Group Tracking Classes
Dogs are natural trackers. In their recent past it was their ability to track their prey that determined their survival. We only have to watch our pets in an open area to realize the intensity of the canine genetic drive to scent. Instead of walking with their heads held high, they most often place their noses to the ground and sniff.
I have often wondered what it must be like to have the scenting ability of a dog. Man's best friend shares the same world as us, but in truth, they live in a landscape of smells, while we live in a landscape of sight.
Tracking with our dog, poses a number of problems. Perhaps, the most striking challenge deals with our attempting to "teach" or "train" our dog to track when the animal is already imprinted genetically for this activity, and possesses a nose which is hundreds of times superior to our own. It is analogous to a kindergarten student trying to teach or train a College Professor to read.
So, in a real way, we are not teaching our dog to track, instead we are asking the dog to track in a manner which we can understand and keep pace with. Only after we and our dog determine a mutually acceptable tracking structure, can we track as a team. A team, where we determine what it is we wish to track, and the dog then takes over and guides us with their superior ability to scent.
Working with your dog in tracking provides many fringe benefits. It develops the dog's natural intelligence, it strengthens the bond between the dog and it's handler, it allows those of us who are urban dwellers to experience the beauty of the rural landscape, and it's darn good physical exercise for both the dog and us.
Before laying and following a track, the handler must analyse the terrain, determine wind direction, and evaluate the challenges which each track will present.
The first few paces of a track are the most important. The dog needs to spend time at the starting point to gather and classify the scent before moving forward.