Training dogs to track

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Due to their sensational ability to smell and their passion for following trails, tracking training is an ingenious form of activity for every dog.

A track simulates how dogs work on the hunt – the dog should help the hunter to find game that has been shot as quickly as possible. In our training, the blood trail that a dog is supposed to follow is replaced by a liver sausage-water mixture, which in my experience is best and easiest for this purpose. 

This training will teach your dog to use its nose in a controlled manner and to follow the track ‘cleanly’. Influencing factors such as ground conditions, weather/wind, other trails and time components can either make training more difficult or easier.

In any case, such a ‘natural’ form of nose work, for which many dog breeds were even explicitly bred (e.g. ‘Bloodhounds’), is a fascinating experience – especially for humans who, with their relatively poor sense of smell, often cannot understand how dogs can solve these tasks with just their noses. This form of nose work is of course also an olfactory highlight of dogs and, on top of that, a great activity for them that is above all mentally demanding.

You will need:

  • 2 tubes of liver sausage (I use the Organic Paté from DOG'S LOVE with 100% organic chicken meat from Austria)
  • a 1.5 l bottle, ideally with a sports cap
  • 1,5 l hot water
  • chest harness & leash
  • a suitable terrain (public field, meadow, etc.) 


The process:

  1. While your dog is waiting in the car, mark (for yourself) the beginning of the trail (e.g. with a small stick). From there, take a biiiiig step towards what is known as the‘set-off point,’ which is intended to simulate the shooting/falling place of game during hunting.  You should then continue by trampling the ground flat to create ground damage and generously, but slowly, dripping your liver sausage water mixture on the ground in the desired direction of travel.
  2. Now in small steps, shuffle along a track at least 60–80 m long and leave behind some drops of liver sausage-water again and again, which simulates the ‘track’ (blood) of the injured game.
  3. At the end of the track, a reward is laid out (identical to the track) – in our case, liver sausage from the second tube. You should make a big leap from the end of the track and give it a wide berth on the way back, so that the ‘second’ trail of the human does not confuse your dog later during the search.
  4. After 15 minutes at the earliest (your dog should have relieved himself beforehand), your dog may hunt the track by setting him down in front of the starting point and then directing him towards the set-off point in a controlled manner with a command (e.g. ‘track’). The dog should wear a leash and a chest harness. This is also the case when hunting, so that the hunter does not lose sight of the dog and the trail. The minimum wait time of a quarter of an hour is necessary because the scent of the trail changes over time.
  5. When working out the track, the dog should be left to his own search style, the human should only intervene if the dog gets lost for a long time – but usually the dog's nose is right.  Due to the disturbance to the ground and wind influences, the dog can sometimes go off the track, but will find the right path again.
  6. If the dog finds the finish point, you can praise him verbally – but the greatest praise is the reward itself!

Try it out and gradually increase the difficulty by reducing the ‘feed’, increasing the length, wait times, angles, etc.

Have fun! Yours, Conny


Our Expert:

Conny Sporrer certified DOGS-Trainer

Dog trainer Conny Sporrer supports DOG'S LOVE with her broad experience and vast dog knwoledge. After completing her education at Martin Rütter DOGS, she opened her own dog school in Vienna. Apart from that she is a successful book author, podcaster and founder of her own online dog school

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