In the sport of AKC tracking, the dog must recognize and follow the scent of a tracklayer, a stranger that earlier walked a predetermined path, unknown to the dog's handler, leaving articles such as a leather glove for the dog to find. Tracking is a team sport in the truest sense. The dog must take the initiative to determine the correct path and lead the handler down the track. The handler learns to read his dog and communicate with him to support him while he works. It encourages confidence in the dog and develops a system of mutual trust between handler and dog. The relationship between man and dog that results strengthens the bond between them, as well as enhancing their teamwork in other endeavors and training venues.
To earn the beginning level TD or Tracking Dog title, the dog must follow a track approximately one-quarter mile long, walked anywhere from a half-hour to 2 hours earlier. There will be one article left at the end which the dog must find, and three to 5 abrupt changes of direction. In advanced tracking, the track is longer, about a half mile, and older, aged from 3 to 5 hours. It has multiple articles the dog must locate and more turns. Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX) tests include obstacles such as ditches, roads, fences, or woods to test the ability of the dog to adapt to changing scent conditions. The dog must continue to scent while overcoming physical obstacles or difficult and varied handling conditions. Variable Surface Tracking (VST) tests are laid in urban areas. They include nonvegetated surfaces such as parking lots, proximity to buildings with the diffusion of scent created by such structures, and the pedestrian and vehicular traffic common in such areas. At least one of the changes of direction must be located in an area devoid of vegetation to test the dogs ability to work scent on hard surfaces.
The Champion Tracker or CT title is awarded to dogs that earn all three titles: TD, TDX, and VST.
Tracking is an exciting sport for handlers and their dogs, and solving these problems is not difficult for most Poodles. Poodles, even the small varieties, generally have a wonderful sense of smell. They enjoy working scent, and learn nose games quickly. Their intelligence and appreciation for interesting games enables them to easily learn the skills necessary for successful tracking. With the proper motivation, they quickly learn to follow the tracklayers scent, following the route walked to find the glove left behind at the end of the track.
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