How to Make a Trail for the Tracking Dog to Follow
How to hide for a Tracking Dog
Read the Glossary Page for the meaning of dog training words used in this lesson that you may know.
This lesson for training the family disaster dog does not require the dog.
10 or more squares of bathroom tissue paper and one volunteer to hide for your dog are required.
This lesson will show you how a person should hide indoors or outdoors when you are training your dog to search for a person. To make learning easiest for you and your dog the steps in this lesson should be followed exactly as they are explained here. You should not change the steps or add to the way this tried and true method of laying a trail is done.
The most important point to remember is that your dog should ALWAYS find the person who is hiding.
This training is not to out fox the dog and you must make sure that the person who will hide understands they are helping the dog learn a valuable lesson and they are not to try to trick the dog.
Never try to trick the dog into not finding a person because they will stop doing this task for you.
Remember the dog already knows how to find everybody within a large range of area around them but they do not know who you want them to find...and we are teaching the dog “who” to find how find.
Every time you train or work with your dog on tracking or trailing the person who will hide should be told beforehand how they will walk and set up the course for you and your dog to follow or work to reach them in the hiding spot.
For novice dogs that are beginning to learning tracking or trailing, you should always use a clean building free of other human scent or a field or yard where very few, if any, people have been in or walked on for at least 24 hours.
Use a natural surface to begin with, grass or dirt. Do not cross cement, pavement or water until the dog is in advanced lessons.
Judge the direction of the wind before making training course or laying a trail.
If there is a wind, the trail layer (person) and the trail will go into the wind. The breeze should hit the person’s face as they go to hide which will give the dog the advantage to learn how scent moves on the wind.
Later in advanced lessons the course will be set up to teach you and your dog how to work the wind. For basic or refresher courses we always go into the wind.
Rain, heat and seasonal weather all affect the dog’s way of detection. These different factors and effects will be covered as lessons advance.
Follow these steps to make a trail for a dog to follow and find a person.
To Lay a Basic training Trail or Track
- Leave your dog in the car or house
- You and the Trail Layer walk to the LKL or where you will begin to work your dog.
- You remain at the LKL spot
- Trail Layer will rub one square of tissue paper on their skin then lay this paper at their feet
- Trail Layer moves off to make the trail by slowly scuffing (dragging) their feet to release scent particles at the start of the trail to aid the dog.
- Trail Layer Scruffs or Slides their feet for 10 steps then stops and lays a piece of tissue there.
- The person does not move off of the trail which is the exact path they walk
- Trail Layer then walks off slowly in a straight line to a prearranged landmark where the will hide or make a corner.
- Every 30 or 40 steps along the path the Trail Layer will stop in place to put a piece of tissue for you to see and know your dog is on the right path.
- It will be okay if your dog walks a few feet left or right of the person’s path as long as the dog goes in the right direction to find the person but it is critical that the person stay on path.
- At every corner the Trail Layer will put one piece of tissue about 6 ft before the planned corner and one piece at the corner where they make the turn, and 6 ft pass the corner.
- This makes a corner where you will see 3 tissues in this order and when you reach this spot while working your dog, you will know that your dog should turn within 10 ft or so and in the direction the tissue points.
- The Trail Layer put 1 piece of tissue where they hide.
- Novice dogs should not be asked to learn corners until they are finding a person on a straight track or trail over and over without any mistakes which can take a month of two of lessons spaced once or two a week.
- The Trail Layer can hide in an open area by sitting or lying down if there is no wind the dog will work the ground scent but if there is a wind the dog will work the air scent. Read the scent page.
- A large cardboard box works well to hide in.
- Hiding around a corner of a building or tree is good but only go behind one corner or tree with a novice dog.
- Trail Layer remains at the hiding spot or end of the trail until found by you and your dog.
- As training advances the Trail Layer may have to the entire trail to age and doing so means they remain in hiding for 30 mins-1 hour. This time can be spent reading or fishing with proper planning.
- Advanced lessons trails can be planned where the Trail Layer is picked up by a car and returned to the hiding spot after the trail has aged.
- Always watch for other people or pets that might cross the trail you have just made in case your dog is distracted at the spot the person or pet crosses the line then you will know why.
- Only use one person for one trail per day per dog...do not use a different person if you want to do another trail the same day.
- You can use this same trail 3 or 4 times on the same day if you have the person stay put after you find them. In this case, you and your dog should walk back to the start by making a big circle away from the trail. You do not want your dog to learn to backtrack on the same path.
The next lesson will explain how scent behaves when scent leaves our body and why a dog can follow the scent of people.