How to teach our dog to track objects


To build a fun track for your dog, it is convenient to get up early, have an open space and a can of canine food

  • Author: By EVA SAN MARTÍN
  • Publication date: April 30, 2012

Tracking through the sense of smell is an innate behavior for most dogs. This skill is used in professional dog tracking competitions. But it is also a fun way to enjoy the company of your dog while the two play together. If you consider some tips, learning to build a tracking track for your pet is simple. The first step is to get up early to build a track free of footsteps and odors. This has to be outdoors and then a musty trail must be left on it to invite the dog to follow it.

The extraordinary sense of smell The dog explains, in good part, its excellent ability to follow traces and smells in very different situations. "The dog receives an impressive amount of information through smell," they say on the web, specialized in educating pets to develop different qualities, such as their ability to track.

To teach a dog to follow tracking tracks, it is essential to take into account the olfactory capacity of the can and incorporate it when preparing a homemade tracking track to play with our pet.

A tracking track must integrate the game

"The games in which our dog is encouraged to use the sense of smell are a good way to accustom the pet to find objects based on the smell they have," they point out from the American Canine Club (AKC), which organizes competitions of canine tracking in the United States.

"Puppies already instinctively use their olfactory ability to follow traces," they add from the American Canine Club. It is convenient to take advantage of this natural initiative to teach our pet to Track on a game track designed by us.

First step: who gets up early, builds a good tracking track

No wonder the early morning be the best to propose to your dog to follow a tracking trail. The sun heats the remains of moisture that the dew leaves on the vegetation.

Tracking through the sense of smell is an innate behavior for most dogs

Getting up early also ensures that the track is free of footprints and, therefore, free of strange odors that could mislead our dog to find the object we propose.

If you are one of the people who like to get up early (or have a need because of work or studies), you should know that professional trainers advise that tracking tracks be created before six in the morning.

Third step: leave a smelly trail on the pet's track

Smelly foods are a good claim to start tracking workouts (and games) with your dog. You can help yourself with a can of wet food. This type of food is often more attractive to the dog than its usual croquettes.

Try scrubbing some of this food on the grass surface. To do this, it is advisable to try your dog stay still and calm.

Smelly foods are a claim to start tracking games with your dog

It is not surprising that a dog that is not very used to tracking games requires, at least during the first sessions, to tie himself up with a harness to prevent the animal from pouncing on food before starting the game.

Leave traces of food according to a trajectory. At the end of the track, you can deposit a ball or some rubber toy that is attractive to your friend. If you impregnate the toy with another little food, finding it will be the culmination for your friend.

Fourth step: invite the dog to search

Free the dog from the harness and dele Clear instructions to indicate that the game has begun. If you use a simple command, such as the word ahead or search it, the dog will soon identify this instruction as part of the recreational activity.

As the animal becomes familiar with following the smelly tracks that you propose, it can gradually increase the difficulty of the tracking trail. A simple way to increase the complication is to move the remains of food away from each other a little further or draw curves along the odorous path.

Fifth step: be consistent

"It is convenient to perform these search games through smell frequently, using different scenarios, both inside the house and outdoors," they conclude from the American Canine Club. In any case, the constancy It is important to teach a dog to track.

Games in which our dog is invited to use the sense of smell are a good way to accustom the pet to find objects based on the smell they have.

Early morning assures you that the track will be free of footsteps and, therefore, strange odors that could mislead our dog to find the object we propose.

Smelly foods are a good claim to start tracking workouts (and games) with your dog.

Before playing on a track, it is convenient to try to keep the dog still and calm.

Try scrubbing some food on the surface of the grass.

It is convenient to carry out these search games through smell frequently and in different scenarios.

When your dog has learned this exercise, he will be able to bring anything you ask.

For the purposes of teaching, we will use the case that the dog has no interest in playing with toys, To begin, we will place the toy on the floor, letting the dog look at it.

Then, we will click with the clicker. When we talk about marked, we refer to the use of a clicker to indicate the exact moment in which we offer a reward (treat), therefore, you must wait for your dog to look at the toy and as soon as it does, use the clicker and offer the prize.

The objective of the exercise is to create a relationship between sound and reward, for this reason we will repeat the sequence every time the dog looks at the object, sounding the clicker and offering a reward.

Once the relationship has been created, it is time to ask him to do something else with the toy. Most dogs at this stage sniff the toy or touch it with their paw.

