Tracking... with the Griffon!
Wirehaired Pointing Griffons are a NATURAL choice for people who are interested in training for search and rescue type activities. The excellent nose, intelligence, and tenacity of a Griffon are hard to beat.
In the AKC, tracking events fall under the Obedience Division. You will find that many obedience clubs also offer tracking classes and conduct tracking tests. Tracking tests are designed to test the ability of individual dogs to follow a scent trail over several different terrains. The ultimate goal is to train and test a dog in skills he/she would use to find lost or injured people. Unlike most real search and rescue activities, which are done off-lead, dogs being tested in AKC Tracking Tests wear a non-restrictive harness and will be on a long line. Several different titles are available to dogs that successfully complete these tests.
There are three levels of tests in AKC Tracking Tests:
Dog is tested on his ability to follow a fairly simple track between 440 and 500 yards in length, which was laid 30-120 minutes before. The track contains three to 5 turns, both right and left. A TD track is laid predominantly in the same type of cover. The dog must locate the glove or wallet which has been hidden at the end of the track. The track continues as long as the dog continues to work. Dogs successfully completing this track are awarded the suffix title of “Tracking Dog” or “TD.”
Tracking Dog Excellent
Dog is tested on his ability to follow a significantly harder and older track over rougher terrain that is three to five hours old. The trail is 800-1000 yards long, and contains 5-7 turns. There may be obstacles such as downed branches, plowed fields, and cross tracks made by other people and dogs. Dog must find four different articles. Dogs successfully completing this track are awarded the suffix title of “Tracking Dog Excellent” or “TDX.”
Variable Surface Tracking
Dog is tested over a variety of surfaces that he would be likely to encounter in an urban search and rescue mission. Dogs may be asked to track a three to five hour old trail across paved surfaces, concrete, lawns, high grass, and/or bricks. Dogs must find planted articles of leather, metal, plastic, and clothing fabric. Dogs successfully completing this track are awarded the suffix title of “Variable Surface Tracker” or “VST.”
Dogs who earn all three tracking titles are given the PREFIX title of “Champion Tracker!” (CT)
To learn more about competitive tracking with your Griffon, visit AKC’s Getting Started With Tracking page! To find a tracking seminar near you, contact your local tracking club. If you’d like to just go watch the fun and check out how it’s done, check the events calendar for the next tracking test near you!
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