This is a wonderful sport for handlers and dogs alike. Most of the competitions are held out in the bush, as we need a lot of acreage for the tracking stakes. There are levels through which the teams must progress.
Entry level is Companion Dog, then Tracker Dog 1, then Tracker Dog 2. After a team has qualified Tracker Dog 2, they may decide whether to go on to Tracker Dog 3 or Police Dog. Once a dog has three qualifying certificates under three different judges in either Police Dog or Tracker Dog 3, it earns the title of “Police Dog Champion” or “Tracker Dog Champion”. Full details regarding this sport are available on the KUSA web site: www.kusa.co.za
Here are a few pictures of some of my students competing in the Companion Dog stakes. These pictures were taken at an open show in Birch Acres, Gauteng.
There are three sections to Companion Dog, and the dog has to gain a qualifying mark in each group in order to obtain a Qualifying Certificate.
GROUP 1: CONTROL
Heel on lead (all three paces, with left, right and about turns)
Heel free (all three paces, with left, right and about turns)
Retrieve a dumbbell
Recall to handler
Send away (20 metres)
Down stay (10 minutes out of sight)
GROUP 2: AGILITY
GROUP 3: NOSE WORK
In this exercise the dog has 2 minutes in which to sniff out and retrieve an article. The judge gives the article to the handler to scent, and then places it somewhere in the ring. The article is placed in an area 15 metres square and the team are not allowed to see where it is placed. It is a test to see that the dog can sniff out an object with human scent and retrieve it promptly.
Of course, the dogs don’t always perform as you expect them to. It can be quite stressful for the dog to suddenly be asked to perform all these different exercises in a strange environment on the same day. So sometimes nature takes its toll. (dogs are not allowed to eliminate in the training area, and lose marks for doing so). These are pictures of one of my dogs who just couldn’t hold it any more. She is supposed to be doing an area search …….. This show was held at a grass farm in Heidelberg.