If this happens, sound the clicker and offer a reward to your dog.

Take the toy with your hand and place it near your face. When your snout touches the toy, sound the clicker and offer a reward.

Try to get the dog to catch it with its mouth. Once again, you will try to get the dog to touch the toy with its snout, but in this case we bring the toy to its mouth, when we pick it up we mark and offer the reward.

This step may need more dedication, the secret is always patience, you never have to force, remember that it is a game.

Once the dog takes the object with its mouth, we will place it on the ground in front of our feet, Again we will ask you to take it, for this we place our hand under the toy, we mark and offer the reward as soon as I take it.

From here you are ready to increase the distance at which the toy is placed.

Remember to do this gradually and sound the clicker just before offering the reward.

The main objective of this exercise is to show the dog that training is part of the game.

Be patient and understand, if the dog ignores you, it is better to give it a rest, with 10 or 15 minutes a day you will get your dog to learn to track and bring the ball.

How to teach a dog to track

A dog's instincts are very important, They are part of your life and necessary even for socialization. But it is true that with domestic life some instincts are somewhat asleep by not using them. Do you want to boost your search instinct again? Let's see how to teach a dog to track:

Find a place with few odors

To start, It is necessary to take your dog to a place without many odors. Even if it seems to you that it doesn't smell like anything, he will detect many odors more than you! So try to be as odorless as possible and not many animals have passed through there.

It’s better to be outdoors, since in an enclosed space it can cost you more to find things. Gradually he will learn to distinguish the smell you want him to track from everyone else.

Don't underestimate your nose, but adapt

The olfactory ability of dogs is incredible. However, it is not the same as everyone, some get to smell things from farther away, others not so much. Test your ability and adapt to the results.

We recommend that you use games to teach your dog, They will motivate you much more and keep the interest.

(Photo via: mundoperro)

The best time to teach a dog to track is before dawn, since there is less movement and therefore less odors, in addition to the sun will not have yet generated the emission of moisture from the vegetation.

Search a large space

It can be a park near your home, for example. Find a wide place, where your dog has enough space to move freely.

Rub some food through the grass, without letting your dog still access it, The ideal thing to start is canned food, as it has a more intense smell. Take a tour with the food and put some of it as a prize at the end.

As you learn, you can increase the difficulty and even use feed, which smells less.

You already know how to teach a dog to track! It will take some time, like everything, but with patience and dedication you will get it. Your dog will be happy to be able to put into practice his instincts and you will feel very satisfied. In addition, teaching things to pets is a great way to have a good time with them and strengthen ties.

What should you do to motivate your dog?

Using an appropriate reinforcement is the ideal way to start working on this exercise. Remember that not all dogs respond in the same way to the same reinforcement: some will be much more predisposed if you use food, but others will prefer a ball or a kind word. Of course, you should always congratulate him when he does well and never scold him if he does it wrong. Remember that tracking is a very fun and positive exercise for him, don't turn it into something negative.

Do not forget that the training sessions should last around 5-15 minutes a day, so if you notice that your dog is too tired to track, leave training for another day. Further, you must repeat the techniques frequently, in this way the dog will progress little by little and day after day. Do not forget that you should avoid the 15 common mistakes when training a dog, actions that impair learning and reduce good responses.

Now that you know the working time and the use of reinforcement, read on to discover how to start your dog on the trail.

Teach your dog to track step by step

Next we will explain the necessary steps to teach your dog to follow a trail and then to look for:

  1. It is very important that your dog is calm before starting. If he is very excited it is preferable to play with him and then offer him a relaxing walk to calm him down. Once calm, it's time to start.
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How to wake up the instinct to track a dog

Teaching our dog to track is much more than being able to show off with our friends, it is to awaken an innate sense that you can probably have asleep. It is important for your development and your socialization to carry out your instincts.

Find a place free of odors

To start training a dog in the tracking action it is important that we look for a non-tracking place. Look for that there are not many smells and that there have not been many animals out there.

As you learn, you'll know how to differentiate the smell you want to track from everyone else. But in the meantime, you have to start this way. Of course, choose an outdoor area, because at home it will be difficult to find something.

Think about your olfactory ability

Dogs have a highly developed olfactory ability, but not everyone has the same. Therefore you should think about your pet's and look for a tracking area adapted to it.

