Best Dog Free StuffFree greeting cardsDog freebies
Go to

Dog Sports: Tracking
A© Resource

Read our

Try-Tracking-Puppy-Primer.jpg (7458 bytes)
Try Tracking!:
The Puppy
Tracking Primer


Koehler-Method-Training-Tracking-Dogs.jpg (8599 bytes)

Koehler Method
of Training
Tracking Dogs


Fun-Nosework-for-Dogs.jpg (4583 bytes)
Fun Nosework
for Dogs


Practical-Scent-Dog-Training.jpg (5403 bytes)
Practical Scent
Dog Training


Scent-and-Scenting-Dog.jpg (8504 bytes)
Scent and the
Scenting Dog


star-red.gif (881 bytes)
For Bestselling
Dog Books



K9-SchutzhundTraining.jpg (4589 bytes)
K9 Schutzhund
Training: A Manual
for Tracking,
Obedience and


star-red.gif (874 bytes) Dog DVDs star-red.gif (874 bytes)


Click link to order The Power of Positive Dog Training
Power of Positive
Dog Training


Ready!SAR.jpg (6424 bytes)
READY! The Training
of the Search
and Rescue Dog


Click link to order Your Athletic Dog Video
Athletic Dog
A Video


Click link to order Clicker Training for Obedience
Clicker Training
for Obedience


There are numerous dog activities and sports today, many developed from the work that humans and dogs did together.  Here is an article by Steve Schuh that provides a helpful introduction to tracking with dogs.

Getting Started in the Dog Sport of Tracking

Tracking is a vigorous non-competitive outdoor sport where dog and owner can both enjoy the dog’s natural love for following a scent.  Imagine setting-out on a sunny spring day for a walk in the woods and 500 yards down the path your pet locates an exciting treasure; perhaps a glove, sock or wallet to his delight and yours.

The dog’s sense of smell is 100,000 times greater than humans and is used to locate humans, other animals, illegal drugs, explosives, avalanche and disaster victims and even cancer.

Any breed will enthusiastically use its nose to track. You can start early since a puppy 7 weeks old has the ability to track.

The American Kennel Club tests dogs and awards four levels of achievement.

Tracking-Dog.jpg (8445 bytes)
Tracking Dogs:

Theory & Methods

These four levels are:

·  Tracking Dog
·  Tracking Dog Excellence
·  Variable Surface Tracker
·  Champion Tracker.

In the tracking section of the AKC Web site, you can download a helpful guide, “A Beginner's Guide to Tracking.”

This site also offers a special  “Kids/Juniors” section with some great information on the many exciting opportunities for kids and dogs. You’ll want to check out “Juniors in Companion Events” on the “Kids/Juniors” homepage for information on tracking events and a host of sporting activities for kids and pooches.

The Sport of Tracking

Tracking is judged, not with a point system, but on a pass/fail basis. Judges lay out a track during an AKC test. Four personal articles (a glove, a sock or the like) are used for the dog to locate along the track.  The judges observe the dog --  that is kept on the lead at all times --  to see how closely he sticks to the track as he locates and “indicates” each of the articles.

Here are some terms that are used in the sport of  tracking:

·  articles:  items that the dog must find

·  leg:  straight portion of track between turns

·  harness:  lead or line

·  turns:  an abrupt change of direction of the
   track not less than 90 degrees

·  obstacles: roads, streams, ditches, logs etc.

·  track:  the actual path the tracklayer walked

·  scent or track scent:  what a dog smells
    that allows him to follow a track, made up
    of the odor of crushed vegetation, over-
    turned earth and the odor left by a person

·  indication:  change in dog’s behavior
    when he  experiences loss or discovery of
    article or track

Scent-Training-Track-Search-Rescue.jpg (5832 bytes)
Scent: Training

to Track, Search
and Rescue


Enthusiastic-Tracking.jpg (6864 bytes)
Enthusiastic Tracking,
The Step-by-Step
Training Manual

Getting Started in Tracking

It’s easy to get started with tracking. You’ll find your dog to be an enthusiastic participant.  In the wild, he used scent to find mates and food, so this activity is near and dear to his heart. His ancestors have been working with man in this way for many millennia. You will need only a harness and a 20 – 30 foot lead, some open area – of grass or dirt- and your ready to get go.

Interest the dog in a tracking article by playing with it like a toy. You can use a glove or a sock loaded with food treats. Have someone hold the dog’s lead and walk away with the article talking and waving the article to keep his interest. Drop the article about 15 feet away and walk straight back to him. Trample the area around the article a bit. Now, you take the lead and tell the dog to track. Most likely, the dog will make a beeline for the article and revel in food and play when he gets to it.

Repeat this exercise each time increasing the distance between the dog and the article. Also, make sure that the track, or some portion of it, is walked out of site of the dog. The dog is learning to follow your scent, not the scent of the treat. Make sure the treat is small.

As you walk, the scent particles drop off of you and onto the ground. Likewise, your footsteps disturb the ground and your dog’s keen sense of smell allows him to detect a different order from disturbed ground. This is why you trample the area around the article (sock with treat or such) in the beginning exercise. Vegetation has the ability to hold a scent for a long time.

