Just though I would give you an update on the progress of my dachshund Geordie, he is now 11 months old and I have spent every opportunity training him up in the forest. Training consisted first of just taking him into the forest and sitting there whilst he sniffed around getting used to the smells and sounds, the first few trips he would stay just within eyesight of me and then come back to me, but slowly after more and more trips he began to gain his confidence and started to wander out of sight and explored further and further afield. This process was very up and down in the beginning, some days he would be off to explore a few hundred meters from me and other days he seemed more content to just play beside me chewing on sticks and digging holes, but by just ignoring him when he did, he eventually got bored and would begin to search.
Now when I take him in the forest he will immediately start to search, sometimes it's quite slow and close by if there is no fresh scent in the area, other times he just vanishes out of sight straight away, hopefully this will be the case as he gets older and learns to search further away if there is nothing fresh in the area. When he does find fresh scent he begins to bark every now and then as he begins to follow and then when he gets on very fresh scent he begins to bark almost constantly as he runs on the trail. So far I have had about 6 long chases with Geordie on both moose and roe deer, the moose chases, (2 of them) he seemed to get bored after about 20-30 minutes and would just follow his tracks back to me, this is a good thing as I don't want him to chase moose, whereas the more sporadic roe deer tracks seemed to keep him interested for longer periods and he has been gone for an hour and a half and travelled 8km's in very rough terrain on one occasion.
Now the dog leash rule is in place in Norway so we are not allowed to have dogs free in the forest so animals can raise their young i peace, therefore I will spend the coming months laying out tracks with a roe deer hock for him to follow on a lead. I will do this many times and gradually make the tracks older and older so that he becomes accustomed to following older trails as well, this will also be very beneficial should we have to follow up a wounded animal. I have also enrolled Geordie to do a blood tracking course, if he is good at this I might try to get him registered as a qualified blood tracking dog - fingers crossed!
Here are a couple of photo's I have taken of Geordie when I have been out in the forest with him, he's wearing his GPS vest which has a GPS locater in the pocket on the top of the back and this gives me his position every 5 seconds when within range.
We were lucky enough to shoot a roe deer right at the end of last season when I had Geordie with me in the car, I took him over to the area and he immediately reacted on the fresh tracks and followed them down to the dead roe, he had a good tug on the coat of the roe and a good bark. Afterwards my friend Anders carried the roe back to the car over his shoulders, Geordie decided he wasn't ready to give it up yet so jumped up and latched onto the leg and refused to let go, it was a good opportunity to get a few photo's.
I'm looking forward to using him in the Autumn, I'll keep you all updated on his progress!