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Tehillah German Shepherds, Tracking page

Home of Canada's No.1 High in Trial Herding German Shepherds

Tehillah German Shepherds


There are several different styles of tracking and they are often used for different reasons. The two most popular styles that you will hear people talk about are Footstep Tracking (FST) and Tracking Through Drive, often referred to as TTD. Another tracking that is becoming more popular is not a ‘style’ of tracking but more related to the tracking surface. This tracking is Variable Surface Tracking (VST).

Footstep Tracking (FST)
Footstep tracking is the style of tracking used in Schutzhund. This training is done using food that is dropped along a 400 to 800 yard track. There is often a ball left at the end of the track that's used as an additional motivator. The dog is expected to track at a slow walk and stay within a couple of feet of the actual footsteps of the tracklayer. This is a very precise and slow form of tracking. Dogs trained in FST have a very ‘low’ actual ‘suspect’ find. FST tracking dogs simply cannot track fast enough to make up enough distance to catch someone that keeps moving.

Tracking Through Drive (TTD)
TTD was developed by the R.C.M.P. here in Canada. TTD is the only training method the RCMP use with their dogs. In addition, TTD is also used in training Search and Rescue dogs. This style of tracking takes an exceptional dog. These dogs not only require good defensive drive (which can be difficult to spot at a young age), they also have to have a really strong prey drive, the kind of prey drive that is also needed for explosive and narcotics dogs. I took a TTD workshop with Gary Murray (former RCMP dog handler) several years ago with my male Aiko. Out of the 12 dogs entered, Gary felt that only 3 would be truly successful and a candidate for this type of tracking. Aiko was one of them.

.Tehillah's German Shepherd, Aiko, tracking in TDD
Aiko doing a track in TTD

In TTD you are working with and building on their drives. The motivator for TTD is from the very first day of training there is always a person at the end of the track. For RCMP dogs that usually means when he gets into his harness he knows there will be someone at the end of the track and that usually means a ‘bite’. For a dog trained in Search and Rescue (SAR) the motivator is also a person at the end of the track but their reward is a game of ball. I should also note here that the RCMP believes very much in ‘equipment’ training as well. Thus a dog knows when a harness comes out, EXACTLY what they are going to be doing. The only time Aiko wears a harness is for tracking and his nose is on the ground immediately after putting the harness on…..he KNOWS what his job is!!

In TTD the dog is allowed to follow its natural instincts and run along a track. For the most part he is not asked to slow down and the dog is not required to have a ‘deep nose’. The handler runs behind on leash. The tracking line also becomes a very important tool and the handler needs to learn to use it effectively. Another important note here is that the handler who chooses to train and work their dog in TTD needs to be physically fit!!

Variable Surface Tracking
As the name suggests, VST track is plotted or laid on variable surfaces. With the continued reduction of available space to hold tracking events, this new test involves the use of urban areas such as colleges, industrial parks, business areas and other typical non-tracking sites. In VST the track is often 3-4 hours old, has cross tracks on it and covers many different surfaces. I also took a seminar with Ed Presnall on VST with my male Aiko a couple of summers ago. It was a great experience and Aiko was awesome. It was held on the Campus at UBC (University of British Columbia). I must admit I was very surprised at how well some dogs did and how dedicated they were to their job in spite of all the distractions and age of the track. It is very rewarding to see your dog work this kind of a track and also very practical.

Tehillah's German Shepherd, Aiko, doing a variable surface track at Univerity of British Columbia
Aiko is doing a Variable Surface Track at University of British Columbia

Tehillah German Shepherds, Tikka as a puppy, training in variable surface tracking.
Tikka as a puppy doing a variable surface track.


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