There are dogs that can smell and track more distance, while others will only do it in shorter distances. Therefore, choose a place and space according to the olfactory ability of your pet.

On the other hand, the games will help you a lot to make it easier to teach you. Even being an innate instinct, the games will be very useful when developing them.

Yes, Tracking specialists advise that tracking areas be created before 6 am, because the sun has not yet risen and has not generated the emission of moisture from the vegetation.

In addition to that, at that time there will not be even footprints or smells in the area and that will facilitate the task of tracking your dog.

Much space

A park near your home will be ideal. To develop your traceability well, a wide space is important. Then comes the best.

Scrub some food in the grass. The best thing will be to have your dog tied while you do it so he won't eat it. Make a path with food scraps and, if you want to give your pet more fun and a surprise, put a smeared food toy.

It is recommended that you use canned food to start with its strong smell and the ease of scrubbing it into a toy. Later you can use feed.

The time has come for your dog to know that the game has begun. Let it smell and release it from its belt.

Use the «Search«, «Go» or «go ahead» command so that your dog understands what you want. Remember that at the beginning it should be simple, but as you go practicing you can complicate the thing.

For example, you could use less odorous food or perhaps objects that are increasingly separated from each other. You could also do curves, play hiding behind the trees or anything else you can think of.

Remember to always use the positive reinforcement pus the screams and scolding do not lead anywhere and will take you away from your goal.

Above all, remember to do it frequently, because otherwise the animal will soon forget what has been learned and you will go back one step at a time instead of advancing it.

Patience and perseverance

Teaching a dog something implies being patient. It is very important that we keep in mind that each furry has its learning pace: Some need more time than others. If we are nervous and restless, he will notice it and he will feel that way too, so the training session will be a disaster even before he has started it.

In addition, you have to be constant. Working one day a week will not work. You have to do it more times: a little while - about 15 minutes - every day would be ideal.


The sessions have to be, above all, fun. For it there is nothing better than dog treats that we will give you every time you do something right, and of course congratulations (not only expressed with words, but also with caresses and pampering).

What you never have to do is scold or mistreat it (this apart from not being useful for anything other than to take us fear, it is a crime).

A dog willing to work

Although we find the opposite, trace tired. If the dog is tired it is best to let him regain strength. And, in addition, each session should end well, with fun, and you always have to leave him wanting more. Therefore, it is interesting to even stop before I get tired.

How to teach him to track?

Now that we know what we need to teach our dog to track, we must follow this step by step:

  1. First, you have to reassure him a little in case he is not, for example, with a walk.
  2. Second, we will ask a loved one> To take into account

In order for our dog to learn to track and not cause problems, it is very important that we consider the following:

  • We should not use the "search" command in other situationsotherwise we will confuse it and the furry will do his best to track the streets where he passes. And this can be a very serious problem, since you can eat any inappropriate food.
  • You have to change tracking areas, that is, it always has to be a quiet area, such as the forest or the garden, but it does not always have to be that specific area.
  • We must show him the order "still." It will be very useful in different circumstances: when we go for a walk, when we are teaching you to track to avoid eating something you should not, or to wait for us in a corner for example. Here's how to do it.

Strengthen tracking

It is highly recommended to practice this exercise on regular basis to make sure that our dog perfectly understands the "search" command. The more you practice, the better your dog will do and the more fun the exercise will be.

Now that you know the main technique you can start create tracking tracks differently, with more or less food and even with a hint of difficulty: an idea is to store food in small jars (and open them when your dog finds it) or hide it in other places. Practicing with different scents is also a highly recommended exercise to stimulate your smell and teach you to look for different things. We can even teach you to look for truffles if we practice enough.

Now you know how to teach your dog to track, but remember that you should not lose patience, dogs learn little by little so do not stress and take advantage of these moments to have fun with your furry friend.

Behavior problems related to tracking

It is very important that our dog understands that the tracking exercise is carried out in specific places (in the forest, for example) and that we only practice them there. It will also be essential not to use the word "search" in other circumstances. Otherwise, it may happen that our dog devotes all efforts to track the streets of your city, eating any food you find on the ground or walking with your head down.

To avoid these problems you will always follow the guidelines that we have set for you and teach your dog to stay still to order. This exercise will help you prevent me from eating something unwanted or that you get lost in the forest during any of your sessions. Do not forget that basic obedience is essential for your safety.

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