothes that I do for bow hunting, but have decided with three judges laying a track, there will be so much scent being dropped from clothes it is not worth it.

I have the garmin alpha, while it can be used to track tracks I don't think it gives the instant feedback needed for training. Great for looking at after the fact, but looking at a little screen, while working a dog to stay on the track is more of distraction - imo. If you could set it up with a light to go off on the collar every time the dog was more than x feet off the track, I would find that useful. I like my eyes on the dog. I am finding I only use my alpha for training on the searches - independent woods and duck search if needed. Otherwise it is only used for hunting and when the dog was a pup, I wanted to see how far he would chase game it was invaluable for piece of mind and very interesting. I prefer my pro 100 if I am doing training that requires a collar.
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Re: Thoughts on Blood Track Training in Snow

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:51 pm

Sounds like you are all over it. While researching options for my next pup I spoke with Jacob Strege in MN. Nice guy and he has done some blood tracking testing with his DDs. Expect he would have some applicable experience to lend to your efforts and be willing to share it. He is listed under MN breeders on the VDD website.

All through my blood track training with my current dog I wondered if he was tracking me or blood despite my best efforts to prevent it. It took him one time to learn to track me to pigeons in launchers (while wearing clean rubber boots) and so I had to be sure I never walked downwind of the planted bird. And it took him one time at a game farm to learn to track the 4 wheeler and then foot scent right to the birds. Regardless of what he was tracking on our blood track training runs he must have learned something valuable as he has shown a good ability to track real blood trails and recover deer when I needed him, which was my objective all along and will be with my next dog.

Good luck.
Last edited by AverageGuy on Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thoughts on Blood Track Training in Snow

Postby CohanseyDD » Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:59 pm

You've gotten a pretty good response on the tracking in the snow question. I see you've already done 20 tracks, I suppose for the VGP this fall? I can only state this based upon my own training methods, but I doubt I've ever done 20 tracks with any of the 3 that I put through VGP. They become bored very easily with this unless you continue to challenge them. At a certain point with being challenged, they may fail. Once they do...are you confident you can bring the dog back around? If your goal is to do a day track and your tracks to date have been successful...I would cut way back on the number of tracks between now and then. Throw one in once in a while so you know how to read your dog, but the day track is more like a drag to the dog and he will probably not have any issues with it. As you said...a minimum of 3 judges walking single file should help the dog considerably. Wait until the ground clears and you have conditions similar to the test and try it then.
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Re: Thoughts on Blood Track Training in Snow

Postby DDGUY » Thu Feb 11, 2016 12:11 pm

After seeing your post I decided to go lay a track in the snow. I haven't done any tracks for my dog since before the snow and decided to get out of the house and see how it goes. I laid the track and let it sit several hours. When I returned to put my dog on the track I noticed that the blood had spread quite a bit in the snow, not well defined but a much expanded area of pale pink. It was above freezing with the sun out, so there had been a little melting. As I expected my dog followed the track quite easily. The scent of the blood seemed quite strong to her. One thing I noticed is that she was right on the blood and not following my tracks in the snow at all. I think that under such conditions blood tracking is much easier than on bare ground. Had the temperature been below freezing with overcast skies and the blood dripped into 6+ inches of powder snow, I suspect the scenting conditions would have been much tougher. I think the disturbance track made by the track layer is less of a distraction than on bare ground.

All training opportunities can be beneficial so I see no reason not to do blood work in the snow, as long as your dog doesn't start to develop bad habits.
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Re: Thoughts on Blood Track Training in Snow

Postby 3drahthaars » Thu Feb 11, 2016 2:50 pm

AverageGuy wrote:Sounds like you are all over it. While researching options for my next pup I spoke with Jacob Strege in MN. Nice guy and he has done some blood tracking testing with his DDs. Expect he would have some applicable experience to lend to your efforts and be willing to share it. He is listed under MN breeders on the VDD website.

All through my blood track training with my current dog I wondered if he was tracking me or blood despite my best efforts to prevent it. It took him one time to learn to track me to pigeons in launchers (while wearing clean rubber boots) and so I had to be sure I never walked downwind of the planted bird. And it took him one time at a game farm to learn to track the 4 wheeler and then foot scent right to the birds. Regardless of what he was tracking on our blood track training runs he must have learned something valuable as he has shown a good ability to track real blood trails and recover deer when I needed him, which was my objective all along and will be with my next dog.

Good luck.


Put a "fork" in your track, either left or right for 15-30 feet and no blood.

Backtrack to the main track and proceed the opposite direction with blood.

Age your track and see if the dog takes the direction with no blood...

I did this by accident twice, while trying to cross a creek, and the pup took the two bloodless routes before the 3rd successful crossing.

The track was aged 24hrs when we ran it... judge for yourself.


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Re: Thoughts on Blood Track Training in Snow

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Feb 11, 2016 4:04 pm

Good idea, I'll try it. The dog's ability to track me in clean rubber boots surprised me when I first started. They are the same boots, stored the same way, that I watch Whitetails routinely walk right over my tracks with no indication they smell anything.
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Re: Thoughts on Blood Track Training in Snow

Postby bwana_don » Fri Feb 12, 2016 10:58 am

3drahthaars wrote:
Put a "fork" in your track, either left or right for 15-30 feet and no blood.

Backtrack to the main track and proceed the opposite direction with blood.

Age your track and see if the dog takes the direction with no blood...

I did this by accident twice, while trying to cross a creek, and the pup took the two bloodless routes before the 3rd successful crossing.

The track was aged 24hrs when we ran it... judge for yourself.


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I like it, but what to you expect and do when the dog takes the wrong fork? Maybe nothing, ideally I would hope they back track on their own from the dead end.

