Tracking provides training for dogs and their handlers to meet some human needs for tracking and finding lost humans or other animals, as well as, demonstrating the extremely high level of scent capability that dogs possess. Tracking allows dogs to demonstrate their natural ability to recognize and follow human scent. This vigorous outdoor activity is great for canine athletes and it has been said that "it is cheating to track with weimaraners!"
AKC Tracking Regulations The PDF file requires the free Adobe Acrobat reader, or you can get a printed copy from the AKC. You can search the AKC judges’ directory to find a tracking judge near you for certification.
USPCA The U.S. Police Canine Association has a tracking program as part of its police dog certification
It is one of those extraordinary mornings that tell us fall is coming. The air is crisp; the trees now striped with reds and yellows in an otherwise summer colored world. On the thick, grassy mat, lies a dog, breathing calmly with eyes expectant. The handler picks up the old, worn leather line and speaks to the animal. It stands, stares, and then lowers its dark muzzle to the cover, moving slowly, steadily along a line no human can know. Its warm breath turns to steam and spreads, for only an instant, across the forward path in burst, like an engine. As it moves, the power increases so it is driven by only one desire, the fusion of scent and animal. When it reaches the first corner, it senses the change and shifts to another direction, confident of its skill and purpose. As the dog moves towards the distant hills, the trainer — only walking behind — has a solitary wonder of what voice from nature this child of the wolf is hearing. — Gary Patterson, Tracking: From the Beginning
Some tracking clubs’ Web sites provide events calendars, training tips, and other information:
An extraordinary number of failures at [tracking tests] happen when the handler pulls the dog away from the trail, which may be one of the reasons the bigger, stronger dogs do so well at tracking. — Vicki Hearne, Adam’sTask
A dog can never tell you what she knows from the smells of the world, but you know watching her, that you know almost nothing. — Mary Oliver, “Her Grave”
Glen Johnson’s Tracking Dog: Theory and Method is a classic of dog training literature. Dogwise also sells a booklet of just chapter 7 of this book as The Tracking Trainers Handbook. It’s the core part of Johnson’s book, including lesson plans and how to determine the “hump” factor. Handy to keep in your kit bag.
Sandy Ganz and Susan Boyd’s Tracking from the Ground Up is well-written (notwithstanding a somewhat unrealistically diligent training regimen). The companion video, Tracking Fundamentals, is a good introduction to the sport, well produced, and concise.
Enthusiastic Tracking: The Step-by-Step Training Handbook by Sil Sanders also has a nicely laid-out curriculum. Interestingly, you can buy the field maps for this book separately.
The Puppy Tracking Primer by Carolyn Krause is a great little booklet by an accomplished tracker.
Tracking: A Practical Guide for TD and TDX by the Tracking Club of Massachusetts is a concise introduction — very nice little book.
Julie Hogan and Donna Thompson’s booklet Practical Tracking for Practically Anyone has good advice for the beginner to TDX and VST.
Lue Button’s Practical Scent Dog Training is a good general introduction to scent work.
Another good short book is Following Ghosts: Developing the Tracking Relationship by John Rice and Suzanne Clothier.
Ed Presnall and Christy Bergeon’s Component Training for Variable Surface Tracking is the first book to cover the VST test.
Betty Mueller’s About Track Laying: Guidelines for Dog Tracking Enthusiasts is a very handy, very nicely produced booklet that’s worth carrying in your kit bag.
There’s an excellent chapter on tracking by Carilee Cole in Sallyann Comstock’s Belgians from Start to Finished.
Gary Patterson’s Tracking: From the Beginning is based largely on drive theory and mostly concerned with Schutzhund-style footstep tracking, but it has some good hints for AKC-style tracking. Several other Schutzhund books also cover tracking, notably Dog Training with the Touch by Tom Rose and Annetta L. Cheek.
The Leerburg video Training the Competition Tracking Dog by Ed Frawley is also mostly about Schutzhund tracking (with some very old-fashioned, heavy-handed methods), but it has some good hints on track laying and using the track as a training tool.
Resi Gerritsen and Ruud Haak’s K9 Professional Tracking gives the perpective of veteran SAR trainers from Europe. Likewise Tracking for Search and Rescue Dogs by Boguslaw P. Gorny.
Some older books with some good advice: Go Find! Training Your Dog to Track by L. Wilson Davis; Milo Pearsall and Hugh Verbruggen’s Scent: Training to Track, Search, and Rescue; and the tracking chapters in Winifred Strickland’s Expert Obedience Training for Dogs.
A Practical Guide to Training and Working the Trailing Dogby John Lutenberg & Linda Porter is the course book for Canine Training Academy in Colorado, which provides training for law enforcement and SAR dogs.
William Syrotuck’s Scent and the Scenting Dog is a technical discussion of scent by one of the founders of U.S. canine SAR training. Also, Susan Bulanda’s little vest-pocket book, Scenting on the Wind: Scentwork for Hunting Dogs, has a good explanation of theory and practice.
Roy Hunter’s Fun Nosework for Dogs has some training games that can help motivate a reluctant tracker — and amuse a dedicated one.
The Audible Nose: Training Your Newfoundland to Track is available from Judi Adler.