You are probably aware that dogs have a keen sense of smell, and that this extraordinary ability makes them very useful as Police Dogs, Border Detection Dogs, and Search and Rescue dogs. In sport tracking the dog uses the same keen sense of smell to follow where a person walked. Depending on the level of the test the person may have walked there 30 minutes ago or 5 hours ago, and they dropped 1 – 3 items along the way. The items, called articles, will be leather in a Tracking Test, or in an Urban Tracking Test might be wood, metal, plastic, fabric or leather. A first level track might be 400 meters long, and an advanced level track might be 1000 meters long. The handler will not know which way the track goes and must rely on the dog to follow the scent.
There are two types of tracking tests: Tracking Tests and Urban Tracking Tests. Tracking Tests are held in grassy fields, and Urban Tracking Tests are held in public areas, requiring the dog to track on a variety of surfaces such as asphalt, concrete, gravel, sand or dirt along with grass. Both types present their own unique challenges for the team. Tracking is not scored like Obedience, it is pass or fail.