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Leerburg Dog Training Q&A Archive Q&A on Tracking

Q&A on Tracking

Q&A on Tracking

Search & Rescue Tracking, Police
Tracking and Sport Tracking

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I have a question about Force tracking. I own a rottweiler with an excellent working pedigree but I'm having a serious problem with tracking. He doesn't have good food drive so that method is of no use. I was hoping you'd be able to give some ideas or direct me to some sources of information that would be of help.

Many Thanks,


Every dog can be trained with food. This is a handler problem not a dog problem. If you do not feed your dog he will have food drive. If you try and force your dog for this reason well you deserve what you end up with. I will not help in such a stupid thing. Sorry

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Hi Ed!!

My husband and I recently purchased quite a few of your videos and I must say that I have learned so very much from them. I do have a tracking question for you though. My 7 month old GSD bitch does not pick up the food drops. She'll put her nose on it and then pass it by. I was thinking that she's just looking forward to the "payoff" at the end, so instead of putting her food there I have replaced her supper with a toy, hoping that she'd start picking up the bait again. so far it's a no go with that plan. I started her tracking at 10 weeks ("find it" games with food) and this behavior of leaving things on the track has been going on for about a month. I've even tried snake patterns, zig zags, "split tracks" where I step off to one side and lay a track there for about 10 paces before returning to the original track line and she was just fine through all of that. Would you take this to mean that she's past the point where she "needs" the food? Do you think a food drag would be in order for her? I'm a little stumped...Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you.

Roten Haus Shepherds


I think trainers have a tendency to worry too much.

Remember what your goal is “TO TRAIN A TRACKING DOG” not TO TRAIL A DOG TO EAT ON THE TRACK. And important distinction. If your dog is doing a good job of tracking then its not important to pick up the food. If the dog is not tracking then we need food to bring the dog back to the track.

A food drag is OK, I like them, use them and recommend them. It’s also OK to rotate drags for food on the track. DO WHAT WORKS. Using cooked liver for the food on the track will cause almost every dog to eat it. Only feeding the dog on the track is a must in my opinion – on the days that you track. Then if the dog does not track you put the dog away. No argument, no force no nothing – just put the dog away – it always helps to let the dog see another dog eat the food you had sitting out for it.

Also use really good food at the end of the track – not kibble – who can like dry shit kibble. I feed an all-natural diet and the dogs sit up and pay attention for that.

Obviously I assume you do not over feed (like most Americans)

Remember your dog is still a puppy. Don’t push the envelope in making the tracks too difficult just because YOU want to do it.

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First I would like to say how useful your web page has been for me. I wish I would have found it long before I purchased my pup.

I currently have a 3 1/2 month old German Shepherd Dog, I bought from a friend of a friend (I know that may have been bad now). She a full blooded all black, and is calm for the most part unless she is at home around the kids, then she just loves to play.

I would like to train her in Tracking and Search and Rescue. I have done a lot of research on the topic and bought a couple of books. I plan on using her for search and rescue work for the fire dept. along with possible water related emergencies (If Possible), also if it is possible she would be used with the Police Dept. for evidence tracking and/or suspect travel (not the apprehension of a suspect). I would like to know which of your videos will be most useful to me in the training of my dog.

Again Great Page, and thank you for any assistance you can give me.

Asst. Chief Jay
Porter Fire & Dive Rescue


If you want to do S&R you should read the articles I have written on Tracking Through Drive (TTD) You can read about this on my web site in the list of training articles.

I have done 3 training videos with the RCMP – you will want these. But you don’t do TTD with a dog until it is 12 months old. Young dogs get the foundation for tracking through foot step tracking (FST). Young dogs should not get too much exercise (TTD) its hard on their hips. They also cannot concentrate long enough to work in TTD.

I strongly recommend that you get involved with the foundation videos that I have done with Bernhard Flinks from Germany (he is a K9 handler there). You will use the DRIVE you work with in this tape in your training throughout the life of the dog.

The TTD tapes to learn from are:

Training a Police (S&R) Tracking Dog – Level One – Video 205. This video was filmed in Canada with the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). In my opinion they are some of the best tracking dog instructors in the world. S&R trainers in Canada cannot be called out until they have passed a level one certification by the RCMP. This training tape shows how dogs are trained to this level.

Track Laying for a Police Tracking Dog - Video 207. How to lay a good training track is critical in training tracking dogs. This tape goes into a great deal of detail on track laying. There is an art to laying a good training track. This tape shows how the experts do it. If you are new to S&R or police tracking, or if you are constantly having to retrain track layers, this tape can save you a lot of time and energy.

Training the Police Tracking Dog – level two and three – Video 208. This tape deals with Urban and Suburban tracking. It was done with the RCMP in Canada and is now used to help train new their K9 handlers. I would recommend that you go to my web site and read the training articles I have written on Tracking Through Drive (TTD). You can find them in the list of articles.

Good luck in your training. If you set the foundation correctly the later work is easy.

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Thanks for the Basic Obedience tape. I have been working with Law Enforcement K-9's for about ten years and you have by far the best no nonsense tape on the market. Thanks.

It has made my two dogs outstanding working members of the family who can be totally enjoyed anywhere.

I'm interested in taking one of my dogs up a notch in his training centered around urban and rural disaster search. Particularly FEMA certification. I'm stumbling on some basic stuff which I believe may be focus related not obedience related. Regardless it's handler related and I need to figure out what I'm doing wrong. EXAMPLE: Dog is working a basic track, off leash, and sees a cat. Looks at the cat as to chase but does not. He then continues working after another verbal command. I don't think I'm expecting to much from him but several times I had to call him in because he locked on, meaning forgot what the heck he was doing before the cat was seen. No aggression, no fear towards the cat. Just stops and looks. I can recall him and he'll come running but I don't want to start the habit of returning to me if he sees wild life. He stays, downs from a distance, and recalls are great. All off leash and in new areas. Distractions include strange cats, frogs, tennis balls and other people calling his name, no problems. I don't think I'm rushing him obedience wise but I'm no expert either. Your discussion board has great stuff on crittering ( teaching the dog not to chase but mines not chasing. He's losing focus). I was thinking of ordering your tape on building drive but I'm not interested in starting bite work. Will it still help? I'm particularly interested in the relationship development part of it. We have a great one now but anything to make it better would be a plus. What would be your recommendation for next tapes considering the end goal of FEMA certification? Any ideas on how to go about preparing a dog for service work?. I need to get him exposed to malls, stores, airports, office buildings. Do states / feds allow this in a K-9 training status? Any tips you have picked up would be great. My job will give me the time to train him but he's not their property. He's personally owned. Any thoughts would be appreciated and thanks again for all your work.

S/A Pat


Get the Drive, Focus and Grip video. It teaches you how to put the dog in drive. It teaches the dog how to have self control when he is in drive. When the dog will do the drive work at your home – then take him to new places and work him in drive. This will show you where the problems are and teach the dog to work drive in new locations.

Use your imagination and work drive exercises and focus exercises in as many new locations as you can think of. If the dog cannot do this it WILL NEVER be a FEMA dog. This is really the foundation for this training.

Good luck.

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I have an eight week old GSD puppy that I would like to train as a police service dog. I have tested him according to your procedure and found him to be excellent. The dog has a great prey drive at this point.

My question is when, and how, do I begin tracking training with him?

I purchased your video on Tracking through Drive for my current police K-9 and found it to work well.

K-9 Handler


Glad the test helped.

There are a couple of points.

1- TTD should not be used on a dog until its 12 months old. The early stages of tracking are motivational foot step tracking. I have written about this on my web site in the Q&A on tracking The video for this is Video 203. TTD is way to much exercise and pups don’t have the concentration to cover those distances and remain in drive.

2- You should start the foundation of bite work right now. It’s done in prey drive. You do ALL OF THE FOUNDATION bite work training between 8 weeks and 12 months by yourself. Here are the videos that show you how:

a. Building Drive Focus and Grip

b. Preparing Your Dog for the Helper

If you want a service dog, keep your pup THIN, DON’T over exercise, and x-ray the pup at 5 months. If its got bad hips you want to know at 5 months and not 12 months.

Good luck

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We, at the American Institute On Domestic Violence are trying to research the amount of time DNA and scent for tracking would remain on various materials. In the case of a missing or victim of domestic violence or child ID system, what would be the best material use and the scent extension to expect from it? I am hoping your expertise can provide that information. Thanking you in advance.

Rick Naylor, VP
American Institute on Domestic Violence


What are you trying to do?


