Tracking, of all dog sports, is the most mysterious to trainers while, seemingly the most natural to working dogs. Each year increasing numbers of people are finding that tracking is a multi-dimensional form of training, every bit as challenging or more so than other dog training. The AKC describes tracking as non-competitive, yet we know more good dog trainers are drawn to it each year. If it is non-competitive in the eyes of the growing officials, the trainers know the only answer to good tracking is good tracking. They know that tracking is always competitive in the sense that any dog can only work at the level it has been taught and this means the trainer is always struggling to find a better answer. If tracking is non-competitive are we saying that the dog need not work with its greatest natural ability, aided by the highest skills in training?
In the following chapters we explore similar misconceptions that, while sometimes subtle, can lead tracking trainers away from the thinking that tracking is just another form of good dog training. Instead, the trainer firmly stays in the areas that have always brought good results: sound training theory, an understanding of behavioral development and clear goals for today and the future.