Tracking Class Sessions

Tracking classes will meet in the fall and winter quarters. We do not meet during the hot summer months. The class is limited to 6 new (beginner) students. Contact the tracking coordinator for details.

Prerequisites: All NDTC classes require proof of current rabies vaccination for dogs age six months or older.

Teaching A Dog To Track

When we talk about "teaching our dogs to track," we aren't really "teaching" them to track. Dogs are born knowing how to use their noses - that's how they find mom and their first meal! What we actually teach them to do is to focus on a particular scent.

Marley, Irish Water Spaniel

The method that NDTC uses is a structured program based loosely on Glen Johnson's "Tracking Dog: Theory and Method" that progressively increases the dog's stamina while keeping him motivated to find the article. The very first steps are to teach the dog that there is something out there that he would very much like to find (usually a glove with a favorite treat or toy tucked inside; please note this is allowed during training only, nothing is allowed in the glove at an actual test). We do this by making the initial tracks so short (5, 10, 20 yards) that the dog can visually mark where the tracklayer has walked. However, the dog soon encounters a track that exceeds his marking abilities. It is at this point that we begin to see the dog's head drop, when he instinctively begins to use his nose to find what he is looking for. At this point, the dog has begun to understand the game.

Buster, English Springer Spaniel

The Tracking Dog (TD) Title

A Tracking Dog (TD) test is 440-500 yards in length, has between 3-5 turns, and is between 30 minutes to 2 hours old. I hope you're curious now - how does one go from 5 yards to 440 yards, and how does one teach a dog to work through a 30 minute old track, much less a 2 hour old track?

Each session builds on the successes of the previous training session. We'll be happy to show you how!

You may be asking the big question - how long does all this take? Individual dogs progress at different rates, and the length of time required will depend on the dog's ability, motivation and work ethic, as well as the handler's willingness to give up control to the dog and learn to handle their tracking line so that they become a true team member (the one WITHOUT the nose).

There Is Nothing Like It!

There is incredible beauty in watching a successful tracking team. There is absolutely nothing like walking toward your track with your dog on a cool, crisp autumn morning, harness slung over your shoulder. The Judges point to the start flag and say, "There's your start. Good luck." You lean over your dog to put the harness on, your heart in your throat, and
Sydney, Border Collie
approach the flag. Your dog knows why you're there, and is eager to get started. You say "Let's find it!" and you feel the line tighten in your hands as your dog sets out, nose to ground, pulling confidently into the harness as if to say, "Come on, slowpoke - it's this way!" Up until this point, you have taught your dog to trust you when you say there's something out there. Now the tables are turned. You must trust your dog to tell you where the track goes and where the article is. And therein lies the true beauty of tracking. The implicit trust and resulting bond that develop between the two members of a tracking team make it a very special dog sport.

Weather Policy Change
Unless otherwise advised, NDTC will follow the lead of Metropolitan Nashville/Davidson County school closings due to inclement weather. When Metro schools are closed due to weather, NDTC classes will also be cancelled.
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