Versatility In Poodles

Tracking and Search & Rescue Poodles

Tracking SlideshowIntroduction to Tracking:
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 dog's 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 tracklayer’s scent, following the route walked to find the glove left behind at the end of the track.

Puppy Learning to Track
A 6 m/o puppy learning to track (Tass)


TDX Work
TDX work (Sunny)


Learning VST Work
Learning VST work (Tally)


VST Training
VST training with Shelby

Links to Tracking sites:


American Kennel Club. Tracking Regulations.
Gives the rules for clubs and handlers for AKC tracking tests. Single copies free at 51 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010 or online at

Brown, Wentworth. Bring Your Nose Over Here; Tracking Training and Advanced Tracking
Training One Step at a Time. ASAP Printing, Albuquerque, NM, 1982. 69 p.
Available from Weimaraner Club of Northern Illinois Rescue, 6971 North Tonty Ave., Chicago, IL 60646.
A method to train tracking dogs using the retrieve to motivate.

Davis, L. Go Find! Training to Track. Howell, 1974. 158 p.
Gives a program for teaching tracking including suggestions when encountering problems.

Ganz, Sandy and Susan Boyd. Tracking from the Ground Up. Show-Me Publications. 1990.
Another book giving a schedule for training from the beginning through advanced work. Food is used to motivate the dog.

Ganz, Sandy. Tracking Fundamentals. Video. ESGEE, 20 Steeplehill Lane, Ballwin, MO 63011. 40 min.
Introduction to tracking; takes the dog through 5 weeks of lessons and about half the way to certification.

Johnson, Glen. Tracking Dog; Theory and Methods. Arner Publications. 1974. Second edition1977. 179 p.
The original and classic. Few people follow the intensity of his schedule. Most modify it, allowing for fewer sessions per week and shorter tracks.

Palo Alto Foothills Tracking Association. Guidelines for Tracklayers.
Available from Anne Hershey, 25 Heather Place, Hillsborough, CA 99401. Rev. ed. 2002. 17 p.
A small manual nicely complementing instructions judges may give, which explains how to successfully lay tracks at all AKC tests.

Patterson, Gary. Tracking: From the Beginning.
Sirius Publishing, 3333 S. Bannock St., Suite 950, Englewood, CO, 1992. 182 p.
A program designed to produce a step-tracker, necessary for Schutzhund tracking.

Pearsall, Milo and Hugo Verbruggen, M.D. Scent; Training to Track, Search, and Rescue.
Alpine Publications, 1982. 225p.
Includes a description of scent and how the dog actually uses its nose as well as a training program.

Sanders, William (Sil). Enthusiastic Tracking. Rime Publications. Second ed., 1998. 157 p.
Another book providing a detailed progression to train a dog for TD and TDX.

Syrotuck, William G. Scent and the Scenting Dog. Arner Publications. 1972. 99 p.
An excellent books describing scent and how it disperses. No actual training program for the dog is included.

Tracking Club of Massachusetts. Tracking; a T.D. Field Guide, 1987, 78 p.
and Advanced Tracking; a T.D.X. Field Guide, 1981, 42 p.438 Lowell St., Wakefield, MA 01880.
Pocket-sized manuals providing a training progression to earn a TD and TDX respectively.

Search and Rescue Introduction:
Everything You Want to Know About SAR

Types of search venue:

  • disaster search
  • SAR-tracking/trailing lost persons
  • blood tracking (following wounded game)
  • avalanche search
  • cadavar dogs (water and land)
  • drug search
  • evidence search

There are search dog organizations and teams in most areas of the country. Many fire departments and police departments utilize search dogs. In order to train a Poodle for SAR you need to pick a puppy with a stable temperament, healthy genes and structure and a high energy level. A dog with a natural desire to please and high retrieve drive is an added plus. (see temperament testing) Once you have a potential search puppy in hand then it is important to link up with a local group which trains together for the search venue which interests you personally.