Downeast Dog News

Training Your Performance Dog

Agility, Obedience, Tracking
By Carolyn Fuhrer | Jul 01, 2020

What is a Tracking Match?

Maine’s newest dog club, On Track Agility Club of Maine, will be offering a tracking match on Saturday, July 25 in Somerville, Maine. This club has done a wonderful job bringing together people who share the true spirit of tracking.

If you don’t know much about tracking and want to learn, attending a match is a great way to learn. This is a true tracking community based on the incredible relationship that is created between you and your dog through teamwork. Those who love tracking share a spirit of togetherness. Tracking is not a competitive sport; trackers enjoy sharing knowledge and encourage participation from beginners. There is an openness and willingness to share ideas and experiences and enjoy the accomplishments of others.

What to expect at a tracking match:

A match is run exactly like a test except that it is not a titling event, so exhibitors get a true test-like experience and clubs can help train necessary personnel.

Entrants will assemble at North Star Dog Training School for the “draw” for order of the tracks. This is usually done in the early morning, especially during warm weather months. The draw for the July 25 match is at 6:30 am. It is an exciting time for entrants to basically “pick a card” from the test secretary to see which number track they will get to run with their dog.

In this match, there will be 4 tracks that have been plotted by the judge and tracklayers the day before. Maps are drawn and flags are left in the field to mark the tracks. Early on Saturday morning (about 5:45), the first tracklayer goes out and “lays” the pre-plotted track and picks up all the flags except the first two. The tracklayer drops an article (a bandana or sock) at the first flag for the dog to take scent from and proceeds along the pre-plotted track and drops a glove at the end for the dog to find. The dog must follow the basic path of the track and find the glove at the end without assistance of the handler. The handler must follow the dog at a distance of at least 20 feet. The handler can use a 40’ lead to allow the dog a wider search area to find the track direction when necessary.

The dog is in charge of this game! The handler must be able to read the dog’s intention and follow when the handler believes the dog is on track.

Tracking is exciting to watch and a well connected team can be very beautiful to watch. This is when relationship shows through. Everyone watching in the gallery is rooting for the team to take good scent and get off to a good start and find each turn (there can be 3-5) and cover the 450-500 yards to find the glove.

Tracking is a sport of great camaraderie where effort and teamwork and sportsmanship prevail. If you think that you might like tracking, come and watch the match on the 25th of July and share in this special sport.


Carolyn Fuhrer has earned over 125 AKC titles with her Golden Retrievers, including 2 Champion Tracker titles and has recently become an AKC Tracking Judge. Carolyn is the owner of North Star Dog Training School in Somerville, Maine. She has been teaching people to understand their dogs for over 25 years. You can contact her with questions, suggestions and ideas for her column by e-mailing