Urban Trailing

Today I did something very different. It’s hitting me that I teach urban trailing once dogs are advanced enough to understand their job! I wanted to demonstrate this with Micah, who knows how to track. I also wondered if she might move more freely and yet, keep her precision if I let all the line out and moved more quickly.

I decided to try a trailing style of track and handling. I walked a rather meandering track with 5 articles – all but one hidden off the ground. I used leather so they would create good scent cones.

Trailing is a method where the dogs follow scent fairly naturally, finding it where it drifts as opposed to tracking which is sticking to a primary track or being within close proximity to the track. I believe that in urban settings, dogs can trail very successfully once they understand the primary track focus, and then are allowed to problem solve.

The ideas meld well together the way I train, because dogs are first given tracking foundations – then encouraged to shift gears and use the tools to get the job done. Scent in urban areas is readily available in a series of ongoing small scent pictures that enable dogs to move forward efficiently without drifting far from the track. The biggest skill is the wide open spaces and big parking lots where they do need to focus again on the primary track to make a turn (for our tests).


Micah April 21 Trailing
450 m long – For this track, I literally hopped out of my van and took off with no scent pad or flag. I ran it at 45 minutes old. Temp was 21 C and winds gusting at 50 kph

To start, I simply took her out of my van and let her walk into the scent, then run it at the end of her 30 foot line.

The other new thing was that I attempted a slow run to keep up with her, and I am pleased to say I was able to do it! I have been afraid to try a slow run since having a hip replacement – but today I broke that fear barrier because I am determined to be a better handler for this young, powerful and enthusiastic partner of mine.

Micah was true to the track, even away from edges and scent flow. Wind was gusting at 50 kph with dirt hitting me in the face at times. I am so proud of her, and a little proud of me too. I have been afraid to run since my surgery. Today I broke that fear barrier!

Micah parking lot

I filmed it in three segments using my iphone on a “streamaroo” clamp, held to a ball cap, as I continually checked to make sure I had the right recording angle (paranoid). When she is way out on the line like this, the angle of the streamaroo works!

Here is the video!


My favourite part is where she is in the scent cone of a small leather glove that I placed on some metal stairs. A generator – air cleaner is very noisy and I am sure it is disrupting scent. Yet she knows there is an article somewhere and persists!


I know I have a phenomenal young tracker – and urban trailing dog – on my hands. My job is to handler her properly so she can shine!

We are a team in progress.

Happy Tracking!

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