AKC tracking events are the competition form of canine search and rescue. These Tracking events provide training for dogs and their handlers to meet some human needs for tracking and finding lost humans or other animals, as well as, demonstrating the extremely high level of scent capability that dogs possess.
We’ve all seen movies with dogs following the trail of an escapee through swamps. The AKC’s Tracking Tests allow dogs to demonstrate their natural ability to recognize and follow human scent. This vigorous outdoor activity is great for canine athletes. Unlike Agility and Obedience events that require a dog to qualify three times, a dog only needs to complete one track successfully to earn each title.
Tracking Dog (TD)
A dog earns a TD by following a track 440 to 500 yards long with three to five changes of direction. The track is laid by a human tracklayer and is “aged” 30 minutes to two hours before the dog begins scenting. The goal is to use 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.
Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX)
The TDX is earned by following an “older” track (three to five hours) that is also longer (800 to 1,000 yard) and has five to seven directional changes with the additional challenge of human cross tracks.
Variable Surface Tracking (VST)
In the real world, dogs track through urban settings, as well as through wilderness. A VST dog has demonstrated this ability by following a three- to five-hour-old track that may take him down a street, through a building and other areas devoid of vegetation.
Champion Tracker (CT)
A dog that has successfully completed all three tracking titles (TD, TDX and VST) earns the prestigious title of Champion Tracker.
Owners who do tracking with their dogs find joy in seeing the dogs at work using their innate scenting skills. If you and your dog like the outdoors, try tracking!