Slowing the K9 down

My boy has really picked up tracking on another level lately. The problem is that he is getting excited when in odor and going way too fast. As he is pretty responsive to leash corrections, slowing him down via back pressure on the line while still keeping him interested is a dance.

What else can I try? I had read about laying training tracks with more turns closer together as well as putting food down. More turns may be helpful, but he will locate then ignore food to keep searching.
Preface: I'm just a handler (early in my dog career at that,) not a trainer.

My dog is like yours, doesn't care about food when he's on the hunt for a dude, exactly what we want. I'm guessing the suggestion for food at intervals is to get the dog to stop or slow at the food but at this stage of the game I don't see why you would want that. Maybe someone with more experience can elaborate. Some guys will leave dinner at the end of a self laid track at the end of shift but that's the extent of it and the dog knows by repetition that the food is the reward at the end instead of the man.

What's he doing when you put tension on the lead? Pulling off? My humble suggestion would be to setup a track so that the dog sees the quarry at the end before he can get to him and you post your dog and you slowly let the lead out, making him fight thru the tension to get his bite. If he does well on the next track same thing but the quarry runs off around a corner and you make the dog fight thru the tension. Extend the distance each time and the dog should learn that he is going to get what he wants by fighting thru the tension.

"slowing him down..while still keeping him interested is a dance.." The science of tracking isn't too difficult, it's learning the art, something only a handler can appreciate. Do you train with other teams? Have a guy watch your line handling, maybe you need to softens/smoothen up, some dogs feel like they're constantly being checked off. And if you are accidentally checking your dog or the line gets hung up and checks him make sure you're telling him it's ok and to keep going.
I don't know where you work or what the culture is there (policing and especially K9 being regional) but have you thought of tracking off lead? I work in the Albuquerque area and we do little( if ever) K9 deployments on lead. For me the last thing I want to do is be connected to that dog while searching for a bad guy. My current PSD came from Europe with an IPO background, he loves to track and fast.

What we've started doing is sending the dog on the track, holding what we have. Let the dog get a distance away, usually less than 50 yards, down the dog. Search team moves towards the PSD, then send on track again. In our area most of the urban areas are divided by fences so we do yard to yard searches. If the search ends up being more rural or mountainous we use the off lead track.

This has been my way of dealing with the quick tracking dog. Again we do almost no on lead work and the tracking searches done are usually rural in nature with little chance of contacting persons other than the suspect. If you work in an area where there aren't fences and you do primarily tracks through neighborhoods then off lead may not work.

Boy Scout

Regular Member
How do you mean "Slow him down"? Is he moving too fast and losing the track? Using his eyes instead of his nose? Is he not bracketing? Or his he just a rock star and doing great but just plain moving/pulling too hard and fast?

My dude pulls like a beast too. What I've done to get him more focused on ground scenting and not have the back pressure, I was shown to put the lead under his front leg so it pulls his head down and puts pressure on the back of the neck, rather than on the front and being misinterpreted as correction. I've only done it a couple times but it's worked like a charm.
I also used the under the shoulder technique that Boy Scout describes above. Taking him off leash eliminates any chance you have of slowing him down. The yard to yard search off lead is more of an area search than a track anyway and works. I was in less urban situations and had to worry about my dog getting beyond my sight.
Pulling too quickly for cover officers to keep up is the biggest problem. He misses a turn here and there but does a decent job recasting to pick it up again. We could track more safely if we slowed down, and I think we would miss fewer turns or at least by smaller margins as well.
Are you tracking/trailing in a harness or on his collar? I would not ever track on a collar b/c of unintentional corrections.

Can you talk to him while tracking or does that distract him and draw his attention onto you? If you can use your marker word when he is giving you the behavior you want. Also start a less corrective than NO word and/or a soothing word. Try words like AT and EASY. Voice inflection corresponds with the type of input you want to put in.

Lay tracks through wooded area, areas with a lot of obstacles to navigate and any other areas that he can not just charge ahead.
Downsides that I see with the dog pulling too hard/going too fast is that they can get sloppy and miss shit dropped in the track, tire them selves out prematurely and wear down the handler. Speed should be adjusted so that security is maintained. Just hold the dog back :) I personally kind of like it when they really pull, that way they are more easily read when you've been out for days, working under nods and you are freezing.

Mateo, something you could try to avoid unintentional corrections is putting a short length of bungee cord between your tracking lead and harness. Just 5-7" or so. This will act like shock absorber or car car suspension if you will, smoothing out the ride and nerfing som of the lead jolts coming from the lead getting entangled or such while still allowing intentional corrections.