Downeast Dog News

Training Your Performance Dog

Agility, Obedience, Tracking
By Carolyn Fuhrer | Mar 04, 2019

Thoughts are Turning to Tracking

While we still may have snow on the ground, indications of spring are here, and with these, come thoughts of once again enjoying tracking with our dogs.

Late winter is a really good time to review our plans and set some goals for the coming season. Start out by making sure you have a current rule book and take the time to read it. Honestly assess your skills and your dog’s skills and decide where you might need to improve. Review your notes, reread your written materials, and make a training plan.

If you still need to be certified to enter a test, set a goal for when you might want to try to get certified. If you are already certified, set a goal for when you might like to enter a test. Setting a goal may help you adhere to a training plan, but if for some reason life gets in the way and you are not ready to meet your goals, just revise your plan. Don’t enter when you or your dog are not ready. Instead, volunteer to help at the test. Be a tracklayer and get to spend some time with the judges and learn more about tracking.

In the meantime, before the weather breaks, check out your tracking gear, gather up new articles (dollar stores are great for this) and make sure you are prepared for the first day you want to go tracking.

Indoors, you can work on article indication with your dog. Even a new puppy can start to learn this. Make it a fun game; you will reap the rewards of training when your dog downs at the glove!

Winter is also a good time to review your tracking routines:

Start routine

Restart routine

End of track routine

Having a clear, well understood, and consistent routine will help you achieve success because it will build confidence in you and your dog as to how to handle each situation.

You don’t need a big area to start tracking, just enough to put out a few starts and practice your start routine and end routine, and to rekindle your dog’s enthusiasm for tracking. Make it fun and keep it fun throughout your training season.

There is a lot happening in April for trackers. Mid Coast Kennel Club of Maine is offering a beginners and advanced tracking workshop on Saturday, April 20, from 9 until 4. This will be a kick-off to the tracking season and will feature a potluck lunch where there will be plenty of time to share tracking plans and questions. On April 28, Mid Coast Kennel Club of Maine will host a TD/TDX test in Somerville, Maine. If you have never been to a test, plan on attending, or, better yet, volunteer to help. There is no better way to get involved in tracking. Become a part of this wonderful dog sport this year!

For more information on tracking and upcoming events, go to


Carolyn Fuhrer has earned over 100 AKC titles with her Golden Retrievers, including 2 Champion Tracker titles. She 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