The sport of Tracking is built on the ability of the dog to use its nose to follow a scent. Retrievers including the ‘toller’ are naturally good at this as they have a keen sense of smell. The dog uses its nose to follow where a person walked. Depending on the track, the person may have walked there half an hour, to hours, earlier dropping articles along the way.
It is the handler that usually requires the training. The handler needs to learn to ‘read the dog’ and what the dog is telling him/her about the scent. The handler follows, encourages the dog and is patient in order to be successful. This sport provides mental stimulation and exercise for the dog. It gets the team outdoors. It gives them the chance to learn a valuable skill so that the team can assist in finding a lost person, article or dog.
Tracking is a sport available through the Canadian Kennel Club Tracking Tests held by the host club. Currently there are four titles and when all four of them are achieved the dog has earned its CKC Tracking Championship. The titles are as follows: Tracking Dog, Urban Tracking Dog, Tracking Dog Excellent and Urban Tracking Dog Excellent. The handler usually feels that a tracking title and the journey with their canine partner to earn it, is a wonderful team accomplishment. The TD and TDX are usually trained and tested in more rural fields while the UTD and UTDX tracking is done in Urban Environments, though some with limited space have been known to track in forests.
A great benefit of the sport of tracking for the dog team is that it has one of the widest ranges of age that the dog or the handler can be to participate. Tracking has always been an essential skill for dogs, and this sport slows them to continue to use it.