Tracking tests are designed to test a dog’s ability to recognize and follow human scent as well as their ability to locate and “indicate” any items left on the track. This sport is open to all breeds of dogs and is a non-competitive sport — there is no score awarded — only pass or fail.

Every dog is born knowing how to follow a scent trail. However, the challenge lies in getting him to follow only the one that you want him to. Obedience training is not a requirement and many people start tracking with puppies as it is a simple, non-stressful, instinctive activity for the dog.

Tracking is a team sport whereby the handler working with his/her dog demonstrates a real understanding of the dog’s commitment to the task as hand. Communication between dog and handler is of utmost importance.


TD — Tracking Dog — The dog is required to follow a stranger’s track (minium 1/2 hour old but no more than two hours old.) The track is approximately 450 metres long with two to four turns and a leather item at the end (usually a glove). The beginning of the track is indicated by a pole and a second pole indicates the direction of the first leg of the track. The dog is required to follow the track and indicate that he has found the item in order to pass the test. An “indication” can include sitting or lying next to the item, as well as retrieving the found item. Either is acceptable.

TDX — Tracking Dog Excellent — In order to go on to the TDX level, the dog must have earned his TD. At this level, only the start of the track is indicated by a pole. The track is approximately 900 metres long and at least three hours old (no more than five hours old). The track has five or more turns, is laid over varying terrain, may cross a road, and is crossed in two places by a second track layer that is laid one hour after the primary track is laid. Along the track, there are two items and a third item is placed at the end. The dog must not follow the cross tracks, find one of the first two items and the last item in order to earn the TDX title.

AKC Titles:

Tracking (TD) — This is to test the dog’s ability to follow a track laid by a person under a variety of conditions on moderate terrain and find an article dropped by that person. The Tracking Dog Test is open to dogs of not less than six months of age and once the title has been earned, the dog may move on to earn the TDX and VST titles. A dog who holds both the UD and TD titles may use the letters UDT after the dog’s name, signifying: “Utility Dog Tracker.”

Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX) — The TDX shows that the dog has the ability to precisely discriminate scent. It also demonstrates stamina, perseverance and courage under a wide variety of conditions. The TDX test should be challenging and tracks should be as realistic as possible. This test is open to dogs who have earned the TD title. A dog who holds both the UD and TDX titles may use the letters UDTX after the dog’s name, signifying: “Utility Dog Tracker Excellent.”

Variable Surface Tracking (VST) — The VST tests the dogs reliability in his ability to recognize and follow human scent while adapting to varying scenting conditions. The dog is given a specific scent at the start of the test and he is expected to be able and willing to follow this specific scent. The Variable Surface Tracking Test is open to dogs who have earned the TD or TDX title. A dog who also holds a UD title may use the letters UDVST after his name, signifying “Utility Dog Variable Surface Tracking.”

Champion Tracker Title Certificate (C.T.) — The AKC issues Champion Tracker Certificates to dogs who have earned all three of the tracking titles: TD, TDX and VST. The letters “C.T.” may then be shown preceding the dog’s name.

Resources and Additional Information:

  • AKC Tracking Information
  • Cross Country Tracking Club — A non-profit organization, located in Southern Ontario and was officially recognized by the CKC on November 1, 1996. The objectives of the CCTC are to hold tracking tests, to introduce new people to the sport of tracking, to have the opportunities to track as a group and learn by helping each other.

Online Chat/Discussion Groups

  • CKC-Tracking — A forum for discussing the sport of Competition (CKC) Tracking. Connect with other trackers for training tips and advice. Use this forum to post Tracking Test results and of course Tracking Test brags!
  • Tracking-L — Tracking-L is a list for people who are interested in or currently involved in AKC, CKC and/or ASCA type tracking with their dogs.

Books & DVDs

Modern Enthusiastic Tracking

Try Tracking

Tracking from the Ground Up

Mastering Variable Surface Tracking Book and Workbook

Scent Fun & Barn Hunt Dvd

K9 Scent Training

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