I can come up with logic that would suggest tracking the scent is OK.....real tracking no blood at times, keep tracking the scent of the animal on the trail.....track the blood is OK , there was blood, always take the blood trail......track the person is OK , it is for a test, not quite the real thing, track the three people that laid it.

Looks like a fun weekend coming up. Fortunately I have a dog that loves this stuff, actually need him to slow down a little more, he is still a bit of a puller, but not nearly as bad as tracks 5-10. He loves to work for dog food.
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Re: Thoughts on Blood Track Training in Snow

Postby huntinmo » Fri Feb 12, 2016 12:36 pm

[quote="bwana_don
I like it, but what to you expect and do when the dog takes the wrong fork? Maybe nothing, ideally I would hope they back track on their own from the dead end.
[/quote]
Dog might or might not make it to the “dead end”, in either event what you are trying to do is read the dog, see what clues he gives you that he is no longer on the track. He may not want to “back track” so you have to think about what you would do if you did not know where the track is, such as in an actually tracking situation and you could not help the dog to locate the track. You may not always have a deer trail in the snow! :-" So, you have put the dog on a down because he has shown you that he is off the track, and you have looked around, then what? One option is to let the dog work in circles, starting small and then increasing in size. Once again you are looking for the dogs’ reaction when he does eventually come across the track. If you can get a good “read” of the dog when he is off the track and then when he has located the track I would look at that as a very positive training experience for both of you. :mrgreen:
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Re: Thoughts on Blood Track Training in Snow

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Feb 12, 2016 1:45 pm

huntinmo wrote: One option is to let the dog work in circles, starting small and then increasing in size.


Right on. And for those training their dog for the original objective of recovering game we humans cannot, letting a trained and focused dog work in circles works even better when the dog is allowed to search independently off lead. My dog will loop out from last scent looking for next available scent. If he finds none in that direction after a reasonable advance, he loops back to last scent and tries again using a different vector. Effective and Expedient. Strong genetic tracking skills combined with letting him work tracks off leash is how he developed that style and it did not take him long. I think a lot of dogs would do the same if their owners ever tried working them off lead.
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Re: Thoughts on Blood Track Training in Snow

Postby huntinmo » Fri Feb 12, 2016 2:45 pm

AverageGuy wrote:
huntinmo wrote: One option is to let the dog work in circles, starting small and then increasing in size.


Right on. And for those training their dog for the original objective of recovering game we humans cannot, letting a trained and focused dog work in circles works even better when the dog is allowed to search independently off lead. My dog will loop out from last scent looking for next available scent. If he finds none in that direction after a reasonable advance, he loops back to last scent and tries again using a different vector. Effective and Expedient. Strong genetic tracking skills combined with letting him work tracks off leash is how he developed that style and it did not take him long. I think a lot of dogs would do the same if their owners ever tried working them off lead.

That is a good observation and may work where permitted and depending on the level of training of the dog. I have sometimes done that as a last resort, but definitely illegal in some states for the tracking dog to be off lead so be sure to check on that at your location, also not permitted when testing in the on lead portions. :scrambleup:
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Re: Thoughts on Blood Track Training in Snow

Postby 3drahthaars » Fri Feb 12, 2016 3:36 pm

bwana_don wrote:
3drahthaars wrote:
Put a "fork" in your track, either left or right for 15-30 feet and no blood.

Backtrack to the main track and proceed the opposite direction with blood.

Age your track and see if the dog takes the direction with no blood...

I did this by accident twice, while trying to cross a creek, and the pup took the two bloodless routes before the 3rd successful crossing.

The track was aged 24hrs when we ran it... judge for yourself.


3ds



I like it, but what to you expect and do when the dog takes the wrong fork? Maybe nothing, ideally I would hope they back track on their own from the dead end.

I can come up with logic that would suggest tracking the scent is OK.....real tracking no blood at times, keep tracking the scent of the animal on the trail.....track the blood is OK , there was blood, always take the blood trail......track the person is OK , it is for a test, not quite the real thing, track the three people that laid it.

Looks like a fun weekend coming up. Fortunately I have a dog that loves this stuff, actually need him to slow down a little more, he is still a bit of a puller, but not nearly as bad as tracks 5-10. He loves to work for dog food.


Dead on... there are "test" dogs and there are "hunting/tracking" dogs... not always the same.

One local "expert" cussed out a friend and his young son for walking all over the track so no dog could sort it out... "test dog".

A good friend did a seminar and showed how much "stuff" is sprayed out at the kill zone and how it is not uncommon even in Germany for several hunters to try to locate the animal before calling in the dog... the dog has to learn how to sort out these things... "hunting dog".

Very good observation!

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Re: Thoughts on Blood Track Training in Snow

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Feb 12, 2016 3:45 pm

huntinmo wrote:[
That is a good observation and may work where permitted and depending on the level of training of the dog. I have sometimes done that as a last resort, but definitely illegal in some states for the tracking dog to be off lead so be sure to check on that at your location, also not permitted when testing in the on lead portions. :scrambleup:


Yep it is contrary to what the tests dictate, and illegal in some states. Very effective at recovering game.
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Re: Thoughts on Blood Track Training in Snow

Postby bwana_don » Fri Feb 26, 2016 5:24 pm

Did my first track today on bare ice on a lake today. Very different. First thing, the dog was not use to bare ice, made him much slower than usual because of trying to keep his footing. He did not want to concentrate on the track at first like he does in the woods - lots of other new smells. I spent a lot of time waiting for him to get back on the track and encouraging him as well as laying him down a couple of times on the track. It was about 400 yards, the last 100 he was pretty focused and more what I expect and like to see. There was a lot more focus on the blood the where I had walked, I don't think there was any scent left from me by the time I did the track.
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