By nature, dogs are naturally adept trackers, able to follow even the faintest of scent. Certain breeds were specifically developed to exploit this talent – like the hound breeds – but as all dogs are naturally predators, they can all be taught to use their nose. Teaching a dog to track is a very specialized part of dog training – and there are not only various ways to “track” but also various applications for teaching a dog to recognize and differentiate scents. For instance, the sport of Schutzhund requires a dog to “ground-scent” track – following a human, footstep to footstep, through terrain, while AKC Tracking, “man-trailing,” and Search and Rescue-type Tracking allows the dog to “air-scent” encouraging the dog to follow scent through “rafts” in the air. Both styles also require the dog to be able to locate and indicate dropped articles from the human they are following.
At Shelly’s School for Dogs, we specialize in “ground-scent” dog tracking training. This is the most solid foundation, so that dogs can go from ground-scenting to air-scenting, if needed. In fact, many of the dogs started in Schutzhund Tracking go on to careers as man-trailing police K9s or Search and Rescue dogs. Schutzhund Tracking requires intense concentration and focus in increasingly difficult scenarios, so the dog that does well in such a demanding environment will be very successful in the less rigorous air-scenting venue.