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Tracking is a technique in which dogs are trained to locate certain objects  by using the object's scent, for a variety of purposes. Tracking has always been an essential skill for dogs to survive in the wild, through hunting and tracking down potential prey. Beagles were bred as scenthounds so they are particularly suited to tracking.

The dogs learn to follow a human scent trail, which increases in difficulty over the weeks. A positive reinforcement training method is used - the dogs really enjoy this activity, while the handler's learn to appreciate their dog's abilities.

Apart from following the scent trail (which is aged) over various types of terrain, the dogs also deal with corners and turns. There are also articles which are dropped along the track, which the dog indicates. All this makes tracking challenging but very enjoyable.

For more information go to www.mckaynine.co.za

Drag hunting - The aim of the drag hunting field day is to provide a controlled environment whereby we can let our hounds socialise and use their natural ability to trail a scent laid by the huntmaster. Beagles are after all a pack animal, and the need to form a group with a defined hierarchy is very strong.

A lure made of old material soaked with either aniseed oil or some other strong smelling substance, like pilchards, used in Gauteng, is dragged along a line. The line should mimic the movements of a hare so should have turns and changes in direction and not be  a straight line. There is a defined start line and finish line. The drag line is usually about 1km long and there can be a number on one day. The dogs are then lined up at the start line and released when the huntmaster gives the cue. The pack will then follow the scent to the finish line.

For more information on drag hunts see www.beagles.co.za