Mantrailing: Nose work with your dog

What is Mantrailing?

"Mantrailing" is made up of the two English terms "man" and "trail" and describes trained dogs, so-called mantrailers, that can track people. In Germany, the hard-working mantrailers are also used as people-tracking dogs or search dogs by the police. Especially in the field of rescue dog work, mantrailers provide important assistance: the trained dogs have extremely well-developed olfactory cells, can distinguish older from fresh scent traces and smell spatially, i.e. sniff out the direction from which the scent molecules come. That is why trained mantrailers are also used to search for missing persons.

The smell of humans is composed of body odours, skin scales and fallen hairs, among other things, and is read by dogs like an individual fingerprint. The fact that mantrailing is possible is due to the dog's extremely fine nose. While humans have about 25 million olfactory cells, a dog's nose with its 250 million olfactory cells can distinguish the individual smell of every human.

Mantrailing as a dog sport: Which dog breeds are suitable?

Ideal mantrailers are:
  • Sweat dogs such as the Bloodhound

Basically, however, every dog that is healthy and fit can pursue this dog sport. Family dogs such as the Golden Retriever can also demonstrate their sense of smell in trailing. However, mantrailing is not so suitable for dogs that tend to suffer from respiratory distress, such as the French Bulldog. If you want to train your pet professionally, it is worthwhile to go to a dog school early on - preferably when your furry friend is still a puppy, because this is a fun way for your pet to learn how to follow tracks.

If you want to try mantrailing as a leisure activity, you don't have to train your four-legged friend to become a rescue dog. With our exercises, you can start right away with your furry friend, because they can be done casually outside at home.

Trailing for beginners - How do I start?

To prepare for the training, you need:

  • a long leash, at best a tracking line
  • a well-fitting harness
  • treats as a reward
  • smell sample of the person to be searched for, e.g. a piece of clothing

Not only your furry friend should understand commands, you as the dog handler must also be able to interpret the signals of your four-legged friend. This requires your attention: changes in body language, movements of the ears and lips and the position of the tail tell you that your furry nose has picked up a scent.

Mantrailing exercise for outdoors

If you can read your pet's body language well and have the right accessories at hand, you can start training! At the beginning, you should go to a quiet area and practice at a short distance, because your pet can concentrate better in a low-stimulus environment.

  • Think of a suitable start signal that you will use exclusively for tracking work. "Search" is not suitable as this word is often used in other contexts and could confuse your dog. "Venga" or "Vamos" means something like "Let's go" and are particularly popular Spanish terms for mantrailing.
  • A third person should hide. Then let your dog sniff an article of daily use (e.g. a piece of clothing) of the person to be found. If the hidden person is found, joy, praise and treats will keep your dog motivated.
  • The more often you train, the better the search work will work! If you see first successes, you can increase the level of difficulty by adding hurdles on the trail or extending the distance.

Advantages of Mantrailing

Mantrailing offers your dog natural exercise. Through the nose work outside in nature, your pet is on the move a lot. Especially for dogs that need a high level of exercise, mantrailing is an excellent activity. When wind and rain add to the human scent, it makes the route a little longer. By the time your dog finds the hidden person, he has usually covered a great distance.

Mantrailing also challenges your dog mentally: your dog perceives the scent trail from a great distance, must remain concentrated and must not be distracted during the process.

Conclusion: Mantrailing strengthens the bond between you and your dog in a unique way, is suitable for almost every dog, and physically and mentally exhausts your four-legged friend. You spend time together in nature and you as the owner learn to interpret the dog's signals. Mantrailing offers many advantages, but as with any dog sport, the same applies here: Fun should always be in the foreground! Have you got the urge now too? Tell us about your training - we are looking forward to hearing about your experiences!

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