What is Tracking?
Dogs have a very keen sense of smell — 100,000 times stronger than humans! Dogs with the help of their noses are often used to find lost people and animals, drugs, avalanche and disaster victims, and even to detect cancer! AKC Tracking is a canine sport that demonstrates a dog’s natural ability to recognize and follow a scent and is the foundation of canine search and rescue work. Unlike obedience and rally trials, where dogs respond to the handler’s commands, in tracking the dog is completely in charge, for only he knows how to use his nose to find and follow the track. For many, the greatest pleasure of tracking is the hours spent outside training and interacting with their dogs. The tracking community is known for its camaraderie and they all share in the excitement of a “pass” and the disappointment of a “fail”.
To be a Champion Tracker you must pass the TD TDX and VST. There are far more people wanting to compete in trials than there are spots available, so people are chosen by ” lottery” — usually by picking entry names out of a hat. So in my area you are very lucky just to get into a trial! The TD is the basic title which involves a start article and the end article — a glove that the dog must find and indicate. There must be at least 4 90 degree turns. The TD has a 50% pass rate. The TDX is the next level where the dog must find an additional 2 articles and there usually are 8 turns involved and there must be some type of physical obstacle or change of terrain and crosstracks to see if the dog will be lead off track by a recently laid out but wrong track crossing the correct track. The TDX has a 25% pass rate. The VST is considered the most difficult as it crosses many different types of surfaces, is aged longer, and often involves tracks laid around buildings that can make a scent difficult to follow. The dog must find and indicate three articles and must negotiate a 90 “moment of truth” turn on pavement. The VST has a 5% pass rate.
I hope more boxer owners get involved in tracking. It’s a great sport with wonderful people. And you and your dog work together as a team! The boxer does well at it too! I have 3 other boxers with TD titles and two are currently training for next season’s TDX trials. So hopefully we will get into a trial and then pass!
By Diane Stephens