Well, ED, we are in the long time business of assisting victims and potential victims of abusive crimes. There are references that xyz product will retain Scent for tracking dogs up to two years. The next reference says differently. I am leaning toward cotton swab of a domestic violence victim who has the potential of becoming a missing person or in some cases a child. What is your professional opinion?


I can tell you that the people who claim that their cloth will retain scent for 2 years are full of crap. It's 100% bull shit.

Read the article I wrote on Bloodhound handlers. You can find this on the article page on my web site.

I have been to both of the federal police dog schools in Holland. They both do scent collection. It’s based on science not stupid bull shit like the bloodhound people in this country try and pass off as super dog skills.

No one would support a well run scent ID program more that me. A program like this would solve a lot of crimes in this country but it has to be run by the FBI with a central storage area.

I will testify (free of charge) against any of these bloodhound clowns that make these stupid claims. In the long run, bad dog training hurts EVERYONE of us that are in the business and I have dedicated my life to sound dog training.

In Holland sterile gauze pads are used to collect scent. Its stored in sterile glass bottles that have been vacuum sealed exactly like your mother canned vegetables. The people who collect the scent have to go through specialized training.

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Ed –

Great web site. I’m a police K-9 handler/supervisor for a medium sized Sheriff’s Office. Question…in reading your TTD Q&A, and watching your Tracking I & II videos I have learned loads on tracking. Recently, I had a differing opinion with another K-9 trainer regarding training a new dog in tracking. This trainer was very concerned about the “amount” of “quartering” (straying from the footstep track) the dog was doing. He was having the new handler post when the dog wandered a couple feet from the track. The dog was getting very frustrated and would simply come off the track and look at the handler. The trainer wanted to flush the dog for this. So I had the handler bring the dog out and I basically told the handler to let the dog go with the instruction that if he was 15-20 feet (lead length) from the track, post until he came back, give him an “atta boy” and continue. The dog did great, sprinting the track with nose down and not coming off. I feel I’m right on this, but am I encouraging a sloppy dog or simply letting him work? The other trainer wanted “footstep to footstep” tracking, which I do not believe is necessarily what we as police K-9 handlers want as there is a lot of compulsion associated with it.

I need to watch the videos again, I know.



Nice to hear from you. Your question is very good because it relates to so many officers that don’t really know how to train tracking dogs properly.

Your other instructor is 100% wrong. He is wrong on not allowing the dog to make a mistake and he is wrong on foot step tracking (FST).

The key to training a tracking dog is to allow it to make mistakes and then work his way through them. This is how a dog learns.

The people who propose FST have been trained by dog vendors who sell Schutzhund dogs. I am a huge fan of Schutzhund. I love the sport. But the key word here is that it is a sport.

The goal of police tracking is to find the suspect. I don’t care if a dog goes 3 feet of the track or 50 feet off the track as long as the dog is still working the scent of the track. The mistake that many trainers make is that they fail to learn the technique of allowing their dog to make a mistake and then allowing or helping them work out the mistake and problems. In fact – that’s how learning takes place. We want a dog that works out problems. We want a dog that fights for the end of the track. We want a dog that does not quit but keeps looking and searching.

The key to training a sport tracking dog is to train a dog to learn obedience on the track. A sport track is a very slow methodical step by step track. This is not a natural process. This is not how an off leash dog would naturally work a track. The key for police tracking dogs or S&R dogs is to allow the dog to fight for the track and find the end.

What I think trainers should occasionally do is to cut a dog loose. Let him work a track when he drags the leash.

If a dog has good drive he will learn from his mistakes. If a dog has good drive and is constantly stopped by the handler he will get frustrates and learn nothing. In effect he learns to quit when he faces a problem.

I don’t think the other trainer is a bad trainer. What would make him a bad trainer is to have a closed mind to new ideas.

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Dear Mr. Frawley,

You have been helping me previously so I dare to ask for your time again:

My now 4 year old GSD, Harry, is very high prey orientated. My previous question was how to slow him down on a sport track. I followed your advise and those problems are gone. Thank you.

I have never used food on the track, Harry is not fond of food, he´ll leave his bowl for his ball only too willingly. He has done so many tracks, I train him since he was a pup. I did IPO, Int. Tracking Trials and Tracker dog successfully with him. He has always been such a keen tracker, "such", nose down, tail up (!) and off he went happily and reliably. He has done over night tracks and works hard in any condition like heavy grounds, strong coastal winds, high temperatures, you name it.

Some weeks ago we traveled 12 hours from East London at the South African East Coast (sea level) to Johannesburg (1500m) to participate in the local police dog trials (part of the working trials here). The show started on Sunday so we went up on Thursday to give happy Harry time to settle. All went well until the tracks went off. Out of the blue Harry decided not to track at all. We have taken a video of the event and there is no evidence of a fault from my side. I usually let the dog take scent, tell him such and then shut my mouth and just follow my dog. What I have seen makes me think of lack of motivation and concentration. The question is: Why?

Harry is fit like a rooster, not over worked or used to any force on the track. I do not have any clue about this. Nor do my tracking fellows who use food on their tracks....

-Are we hitting the wall?

-How can we get over it?

Thank you in advance,



This is a handler mistake.

You have not trained with a RESERVE.

This means you need to set the dog up. No food the day before the track or the day of the track.

Lay a 30 yard track with food at the end – wind coming from your back - a tin of cat food. The dog needs to have tracked many times for cat food.

Then leave a can of cat food near the starting flag – close enough that the dog can smell it when you take him out.

When you approach the track – take the second can and allow the dog to know you have it. Put it in the car.

Then take the dog back to the start of the track and try and start.

He will not track – guaranteed.

Now you train for the reserve. In a very DEEP FIRM PISSED voice your give the track command and use level 10 force to jerks all the way down this track - many many jerks. The dog will scream – he will crawl and run and maybe piss himself. When he gets to the end he gets the can of cat food, He may not eat it. Take him back to the car – put him away for the day.

This dog will NEVER forget this day. Not for the rest of his life. You will only have to do it once in his life.

You have now trained the dog for a RESERVE – if he ever goes out to an event and acts like he did at the competition – you can lower your voice and sound pissed and I guarantee the dog will track.

Maybe once a year you go out and test the RESEVE VOICE at the beginning of a training track. You will see that he remembers.

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Just had a couple of tracking questions/comments. I recently purchased your Tracking Through Drive Level 1 tape and have started watching it and doing some of the basics (handler laid tracks)....and boy, have I already come under serious scrutiny over doing it differently then our trainer does it. I started doing the actual exercises today by having someone hold onto Remco while I ran away, calling him and teasing him as he went crazy. I went straight out then hid behind a tree about 100 yards out. The officer that helped me proceeded to tell me that I went out too far, that I only should've went about 25 feet, and that I should start by having someone ground in several steps about 25 feet out then drop a toy for him at the end, and continually point to the ground as his is making his way to the ground so he keeps his nose straight down. Needless to say, many of the tracks that our canines do are generally right on, but by the time they find where the bad guy went to he is already long gone. Anyway, the question that I have is this: Should I use the same toy every time he finds me or the helper at the end of the track? My dog will go crazy over anything...ball, tug, sleeve, rope, etc... Today we used the tug, but I just am wondering if I should stick with that all the time or is it ok to switch it up? Thanks.



I have this saying:

You need to be careful about who you listen to on training your dog. “Everyone has an opinion on how to train your dog – just ask your mailman, your neighbor, your hair dresser or barber, or your best friend – the problem is that very few people have the experience to back up their opinions which results in a lot of bad information being handed out”

Your friend falls into this category.

The fact is if you are working a dog that 12 months old you should have gone out to 500 to 600 yards. If you review the video I believe you will see that this is the distance I recommend.

So my first advice is to stick with the training protocol in the DVD – the RCMP have been at this a little longer than your department.

What you use as a prey item is not important as long as the dog likes it.

I don’t know if you have the DVD on HOW TO LAY A TRAINING TRACK. If you don't have it you should get it. The training will progress at a much faster pace if the tracklayer knows what he is doing. There is a great deal that goes into laying a training track.

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Hello Ed,

I am training my puppy - an 11 month old GSD - in SAR, and I am a beginner at this. A few days ago she did something very bad - she ran after a deer and was gone for 15 minutes. I know that this can only get worse, and I want to nip it in the bud ASAP. Do you have an article or a video that addresses this? I have received conflicting information
from other trainers and the internet, ie:

1. Get an e-collar and correct her. (Sounds good, but how do I get a deer to cooperate? Since repetition seems to be one key to learning, if I can only get a deer to come by once a week or once a month, how would this work?)

