Mantrailing Overijssel Sport Test Program

Mantrailing Overijssel offers the opportunity to obtain certificates that show a certain level of skill and some theoretical knowledge. Every level adds complexity for the dog and handler team and offers a wide range of interesting and useful skills to master.

By gradually and realistically increasing difficulty for both dog and handler we encourage working in a good and dog-friendly way, using well thought out steps and providing the opportunity to validate knowledge and skills by obtaining a level certification.

At each level, complexity increases in these 4 areas;

  1. Trailing skills and theoretical knowledge
  2. Surfaces and terrain
  3. Trail age
  4. Distractions

Training and testing

Mantrailing Overijssel's testing program is set up in the same way we train; dog and handler friendly. We start out by building a foundation of basic knowledge and skills and gradually build up expectations - for example by increasing the age of the trail, setting up surface changes and combining the skills and knowledge to complete the task. Sometimes we will take a step back in order to make progress in other areas.

Training and testing are two fundamentally different things, and we believe it is important for a team to train first; taking small steps to teach dog and handler all aspects of a trail the right way. Taking part in our sport level testing is something a team only does when both Mantrailing Overijssel and the handler think they are ready for it, and when they - after careful training - have completed a trial-test. During the trial-test, the team will discover any possible problems that might require further training.

Participants outside of Mantrailing Overijssel

Being a student at Mantrailing Overijssel is not necessary to take part in our level testing. We do however recommend to try a trial-test first, or take lessons before applying for a test, so you will know what to expect from the actual test. 

Mantrailing Overijssel’s sport level tests can be used to prepare for test taken by some SAR groups.

MTO Mantrailing Dog Sport Level 1 – Foundations

Goal

Testing of basic knowledge and skills of both dog and handler on a natural surface.

Description

Being able to work a one hour old track/trail from a given starting point, on a relatively uncontaminated, natural surface.

Setup trail
  • Green surface, natural area, relatively uncontaminated. Unknown terrain for both handler and dog so as to avoid making assumptions about where the trail could be. The area is large enough to minimize the possibility of finding the runner by chance.
  • A distance of about 650 meters.
  • One hour old.
  • At least two corners.
  • Might include a small obstacle, such as a narrow footpath.
  • The trail will not be following any existing paths.
  • The runner will be unknown to the dog, so the dog has no memory of getting rewards from the runner.
  • The runner will start the trail with the wind from behind as much as possible and will find a hiding spot out of plain sight at the end. The hiding spot will be located in a way that the dog will not be able to take airscent from a great distance.
  • The test will be taken double-blind; both handler and examiner have no prior knowledge of the trail.
  • The examiner will follow the team at a distance of at least 5 meters.
  • The test will start when the dog is taken out of the car and ends when the dog is back in the car.
Criteria
  • The handler prepares for the trail in a way that is appropriate for the team (walking the dog, acclimatization, starting procedure etc.) and can be asked after the test why the handler prepared the dog in such a way.
  • The team finds the runner within 20 minutes after starting the trail. The clock starts when the dog is taken to the starting point of the trail and stops when the runner has been found.
  • The dog shows trailing behaviour that matches the route the runner took, on a 10 meter long lead and in an appropriate harness.
  • The handler shows adequate recognition, interpretation and handling of changes in the dog’s body language at for example the start of the trail, an obstacle, the apex of a turn and the scent pool at the end of the trail.
  • The handler shows adequate line handling in order to allow the dog to work freely and independently, and regarding the terrain (e.g avoiding trees).
  • The handler shows that the dog is being properly taken care of before, during and after the trail and that the dog’s specific needs are being met.
  • The handler is able to describe the following terms, when asked, after the trail; scent pool, apex, trailing behaviour, no trailing behaviour, proximity alert, double blind, single blind, knowing the trail.
  • The handler is able to describe how a level 1 trial test is set up adequately.

MTO Mantrailing Dog Sport Level 2 – Management

Goal

Testing management skills - being able to find a trail that was lost - on a natural surface.

Description

Being able to work a 3 hour old track/trail from a given starting point, on a relatively uncontaminated, natural surface, containing 3 surface transitions. By setting up a trail that is 3 hours old, combined with the turns and surface transitions, a strong discontinuity in the trail is guaranteed to enhance the possibility of losing the trail.

