In tracking, the dogs are trained to find an object with the help of its scent. Tracking is also essential for dogs if they want to survive in wild. They have to track their potential prey and hunt it down for surviving.
The Physiological Mechanism for Tracking
Dogs depend on their sense of smelling things for finding and following a track. Dogs have a very sensitive smelling system that is far better than humans. Dogs can also differentiate the smells of humans and also use their visual abilities for following a track.
The first phase is the Search: In this phase the dog tries to find a track. He take quick and short sniffs and move quickly.
In Second phase, after finding the tracks the dog move slowly and then takes longer sniffs for determining the directions of the track. It might be the most difficult task for a dog.
Third phase, The dog follows a trail by sniffing at a uniform speed and move at a pace that’s similar to that of searching.
Things that influence the tracking abilities of dog
Physiological features of a dog must be considered when choosing a dog for tracking. The consideration of Age and sex is also important. The olfactory acuity of a dog decreases with age so it causes a reduction in tracking ability. A male dog has better smelling ability as compared to female dog. There are some situations in which the sniffing ability of dog is higher, For example, the sniffing will be higher when the dog isn’t panting due to the fatigue, it’s not possible for a dog to sniff and pant at same time and dog’s mouth must be close or open respectively. However, dogs can be trained during physical exercises. The sniffing exercises will increase their sniffing abilities. Each dog breeds has its own special ability that suits a special tracking condition. For example, Labrador Retrievers are being used by the Bureau of Firearms, Alcohol, Tobacco and Explosives.
Some other factors that influence the tracking ability of dogs are cross-contamination of different scents, the distance from the target, the relationship and handling ability of dog handler.
The ability of dog tracking is being used in different fields such as Police; this may include tracking of a dead or alive person, the recovery of evidence from crime scenes, arson investigations and finding drugs and explosives. Rescue dogs are used for tracking people that are trapped in disaster zones and avalanches. Dogs are also used in hunting for tracking the animal that has been shot down by the hunter.
Some of the good tracking dogs are Australian Shepherd, Coonhound, Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd and Bloodhound