We’re off on a treasure hunt… tracking with the dog

Dogs quite simply have the right “nose” for it. Their sense of smell outstrips that of humans not just “by a nose” but far, for more. A dog can smell fifteen times better than us. For our tail-wagging friends, who for the most part collect information on their world through their olfactory glands, there is hardly anything more fulfilling than sniffing games and tracking. Nose work occupies them fully, even mentally, and tires many a canine power-house more than with two hours of jogging. This, especially for the older “supernoses”, is a wonderful opportunity for occupying the old-timers without them becoming physically overstrained. Even dogs with HD or joint problems can be fully exercised in this gentle way.

Training your tail-wagger

Whoever wants to learn tracking work can best do this under instruction from a trainer or at a club. Here are the first steps. In this training, the task of you four-legged partner is to find lost objects following the trail of a scent layer. A meadow where the grass is not too high is ideally suited for beginners. The dog carries a harness and is on a lead which should be around ten metres long. Tracking work starts with the human leading their dog to the start of the scent, called “approach” in the jargon. With the word “seek!” the dog handler gives the signal to start and allows the dog the leeway of the lead when he notices that the latter has taken the scent. Beginners lay a straight trail on which objects are lying at short intervals. The dog’s task is to point these out, by sitting. At the end of the trail, the dog handler takes the lead and harness off and rewards his four-legged friend copiously with praise, treats or a game with the dummy. Bit by bit, the whole thing is made more difficult: the trail curves and bends, the objects become fewer but the dog has to stay on the right track. The human must learn to “read” their canine partner to see whether he’s still on the right path. That’s why tracking work is also bonding work, because two and four legs have to work hand-in-paw with each other becoming a tightly welded team.

Make your own trail

Those who would just like to try the whole thing out privately can have a go at the following: fill a (clean) flower spray with fruit tea. A helper holds your dog while you spray a track. At the end, put down a dog biscuit or its favourite toy but do it so that your pet can’t see it. Now lead Fido to the beginning of the trail and encourage him to start sniffing. Be assured, he will follow the “fruit trail” and find his reward! Perhaps an incentive for you to start with tracking work and perfect the “treasure hunt”?

Call into your local store today to discuss your dog’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts.