Introduction to Tracking

Introduction to Tracking

Introduction to Tracking Artwork by Dietrich Voigt
Artwork by Dietrich Voigt

Bassets in the Tracking Test Bassets have superior scenting powers and are "naturals" for the Tracking activity. To start in Tracking, the owner and dog must train together. Prior to the actual tests, owners have trained their bassets in all types of weather, at various times of day, on different types of ground, that is to say, with all different types of scenting conditions.

The dog has learned first to track his owner, and later to track other persons as well. He has learned to track on increasingly older tracks and increasingly longer tracks. The bassets entered in the Tracking Test have been "Certified" by an approved American Kennel club Tracking Judge before they could be entered in the test. The certification means that the judge has observed the dog tracking and has determined that the dog is ready for entry into the "real" test. A written certification, signed by the judge, has been sent in with the entry forms.

The Tracking Test requires the dog to successfully follow a track of not less than 440 yards with several turns that has been walked by a stranger to the dog. The track must be a minimum of at least 1/2-hour-old and not more than 2 hours old. At the end of the track is an article such as a glove or wallet, which the dog must find.

The dog wears a harness to which is attached a long lead. The handler must remain at least 20 feet behind the dog and is not allowed to guide him. As the handler has absolutely no idea of where the track goes, he must rely completely on his dog's ability, and in so doing, he must be able to "read" his dog to know if and when he is working the track correctly. The two flags at the start of the track indicate the beginning direction the tracklayer walked. The dog is allowed one and only one restart provided he has not passed the second flag. The two people you see following the dog and handler are the AKC judges.

If the dog is working well and successfully reaches the end of the track with indication that he has found the article placed there, you will see much excitement on the part of spectators, judges and most of all the proud owner. The hours of training have paid off and the basset has won the coveted degree, "TD" (Tracking dog). In order to earn this degree the dog is required to pass the test only once. After that, the dog may be entered in the test without the certification being required.

Bassets may also compete in the more difficult levels of tracking TDX (Tracking Dog Excellent) and VST (Variable Surface Tracking) after lots more training. More on Tracking may be found in the American Kennel club "Obedience Regulations."

If you would like to get your basset tracking, get acquainted with the enthusiastic trackers after the test. They will be eager with advice on other books to read and ways to get started. Bassets love the activity and every year more and more of them are adding the TD to their name. All of those who track will tell you that "Happiness is a Tracking Dog."