The main aim of tracking is for the dog to follow a human scent trail and find the “missing person” (the tracklayer) at the end.
Tracking Trials are held at various times throughout the year, but Victorian trials are mostly between May and October. They involve various levels of track complexity and challenge in farm and bushland over two or three days. The age of the tracks varies between a minimum of 20 minutes for Test 1 to a minimum of 90 minutes for Test 7.
Tracking, whether as a recreational activity or as an aid to search, rescue or detection, utilises the dog’s instinctive tracking drive. While some breeds have a more acute sense of smell than others, all breeds can learn to follow a scented trail laid down according to guidelines established by humans.
Tracking dog and handler with observers in the background. Photo from Dogs Victoria “What is Tracking?” webpage
Entering trials does not require formal obedience qualifications but clearly requires well developed trust and communication between the dog and its owner. Because of this it is a wonderful way to build team work and relationship.
To get involved:
- Ask who in the club has done tracking and talk to them.
- Work on handling skills until you have a established a good working bond with your dog.
- Get in touch with The Tracking Club of Victoria for information.
- Obtain suitable equipment and become familiar with it
- Train your dog to Test 1 level – a 400m trail with 2 turns.
- Register with Dogs Victoria by becoming a member.
- Access trial schedules and dates.
- Obtain trial entry forms from Dogs Victoria and submit about three weeks before trial dates.
- Get up early, travel to designated site and track away.
Warragul Dog Club does not currently hold tracking training or trials. However some members have been involved and would be happy to talk about it and give guidance.
Do I need special equipment?
“Dogs are required to compete in a harness and a lead with a minimum length of 10 metres. Harnesses can vary according to preference from a simple figure 8 made with tape and D rings, to a traditional leather harness. Leads need a secure clip and can be made of many materials; preferably lightweight and easy to hold.”
Quote from Dogs Victoria “What is Tracking?” webpage.
This link may be useful, but as always with things online, check out ideas and suggestions with trusted and experienced people in the field: http://www.wikihow.com/Teach-a-Dog-to-Track