2. Get deer breaking scent, put it out in yard or park, etc., and correct her when she shows an interest in it. Again, how do I know that she will generalize from the inanimate scent to the moving, running deer?

3. Get deer breaking scent and out it on a pad on her collar, or squirt it up her nose (!?) until she is sick and tired of it. Given the sensitive nature of a dog's nose, this seems cruel; and if she has deer scent up her nose, won't that interfere with the air scent training I'm
working on?

I'd like to do things correctly the first time, and to end this behavior ASAP. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,


Deer breaking scent is about as effective as putting non-breeding scent on a 20 year old college student

Get a e-collar and learn how to use it. I use Dogtra. Get a DOGTRA 1700 NCP –we sell them.

Train the dog the recall with the collar - not associated with tracking training.

I would do what I say below as far as conditioning the dog to the collar going on and coming off. Then I would take the dog for a walk in areas where there are deer. I would not teach it on a training track.

Make a mistake here and use too much power and you have a pet and not a working dog

Here is a pre written text I send people:

This is the collar I use on my personal dog. Electric collars are not difficult to work. The most important thing is to introduce them properly to the dog. The key is to do the training correctly so the dog does not see the collar going on as a trigger to mind. We want the trigger to mind to be our voice command. This is done over a period of 2 weeks. The protocol is to put the collar on and take it off 4 to 5 times a day – switch collars around – take the prong off and put the electric collar on – etc etc etc After doing this for two weeks the collar going on will mean nothing to the dog.

Then try and put the collar on 30 minutes before going out and take it off 30 minutes after coming back in.

Once this is done the next step is to determine the shock level. I ALWAYS use the NICK button and not continuous. In 20 years I can probably count the number of times I have used CONTINUOUS on one hand. A lot of trainers use it – I don’t. I look at a collar like I look at a leash correction.

To determine the shock level for normal training (not for chasing a squirrel or a cat) I will start by shocking the dog for no reason at its lowest setting. Look for the point where the dogs head just jerks a little or he looks at the ground to find the land mine he just stepped on – an eye blink is not enough and a YELP is to high.

I always want my dog to know the shock came from me. So just like in normal training – if a dog screws up I say “NO” then repeat the command as I give a correction. With a collar it’s the same : the sequence is:

Say NO
Then Shock

In the beginning you say “NO” – give a shock as you quickly give a leash correction. (all initial collar training is done on leash) The goal is to first be able to eliminate the leash correction, then eliminate the shock so you only have to use your voice. I “read the moment” to see if simply saying “NO” results in the dog minding. When you see this you are making headway – but you only wait for 1 second .

When you move your training with an e-collar to areas of higher distraction – seeing other dogs, cats or wild animals you will always have to bump up the level of shock so be prepared ahead of time. A dog that works on level 2 shock in your back yard will need a level 5 – 6 – or 7 shock when it sees something that really distracts it.

What I do is say “NO” and shock the dog the INSTANT it even looks at an animal. I don’t wait for the dog to go into high drive and want to chase – at that point you would probably have to use level 10 because your timing was bad. The dog will learn that just looking at an animal will result in a painful experience. I have seen PITT BULLS that will turn their head and quickly look away when another animal comes into view.

In the end – a good dog trainer who has a dog that requires this training will NEVER TAKE HIS DOG out without a collar on. Why test the moment? That’s foolish. Look at the collar as a tool for EMERGENCIES. To leave it home when you walk your dog would make no sense. The security of having it there will make you relax and enjoy your dog more.

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We received your puppy 8 weeks to 8 months. We knew a lot of the information in the DVD. However, some of it was very informative for myself and my husband. We were wondering what would be the next step or tape. I'm not sure if we can do both, but we want a pet for my children and a tracking dog for when my husband goes up north to the woods. We currently live in the desert/city (phoenix) and have land in the national forest (rural) about 2 hours away. Our dog (blue) will be 3 months on July 2. He has a lot of prey drive. When I walk he is an alligator. I tell him no or phooey and give him one of his ropes or kongs. It only seems to distract him from my feet for about a min. Also I'm not sure if he looks at my 2 yr old daughter as prey or as a litter mate. Whenever he sees her, he barks, whines and cries. He is crated whenever I can't keep total eyes on him. He sits every time we go through a door. But this ankle/feet biting thing is starting to make it hard to take him for walks. He use to love to go. Should I not be giving him a rope. He loves to run up to it (even when it is just laying there) grab it really hard and shake the snot out of it. He gets lots of praise and the only leash correction he gets is when he doesn't come. I do say ouch or no pretty stern when he bites me though. Thank you.



