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Training to Blood Trail

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As in all my training, I utilize positive motivational exercises; this means lots of praise and food rewards. Do not worry about using a lot of food rewards in the beginning as they will be weaned out as the training progresses.

Although most all dogs can be taught to blood trail, I have found that the German Shorthair Pointer, German Wirehair Pointer, and Weimaraners excel at this work.




I like to keep the blood trail free of my own scent as much as possible. To accomplish this, I wear clean rubber boots and have a 3 meter plastic conduit pole which I attach a wick to. This allows me to place a track down off to my side without stepping near it. The wick is exactly that; a 20 cm piece of lamp wick held to the pole with a ban clamp. This set up works very well, dipping into a bottle of saved deer blood. You are able to keep everything clean this way and only use the amount of blood you need, preventing waste. Be sure to wash the wick at the end of the trail layout, so that it does not go hard with dried blood.

You also need deer blood. I am lucky as we harvest several deer a year at "work". Have your hunting friends save as much blood as they can for you on top of what you harvest yourself. The hardest part is storing the blood so you can use it and it does not go bad. I have found over the past several seasons that it is better to store several small containers, instead of one large one. If you can not obtain an anti coagulant to add to the blood, I have found it best to fill small plastic drink bottles, (approx. 1 cup capacity), and place them in the freezer immmediately before they can congeal. Thaw a small bottle for each training session. If your supply goes hard, add some warm water to the bottle, shake well and use as normal. It is wise to lay a slightly heavier track with reconstituted blood as it is slightly weaker.

Be sure to carry a supply of flagging tape with you as well. This is so that as you lay down your blood trail you can drop a flag every 20 meters. The flags are dropped or tied to vegetation where you walk. This gives you a visual reference point to check while your dog is working. If your dog looses the track, you will be able to bring him/her back around and onto the line without contaminating the trail by looking for a blood spot. For your initial teaching, tracks will be performed on mowed grass, such as soccer fields or parks. I find it best to tie a dozen flags to 14mm bolt nuts. This allows you to drop them on the ground and they will not blow away.

Other equipment that comes in handy for this type of training includes; a pouch to carry your flags and treats in, a 4 meter drag line, and a tracking harness. The dragline allows you to control the dog without contaminating the track, while the harness allows the dog to push forward without correcting on the collar. A green(fresh) deer hide is used at the end of the track from week three onward. To keep it fresh, freeze it in a garbage bag between tracking days.


Tracking Week 1


In the beginning, tracks are kept very simple and short. Be sure your dog is crated where he can not see you laying down the track. During week 1, you will lay down a blood track by placing a 5 to 10cm blood mark every 2 meters. At each 4 meter mark, you will toss a 2 cm piece of hotdog on to the blood mark. The hot dog is the dog's reward for finding the mark. The track will be no more than 60 meters long on mowed grass. Be sure to flag your trail on the down wind side at the beginning, 20 meter, 40 meter, and 60 meter points.

Bring your dog in from the downwind side of the track and show him/her the initial blood mark at the start. Give the "Go Find" command and allow the dog to move forward on the line. You move forward on your off set line. In this manner if the dog loses the track, it can go back and pick it up again without you having contaminated it. At each 4 meter mark that your dog finds the hotdog chunk, praise him. At the end of the track, lavish your dog with praise and play with him; letting him know he did a good job.


Tracking Week 2


Once again using mowed grass, lay down a blood trail that is 120 meters in length. Be sure to mark your offset line with flags. The two differences with this week's training are the length of the track and the placement of the hotdog pieces. During this week, place the hotdog pieces at 12 meter intervals, forcing your dog to concentrate on the deer scent longer and further before receiving his reward. Remember to praise at each find and at the end of the exercise.


Tracking Week 3


You are now going to place your track in ground cover of approximately 15 to 30cm. Alphalfa fields work well for this. Place your hotdog rewards every 6 meters. As the cover is heavier and harder to track, your rewards must come closer and more frequent this week. The track length should be between 60 and 80 meters in length. It is now important to place a fresh deer hide at the end of the track, where the dog will find it with his nose. When your dog finds the hide, walk calmly in from the off set line, and praise her repeatedly. Give several treats with this praise.


Tracking Week 4


Again lay your track in 15 to 30cm cover, with the fresh hide as the final find. Extend the track out to 120 or 140 meters. Only place the hotdog rewards every 30 meters.

