Mantrailing is a dog sport that is taking off in the UK. It allows owners and dogs the opportunity to bond and exercise their brains whilst having fun together. It also utilises a dog’s natural ability to hunt and follow a trail, all within a controlled and rewarding environment.
I have attended a few mantrailing sessions as a spectator, and even had a go at it myself. If you are looking for a new activity to do with your dog then mantrailing will exceed your expectations in my opinion. Let us take a deeper look into the hows and whys, and where you can start your own mantrailing journey.
What Is Mantrailing?
Mantrailing is a sport that trains dogs to track the scent of a particular individual by following their unique scent trail.
You will learn how to harness your dog’s full potential while having lots of fun along the way. It is similar to what you may think of as ‘search and rescue’ but it is a lot more enjoyable and light hearted. I have seen so many dogs and owners who have absolutely fallen in love with the activity.
Other activities you may do with your dog, like Agility or Flyball, do not use the dog’s natural instinct, and they can be taxing on the dog’s body and limbs. Mantrailing provides dogs with an opportunity to do something they have evolved to do, making it a healthier activity for them as well.
How Does Mantrailing Work?
In mantrailing, your dog is presented with an item that carries the scent of the ‘missing’ person, or person that is hiding, such as a piece of clothing or a personal belonging. The dog then follows the scent trail left by the individual, working systematically to track their scent from the point where the scent article was last encountered.
The dog follows the scent trail by tracking airborne particles that are released from the person’s skin cells and dispersed in the environment. These scent particles are affected by various factors such as wind direction, terrain, and environmental conditions. Amazingly, a dog can still follow a scent trail even over challenging surfaces or after a significant amount of time has passed.
The dog leads the way on a long line and is free to go where it desires with the handler following behind so that the scent does not get disturbed.
After the person in hiding has been found by the dog it gets a huge reward and the owner gets their own buzz from working with their dog in this fun way.
The Difference Between Trailing And Tracking
As I said above, trailing involves following a scent trail with a dog to find a hiding or missing person. Tracking, on the other hand, involves looking for any sign of ground disturbance, footprints etc. in an attempt to follow someone.
Is Mantrailing Right For Your Dog?
You would be surprised by the number of breeds of dogs I have seen doing mantrailing. You might think it is only a sport for the nose breeds: hound dogs, Pointers, Spaniels, Vislas and the like. This is far from reality and so many different breeds of all sizes love to get involved. I have seen Huskies, and even Chihuahuas enjoying mantrailing.
Plus, if you have a reactive dog or a dog that is scared of new people then this could be the sport for you. All dogs, beginner dogs especially, are trailed away from other dogs. Then, as they get into the thrill and excitement of following the scents, they get reward for finding strangers. It can be a great training aid for so many reasons and often helps dogs gain much needed confidence.
All mantrailing is done on a longline as well, so recall is never an issue. In fact, recall can be improved! It also improves the bond between dog and owner as you will be working together. You will see your dog happy doing its natural work which is bound to make you happier as well.
Where Can I Start Mantrailing?
Like I said, mantrailing is becoming more and more popular in the UK and around the world. Mantrailing instructors are becoming more common as the sport grows and more people see the benefits.
Here in the UK I would highly recommend Kathryn of Trailing K9s. Kathryn is a top instructor and has also been teaching new instructors. Not only does she do in person workshops in her area – Oswestry and the surrounding area – but you can also check out some mantrailing online learning opportunities via her site. You can also access mantrailing workshops online from anywhere. You’ll find lots of webinars, lessons, tips and so much more.
If you are looking for something to do with your dog that:
- Uses the dog’s natural instincts;
- Gives your dog lots of fun and reward;
- Helps you bond with your dog;
- Gives pleasure to both you and your dog;
- Helps you to train a wayward or reactive dog; and
- Is more natural a dog sport than agility or flyball…
Take a look at mantrailing, and go have fun with your four legged companion!