Frequently Asked Questions – General

When were the first TD, TDX and VST Tracking Tests offered?
The first tracking test (as part of the UD title) was held on September 13, 1937, as reported in "The Story of Dog Obedience" by Blanche Saunders. The first tracking test at which a dog could earn a TD title was October 7, 1947. Until that time, tracking was part of the Utility Dog title. The TDX test was first offered in 1980 and the VST test offered in 1995.

How old should my dog be before I start tracking?
Puppies can be started at any age. It is important to know the limitation of your puppy so as not to push too hard. If tracking is viewed as fun and the reward (food, a toy or play) is meaningful, the dog will pick up tracking quickly. Most dogs love tracking. There are several good books that provide a structured program for tracking training that you can use working alone if there is no one nearby to work with. However, a dog must be certified either by an approved or provisional tracking judge and be six months of age before they may enter a tracking test.

How do I find a club in my area?
You will need to go to our Club Search page.

How do I find a tracking event in my area?
You will need to go to our Event Search page.

How do I teach my dog to track? Are there books you can recommend? Can we train for regular tracking and fieldwork at the same time?
Dogs already know how to use their noses. What we have to do is teach the dog to track what we want him or her to track, and when we want them to.
The AKC does not recommend specific books. You might search the web for vendors of dog products and try your local bookstores.
As far as training for tracking and fieldwork at the same time, our advice would be to start with AKC type tracking and after your dog has mastered the basics, then start with training for fieldwork. Trying to do both at the same time could confuse the dog.

How do I enter a tracking test?
First you must have your dog certified by an AKC judge. An experienced tracklayer or AKC judge will lay a regulation TD track for your dog to follow. After successfully completing the track (while under the observation of the judge), the judge will issue 4 tracking certificates. The certificates are good for one year and each time you enter a test, you must provide one certificate with your entry form. If you are not accepted into the test you should request your certificate be returned. You will only receive 4 certificates on one dog.

How do I find a tracking judge in my area?
Online Judges Directory: http://www.akc.org/judges_directory/

What if I live in an area without any tracking judges? How do I get my dog certified?
Contact the Companion Events Department at 919-816-3521 to inquire about obtaining a hardship certificate.

Are Specialty Tracking Tests for a specific breed only?
A "Specialty Breed" club may choose to open their tracking test (s) to all breeds but preference is given to the specialty breed with any remaining slots going to dogs of other breeds. This includes the alternate list. On the day of the test, one drawing will be held for all dogs entered to determine the running order, regardless of their breed.

Who decides which dogs are selected for the test and then which dog tracks first?
All entries must be submitted to the test secretary by the closing date. A random drawing, opened to the public, will be held at a time and place announced in the premium list. If there are more entries than the number of available tracks, those entries will be placed on an "alternate" list in the order drawn. On the day of the test another drawing will be held to determine the running order. If any of the entrants is absent, the alternate(s) present will be allowed to draw. Alternates will draw in the order that they appear on the alternate list until the entry limit is reached.

How long do I have to wait to enter an advanced tracking test once I get my TD?
Once your dog passes the TD test you may enter the TDX test or bypass the TDX and go directly to the VST test. In consideration of the limited number of available tracks across the country and to promote success at tracking events, you should make every effort to have your dog trained and test ready prior to entering a TDX or VST test.

Can I enter more than one test at a combined test?
No. A dog must have a TD title before they can be entered in a TDX or VST. If it is a combined TDX/VST test, a dog may be entered in both if allowed only at a National Specialty Club or in Alaska, Hawaii or area outside of the continental US and only if the tests are held on separate days.

Does the AKC have a program recognizing service dogs or search and rescue?
The American Kennel Club does not have a program that recognizes the various service dogs and search and rescue groups. We are happy to say that Therapy Dogs International recognizes our Canine Good Citizen program and incorporates it into their training program.

Why is there an alternate track and when would it be used?
Generally, an alternate track is only used in situations where a track has been deemed unusable. It is up to the judges to determine if an alternate is warranted.

My dog earned a title from another association. When I submit my entry form can I include this title on the entry form?
You may, but non-AKC titles will not be printed in the catalogue. We recognize only American Kennel Club titles in our publications.

I elected Emeritus status. Can I still certify dogs for TD tests?
Yes, there is a great need in some states for judges to certify dogs. Just call the Companion Events Department at (919) 816-3557 to let us know you are available.