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AKC Tracking Newsletter

Dear Tracking Judges,

The Apprentice Judging Program was established to provide prospective judges an opportunity to learn and gain experience. It is available only to those people meeting the criteria and desire to apply to judge Tracking Tests.

 REGULAR STATUS JUDGES and Applicant/Apprentice Judges– PLEASE NOTE
Permission to apprentice must be obtained from the test giving club and both judges.

  • At least one judge must be an approved regular status judge and not a member of the apprentice’s household or immediate family.

  • Only one apprentice judge will be allowed at each test.

  • Apprentice judges must attend both the day of plotting and the day of the test.

  • Apprentice judges must make their own official charts.

  • At the conclusion of the test, the apprentice judge and the officiating judges must briefly discuss the apprentice’s charts and the evaluation of each dog’s performance during the test.

  • Both officiating judges must sign the apprentice judging form.

  • Apprentice judging forms are located on the AKC website.

  • When apprenticing focus on that job only that day. You can not be entered in another test, lay track or serve in other ways that will interfere with the apprentice obligations.

  • Apprentice judges must follow the instructions of the judges the day of plotting and the day of the test.

  • An apprentice judge must never interfere with the activities of the judges or in any way delay plotting or judging.

  • A copy of the completed apprentice forms and official charts must accompany the prospective judge’s application when applying to become a judge.

In an attempt to avoid confusion, misunderstandings and problems we need your assistance in reminding National Specialty Clubs of the following section in the Tracking Regulations:

Chapter 1, Section 9. Eligibility. No dog may be entered more than once at any one tracking test. At a combined tracking test TD, TDX, or VST, a dog may be entered in more than one test under the following conditions provided preference in the draw is given to untitled dogs:

  1. at a combined tracking test where each test is held on a separate day in Alaska, Hawaii, or any US territory outside the continental US

  2. at a combined tracking test where each test is held on a separate day in conjunction with a National Specialty
When the tests are on the same day, exhibitors must decide which test to enter with a dog (TDX or VST), as they can not enter the same dog in both tests.

The club must identify the test as a combined tracking test on the application for AKC and in the Premium List.

Feel free to share this information with the National Committee Chair for inclusion in the club’s national specialty policy manual.

We are in the process of correcting, updating and modernizing this manual. In addition we hope to provide a link for FAQ’s for Tracking Test Chairs and Secretaries. I have received several good suggestions for inclusion in the manual and or the FAQ page. If you have suggestions please send those to Diane Schultz at . Specifics which meet regulation requirements and are well written will be greatly appreciated.

The Tracking Test Manual is now available free of charge to all clubs on line and can be downloaded here.

The Tracking Test Manual is incorrect.

There are no mileage restrictions between tracking events. Club A can hold a tracking test on the same day as Club B in the same geographical area. 

Due to the limited number of tracking weekends available in some areas of the country, the “no restriction for tracking events” can be advantageous because a larger number of exhibitors can be accommodated. HOWEVER, in areas of the country where entries are down it would not be advantageous for either club to offer the same test on the same weekend as another near by club.

It would be good for the sport and the local tracking community for clubs to work together to decide which option is best for the majority.

MATCHES – Who, What and How?
The following information is intended to correct information that was incorrectly posted on the internet regarding clubs eligibility to hold tracking events:

  • Any type of club (hunting, lure coursing, etc) eligible to hold other AKC licensed or member events MAY be approved to hold a Tracking Match provided they can demonstrate a membership associated with tracking and the necessary resources to do so.

  • These clubs MUST hold at least one sanctioned TD match in order to be approved to have a TD Test.

  • Once they are successful with a TD test, provided they have the required land and resources they MAY be approved to hold for TDX Test.

  • If a club desires to hold a VST test they MUST first have a sanctioned VST match.

TD and TDX tracking sites have never required formal AKC approval. Clubs acquired permission to use fields and asked the local tracking folks, judges and or exhibitors, to determine the number of tracks a site could accommodate.

In 1995 at the inception of VST, all VST sites required formal AKC approval.

As of September 1, 2010 clubs are no longer required to use only pre-approved VST sites. This change allows clubs, based on experience, to ascertain the number of VST tracks a property can reasonably support without the tracks becoming repetitive and predicable. Clubs must provide sufficient property with the necessary buildings and variable surfaces required so that judges may plot unpredictable tracks for the entry.

Clubs must remain ever vigilant to not underestimate the space required for tracks at all tracking events.

If there is any question concerning the sufficiency of land to handle the entry or of suitability of the terrain, the judges should conduct an overall survey of the tracking area before plotting. Additionally, after the event, judges should contact AKC to advise us of the situation and any considerations or concerns.

Now that clubs do not need to use pre-approved VST sites, those clubs that use multiple sites must provide the main address of the draw location/test headquarters and ONE EVENT # will be assigned. AKC may require the addresses of any additional sites but only ONE EVENT # will exist. These additional property addresses are to be printed in the premium list and in the judging program.

If in the past the clubs applied on line and were assigned multiple event numbers they MUST apply manually in order to be assigned one event number, otherwise the computer will continue to provide an event number for each location.

This change should simplify paperwork for judges as well as the club.

The maximum number of tracks the two judges can judge in one day has not changed, TD – 12, TDX – 6, VST – 8.

The change in the approval policy for VST sites allows some flexibility in the plotting and use of an alternate track. For instance, if a site was previously approved for 5 tracks and the club applied for 5 that was the maximum number of tracks that could be plotted/used. Now, if the judges see the site can reasonably accommodate an additional track without the tracks becoming predicable, it is up to the judges if they choose to plot and use an alternate track. However, plotting an alternate track is not required.

