I would like to train my pack of dogs (8 dogs) to track game animals but not chase them. This would be a great excersise for them and myself, bonding activity and preparation for any long term "what if" scenarios in which it became necessary to hunt in order to put meat on the table, since using dogs to hunt is illegal in Washington.
First and foremost: legal issues? It is illegal in in Washington to use dogs to assist in hunting and any dog seen harassing wildlife can be shot by law enforcement. However, if they are not chasing or attacking the target, but rather leading me to it and I do not have a bow or firearm on my person, could this still be interpreted as hunting or harrasing wildlife?
I am under the impression that most dogs will figure out what they are supposed to be doing if they simply follow their master while he is tracking. Is this a reasonable expectation? Otherwise, would it make more sense to have my wife drag a deer hide into the woods to a pre-determined location then lead my dogs there and treat them when they find the deer hide? Input from someone who has trained tracking dogs would be appreciated.
I'm trying to imagine a way to communicate to the pack "today we are tracking" and "today we are not tracking". The only idea that comes to mind are to make them wear a harness and long line when they train so that the harness means tracking time. The part that makes this less than ideal is that only one could track at a time since a human would have to be on one end of the rope. Are there alternatives? Is it practical to train a dog to track an animal AND not run too far ahead of you? Makes no sense to start tracking an elk and end up trying to track down the dog.
Any tips on getting the pack to search for but not chase game? Not chasing is important. As of right now, chasing game could get the dogs shot. In a "what if" scenario, it could get them in trouble with dangerous query or at the very least, in the line of fire when I have to dispatch it.