Setup trail
  • Green, natural surface, relatively uncontaminated. Unknown terrain for both handler and dog so as to avoid making assumptions about where the trail could be. The area is large enough to minimize the possibility of finding the runner by chance.
  • A distance of about 750 meters.
  • Three hours old.
  • Three corners.
  • At least three changes in surface (e.g. grass, dirt, woods, moors, gravel with sand).
  • The trail will not follow existing structures such as paths.
  • The runner will be unknown to the dog, so the dog has no memory of getting rewards from the runner.
  • The runner will start the trail with wind from behind as much as possible and will find a hiding spot out of plain sight at the end. The hiding spot will be located in a way that the dog will not be able to take airscent from a great distance.
  • The test will be taken double-blind; both handler and examiner have no prior knowledge of the trail.
  • The examiner will follow the team at a distance of at least 5 meters.
  • The test will start when the dog is taken out of the car and ends when the dog is back inside the car.
Criteria
  • The handler prepares for the trail in a way that is appropriate for the team (walking the dog, acclimatization, starting procedure etc.) and can be asked after the test why the handler prepared the dog in such a way.
  • The team finds the runner within 40 minutes after starting the trail. The clock starts when the dog is taken to the starting point of the trail and stops when the runner has been found.
  • The dog shows trailing behaviour that matches the route the runner took, on a 10 meter long lead and an appropriate harness.
  • The handler shows adequate recognition, interpretation and handling of changes in the dog’s body language at for example the start of the trail, an obstacle, the apex of a turn and the scent pool at the end of the trail.
  •  The handler shows adequate line handling in order to allow the dog to work freely and independently, and regarding the terrain (e.g avoiding trees).
  • The handler shows adequate management when necessary; recognising trailing behaviour and blown scent-behaviour, remembering the point last trail, interpreting the circumstances, recognising possible “escape routes” and giving the dog the opportunity to refind the trail in the most likely spots.
  • The handler shows that the dog is being properly taken care of before, during and after the trail and that the dog’s specific needs are being met.
  • The handler is able to describe the following terms when asked after a trail; voc’s, scent complexes, contamination and the effects of time, weather, day-night and environmental factors in the landscape on the trail.
  • The handler can be asked to describe the kind of distractions the team could possibly encounter and how and why the handler would deal with a situation like that.
  • The handler is able to describe how a level 2 trial test is set up adequately.

MTO Mantrailing Dog Sport Level 3 – Applied Management in a varied area

Goal

Testing of trailing and management skills in a relatively uncontaminated area with green surfaces and buildings.

Description

Being able to work a 2 hour old track/trail from a given starting point, in a relatively uncontaminated, quiet area with green surfaces alternated with buildings and roads (e.g. an industrial area).

Setup trail
  • A relatively uncontaminated, quiet area with green surfaces alternated with buildings and roads. The area is unknown to both handler and dog so as to avoid making assumptions about where the trail could be. The area is large enough to minimize the possibility of finding the runner by chance. 
  • A distance of about 800 meters.
  • Two hours old. 
  • Four corners.
  •  The runner will be unknown to the dog, so the dog has no memory of getting rewards from the runner.
  • The runner will start the trail with wind from behind as much as possible and will find a hiding spot out of plain sight at the end. The hiding spot will be located in a way that the dog will not be able to take airscent from a great distance.
  • The test will be taken double-blind; both handler and examiner have no prior knowledge of the trail.
  • The examiner will follow the team at a distance of at least 5 meters. 
  • The test will start when the dog is taken out of the car and ends when the dog is back inside the car.
Criteria
  • The handler prepares for the trail in a way that is appropriate for the team (walking the dog, acclimatization, starting procedure etc.) and can be asked after the test why the handler prepared the dog in such a way.
  • The team finds the runner within 50 minutes after starting the trail. The clock starts when the dog is taken to the starting point of the trail and stops when the runner has been found.
  • The dog shows trailing behaviour that matches the route the runner took, on a 10 meter long lead and an appropriate harness.
  • The handler shows adequate recognition, interpretation and handling of changes in the dog’s body language at for example the start of the trail, an obstacle, the apex of a turn and the scent pool at the end of the trail.
  • The handler shows adequate line handling in order to allow the dog to work freely and independently, and regarding the terrain (e.g avoiding trees).
  • The handler shows adequate management when necessary; recognising trailing behaviour and blown scent-behaviour, remembering the point last trail, interpreting the circumstances, recognising possible “escape routes” and giving the dog the opportunity to refind the trail in the most likely spots.
  • The handler shows that the dog is being properly taken care of before, during and after the trail and that the dog’s specific needs are being met.
  • The handler is able to describe the following terms when asked after a trail; voc’s, scent complexes, contamination and the effects of time, weather, day-night and environmental factors on the trail. The following terms can also be described: air flow between buildings and roads, umbrella effects and chimney effects.
  • The handler can be asked to describe the kind of distractions the team could possibly encounter and how and why the handler would deal with a situation like that.
  • The handler is able to describe how a level 3 trial test is set up adequately.

