Mantrailing is teaching your dog to find a person based on their unique scent, very similar to search and rescue dogs, but we do it for fun. Mantrailing harnesses a dog’s natural ability to trail, using their nose and turning it into a fun sport. We start off showing the dog the missing person” running away with their favourite food or toys. This helps to increase the dog’s motivation to trail for the person. Then we build up to not seeing the person go at all and the dog learning to sniff something the person has left or has touched. We use harnesses and trail the dogs on a long line, allowing them to lead us to the missing person. We are building the foundations for the game, so as we progress we start to put our trust in the dogs’ super noses. All dogs instinctively know how to use their nose. It’s a natural ability, and it’s an amazing sense we can’t even begin to comprehend.
Tracking is the ability to detect, recognise and follow a specific scent of ground disturbance. Dogs are born with this skill and would use it for survival before being domesticated. Humans have harnessed this for years; by applying dog behaviour to the dog's ability to track, we now use tracking dogs for lots of different operational purposes including: - Police for criminals and evidence - Military for opposition and threats - Locating poachers - Finding Animals When tracking a human, the dogs are taught to follow track scent, which is the disturbance in the ground left by the humans feet (footprints). Tracking dogs are taught to keep their nose down and follow the whole track, not just to get to the end, but to also indicate on any evidence (articles) dropped by the criminal, and find which route they took.
Scent detection training has long been used widely across the world, for working and operational services. Dogs have been used to search for drugs, bombs, firearms, cash, contraband, missing people & human remains. In recent years, a larger number of dogs are being used for assistance purposes such as medical alert (diabeties), medical detection (detecting cancer cells in humans) and as support dogs detecting emotional changes in their owners. We can tap into the huge capabilities of our dogs noses in easy scentwork exercises that we can do both at home and outside. Scent work is hugely enjoyable for dogs, 10 minutes of mental stimulation for our dogs is as good as an hour’s walk?
I attended the Scent & Science Festival in Northumberland in June this year, it was fantastic, I learnt so much and can’t wait for more workshops in 2024.