Tracking

AKC® Tracking

Club Contact: Louisa Arendt

Dogs have a highly developed sense of smell; one that is many times stronger than humans. Due to this amazing ability, dogs are used to find lost people, animals, drugs, bombs, insects (such as termites or bed bugs), and even cancer. AKC Tracking is a Companion Dog event that demonstrates a dog’s natural ability to recognize and follow a person’s scent in a wide variety of settings. Unlike other Companion Dog events such as obedience or rally or agility trials, the dog is completely in charge in tracking – using his nose to follow the ground scent of the track layer from the start to the end of the track. The handler’s job is to learn to trust their dog – the dog tells the handler where the track goes, not the other way around!

All dogs have the natural ability to follow a scent and any breed is capable of learning to track. Training your dog to track simply hones their natural ability. The Winston Salem Dog Training Club (WSDTC) offers beginning tracking classes during the spring and summer. The summer session is usually a continuation of the spring session classes.

Before you can enter your first AKC tracking test, your dog must become “certified” by an AKC tracking judge. This certification ensures that dogs entering the test are all ready to compete which is important since the number of dogs that can be judged in one day is very limited. All tests are pass/fail; there is no score or placements at a tracking test. A dog only needs to complete one track successfully to earn each title. The Champion Tracker (CT) title is awarded to the dog that has earned the TD or TDU, the TDX, and the VST titles.

  • Tracking Dog (TD) – A TD track is 440 to 500 yards long with three to five changes of direction (turns) and is laid in an open field with uniform cover. The track is laid by a human tracklayer that places a cloth article at the start of the track and a glove or wallet at the end of the track. The track is "aged" at least 30 minutes but no more than two hours before the dog begins “running” the track. The owner follows the dog at a minimum distance of 20 feet. There are no obstacles on the track. This track requires the dog complete a certification track successfully before entering.
  • Tracking Dog Urban (TDU) – The TDU track is similar to a TD track, but is located in an urban environment that may contain paved sidewalks, lightly traveled road, parking lots, and other non-vegetated surfaces. The track must have at least two different surfaces – one vegetated and one non-vegetated. The track is 400 to 500 yards long with three to five changes of direction. There are a total of three articles along the track – one at the start, one at the end, and one about midway through the track. This track requires the dog complete a certification track successfully before entering.
  • Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX) - The TDX track is 800 to 100 yards long, has been aged at least 3 hours, but no more than 5 hours. The tracklayer places four dissimilar articles along the track – one at the start, one at the end, and two others someplace along the track. Additionally, the track as two sets of cross (diversionary) tracks as well as scenting obstacles (such as woods, a road, changes in cover.) The dog must have successfully earned a TD or TDU title before entering this type of test.
  • Variable Surface Tracking (VST) – The VST track is 600 to 800 yards long, has been aged at least 3 hours, but no more than 5 hours.       The track is located in an urban environment such as a business park, a school, or university. The dog must demonstrate the ability to follow a track over non-vegetative surfaces (including turns.) There are four articles (one each of cloth, leather, plastic, and metal) along the track – one at the start, one at the end, and two in-between. The dog must have successfully earned a TD or TDU title before entering this type of test.

WSDTC Classes:  Tracking I is the introductory class and it is offered on a rotating basis with the advanced class.

Additonal Information:

AKC Tracking

AKC Tracking Regulations

Tracking Photos by Louisa Arendt & Tom Fix