Mantrailing is a booming canine activity, but very few people understand what this discipline is really. Is it tracking? From utility research? Looking for a person? Well, yes, a little bit of all this brings together in one activity!
Mantrailing: What is it?
The mantrailing is a canine discipline that comes from the United States and means: to track the man (man = man/trailing = follow). The dog is used to search for lost people. The primary goal of mantrailing is to work closely with police and gendarmerie units but also with missing families.
But there is also the mantrailing to practice like any sports discipline. In recent years, this activity has been a great success because it makes it possible to stimulate the most developed direction of the dog, namely his smell and through it, to spend it mentally. This activity requires so many sockets of initiatives and reflection on the part of the dog it allows many masters to discover or rediscover the immensity of the capacities of their doggie. This activity, therefore, makes it possible to strengthen the links that unite a master/dog binomial.
How to practice mantrailing?
The mantrailing, as an activity with the desire to use his dog in real conditions of missing persons (with the gendarmerie, the police, etc.), is learned from qualified and experienced instructors. These are often associations that offer internships and other more training and, subsequently, integrate field teams.
And, to practice mantrailing as leisure, it’s the same thing! You will need a qualified instructor who will read and decrypt the behaviour of your dog and set up tracks adapted to the level and fitness of your pet. In general, when you want to start a new activity with your dog, it is always advisable to integrate a club or association specializing in the desired field.
When you participate in mantrailing courses, here’s how it happens. This activity requires four pillars: the instructor, the victim, you and your dog.
An example of an exercise to start
At first, if your dog is a novice in this area, we start with a “simple” exercise to trust the dog and teach him to track a person.
Step 1: The victim presents himself in front of your dog by making him feel his smell (through a scarf, a glove, a handkerchief or other) and at the same time gives him treats to motivate him and To make him understand that this smell gives him satisfaction.
Step 2: The dog then remains static alongside his master and looks at the victim go in a straight line.
Step 3: Once the victim is stationary, we give the indication “looking” to his dog (Attention, this indication is to be used only once. To motivate or relocate the dog afterwards, we will give instructions such as “work” for example).
Step 4: Then, we leave the dog to follow the track while still staying behind him, without putting tension in the leash or direct the dog in this or that direction. Leave that, I specify it, is attached to the dog’s back through a harness that will only be used to track.
Step 5: Once the dog found the person, the victim then gives him several treats to signify that he worked well.
Some additional details:
We must always stay behind his dog and not induce his directions,
We must trust his dog because, in real conditions, he alone knows where the victim is,
The dog decides on everything and must take initiatives, but if you feel he is decanting, then it must be motivated more by saying “work” or other. But beware, never “looking for” because this term is used only at the beginning of the track.
The material used for mantrailing should not be used for other activities,
When we make mantrailing, and we want to progress in this discipline, on a daily basis, during walks, for example, it is very important to never prevent his dog from feeling odours or going to people,
For beginners, no need to start with complicated tracks at the risk of putting the dog in check. In addition, tracks on vegetable soil are simpler than concrete or tarry soils. Again, the instructor present will adapt the level of difficulty of the slopes.
An example of a more complicated exercise
As soon as the instructor who accompanies you considers that your dog is ready to follow more complex tracks, so the procedure will be somewhat different. Indeed, only the instructor (and again, sometimes not always) and the victim are aware of the track to follow. & NBSP; Neither you nor the dog, from the track, can not know where to go.
Step 1: The victim, therefore, leaves a piece of fabric carrying its smell and goes to hide away from the eyes. The smell left by the victim allows the dog to do what is called odour discrimination. That is, once his flair “engaged”, even if he crosses other human or animal odours or even other people who pass by at the same time, he will make the difference between the Odors present and the one he is looking for.
Step 2: Before you leave, when you are in the starting area, that is the area where the victim has been seen for the last time, offer your dog to do what is called a check. Thanks to that, your dog will make the inventory of all the smells that there is around him and will then know which direction to take.
Step 3: Harney, your dog, make him feel the smell and say, “looking for”. Thanks to the check done earlier, he will know where he has to leave, and it will be you to trust your dog enough to take you to the victim (who is waiting, still motionless, handy treats to reward the dog).
In general, during the exercises, the instructor knows where the victim is gone and will tell you at some point that you are on the wrong track. But beware, sometimes, with the wind especially or other weather conditions, some tracks move. So do not stop a dog in his momentum and sufficiently trust him.
For which dogs?
Mantrailing is absolutely not discriminating and accepts all dogs, small, big, hunting or accreditation! Contrary to what one might think, it is not only reserved for “odorat champions” such as the Beagle or the dog of Saint-Hubert. All dogs will be able to excel in this discipline since they all have a remarkable flair they use on a daily basis. This activity allows them to stimulate this very important sense for them and thus to spend so much physically and mentally, and especially olfactory. And there is nothing richer for a dog than an olfactory expense.
However, this discipline may not be suitable for:
Hunting dogs practising regularly (they could be deconcentrated by the presence of game, for example).
Aggressive dogs towards humans (however, mantrailing can be an activity that solves a reactivity problem, but in addition to a suitable behavioural work).
No dogs will be “null” for this activity since it allows them to develop their main sense. There will, of course, have differences between each dog, according to their fitness, their character, their way of searching (truffle in the air, truffle on the ground), etc. But in any case, all dogs will be happy to practice mantrailing! Even brachycephalic dogs, crushed nose (boxer, bulldog, etc.) can be particularly talented for the search for missing people. They will certainly have more difficulties than dogs with a longer nose but can still perform in their own way and at their own pace.