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Getting dog to advance out during tracking

Dear Sirs I am in the process of training my Drahthaar for the VGP. This is one of the final test for this breed. In this test the dog has to search and retrieve a wounded animal. I don't have any problems with my dog doing a search, except - she won't search out far enough. My dog has a tendancy to search about 20 - 30 yards out, that's all. I have troubles getting her any farther. She will follow a drag for a half mile and bring back the dragged animal but I can't get her to search further. Any suggestions? Please! Her test is in Oct and I'm really stuck on this one.

Although I understand VGP, I do not run my dogs in these tests. But your problem is a universal one - How to get the dog to search farther than that 20 to 30 yard magical barrier that all dogs seem to go through? I seem to have the same problem teaching a duck search to my now 6 yr. old bitch and this is what has helped me.
  1. Every experience for the dog needs to be positive. By that I mean every time you say fetch or what ever command you use their should be game or some type of reward for the dog for the dog to find to bring back to you.
  2. My dog, like yours, does 1/2 mile drags beautifully. So I use this to my advantage. I drop dead birds (seed a field) and then bring the dog in. (Make sure the wind is not in the dog favor.)
  3. My dead bird fetch has no trail and no drag marks as I try to come in from the other side on a very clean scent free field.
  4. I make sure the dog finds game farther than 20 to 30 yards, Say 60 to 90 yards.

Now, to start, since the dog searches short - start one at, say, 30 yards. Drop several at one spot and then send the dog. Once she has picked up a few and brought them back, heel the dog farther back and start again. Every time it is done correctly, praise the dog. Every time the dog struggles, move up until the dog does the task right.
I started doing this on land and then moved to water as, what I was after was a duck search for my NAVHDA Utility dog. And low and behold my water duck search has improved. She is now searching farther out and searching till she finds the game planted for her. However the key is to have something there and lots of it so that multiple sends the dog does find a reward.
Now a few words of caution.
  1. Always keep it fun for the dog. By that I mean even if your training session turns sour, find a high note (as little as it may be) to stop.
  2. Short consistent training sessions are better than long ones.
  3. Make sure that if you do shoot birds over this dog that it does not find birds closer than 40 yards.

Hope this works for you as it has worked for me.

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