Tracking is an activity almost any dog can do and that most enjoy. Generally if a dog enjoys retrieving, has some prey drive, some endurance and is in good health, they will do well at tracking. The key to success in tracking is the skill of the trainer and the amount of work the trainer is willing to contribute to the training process.
Tracking utilizes the extraordinary senses that dogs possess, in particular, their sense of smell. The human body sheds about 40,000 skin cells per minute in very individualized “rafts” made up of one or more cells and about 4 microbial “passengers” of bacteria. Each human has his or her own particular scent and dogs can distinguish between these scents.
By keeping the track simple initially, the dog’s confidence in both himself and the handler will grow. Over time and as the dog’s skills increase, the tracks can be made more difficult. There are many things that can influence the track, including age of the track, weather conditions, wind direction, terrain, wildlife, human traffic, surface, buildings, fencing and the speed of the track-layer’s movement.
It is well known now in the training world, that by using “inducive” training techniques and appealing to his senses, instincts and temperament to provide the dog with a reason to behave in a specific manner and rewarding him for the behavior, dogs learn quickly and without fear and this applies to scent work too.
Equipment needed consists of a harness and long-line, paper and pen for drawing a map and water and rewards for the dog.