Getting Started: The main focus here is to make the activity playful. We are trying to guide the dog to follow one scent and to encourage them to indicate the articles.
Have a known person tuck four or more clean wooly socks up their jumper for at least 30-60 minutes. Prepare some small pieces of chicken necks, cooked liver or some other treat that your dog likes. In the back yard or park early in the morning (so there are not to many distractions nor other people’s scent around). Now with the dog out of sight have the known person (the track layer) leave a sock at the starting point with a small treat under it. The tracklayer walks off in a straight direction and repeats the placement of the article every five to ten meters. Close to the last article the tracklayer hides themselves in a water proof sheet (green or brown) and lays down and keeps very still.
Say five or ten minutes later the handler and dog approach the starting peg, with the dog on lead approach the article and allow the dog to sniff the article and encourage it to turn over the sock to seek its reward, give plenty of praise at this stage, guide your hand in the general direction and encourage your dog to find and use the word “find” for the command. Follow your dog to the next article and again plenty of praise and excitement. At the end of the track the dog must find the tracklayer, who is to give the dog a much larger portion of his treat.
If you now consider taking up tracking you will need to get a harness and a 10 meter lead. When competing the dog must be in harness and no treats are used until the end of the track.
Further training; Venture out into larger and different surroundings, gradually increase the distance and introduce some turns, both left hand and right hand. Slowly remove the treats from the articles, but keep the excitement up by giving plenty of praise when the article is found. The one treat given on the day is the large one given by the tracklayer at the end of the track.
When do you track: Due to snakes and heat concerns most Clubs generally track during the cooler months ie. May through to September.
Where do you Track: We track in the bush, in farm paddocks and large reserves. Some tracks can be on the flat or hilly areas.
What time do you Track: Generally when you undertake to enter a trial you need to register just before dawn at the location chosen. This allows the first track to be undertaken as soon as it is light.
A judge may have eight or more tracks to judge and can only observe one at a time, hence your turn to track will very, it may not be until after lunch in some cases.
Tracking Titles: Tracking is a recognized titled event under the ANKC. Presently there are two distinct Tracking Champion Titles, “Tracking Champion” and Tracking Search Champion”.
The first “Tracking Champion” there are seven tests with varying degrees of difficulty that must be successfully completed before becoming a Tracking Champion. Minor titles are also awarded “TD” and TDX” as you successfully reach the required levels towards your Champion Title.
The second and recently new Tracking Champion Title is the “Tracking Search Champion” Before you can compete in this title event your dog must already be a “Tracking Champion”. There are six tests which must be successfully undertaken, each with increased difficulty over varying surfaces. And as per the “Tracking Champion” criteria there are two minor titles which are gained as you successfully work towards your Search Champion Title.
You can find full details of events and further information on Tracking in general via the Tracking Club of Victoria’s website at http://www.trackingclubvic.org.au