If the dog takes his nose from the ground, stop and tell him to get back to work with a “track” command. You want the dog to get the scent from deep in the ground as trackers do. You don’t want him to get the scent from the air; your food treat will leave scent particle wafting in the air. Remember the dog should be following your scent and not the treat’s.

Strategies to Enhance Training

Try these simple activities on a rainy day or when you want to have a little playtime with your pal. These scent work games are recommended to use, even with puppies:

WHICH HAND?  Hide a treat or a toy in one hand and present both hand s closed to the dog. Ask, which one. Try to teach him to tap the correct hand with his paw. If he gets it, he gets the treat, or a toy and some playtime. If not, he has to try again.

LIGHTS OUT: Dogs love this. Show your dog a treat or his favorite toy, and then place it out of his sight but easily accessible in a dark room. Then give him your tracking command such as "track", "seek" or "find". Follow him into the dark room and reward him with praise for a find. Sure, he loves the treats he finds but a happy handler is a heartfelt reward too.

HIDE & SEEK: This is a doggy favorite. Hide in partially open closets (closed closets may not allow sufficient scent to escape), shower stalls/tubs with the curtain drawn, standing behind an open door, crouching behind a bush, standing very still near a tree, or wherever! You’ll find your buddy is a top-notch competitor at this game.

More Resources

For more details on getting started with tracking, visit these websites:
·  Tracking at the AKC
·  The Tracking Page, a Web site dedicated to the sport
Tracking Dog Training in Schutzhund
·  Tracking plus Sniffer Dog and Nose Games at
·  Scent Games
·  Scent Tracking Dog Training
·  Snifferdog Instinct Test
and more

These are several excellent books on the subject of tracking. These include:

Tracking from the Ground Up by Sandy Ganz and Susan Boyd  An easy-to-use resource, perfect for beginners. (Show-Me Publications).

Practical Tracking for Practically Everyone, by Julie Hogan and Donna Thompson. Another good how-to manual from authors with a combined total of 70 tracking titles. This book and a wealth of information for beginners can be found at here.

Happy trails!

Tracking-from-Ground-Up.jpg (15048 bytes)
Tracking from
the Ground Up

is a retired Employee Benefits manager and the author of various articles in that field. Today, he lives with his wife and their new Labrador-mix pup, Mr. Beans, in New York City. There, he follows and chronicles the adventures of Mr. Beans who is now exploring the world with canine enthusiasm. You can reach him about dog writing via email here.

Click link below to order Peak Performance

DogsJobs.jpg (5210 bytes)
with Jobs

Schutzhund2.jpg (6254 bytes)
Schutzhund: Theory
& Training Methods

Click link to order Working Dogs: True Stories

DogsPoliceService.jpg (4514 bytes)
Dogs for Police

and Training

Click link to order The New Work of Dogs
The New Work of
Dogs: Tending to
Life, Love, Family


Talking-Terms-Calming-Signals.jpg (7364 bytes)
On Talking Terms With
Dogs: Calming Signals


TopWorkingDogs.jpg (4353 bytes)
Top WorkingDogs:
A Training Manual


star-red.gif (874 bytes)

Dog books, posters.
videos & more
star-red.gif (874 bytes) CLICK HERE star-red.gif (874 bytes)


Click link to order New Encyclopedia of the Dog
New Encyclopedia
of the Dog


star-red.gif (874 bytes) ORDER star-red.gif (874 bytes)
Dog DVDs

Shop here


Scent-and-Scenting-Dog.jpg (8504 bytes)
Scent and the
Scenting Dog


Thanks for visiting.
Please come
back soon!


line-trq-short.gif (1991 bytes)

Click to browse for Top Dog Books!
CLICK ABOVE to order Best-Selling Dog Books - thanks!


Dog Breed Books:

Books for: Breeds A-E turq-vsm.gif (920 bytes) Breeds F-J

Books for: turq-vsm.gif (920 bytes) Breeds K-O turq-vsm.gif (920 bytes) Breeds P-T turq-vsm.gif (920 bytes) Breeds U-Z

All-Breed Books turq-vsm.gif (920 bytes) Dog Encyclopedias

star-red.gif (874 bytes)Click banner to find great products for 135 breeds from Affenpinscher
to Doberman, German Shepherd to Labrador, Rottweiller to Siberian Husky,
Weimaraner to Yorkshire Terrier, more! 
Thanks for your support.

line-trq-short.gif (1991 bytes)

Explore WorkingDogWeb's 1,000+ links -- choose a category:

GUIDES: Activities & Sports | Breeds | Clubs | Facts & Figures  
Health & Nutrition
| Kids & DogsNews & E-mail Lists | Puppies | Training 
BookSearch | WebSearch
star-red.gif (881 bytes) Canine Link of the Week star-red.gif (881 bytes) Cool Canine Sites
Racing Siberian Husky Online
DW BookReviews | WDW HOME | WDW BookShelf

Buy CDs, videos, books, toys, gifts year-round @ our FunMall

WorkingDogWeb is a service for all who
love active and working dogs. | Meet the editors!

The editors are not responsible for the content
of pages outside the Working
DogWeb site.

© Copyright 1997 - 2014 by R&BP
Updated 1/5/2014

star-red.gif (881 bytes) [ Top ] star-red.gif (881 bytes)

A to Z Index   |    Bookstore    |    Contact Us   |    Search   |   Shops   |    WDW Home