Q: Can I introduce my dog to the tracklayer prior to the start of my TDX track?

A: The practice of the dog meeting the tracklayer prior to starting the track is not consistent with current AKC Tracking Regulations.

There is no mention of the dog meeting the tracklayer for the TDX start. In fact, the Regulations are quite specific about the start process, whereby the judges direct the exhibitor to the start flag from a distance of about 50 yards, and then allow the dog ample time to take the scent from the start article and from the aged track itself, not from the tracklayer in person just before the start.

Allowing the dog to meet the tracklayer would be a major change to a TDX start and is not in accordance with the Tracking Regulations.

In addition, Chapter 2, Section 10 states that "In TD and TDX tests, no tracklayer may return within 50 yards of any unused part of a track after completing the track."

Q: When the dog wears a protective coat does it matter if the harness is under the coat or put on top of the coat?

A: As long as both are put on in the presence of both judges and they can see how the line is attached to the top of the harness either option should be acceptable. Exhibitors should discuss this with the judges at the draw.

Tracking Regulations, Chapter 2 Section 24. Protective Clothing. Dogs may wear a protective coat, providing both the coat and tracking harness are put on in the presence of both judges.

2011 AKC National Tracking Invitational
Requirements and Information

Where: Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest
Clermont, Kentucky

When: September 17 & 18, 2011
Judges: Team 1: Herb Morrison and Roy Fair
Team 2: Carol Ruthenberg and Sally Diess

See additional information.

2010 AKC Statistics
If you would like to view the complete 2010 statistics please go to this page scroll down to the 2010 annual statistics button which will link to the digital statistics.

Official AKC Tracking Stats:

Events Held
# of Dogs Competing

Unofficial 2010 Tracking Stats:
The following is information obtained by review of judges tracking charts. This information is unofficial (possibility of human error exists) and is provided purely for your personal enjoyment.

TD # Dogs Ran – 941, Total Pass – 479, Total Fail – 462. 50.9 % Pass Rate
Of those dogs that failed, the top 3 areas of failure were:

102 (22%) failed at the 1st turn; 76 (16.4%) 2nd turn; 58 (12.5%) 1st leg
As a point of interest: 9 (1.9%) missed the article; 10 (2.1%) failed for guiding; and 1 dog
failed because the handler gave the dog a ball at the end of the track.

TDX - # of Dogs Ran – 690, Total Pass – 139, Total Fail – 551. 20.1 % Pass Rate
Of those dogs that failed, the top 3 areas of failure were:
101 (18.3%) failed at the 1st turn; 64 (11.6%) 2nd turn, 60 (10.9%) 1st crosstrack

As a point of interest: 18 (3.2%) missed the 2nd article, 7 (1.3%) the 3rd article and 3 the last article (0.5%). 11 (2%) failed for guiding; 35 (6.4%) at obstacles**; 1 dog failed because handler lost control of dog.

VST - # of Dogs Ran – 437, Total Pass – 50, Total Fail – 387. 11.44 % Pass Rate
Of those dogs that failed, the top 3 areas of failure were:
76 (19.6%) failed at the 1st turn; 59 (15.3%) 1st leg; 51 (13.2%) 2nd turn

As a point of interest: 40 (10.3%) missed the 2nd article, 10 (2.6%) the 3rd article and 2 the last article (0.5%).

197 (50.9%) failed on Grass; 130 (33.6%) Asphalt; 45 (11.6%) Concrete.

2009 Pass Rate Comparison – TD 53.4%, TDX 18.22%, VST 9.3%
** TDX Obstacles – in reviewing judges’ charts for 2010 I probably looked more closely at what was in the area when the dog failed rather than just which leg. I think this observation on my part is reflected in the number of dogs failing in relation to the obstacles in TDX.

The data collection of these unofficial stats is something that has been passed on from one tracking rep to the next. Through the years this data has been collected for the love of the sport and the willingness to share the information with fellow tracking enthusiasts.

In order for these stats to be meaningful it is imperative that your judges’ charts are legible and accurate, especially when indicating where the dog failed and why. For example, in VST was that dog actually off track before he missed the article? Yet you may have written “missed article” rather than “off track.” In TDX, did the dog take the cross track rather than be “off track”? If so make sure the chart reflects “took cross track.” In TDX when the dog went “off track” was it at the obstacle? If yes, write “off track – obstacle.”

Beginning in 2011 “Dog Quit” will be added to the list. This has not been tracked in the past and should add some interesting information to the overall picture.

What do the Stats Tell Us?
In reviewing the overall stats and seeing where the majority of dogs repeatedly fail, aside from the belief that the dog is simply not ready, one can’t help but wonder if handler nerves doesn’t play a much larger role than is given attention.

Think of the chemical changes taking place in a person’s body when they are fearful. The dog, acutely aware of these changes in their handler, is less likely to be able to concentrate and focus on the arduous task of tracking when they sense and smell the fear their handler is experiencing.

Until Next Time…

Remember, YOU Make it Work!

Your continuing efforts to judge in a friendly, courteous, honest, impartial and consistent manner are appreciated by exhibitors, clubs and the Companion Events Department.

Comments, Questions, or Suggested Topics

Please feel free to send any comments or suggestions for future topics to Tracking .


Curt Curtis, AVP Companion Events
and Diane Schultz, Executive Field Rep

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