Does your dog love to use its nose? Then maybe tracking training is for you! Essentially, tracking is the training of dogs to use their noses to follow a human scent.
In Canada, the CKC offers tracking trials, which test a dog’s ability to recognize and follow human scent and to locate an article or articles left on track. There are two titles in Tracking-TD (Tracking Dog) and TDX (Tracking Dog Excellent) and the test is judged on a pass or fail basis. At the TD track is between 400 and 450 meters with 2 – 3 turns of approximately 90 degrees and between thirty minutes and two hours in age. There is one article at the end of the track for the dog to locate. The TDX track is 900 – 1000 metres in length with 5 – 8 turns of which none are acute angles and between three and five hours old. The track will have a crosstrack (a track laid by a person other than the primary tracklayer) that crosses the primary track in two places. There are three articles on the track and the dog must find the last as well as at least one of the others. The primary track should be over varying terrain and over a road.
For real tracking enthusiasts, the AKC (American Kennel Club) also offers a Variable Surface Tracking (VST) title. The Variable Surface Tracking (VST) test is directed towards urban search & rescue efforts. The test requires dogs to follow aged scent over several surfaces, such as asphalt, concrete, bricks, vegetation, etc., while indicating plastic, metal, leather and fabric articles left on the track 3-5 hours before.
Some obedience clubs offer tracking classes. In addition, someone in your local Golden Retriever club may also be able to point you in the right direction to get started.