Canine Tracking is a sport where handlers teach their dogs to use their noses.
In this sport, a tracklayer takes a walk through a field, through woods, or even across hard surfaces like asphalt.
Some time later, the handler brings the dog to the point where the tracklayer started and the dog must follow the tracklayer's track.
A flag marks the track's starting location where, in American tests, an article of clothing from the tracklayer sits.
At the end of the path is a leather glove or wallet that the dog must find.
The sport is sanctioned by the American Kennel Club,
the Australian Shepherd Club of America and
the Canadian Kennel Club.
In sanctioned tests, the time delay between the tracklayer walking the track and the handler starting the dog is anywhere from 1/2 to 5 hours.
Tracks are roughly between a quarter of a mile and a half mile in length.
At the higher levels, the tracks may contain obstacles such as water crossings or fences to get through.
Higher level tests also use up to 4 articles on the track-one at the start, two somewhere along the track and one at the end of the track.
Some tracks may use a cross-tracker who walks across the tracklayer's path in two points, to test that the dog can differentiate between the scent of different people.
To make it easier to verify, the tracks in tests contain only straight-line segments (called legs) and turns that get no tighter than 90 degrees.
The AKC offers three different levels of test, the CKC has 4 and ASCA currently has 2 (although is expected to add one or two more levels).
Passing each test earns the dog and handler a title.
A dog passing all 3 AKC tests earns an AKC Champion Tracker (CT) title, and passing all 4 CKC tests earns a CKC Tracking Champion (TC) title.
It's considered high honors for a dog to earn such performance awards.
It's a common practice to keep notes of the dog's practice tracks in a tracking log.
Such logs typically contained a hand-drawn track map and notes on the track, the weather conditions and the dog's performance.
Often, tracklayers will carry paper and pencil on track to draw their maps and keep their notes.
Judges for sanctioned events are required to do this, as their paperwork is used while the dog is being tested to verify that the dog is on the track and is finding the correct articles.