CCTC members participate in many dog performance activities. Occasionally, and as demand and time allow, special dog training classes are offered. Most of these classes are taught by CCTC member volunteers who have a keen interest in an area. Dogs of all variety, pure-bred and all-American, participate as well.
This sport demonstrates the dog’s ability to recognize and follow human scent. Tracking is a vigorous, noncompetitive outdoor sport. Unlike obedience and rally trials, where dogs respond to the handler’s commands, in tracking the dog is completely in charge, for only he knows how to use his nose to find and follow the track. For many, the greatest pleasure of tracking is the hours spent outside training and interacting with their dogs. The tracking community is known for its camaraderie and they all share in the excitement of a “pass” and the disappointment of a “fail.” Any breed is capable of learning to track. A tracking course will cover the basic information about what is involved in training a dog to an AKC tracking title: equipment needed, how to begin training, conditions which influence tracking and scent, how to lay a track, dog motivation and handling, use of partners/buddy system, regular practice sessions, steps in training, map making, cost, how tests are run, where they are held and how often, keeping a diary, etc. Most courses run for several weeks after an initial orientation session, meeting once a week with the instructor to check progress. Students are expected to practice in pairs in between weekly meetings if they hope to see progress.
Nosework was created from the concept of drug detection work by police dogs, but instead of drugs, the dogs are searching for odors such as birch, anise and clove. These odors were chosen because they are fairly common and easily obtained but not so common as to be everywhere. Searches at a test include containers, interiors, exteriors, and vehicles.
There are several venues that offer nose work performance trials. National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW), United Kennel Club (UKC), American Kennel Club (AKC) and Canine Performance Events (CPE). Each venue has similarities and differences, so it's important to review the rules before participating. However, training for competition is the same.
Ever notice how much your dog sniffs? Dogs LOVE to use their noses so this sport is easy to train and motivate. Any dog may participate. Handlers can train alone at home or with a partner in a variety of settings. Reactive dogs are welcome since only one dog works at a time.
In an introductory course handlers learn how to introduce their dogs to scent work using shaping and back chaining. They begin with birch and containers. Subsequent courses expand searches to include the other elements and odors. Students are expected to practice at home in order to master the material. There is limited time during class; just enough for the student to understand what to teach and practice with the dog. Class size is limited to eight students.