We hear it all the time… I think my dog can track, she can find anything and is always has her nose down sniffing when we walk. I think she can be a tracking a dog.
The good news is you are right. The basics of tracking are something all dogs can do. What training will do is focus and refines the dog’s skill to follow a very specific aged scent.
Tracking is a fun activity for a dog and handler to enjoy together. The general idea is for the dog to follow the scent left by a person who is walking through an area and to find an article dropped by the person. What training will do is focus and refines the scent skill of the dog. Training will teach the handler to “read” their dog. Tracking is one of the few dog events that the dog is in charge. As we all have heard in our training… you cannot push a rope!
That is the challenge of tracking, the training. Training for tracking can be started in your front yard and by combining one of the many excellent books on tracking you can start down the path of being a tracker. If you have an interest in tracking come out to our annual tracking test in the fall and watch how it is done. Check out DOGWISE for excellent selection tracking books. Use the word “tracking” in the site search.
Tracking titles and the specifics of the track
TD-A TD (Tracking Dog) The test track is between 400 to 450 meters with two to three turns, aged for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum to two hours. Dog has to find and indicate the article at the end of the track.
TDX – A TDX (Tracking Dog Excellent) track is 900 to 1000 meters with five to eight turns, three articles and two cross tracks; aged three to five hours. The dog has to find 2 of the three articles which include the article at the end of the track. Track will include some obstacles which may include crossing roads, varying vegetation and will include a cross track purposely laid across the track.
The articles that a dog must find at this level in tracking are leather, such as gloves.
With it becoming more difficult to find open field areas to train for tracking in cities we have the option now to work for Urban track titles as well. These are:
UTD (Urban Tracking Dog) the Urban Tracking test is 300 to 400 meters in length with 3 to 5 turns both left and right with one being on a non-vegetated surface. The track is aged 1 to 2 hours. Two articles on the track must be found. Articles can be fabric, wood or plastic but the last article must be leather.
Terrain: Urban areas such as office parks, industrial parks, campuses, schools, etc. Approximately 2/3 of the track shall be on vegetation, the other 1/3 (no less than 100 m) shall be on non-vegetated surfaces such as gravel, dirt, sand, mulch, brick, concrete or asphalt. The first 30 meters of the track shall be on vegetation.
Cross tracks: none plotted, but naturally occurring cross track are to be expected in an urban environment, so if they should happen, they will not invalidate the track.
UTDX (The Urban Tracking Dog Excellent) The test is 600 to 750 meters in length with 5 to 7 turns both left and right with one 90 degree turn shall occur in a non-vegetated area with no vegetation, fences or buildings within 25 m of the turn. The track aged 3 to 5 hours. Three articles on the track must be found. The first and second may be fabric, wood, plastic or metal; the last must be leather. Articles shall be approx. 16 – 24 square inches in size. At least one article shall be left on a non-vegetated surface.
Terrain: Urban areas such as office parks, industrial parks, campuses, schools, etc. A minimum of 1/3 and a maximum of 1/2 of the track shall be on non-vegetated surfaces such as gravel, dirt, sand, mulch, brick, concrete or asphalt. The remaining parts of the track shall be on vegetation. The first 30 meters of the track shall be on vegetation.
Obstacles: guardrails, stairs, open buildings (ie. breezeways, gazebos, parking garages) are permitted. No track may enter a closed building.
Cross tracks: none plotted, but naturally occurring cross tracks are to be expected in an urban environment, so if they should happen, they will not invalidate the track.
TCh (Tracking Championship)
A dog which has earned all 4 CKC tracking titles (TD, TDX, UTD, UTDX) shall be awarded the title of Tracking Champion. The initials TCh may be displayed in front of the dog’s name.