The History of Trailing
Dogs have been bred to assist in specific tasks for thousands of years. The earliest examples of trailing dogs come from 17th century Swiss monks, who developed the St. Bernard. Initially these dogs were first taught to find their snow-covered tracks back to the monastery, preventing the monks from getting lost…later we see multiple reports where these dogs were scent out to find missing people in the snow and guide them back to the safety of the monastery.
In the 18th century dogs were specifically trained to track down escaped criminals and slaves and these skills are where our modern day Mantrailing dogs first emerged.
The Dog’s Nose
Our dog’s noses are amazing things…it is estimated they can smell something in the region
of 100,000 times better than we can! To put that into perspective, if you could read a sign a third of a mile away, they could read it 3000 miles away! Almost the distance from London to New York. Dogs can see scent in 3D and also tell the time using their nose, its these incredible skills that enable them to identify and follow our trails of scent. They can see where we have been and even how long ago.
During Mantrailing we are using our dog’s nose to follow an individual’s scent trail…
Each person has a unique scent, made up of all the debris that falls off our body as we go about day to day life. It might contain your skin cells, sweat, hormones and bacteria.
As we move our scent billows from us and moves around with the air before settling and sticking in the environment. To start our dog’s off we will offer them a scented item that the ‘missing’ person had made contact with, they will then use their nose to match this scent with the fallen scent that is hanging about in the environment.
Trails and Scent
It is thought that dogs can follow scent trails and are generally very reliable for up to 36 hours but there have been reports of dogs following trails weeks or even months later.
Many things can affect the trail, making it harder or easier for the dog to follow… Different surfaces can make the scent stick more, people and animals can contaminate trails building in distractions and making it tough work for our dogs.
Mantrailing is a really inclusive dog sport…
It’s suitable for all ages and breeds of dog. It’s performed on-lead, with dogs worked one at a time, meaning it’s suitable for dogs with poor recall or those that struggle in the presence of other dogs that don’t suit more ‘tradtional’ types of classes. Mantrailing is a true ‘team-work’ sport that builds the bond between handler and dog…we’re pretty certain that once you’ve started you’ll be pretty addicted!
For more details and to join an Introductory Workshop, drop us a PM!