Finally, we discuss the trailing dogs. Trailing dogs will follow the route of a specific person’s scent deposited on the ground as a person moves through an area. A scent article is necessary so that the dog can discriminate the scent of the missing person from that of other people or searchers in the same area. A scent article can be anything with the subject’s scent on it, but it should not be tainted with scent from someone else if possible. A scent article is usually packaged in a sealed plastic bag to keep it pure. This scent article will hopefully match deposited scent in the search area that the dog will pick up and trail. The scent is affected by temperature, humidity, time, and other factors. Because of this, it is very important to field a trailing dog as soon as possible.
Several years ago I posted a video of one of Küster’s training sessions. It turned out to be a nice little project. I had figured out how to put comments in the video and thought it would be fun and interesting to note for the readers what I am thinking while working Küster. Remember, the K-9 handler’s job is to first keep the K-9 safe, and interpret what your K-9 partner is saying about the trail. We do this by reading its body language and how it’s working out or not working.
First, a brief history about this training trail. The trail was laid an hour and a half before we actually went out to run it. It was a steady wind of approximately three to five miles per hour with gusts every so often. It was chilly and damp. I had actually forgotten to pick up a scent article at the start to get Küster to check for scent before our trail layer left. So, we made our missing person’s point last scene the vehicle. Küster was told to check the seat where we knew the person was sitting. It was up to him to figure out which direction the person walked away from the vehicle. The red pieces of cloth that are seen a few times throughout the video are used to both help and reward the dog for staying close to the trail. The cloth helps by giving the K-9 a quick reminder of the scent that they are after. Plus, from time to time a small piece of treat is left on the piece of cloth giving the dog a nice reward for staying close to the trail.
So without further ado… Let’s watch the video.