If your dog is working calmly and at a controlled pace and you are working in a safe secure area where there is no danger to your dog, you may start to work off lead. If your dog starts to forge ahead at too fast a pace, sit him, catch up, stand calmly for a moment and then send him forward with the " Go Find " command.


Tracking Week 5


Move your tracking area to the type of cover that you will be hunting in. This maybe woodland, scrub, field or a combination of all. Lay your blood track down as before. Place your rewards every 30 to 40 meters and your deer hide at the end. Your track should be 120 to 150 meters in length with a blood mark every 3 to 4 meters. Bring your dog into the track from the down wind side, give the " Go Find " command and allow your dog to work forward. Remember to praise at the reward finds during the track and at the deer hide find at the end.


Points to Remember


- always keep your training upbeat

- end all sessions on a positive note

- not all dogs learn at the same rate and may require more than 1 week on any given exercise.

- transport your blood and hide in a sealed cooler

- train 3 to 4x's a week, one track per session

- never use the same blood trail more than once


Tracking Week 6 and onwards


You are now at a point where you can follow along with the dog. Remove all hotdog treats from the track line. However, remember to give treats and praise when your dog locates the deer hide. Continue to train in differant areas and in different styles of cover to ensure that your dog is ready for hunting season.


Remember to keep It FUN

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Thanks for the blood trail tracking info, excellent progressive programme. One point, I would assume you repeat each stage every day, how often would you expect to repeat the exercise in each session, and can you use the same track for a couple of days, perhaps reversing it? [sorry, that's three points].


Anyway, hope the all the kids fit and well now.


Thanks again.



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As a mere mortal in all things canine, i read the article as this.

NO1 yes you would repeat the training every day.

NO2 It would be a one off training session every day.

No 3 You would lay a new trail every day.1 because of contamination. 2 because the scent would be stronger. 3 you can then progress to lengthen/ shorten the trail to suit the dogs ability. I am probably barking up the wrong tree again :P wont be the first time ive made an *** of myself over dogs :P

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Tc you got it correct... :lol: , good to see someone here can understand what I write.




Just got in to edit that post,so I added your querries to it. However to answer your questions: Each track that you do is one session. Do one session each time you train. If you can train every day great but try for 3 to 4 x per week. Never use a track more than once.

Think I got them all...... :P:P

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A couple of things:


Firstly, you should write a book Buddy........ these are the best instructions I have read.


Secondly, Do you need to consider the WIND in all of this training?


Three, (this is probably just me) would you lay your blood line in a straight line or would you have it going all over the place to the point of it crossing over itself?


Fourthly, hugs an kisses to Trix :D:D for a job well done :D

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Col Pol:


1) I have given it some thought


2) Yes consider the wind during your initial training....try to set your track so that the dog follows from a down wind direction. Also try to set so that your off set line, the line you walk, is out of consideration...meaning the wind will quarter it away.


3) During your initial training set your tracks in a straight line, after 5 or 6 weeks you can start to add some bends and angles....try to avoid crossing over the same track until much later on. In the beginning you want your dog to succeed every time, this builds his confidence and teaches him what you want. Besides I have only ever had one deer in a good number of years that crossed its own track when wounded. This is not to say don't teach your dog to differenciate, just let him learn to do the job in stages.


4) Your welcome you big tease.... :D TRIX

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If you can not obtain an anti coagulant to add to the blood, I have found it best to fill small plastic drink bottles, (approx. 1 cup capacity), and place them in the freezer immmediately before they can congeal.


when ever i store blood for training i add salt to it as soon as i get it as this will also stop the blood congealing

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If you can not obtain an anti coagulant to add to the blood, I have found it best to fill small plastic drink bottles, (approx. 1 cup capacity), and place them in the freezer immmediately before they can congeal.


when ever i store blood for training i add salt to it as soon as i get it as this will also stop the blood congealing


If you sive the blood when its fresh and remove all the fibrin which is what makes it clot you will stop this problem. Push all the clots through a fine sive. Adding salt or chemicals gives a false taint to the blood.


I always start to train my dogs by using a piece of liver with a very short track into wind. I am trying to asociate the tracking collar with the pleasure of tracking and the reward at the end. Once the collar gets a positive response on sight I then change direction with the wind behind me. If you make the tracks to easy and too often the dog will get bored very easy and just go through the motions to please you and not track out of desire. I would only reccomend 1 or 2 tracks a week, it is hard work for a dog!