Here is the LONG LIST. You will need to determine how much or what you would like to learn.

I would recommend that you get the DVD I recently finished titled HOW TO RAISE A WORKING PUPPY. If you go to the link you will be able to read the description of the chapters in the DVD. I have bred over 340 litters of working puppies in the past 30 years and Cindy (my partner) has been breeding and competing in dog sports at a national level for 20 years.

You are going to need to obedience train a dog with this much prey drive. In fact I would have a prong collar on it right now and it would get corrected for biting like this. These corrections have nothing to do with obedience training they have to do with manners. In formal obedience training we never correct unless the dog 100% knows a command. In manners training the dog is corrected when it does something stupid - like bite the owner. I guarantee you this dogs mother would bite it back to teach it to knock it off

If you make the decision to learn to train - get a prong collar. You can read about it on my web site. There is an article I wrote (with a number of excellent photos) on how to fit a prong collar, you can also read about the different types of prongs.

If you want to do tracking then the dog will need to do Tracking Through Drive - AS AN ADULT - not a puppy. Have your husband read the articles I have written on this subject.

Puppies need to be started on Foot Step Tracking and then switched to TTD at 12 to 13 months of age - they are too immature to remember TTD before that.

Training a Police (S&R) Tracking Dog – Level One
This video was filmed in Canada with the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). In my opinion they are some of the best tracking dog instructors in the world. S&R trainers in Canada cannot be called out until they have passed a level one certification by the RCMP.
This training tape shows how dogs are trained to this level.

Track Laying for a Police Tracking Dog How to lay a good training track is critical in training tracking dogs. This tape goes into a great deal of detail on track laying. There is an art to laying a good training track. This tape shows how the experts do it. If you are new
to S&R or police tracking, or if you are constantly having to retrain track layers, this tape can save you a lot of time and energy

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QUESTION on S&R Tracking:

I am 55 yrs old and retired. I was thinking of doing Search and Rescue dog work.

Having worked around SAR Units in NY before committing to see if it was something to get involved in, in all honesty I was not that impressed with the groups members, and their trained dogs.

I noted that there are sites advertising fully trained SAR dogs. What is your opinion on this, if I bought one, enrolled in training courses, and practiced, worked on a regular basis. Would want dog that would be worked in FEMA type situations, and around myself and wife 24-7 when not being trained.

If this was something that is more reliable, could you suggest who I could contact that is extremely reliable?



I believe that any company that is advertising trained S&R dogs is a scam... an out and out scam unless they are selling them for $25,000.00.

I know the amount of work that goes into a well trained dog. I’ve done it. You cannot buy a dog and put the amount of work into it that’s needed and still make a profit.

I think a private person (like yourself) can make a hobby about it and do a good job- especially if you start with a young dog or a pup.

I agree that the VAST MAJORITY of S&R dogs are an insult to good dog trainers. I also believe that FEMA is far too political and there are unqualified people in high places there.


In one of your articles you mention that a dog should be trained in FST before going on to TTD. I am a civilian operational SAR Dog handler and have received the majority of my training from members of the RCMP PDS (including Gary Murray -retired). Unless something has changed, every officer (including a PDS Supervisor) were vehemently opposed to using food. Maybe on the odd occasion a hot dog would be used to help a particular dog over a problem.

Anyway, I’m not looking to poke holes in your knowledge and/or what you write. If you can shed some light here, that would be most appreciated.

Thanks Ed.



  1. TTD should not be done with dogs that are under 12 months of age.
    1. Police departments cant justify spending man hours raising and training puppies so they start with dogs that are older 14 to 18 months (or older)
    2. Civilian handlers time is free. They can raise puppies and they can imprint tracking. People who want to do this need to start puppies with FST tracking and this is done with food. It can be done from 8 weeks to 12 months. Then the dog is switched to TTD.

