Track and Search
A new form of competition was incorporated into the ANKC Rules in 2008. It has been very popular among dedicated handlers and the success rate so far has been very high. The skills required are demanding but very stimulate the dog’s intelligence, building on an innate ability.
Track and Search Titles
- Track and Search Dog (TSD)
- Track and Search Dog Excellent (TSDX)
- Negotiations are under way to include a Track and Search Dog Champion
Tests are designed to simulate real life situations in which a dog tracks and finds a “missing person” in varying terrain and over varying surfaces. Tracks are complex, involving meandering lines rather than the straight lines of traditional Tracking. Dogs are also required to find objects belonging to the “missing person” such as a wallet, mobile, handkerchief or notebook.
In earlier tests, the handler can choose whether to start the dog on lead or off lead until the dog has found the scent.
The scent trail may be laid in areas where scents can be complicated by many factors. Surfaces that dogs may need to track over include not only grass, pasture and bushland but gravel, sand, paved surfaces, timber decking as well as unsealed and sealed roads.
Tests 5 and 6 are laid in urban streets and the track is substantially on paved footpaths with pedestrians, passing cars and roads to cross, rubbish bins, interesting lamp posts, cats and other dogs. The final test track to gain the title of Track and Search Dog Excellent is set in night time urban streets. All involved must wear night visibility safety gear but this can be made creative and fun too.
Tracks also vary in complexity with differences in length, time delays and numbers of diversions and cross tracks. There are also cross tracks and diversion tracks, sometimes where two people start off together and one walks off in a different direction from the tracklayer. The dog must be able to differentiate between scents.
Judges give the handler a description of who they are looking for. Once again these can vary widely, simulating real life possibilities. It could be, for example, an escapee, a lost child, a wandering elderly person. In Track and Search this is very important as the dog has to differentiate between various tracklayers and find the one whose scent he has been given at the start.This very complexity is what makes the dog so interested in this form of tracking.
“In summary,… in Tracking, the dog already knows how to track. You are only teaching him how to follow the scent you want him to follow. ” Quote from Dogs Victoria “What is Tracking” webpage