Tracking
by Steve Sieveking
Cave Creek Weimaraners

Tracking, broadly defined is a dog finding and following scent and indicating the direction or path that scent follows.

Bach Ch Greybrook’s Hohle Am Bach, CD, TD, JH, NSD, NRD, VX

Bianca Tracking, Prairie Home Missouri, 2001

This ability of the dog to use the amazing sense of smell with which it has been endowed, and then to share the information with humans is the essence of Tracking. Many venues are available to utilize a dog's sense of smell, such as hunting sports for pointing dogs, retrievers, spaniels and earth dogs. In the obedience ring the dog must find the one article that belongs to the handler to successfully pass the Utility exercise. Additionally these scenting abilities are used for search & rescue to save lives, and contraband detection, all for the benefit of society at large. The thrust of this article however will be an overview or the sport of tracking, and specifically the American Kennel Club Tracking Tests.

The American Kennel Club, as of this writing, has three levels of Tracking Titles, which may be earned by any registered dog, greater than six months old. The first and introductory title that may be earned is the Tracking Dog or TD. The advanced titles differ in the complexity and skills needed earn the Tracking Dog Excellent or TDX, and Variable Surface Tracking or VST titles. Although the TD title must be earned first by a dog, six months after that either TDX or VST may be attempted. The TDX is not required to attempt the VST, and likewise the VST is not required to attempt the TDX. All titles are earned working titles, and the initials TD, TDX, or VST are added to the end of the dog's registered name. However, should the dog earn all three Tracking Titles, it becomes a Champion Tracker, and the initials CT are added to the front of dog's registered name.


The Different Tracking Tests

"Frya" Cave Creek's Frya Von Bach, CD, JH, TD

Frya earns her TD title at Des Moines Obedience Training Club, Marshalltown, Iowa, 2004

Tracking Dog or TD
The test for the title of Tracking Dog, is a course 440-500 yards that is at least 30-minutes but not more than 2-hours old, with 3 to 5 turns both right and left. A total of 2 articles are used on the track, one at the start and one at the finish.

Tracking Dog Excellent or TDX
The test for the title of Tracking Dog Excellent, is a course 800-1000 yards that is at least 3-hours but not more than 5-hours old, with 5 to 7 turns both right and left. In addition a pair of parallel cross tracks are laid that are 1-hour and 15-minutes, but not more than 1-hour and 45-minutes old. A total of 4 articles are used on the track, one at the start and finish, 2 are at various places on the track. Also the dog and handler will have to cross a physical barrier on the track, and negotiate changes in cover.

Variable Surface Tracking or VST
The test for the title of Variable Surface Tracking is a course 600-800 yards that is at least 3-hours but not more than 5-hours old, with 4 to 8 turns both right and left, 1-turn is on an are completely devoid of vegetation. The course is plotted with 1/3 but not more than 2/3 on areas devoid of vegetation such as concrete, asphalt, gravel, sand, hard pan, or mulch. No physical barrier is used such as that used in the TDX, but stairs, and buildings are open areas are. VST is primarily an urban sport. A total of 4-articles used on the track, one at the start and finish, and 2 are at various places on the track.

Summary

"Rocket" Ch Rocket of Sieveking's Farm, CDX, NSD, V

Rocket & Jamie Sieveking Tracking, Prairie Home Missouri, 2001

The sport of Tracking is an outdoor activity, and can be strenuous. It is usually held during the autumn, winter, and spring months. Any conditions can be encountered from uncomfortably warm and dry to soaking rain, to bone chilling cold, and even blizzard conditions. Those that enjoy such extremes, and are still willing to work with the dog, will find Tracking an enjoyable sport.

The handler, and dog team usually do training alone, although many areas have training clubs, or organizations that either offer classes, or have knowledgeable people that are willing to assist in training. Many books are published on this subject. As with all training advice, some is good, and some less so. Weigh the advice, whatever the source, and fit it into the training so that it makes sense you and your dog.

In the end, during the Tracking Test, only the dog and handler will be on field following the scent, and finding the articles. That is distress and trepidation, as well as the beauty and joy of Tracking.

 

New Titles!

Congratulations to all who won new titles at our recent Specialty!

Best of Breed
Ch Bowbent Carousel Hidden Gem

Winners Dog and Best of Winners
Bella Sweet Evening Breeze

Winners Bitch 
Nani's Streak of Wise Moves, JH