Tracking – American Kennel Club

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Since all dogs have a natural ability to follow a scent, any breed is capable of learning to follow. The best way to hone your dog’s tracking skills is to find a tracking class at your local AKC club. Monitoring requires very little equipment. You just need a harness, a 20-40ft leash, a few flags to mark your trail, and a clear grassy area with no obstacles such as roads, ditches or woods.

You can then decide if you want to test its abilities in a Tracking Dog Test (TD). This is a non-competitive test in which your dog follows a path to find the abandoned item (s) along the way. There is no time limit as long as your dog is “working”. Before participating in a follow-up dog test (TD), you must have the dog certified by a provisional or AKC-approved judge. This attestation form must accompany the registration form.

How a follow-up test works
For the host club and the two judges, a tracking test is a two-day commitment, regardless of the weather. Track tests usually take place on Sunday, but judges and trackers spend most of Saturday making a trail for each dog. The judges draw maps of each track indicating landmarks that will allow them to locate the track with flags that mark the turns. The flags will be removed when the tracers travel the track on the morning of the test. On the morning of the test, the exhibitors meet for a “draw”, which determines the order in which the dogs are shown. Once the tracks have aged the required time, the exhibitor puts the harness on the dog, attach a 20 to 40 foot leash and begins the track. The dog is not allowed at any time without a leash. The dog must follow the path taken by the tracer and find the object (s) deposited along the track. The judges follow the dog and its handler to determine if the dog is on or off the track. If the dog is off the track and the judges determine that the dog cannot return, a judge will blow the whistle to signal that the dog has failed. There is no time limit as long as the dog is working. If the dog follows the trail and finds the item (s) placed on the trail, he obtains the tracking title for the level at which he exhibits.

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