Hard surface exercises

We've had some regression on hard surface tracking lately. My partner is fully capable of working hard surface but is trying to be lazy and has started lifting his head to look for soft surface or simply surging to soft surface. We're doing exercises on training nights when we have other persons to help to work on this but I'm looking for on your own exercises you guys may be doing when training partners aren't available to increase the training frequency.

Are any of you doing self laids on hard surface? Scent in the bottle?
Scent in a bottle is great for initial training, but IMO can make an experienced dog regress. MUCHO odor. To keep the interest in hard surface, I like to do brief self-laid tracks entirely on hard surfaces and rewarding over the head on to the track.

The mentality is more about motivation and getting the reward when they are doing the right things. Lots of praise and excitement. I have to do this now and then with my boy...hard surface seems to be less naturally rewarding for the dogs.
I never do self laid tracks! If my guys did them (I'm a trainer). I would have their ass and my supervisors would help me. I would suggest you look at the Kocher Method of bloodhound training. We adapted it to our patrol dogs (15 k9s)about 6/7 years ago and our hard surface tracking ability has skyrocketed. You can make your partner scent specific with his method too.

As far as a hard surface exercise, if you have businesses that close late or apartment communities that are "active" late, watch a person leave from an area (door, sidewalk, whatever). Watch where they go. Let the track age to desired time. Run the track to where you get a vehicle pick up, door ID or desired behavior where you reward over his head.

If you would like some more info on Kocher PM me and we can figure out a time to make a call happen. Sorry for the late to the game reply but I've been on the FB groups more than the site recently.

Good Luck Brother! Not talking shit just trying to help...
I just saw this as well. Just wanted to echo the sentiments on self laid tracks. Never. When I'm rusty on hard surface (admittedly, is the case too often), I look for places that I can integrate some real ground odor disturbance on top of hard surface. An example might be big parking lots that have landscaping islands or mulch beds. You can get creative.

I'll instruct the track layer to walk through the "natural terrain" as much as possible, to spit as often as possible, brush skin rafts from forearms, hair, etc. Start with one parking lot and lots of scent, and as you and the dog progress, minimize the amount of deliberately left scent and lengthen the track.

Another tip that may be a bit controversial is the use of surveyor flags (bright flagging on stiff wire). I picked this up while I was attending a three day urban tracking class about five years ago. The track layer simply lays down a single flag every so often or sticks them into the ground where applicable. Two flags are left side by side in order to indicate a change in direction. I have to emphasize that this is for the handler's benefit and not the dog's. It has helped me really understand what my dog is doing and what he looks and acts like when he misses a turn, approaches a scent pool, gives proximity alert, etc.

I typically will use the flags on training tracks in a 3:1 ratio with a totally "blind" track. The blind track serves to validate the methodology of the other tracks and they build on each other.

When I first started running tracks using the flags, my dog indicated on them as if they were a discarded article from the quarry. I would praise him and get him back to work. This methodology hasn't resulted in him ignoring other discarded "real world" items though, and I've had tracks where he has laid down/indicated on every bill that fell out of a cash drawer following a gambling parlor robbery, laid down on individual shell casings, gloves, etc. So, no negative results at all from the flag training methodology. I've watched it improve lots of other handler's abilities too. I strongly encourage anyone struggling to try it. Surveying flags can be found at Lowe's, Home Depot, Tractor Supply, etc. Good luck.
Those are good points... You can also just get creative with the "flags" use large items. Old unserviceable ones: flashlights, gloves, etc. When you don't want to use the "flags" use really good landmarks to know exactly where the track goes. A set of stairs, handicapped ramp on a curb at an intersection, street signs (at the 3rd fire lane sign) to mark exactly where your turns are. When you progress here is a good challenge. Go to a parking garage with multiple levels. Zig zag down the levels using the different stairways. Then progress to zig zagging up the levels. Garages seem to do weird things with the air flow, especially if it is windy out.

Boy Scout

Regular Member
I’ve heard that Kocher method is great, but I can’t find any resources on it. Anybody know where to get the book or any other insight?
Curious why no self laids for those of you against them? Guessing maybe the dogs are getting stuck if you stepped out without them and then come back to get them?

I'm going to pick up the Kocher book, gracias.

Works been slow for us lately so I definitely watch a lot of people walk at night and put out on them after a delay as a means to working tracking strangers (not quarry's, not people putting off adrenaline etc) and hard surface.
Your dog should never work in a way a self laid track works. Your partner should be tracking to the freshest order. I.E. what's in front of him not what is behind him (you).

There is something to be said for a reversal. You run a short track and have another handler or officer that can actually work with your dog. Then have him track you. While the party of finding you is happening have other handler/officer lay a track. The. Track him. All can be hard surface or start on grass etc then go onto hard surface.

And sorry I've been off here for a while and just on the FB group.