|Tracking is a venue where the dog is in control using one of their best senses!|
Competition tracking (AKC) has three levels. The T.D or Tracking Dog is the beginning level. Dogs must “pre-qualify” before being entered into a test and must pass this level before they can compete in the other two.
The T.D track is between 440 and 500 yards long with 3 to 5 turns and is aged at least 30 minutes to no more than 2 hours.
The test is on a pass/fail basis with the location of the single article (wallet or glove) to be found at the end of the track. Training for this level takes approximately 10 weeks.
The T.D.X or Tracking Dog Excellent is the advanced title in tracking. The track is 800 to 1000 yards in length with 5 to 7 turns and 4 articles. The first article will be at the start, 2 will be randomly placed on the track and the 4th will be at the end. The T.D.X track will have 2 obstacles such as a stream, fence, bridge or road that the dog will have to work across. There will also be 2 cross tracks (tracks laid by 2 other persons crossing the original track the dog is following). This test is also on a pass/fail basis and all 4 articles need to be recovered.
V.S.T or Variable Surface Tracking is the hardest of the tracking tests for the dog and handler to complete as well as the hardest to train for. As the name implies the track will cover many different surfaces including asphalt/concrete. At least 1/3 and not more than 2/3 of the track must be on a surface other than vegetated. The track will be between 600 to 800 yards in length with a minimum of 3 surface changes and aged at least 3-5 hours. The track will have a least 4 but not more than 8 turns with at least one turn on a surface devoid of vegetation. There will be 4 articles which will be common everyday items consisting of 1 leather, 1 metal, 1 plastic, 1 fabric on the track. The first article will be fabric or leather the last article will be marked with the number 4. The handler must have articles 2 thru 4 to pass this test.
If a dog passes all three tracking test you may use C.T (Champion Tracker) before the dogs registered name.
Even if you do not wish to compete in tracking you may still enjoy teaching it to your dog. It gives you and the dog something very enjoyable to do together. Plus the dog’s skill as a tracker could possibly be put to use in a real life situation.