HOW DO I GET STARTED IN TRACKING?
There are many resources available on the internet for beginning trackers, including the Moraine Tracking Club website and those of other clubs. While the best approach for training is to find a club or experienced person in your area to work with, there are many books and videos that can help you get started.
WHAT KIND OF EQUIPMENT DO I NEED?
Equipment For The Dog:
A non-restrictive harness.
A 20 to 40 foot line, leash, or check-cord.
Articles for the dog to find. Look for articles made of fabric, leather, plastic, and metal. Articles should be approximately the size of a glove or a wallet. Plastic and metal lids make great articles. Make sure they don't have any sharp edges.
Treats or toys to motivate your dog. The more tasty the treat or enticing the toy, the better!
Water and a water dish.
Equipment For The Handler:
Notebook to keep a log of your training and draw maps of your tracks,
Flags, bicycle style or small utility, to mark your tracks.
Chalk is nice to have as well. It comes in handy when you begin to work on pavement.
Many handlers prefer to use a small waist pack to hold articles and a water bottle.
Keep in mind that tracking is an all weather sport so you will also need appropriate clothing for the weather and terrain in your location.
MY DOG IS A (INSERT YOUR DOG'S BREED HERE). CAN IT LEARN TO TRACK?
Every dog has the ability to follow a scent, and all dogs innately know how to track. However, not every dog is equally motivated. Only by giving the sport a chance will you discover whether your dog has or can develop the necessary motivation.
A more important question to ask yourself is “Am I a Tracker?” According to the AKC Tracking Regulations, “tracking is a vigorous outdoor sport” which requires Trackers work in all weather and often for lengthy periods of time. You have to love the outdoors and all its changes throughout the year, and from year to year, because to achieve the coveted Champion Tracker title, you will have to commit a considerable amount of time for and with your dog on the tracking fields. If you’re still willing, keep reading…
HOW OLD SHOULD MY DOG BE BEFORE I TEACH IT TO TRACK?
You can start teaching your dog to follow a scent when it is a puppy. Although puppies frequently have very short attention spans, short tracks to find treats or toys are often intriguing games for them. Your dog must be at least six months old to enter a test, but may be certified before then.
IS MY DOG TOO OLD TO LEARN TO TRACK?
The drive and motivation level of the dog is more important than actual age. Provided the dog is fit, starting a dog at almost any age can be a great experience.
HOW DO I ENTER A TRACKING TEST?
If you plan to enter an American Kennel Club Tracking Dog test, you and your dog must first be certified by a AKC approved evaluator. This certification is proof that you and your dog are capable of handling the challenges of a tracking test. Once your dog has been certified, you will be given 4 certificates that will enable you to enter licensed tests. An original certificate must be included with each entry to an AKC Tracking Dog test. Click HERE for more info.
HOW DO I FIND AN AKC EVALUATOR TO CERTIFY MY DOG?
Start by searching the AKC Judge's Directory for an AKC licensed tracking judge. Change the competition type to TRACKING, select your state, and click SEARCH. Contact the judge by email or telephone and request certification. A person who has handled a dog to a successful TDX or VST title within the last 10-years is also approved by the AKC to certify your dog. Check with a local club for more information. You'll find a list of clubs in your area here.
IMPORTANT: Please do not attempt to become certified unless you and your dog are truly ready for the test and be sure to familiarize yourself with the AKC Tracking Regulations.