Perhaps this explains my way of thinking?


Dogs For Deer


Blood Tracking


When can I start blood work? Blood work can start any time after 20 weeks although some people start a little earlier with soup trails to the dinner bowl. I normally wait till the dog is at least 20 weeks as this is a demanding exercise and you can easily bore a pup and put it off tracking all together.




Basic Equipment


A good wide collar (at least 2 "). A Specialist tracking collar is best.


A strong tracking line ( 30' ) which can not unfasten from the collar! Leather or synthetic is a personnel choice.


The Innotek Pro Beeper (see product review) or Innotek 1600 Command series Track N Train.


You can use a falconers hawk bell or just use the Tracking collar to associate the collar with blood work.


1 Gallon of blood, Preferably from a deer but pigs blood is just as good. Since BSE OX blood is quite difficult to obtain. There is no need to add any salt as long as you sieve it through muslin cloth to remove all the fibrin. Fibrin is what makes the blood clot. Squeeze all the clots through the muslin at least twice. The blood left should be quite thin with no clots! Place the blood in suitable plastic drinks bottles and freeze until required.


A gardeners plastic spray bottle (it must be capable of creating a jet of blood)


An old washing bag (the ones used to put your tablets in the washing machine)


several 18" garden canes


A piece of cured deer skin (you could use a green towel)


A 6' length of twine (nylon can be washed) and your stalking stick




Getting stared


A hungry dog will work best here, delay his meal until after the tracking session, this is the only time I use food as a reward! I believe you must make the first few tracking sessions short and easy, we want the dog to learn that tracking equals food. I do not use blood to get a dog started I use a piece of liver.


Use a training area separate from the exercise area, the grass should be nice and short. Chose an open area with the wind blowing into your face. Scuff up a 2' area of grass with your boot. Place the liver in the washing bag and attach one end of the twine to the bag the other to the stalking stick. At this point the dog should be in the car and not be able to see the proceedings, a clever dog will soon learn to cheat and try to run to the end for the reward! Place a few scraps of liver and drag the bag of liver in the scuffed area then extend the stick at arms length and walk into the wind slowly for 30 meters. Place the skin or towel at the end with more liver scraps. Remove the liver bag and walk away at 90 degrees to the trail.




Wait about 20 minutes before getting the dog. Most of your foot sent should have blow away but it is not important at this early stage. Walk the dog in on the slip lead to about 10 meters away from the start and stop. make the dog sit if possible but do not force the issue this early. If Fido wont stay tie him to a ground stake so he cant run on. Leave the dog on the drop and walk up to the scuffed area, bend down and take interest in the general area. you bending down will generate interest in the dog and he may try to run to you. Go back to Fido, place the tracking collar and line, electric or leather on the dog and walk him up to the scuffed area. Run the line under the foreleg. This takes pressure of the throat and forces the head down. Make him lie if taught or just sit. Do not let him go anywhere for at least 2 minutes. This is important as while Fido is lying down he has the scent and food right there under his nose and he should take interest! Some dogs get very excited and others almost need a little geeing up! Bend down to the dog and click your fingers around the scuffed area and give your command to track, where's the deer or whatever you decide. Stick to the same command from now on and don't use fetch! this will cause problems if you use the same command for retrieving. Let fido start to track, if he goes of like a whippet stand still, only pay out a small amount of line, we want him to track slowly with his nose down. Has soon has his nose is down and on the trail let him go forward, only let him go forward when on the trail. He may swing backwards and forwards on a pendulum across the trail, only go forward when he is on the trail. Because the wind is in our face the scent should blow directly towards us and make it easy for the dog to follow. Most dogs will have no problems and go straight up the line to the end. When you reach the end make a great fuss of the dog, tell him what a good dog he is, sit down with him and let him eat a good chunk of the liver from the bag. Do not let him pick up the skin/ towel. Fido should now feel confident, he has started to learn, Tracking = Reward. After he has eaten the liver place him back on the slip lead and walk away from the area. Blood tracking has finished for today.


