Tracking

by
Aj Knoll

    Tracking is an obedience title. It has three parts: Tracking Dog (TD), Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX), and Variable Surface Tracking (VST). You must earn a TD title before you can go on to either of the other titles. If you achieve all three titles your dog becomes a Champion Tracker (CT).
    A TD is 440-500 yards long and 3-5 turns of which 2 must be right angles, but 3 right angle turns are preferred. The first leg must be 30 yards between the first two flags and then 30 yards to the first turn. All legs must be at least 50 yards long. There is a glove or wallet at the end for the dog to indicate. The track is 30 minutes to 2 hours old.
    A TDX is 800-1000 yards long and 5-7 turns of which 3 must be right angles. There is only one flag at the start and an article at the start. There are 3 additional articles for the dog to indicate. The first leg must be at least 60 yards long and all the additional legs must be at least 50 yards long. There must be at least 2 obstacles, (such as ditches, roads, etc.), and 2 sets of crosstracks. There can be a turn in the obstacle and an article in the obstacle. The track must be 3 to 5 hours old.
    A VST is 600-800 yards long and 3 to 5 hours old.  The track must have 4-8 turns and no leg may be less then 30 yards long.  There is a single flag at the start with an article and the track must start on grass for at least 20 yards with three additional articles for the dog to indicate. This track is to be layed around buildings and must cross at least 3 different surfaces (pavement, sand, cement, dirt, etc.). One of the turns must be void of all vegetation in an area of 30 yards.
    The article for the TD is usually a glove or wallet at the end and for the TDX usually items such as a scarf, shoe, sock, cap, glove, wallet, etc.  For the VST the four articles need to be something leather, plastic, cloth, and metal and cannot be over 2X4 or 5X5 inches and can not weigh more then 8 oz.
    All the TD and TDX tracks are plotted in fields while the VST is usually on college campus, business parks, hospitals & military bases. The idea of TD and TDX is to keep it void of people walking across the tracks, with VST people walking on the tracks is not a problem.
    The equipment for tracking is a non-restrictive harness and a long line. The harness should fit snug but not tight and in no way constrict the dogs breathing. The harness is made of leather or nylon. The long line must be from 20-40 feet and is made of a variety of materials and has a snap on one end to attach to the harness.
    Tracking is a non-competitive title; it takes one pass for the title. To enter a TD you must be certified on a TD track by a tracking judge. None of the other tests require a certification. Tracking is a very time consuming sport. An unwritten rule is that for every track laid for you, you in return must lay 20. This is why very few people stay committed to the sport. The tracking community is small and the tests are limited entries. A pair of judges can only plot so many tracks a day; it takes a lot of land for a tracking test. The dog is in total control in tracking, when the handler decides to be in control the team fails, as the handler cannot smell the track. Many people that start tracking have a hard time letting the dog take control.
    But for all the hard work you have a dog with a CT title.