Introduction: Tracking is. ..

. ..to increase the access of our own sense organs, through the use of another creatures’, to a world that should really be closed to us forever: The world of odors.

Indeed, for a dog tracking is the most normal thing in the world. But for a lot of handlers (and instructors), it is frustrating. Handlers often lose heart, and also lose confidence in their dog, which is an important cause of failure.

With no other part of dog training is the bond between handler and dog so clearly visible as with tracking. Here you can’t achieve anything by violence or pressure. Only a good understanding between handler and dog makes it possible to be successful. With tracking, we must decide if we are willing to follow the dog in his world, and to recognize his superiority in this area.

His ability to smell is much better than ours, but of course we have to make clear to the dog what we expect of his nose before we can have confidence in it. The olfactory system and the ability of the dog to smell are great unknowns for many handlers, and that is often clear to see during tracking.

In this book you will discover the use and possibilities of the dog’s nose. For successful training, it is very important that the handler knows what the dog is doing and what is happening with the track. We often make it very difficult for our dogs, because of human faults, incorrect insights or a wrong approach.

A lot of times even experienced handlers find no explanation for their dogs’ failure with tracking. Words like, “I don’t understand this, he has to track; a dog is after all a nose animal, isn’t it?” are characteristic of misunderstandings that exist in this area. Handlers often assume, even though they have an inadequate ability to smell, that the dog understands without any doubt what is desired of him. An absolutely wrong attitude!

Of course, a dog has an excellent sense of smell, but we have to teach him to follow a human track. We have to make the dog understand what we desire of him. But then first we have to obtain the necessary knowledge of tracking and the scent perception of the dog’s nose. That’s why we pay a lot of attention in this book to all theoretical backgrounds. Besides the common training methods for tracking, we also pay a lot of attention to professional tracking, clean-scent tracking.

With that, every handler can determine for himself which method he should use for his dog. Because, only with enough knowledge is it possible to be successful in nosework, without a doubt the nicest part of dog training!

Table of contents

Introduction: Tracking is. ..
1. Scent and perception
2. The dog’s nose
3. The odors of the track
4. By the sweat of one’s feet
5. Equipment and conditions
6. Common training methods
7. Asking for trouble
8. History of tracking research
9. Scientific aspects
10. Conditions for success
11. Preliminary exercises
12. Clean-scent tracking
13. Weather conditions
14. Cross-tracks
15. The limits of tracking


An incorrect approach to training dogs in tracking can lead to a confused animal and a frustrated handler. The dog’s ability to follow a scent is far beyond what humans are capable of, yet unless a handler can make the dog understand which scent he is to follow, failure is bound to follow. Gerritsen and Haak’s methods are based on acquiring a clear understanding of what is involved in tracking, what the dog’s scent capabilities really are, and what conditions can affect the dog’s tracking ability, and how. From this background, handlers can choose from a variety of methods to train their dog to track.