Reflections on Competitive Tracking with Emily Lawrence



Today, our hosts reflect on their recent conversation with competitive tracking extraordinaire Emily Lawrence!

They talk about the importance of regularly going through tracking reinforcement strategies such as article work as well as training obedience in IGP.

Robin defines tracking (which includes IGP or sport tracking) as “footstep-by-footstep,” with a combination of not only human odor, but also crushed vegetation, disturbed earth, and other such factors.

When trailing, on the other hand, dogs are not usually true to track, and in fact, they usually move off the track—a common scenario during search-and-rescue when key scents have long dispersed.

Continuing on the topic of scent, our hosts discuss (largely based on lessons they learned from the classic book Scent and the Scenting Dog) what to consider when dogs veer off-track due to shifts in odor. They mention that a great example of “true tracking” work is Emily’s practice of setting up tracks regardless of wind.

Finally, our hosts encourage all trainers to embrace mistakes—both in the dogs and the trainers—and see them as learning tools for continued growth

“If the training isn’t always pretty, it means you’re pushing your limits. It doesn’t mean that you’re failing—and even failure is just a mistake to learn from.”

Key Topics:

  • Improving your dog’s tracking through lots of article work (01:32)

  • The importance of obedience training in IGP (06:54)

  • Teaching your dog that the track or trail is the way to find the next article (11:14)

  • Tracking versus trailing (13:55)

  • Priceless lessons learned from the book Scent and the Scenting Dog (17:43)

  • Training for stylistic tracks (22:10)

  • Setting your tracks up regardless of wind (27:54)

  • Training should not always be pretty (33:32)

  • Accounting for our dogs’ mistakes along with our own (38:24)

  • The people you meet because of the sport (42:41)

  • Our takeaways (43:50)

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