What is Tracking?
Have you ever watched your dog sniffing the ground intently, moving as he sniffs? If you have, you know that dogs have a keen sense of smell.
Tracking uses the natural ability of dogs to get them to follow the scent of a person. Search and Rescue dogs and Police dogs use their noses to find victims or criminals. Sport Tracking dogs use their sense of smell to follow the trail of a tracklayer.
Types of Tests
In Canadian Kennel Club Tracking there are Tracking Tests which take place in farmer's fields, on vegetated surfaces, and Urban Tracking Tests which take place in urban areas on a variety of surfaces.
What Does it Mean to Lay a Track
The tracklayer puts a starting flag into the ground at the start of the track, and stands by the flag trampling the ground near the flag momentarily. The tracklayer then walks the track following a map prepared by the Judge, and drops articles at the places the Judge has designated on the map. The articles are approximately 4 inches by 6 inches in size, and in Field Tracking are always leather, but in Urban Tracking can be leather, wood, plastic, fabric, or metal. The tracklayer steps on the article when it is dropped and then continues to walk.
About the Tests
In field Tracking Tests, there are two levels of testing: Tracking Dog, TD, and Tracking Dog Excellent, TDX. The dog must follow the track of the tracklayer, and must indicate. Some dogs may get into the down position to indicate articles. Some may sit. Others may retrieve the articles and present them to the handler. The dog must work well ahead of the handler. Full rules can be found in the Tracking Rulebook, which can be ordered from the Canadian Kennel Club . To earn a title a dog must pass the corresponding Test once. Dogs must earn a TD before entering a TDX or UTD Test, and must earn a UTD before entering a UTDX Test. Dogs who pass all 4 Tests earn the Title Tracking Champion - TCh
The Tracking Dog Test - TD
In a TD test, the Track must be between 400 metres (1312 feet) and 450 metres (1476 feet) long. The dog can't start on the Track until it has been at least a half hour since the tracklayer laid the Track, but the Track can be aged more than that, up to 2 hours for a TD test. A TD test has only one article, at the end of the Track, and will usually have 3 - 5 turns, with no more than 5 being allowed at this level. All turns must be in the open where there are no fences or boundaries to guide the dog.
The Tracking Dog Excellent Test - TDX
In a TDX test, the Track must be between 900 metres (2953 feet) and 1000 metres (3281 feet) long. The Track in a TDX test is aged longer than a TD. The dog can't begin Tracking until the Track is at least 3 hours old, and it can't be more than 5 hours old. In a TDX there are 3 articles at irregular intervals with the last one being at the end. There at least 5 turns in the Track and no more than 8 turns. A second Tracklayer lays a cross Track by walking directly across the Track in two places after the original Track has aged for 1 hour, and the dog has to follow the original Track, not the cross track.
Urban Tracking Dog Test - UTD
In an Urban Tracking Dog Test the Track is between 300 and 400 metres long. It is aged between 1 and 2 hours before the dog can begin Tracking. There are two articles, with the last on at the end. The Track should be approximately 2/3 on vegetation (usually grass), and 1/3 should be non -vegetated surfaces such as gravel, dirt, sand, mulch, concrete, asphalt or brick. There are 3 - 5 turns,, with at least one on a non-vegetated surface
Urban Tracking Dog Excellent - UTDX
In the Urban Tracking Dog Excellent Test, the Track is between 600 metres and 750 metres long, and is aged 3 - 5 hours. There are 3 articles on the Track, and 5 - 7 turns. At least 1/3 and up to 1/2 of the track must be on non-vegetated surface.