Do not be tempted to let him play in the area or try it again. You can't force a dog to track! a simple track is all that we want at the moment. Lay another simple track in 3 or 4 days, A maximum of 2 a week! Soon he will become excited with the sight of the tracking collar or bells. We are now wining, Fido wants to track, it is time to lengthen the track, still into wind. You can now let him have more line. When Fido is up to 100/150 meters we can introduce turns. A right angle turn for about 50 meters. Mark the turn with a garden cane. At the turn Fido may be confused and start to pendulum, again only let him go when he is on the trail. If he is totally lost make him sit at the point of the turn wait 2 minutes and start him off again. Do not let him air scent for the turn. Once he has done a few of these turns its time to lay the tracks down wind. Go back to short lengths, he will know have to work hard to follow the trail as the scent is blowing away from him. Increase the standing time to 3 hours, then next increase the distance. Tracking should only take place once a week now. Go back to short lengths but this time only place the bag on the ground every 3 feet. This is where the garden spray comes in, squirt a direct jet of blood not a mist into the same spot as the liver bag. You have now introduced blood to the track. From now on only use blood, and again increase the length and time of the track. Vary the terrain for the track now and increase the standing time. It is easy to go from 3 to 6 to 12 to 24 hours.


Introducing the deer

as with all introductions of game it must be done with cold game. The smell of hot blood can over excite a dog and easily cause distractions in the training programme. This is where the deer skin or towel which we have been using so far comes in. Lay your trail as normal, this time leave the cold deer with the towel or skin draped over the beast. Fido wont mind if the deer has already been grollached!. After a few tracks you can dispense with the skin or towel. Do not let fido mouth the deer, if he does encourage him to only grab the neck and not anything else. My current dog is having problems grasping the fact that the haunch is for me to eat and not her!




You don't know what your dog is going to do with his first real track. If the ground work as been sound there should be no problems. I like to feed my dogs bits of offal but I insist they sit and wait for me to feed them and not to help themselves! Most dogs love to track, remember start easy and work up. If you then make things to easy the dog will get bored and lose interest. Once the routine is in place dogs like to work hard for the treat and may have a great amount of excitement. You must control this and have the dog work slowly and methodically! A drop of blood is easily missed by a dog which thinks it is coursing hares. Good luck!


You can see the Innotek Track N Train and the BP Pro Beeper at http://sportdog.innotek.net/ The U.K. distributor is Dr Robert Gould robgould@innotek-uk.fsnet.co.uk


Please mention Deer-uk in your e-mail.




Paul Smith

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A very well written, concise training outline.


I have always used anti coagulant the same as the medical field uses as I had access to it. I will deffinately give your method of putting the blood through a seive. Trix works as a meat inspector so will get her to bring home some pork blood this week.


If I may make a suggestion? When running the drag line under the dogs foreleg, I have found some dogs get friction burns or tangle badly. To correct both of these problems buy a piece of foam pipe wrap at your local hardware store and duck tape it over the first three or four feet of the drag line. This pads the dog and keeps the line from tangleing.


What are you currently training to track? Myself I am about to start the Teckle.



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I have a couple of dogs which I use for deer, a German Wirehaired Pointer (deutsch drathaar) and a Hungarian Vizsla.


I dont have a problem with tangles as i use a specialist tracking collar which has re-enforced inserts. If the dog pulls hard the pressure is not on the throat but the back of the neck. I also use a specialist tracking lead wich buckles to the collar and can not come undone if it rubs against foilage, trees etc. There is an excellent product in the states called permatrack, very hard wearing and still supple.


I try to encourage dogs to track slowly and use the nose more eficiently as apposed to pulling like mad and penduliming across the trail and finding by chance. Try giving the dog more line and do not run it with a not in, allow the dog to go through cover whilst you walk around it and pick up the line at the other side.


I had a teckle, great little dogs! A pocket rocket with attitude!


Even a meat inspector will have some trouble getting fresh blood but pigs blood should be ok but OX blood will probably be a no no!

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very good reading lads i'am hopeing to train my springer pup for tracking deer whilst out stalking shes only 6 weeks old now any help would be much appreciated cheers vince

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Hello All!

As a crazy German running a bloodhound station (free tracking service for the local hunters community, supported by the German hunting club and the government), I am pretty much into that tracking training, the "continental style"....


We keep our hounds always on the leash, they only get released to chase down a wounded animal getting off the wound coach.

That allows a strict and direct control and influence and supports also the relationship between the dog and its handler.

The rest is pretty similar, from dragged gutts, through dragged deer and then an early switch over to scent shoes plus some blood, or even without, from fresh tracks, just a few hours old to more than 24 hours old tracks... Its amazing to see, what performance these dogs can show if properly trained!


Edited by Wildboar1973

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