Tracking Dogs

We put hours into training our Tracking dogs. From tracking through drive to article-identification on tracks. What ever suits the clients needs. Make sure to put on your tekkies, they can really track.

What Do Tracking Dogs Do?

Tracking refers to a dogs ability to detect, recognize and follow a specific scent. Possessing heightened olfactory abilities, dogs are able to detect, track and locate the source of certain odours.A deeper understanding of the physiological mechanisms and the phases involved in canine scent tracking has allowed humans to utilize this animal behaviour in a variety of professions. Through domestication and the human application of dog behaviour, different methods and influential factors on tracking ability have been discovered. While tracking was once considered a predatory technique of dogs in the wild, it has now become widely used by humans.

Phases of Tracking.

Tracking behaviour in dogs is exhibited through three separate phases:[2]

1. Searching Phase

  • Initial period in which dogs attempt to find a track. Dogs sniff very quickly ten to twenty times between inhalations of breath.[2] Sniff frequency is usually 6 Hz[9] and occurs while the dog is in motion looking for a trail.

2. Deciding Phase

  • Track identification is apparent when the dog halts and then proceeds to take smaller step and the sniffing frequency of the dog becomes much longer.
  • Period usually lasts 3-5s[2]

3. Tracking Phase

  • Similar to the searching phase. Sniffing behaviour and walking behaviour become quicker.

Methods of Tracking.

Although dogs use physiological methods to detect scent trails, they apply these methods differently depending on the environments in which they are tracking. A scent results from the individual odour of a person being tracked or through an environmental disturbance odour that results from the physical movements of the person being tracked. The ways in which dogs track an individual, vegetative and track scent can vary depending on circumstances. Specifically, scent tracking ability of a dog depends on whether or not an individual deposits their scent in the air or on the ground.

An air scent is when human odours of sweat, cells, gland secretions, or toiletries circulate freely in the open air. The bacteria attached to fallen skin cells provide dogs with odorous by-products that enhance the individuality of a trail. While an initial air scent is much stronger than a ground scent, a ground scent remains detectable for a longer period of time.

A ground scent is the combined permeations of trampled vegetation, bugs, mud, and soil disturbed by an individuals footprints. The disturbed soil releases moisture and kills plant life which results in a different odorous by-product. Each footprint releases a new odour more potent than the ones of the undisturbed vegetation surrounding it.

A track scent is often a mixture of both the air scent and the ground scent being left behind by an individual. Dogs are able to determine a track scent by identifying a combination of both human odours and environmental odours released by an individual. They then use the strength of this overall scent to determine the directionality of a trail and track along that route. Since an initial footstep is much less potent than the last footstep taken by an individual, dogs move in the direction where the scent seems to become stronger. Additionally, dogs have been observed to alternate between visual tracking and scent tracking depending on the circumstances of their environment. For the most part dogs prefer to use olfactory cues even when the target or visual cues are within their line of sight. However, there has been research conducted where dogs have been shown to rely on visual, social or cognitive cues to identify the tracks of an individual.