MTO Mantrailing Dog Sport Level 4 – Applied management in a varied area with mild contamination

Goal

Testing of trailing and management skills in a mildly contaminated area with green surfaces and buildings.

Description

Being able to work a 2 hour old track/trail from a given starting point in a varied, quiet area with alternating vegetation, roads, buildings, houses and possible distractions (e.g. a quiet and green suburban area).

Setup trail
  • A relatively uncontaminated, quiet area with some green vegetation alternated with buildings and roads. The area is unknown to both handler and dog so as to avoid making assumptions about where the trail could be. The area is large enough to minimize the possibility of finding the runner by chance.
  • A distance of about 900 meters.
  • Two hours old.
  • Four corners.
  • The runner will be unknown to the dog, so the dog has no memory of getting rewards from the runner.
  • The runner will start the trail with wind frombehind as much as possible and will find a hiding spot out of plain sight at the end. The hiding spot will be located in a way that the dog will not be able to take airscent from a great distance.
  • The test will be taken double-blind; both handler and examiner have no prior knowledge of the trail.
  • The examiner will follow the team at a distance of at least 5 meters.
  • The test will start when the dog is taken out of the car and ends when the dog is back inside the car.
Criteria
  • The handler prepares for the trail in a way that is appropriate for the team (walking the dog, acclimatization, starting procedure etc.) and can be asked after the test why the handler prepared the dog in such a way.
  • The team finds the runner within 60 minutes after starting the trail. The clock starts when the dog is taken to the starting point of the trail and stops when the runner has been found.
  • The dog shows trailing behaviour that matches the route the runner took, on a 10 meter long lead and an appropriate harness.
  •  The handler shows adequate recognition, interpretation and handling of changes in the dog’s body language at for example the start of the trail, an obstacle, the apex of a turn and the scent pool at the end of the trail.
  • The handler shows adequate line handling in order to allow the dog to work freely and independently, and regarding the terrain (e.g avoiding trees).
  • The handler shows adequate management when necessary; recognising trailing behaviour and blown scent-behaviour, remembering the point last trail, interpreting the circumstances, recognising possible “escape routes” and giving the dog the opportunity to refind the trail in the most likely spots. 
  • The handler shows that the dog is being properly taken care of before, during and after the trail and that the dog’s specific needs are being met. 
  • The handler is able to describe the following terms when asked after a trail; voc’s, scent complexes, contamination and the effects of time, weather, day-night and environmental factors on the trail. The following terms can also be described: air flow between buildings and roads, umbrella effects and chimney effects, single blind, double blind, known trail.
  • The handler can be asked to describe the kind of distractions the team could encounter and how and why the handler would deal with a situation like that. 
  • The handler is able to describe how a level 4 trial test is set up adequately.

In our test set-ups we have chosen not to include so-called "special additions" such as:

- high finds
- finds in obstacles, backtracks
- moving runners
- crosstrails
- match to sample at the start, as well as at the end of the trail.

We have chosen to do so because we want to test a basic skill in the given situation which should not be overshadowed by these additions.
The discrimination issue (cross trails, match to sample) is also insufficiently scientifically substantiated for us to be able to offer a fair, soluble setup for a dog.