The part you miss (and many police K9 trainers) is that when FST is done properly it is all motivational training. Motivational training molds behavior and hurts nothing.  

Those who are negative about training with food don’t understand the process. They don’t understand marker training and they are missing out on a HUGE motivational part of dog training. Anyone who is vehemently against using food in training needs more experience and training themselves.

There are only 4 ways to motivate a dog:

  1. Motivate with food
  2. Motivate with a prey item (toy)
  3. Motivate with handler praise (less than 1 % can do this though all phases of training)
  4. Motivate with Force.

There are NO OTHER WAYS to motivate a dog. To take food out of this process is foolish. In fact I say it’s irresponsible to not teach yourself how to work with it.


Hi Ed,

My GSD starts "air scenting"  when I get into the woods. How do I keep his nose down? We first started in a large field, wind at our back, tracks are about 1500ft.  3/4 of the track is nose down in the grass about 6 to 8 inches high (very good). Once we get to where the person was hiding (Woods), he misses the track by at least 30ft-40ft... I can locate the person (which is my intention) but  I know he misses the track since the person indicates where they entered... What should I do to narrow that distance off track? I wouldn't want to go completely off track on an actual call-out. Could it be that the human scent is to high at this point? Should we be aging the track more?  The intention of my training is for S&R.  Dog is 1 yr old. Working towards achieving level 1 certification with the RCMP.

We are using techniques from your level 1 video.


Ed's Response:

Difficult for me to diagnose a problem from such a short email.

With that said you are pushing the envelope on age for this kind of work. I can tell you I would not be doing this kind of tracking on such a young dog. This very well could be your problem.

In addition – your goal is to find the person and not the track. If the dog enters the woods and find the person that this is OK. With that said it sounds to me like this is a handler error in how you are setting up your training tracks – again it sounds like you are skipping training steps.

If you don’t have the training DVDs that I did on this style of tracking, you might want to look into them.

Training S&R - Police Tracking Dogs (Tracking Through Drive) Level 1 - Country Tracking

Track Laying for Police Tracking Dogs

Training S&R -Police Tracking Dogs (Tracking Though Drive) Level 2 & 3 - City Tracking

Hard Surface Tracking - It’s Not Impossible

Problem Solving in Tracking

Kind Regards,
Ed Frawley


Hi there,

I have done my best to find the Sigma Pseudo Corpse Scent on your web site so I can order it in the near future as I have just ordered the book 'Deaths Acre' and hope to have my canine partner ready for the next step toward the finding a corpses.  As I live way out in the middle of no where I am right now on my own on this so am hoping these items will help me.



We don’t sell the Sigma pseudo scent. Use the search function on my web site and your find the number for SIGMA LABS – they are in St Louis.

When I worked a cadaver dog I talked to local dentists and asked them to keep teeth for me – give them a glass jar and ask that they keep it in their freezer . Then use rubber gloves to handle the teeth.



I have bought several books and DVDs from you including a tracking DVD. I have a trained Walker Coonhound that I use to find lost pets - mostly dogs. I volunteer and donate my time here in Sacramento.

My question is this: how old can a trail be in the city, city streets, for a dog to reliably track. My Coonhound has proven correct with little trouble on a week old scent in heavy traffic and very busy place, but can do two weeks in a park that is wooded located in the city. He also followed two week old scent trail to track a lost Greyhound here in Sacramento in residential streets.

I have not tried tracking on older than two week trail.

But so many pet detectives claim their dogs can track very old city tracks and I really question this. What is the truth? How about tracking at the river - how old can a trail be then that a dog can reliably run?



Sorry Linda but this is total bull sh*t. Your dog cannot track a two week old track. Not in this life. Maybe you believe in pipe dreams but I believe in facts and experience.



I have recently become interested in tracking dogs. I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING. How should I begin? What type of dog is most suited for search and rescue? I am too old for police tracking and most important to uneducated in this field. Please let me know when you have time.


Your friends in China,


For tracking, I’d recommend Competition tracking.

This is the foundation of ALL tracking training.

The dog best suited for this are usually sporting, working or herding dogs with strong food and play drive.  You will want a dog that has a strong desire to play tug, as that is typically the reward that will be used in training.

The Power of Playing Tug with your Dog

You can also search our website for more info on tracking, the search function is located in the upper left corner of every page of the website.

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes

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