Tracking takes the concept of canine search and rescue and creates a performance event for our dogs. Undoubtedly you’ve seen movies with dogs following an escapee or lost person. These tests allow dogs to demonstrate their ability to recognize and follow human scent in various environments.
Beginning levels require dogs to follow a track, 30 minutes to 2 hours old, 440 to 500 yards long with three to five changes of direction. The goal is for the dog to follow the scented track to locate an article left at the end of the trail by the tracklayer. The owner follows the dog on a long leash and can encourage the dog during the tracking test. The handler and dog go ahead of the two judges and the tracklayer. Any spectators must be more than 50 yards behind the dog and handler. The judges are somewhere in between, but far enough back so as not to distract the dog in any way.
The most advanced tracks have the dog searching a track three to five hours old with multiple articles placed along the track by the tracklayer. In some cases, there may be overlaying cross tracks laid by other individuals. In other cases, the surfaces may include streets, parking lots, buildings and other urban type areas.
For more information, please see the AKC Tracking Page.