Trailing, though a relatively modern term, actually has it’s roots in English and early American history when bloodhounds were used to hunt criminals, and in the case of our original colonies, marauding native American tribes in conflict with early settlers. The hounds were “scented” on a particular human odor and allowed the freedom to follow that scent wherever it might have led. The history for this can actually be found in original want ads for the period of colonists looking for bloodhounds.
Trailing is a descriptive word for the art of allowing a dog to follow human scent wherever human scent might be, on the ground or in the air. It can also be taken one step further by adding scent discrimination to the equation. Each and every animal, human or otherwise, produces a distinctive odor based on species and other sub-determining factors such as infirmity, relative age, sex, and certain individual identifying traits. The amount of odor produced is dependant upon several primary factors, mental condition such as fear or anger, exertion, and relative health issues
GA K9 Trainers have set the standard for modern trailing training. Our instructors are considered expert witnesses in the areas of trailing and scent evidence. For more details on this exciting program please see our Police K9 Training, Tactical Tracker Teams.
Continuing on the trail of his first book Red Dog Rising
Continuing on the trail of his first book Red Dog Rising, Jeff Schettler returns to the hunt with his newest book The Straightest Path. Simply said, if you currently work with police dogs that trail (or you want to) and you are a K9 handler, cover officer or supervisor, you should read The Straightest Path. If you work with police dogs that search but don’t trail, you can also benefit from reading this book.
I have not been a handler of a trailing dog, but I’ve been working with police dogs and handlers for the past 30 years as a decoy, K9 handler, supervisor, SWAT operator, tactical instructor and expert witness. After reading Red Dog Rising, I gained a new appreciation of trailing dogs and their handlers (and Jeff Schettler). Based on my background, I finished Red Dog Rising with a desire to learn more about training a police dog and officers for the hunt as well as preparing for the “potentially dangerous” end of the trail. After reading The Straightest Path, I’ve learned much more. Of particular interest to me, from a tactical perspective, was “proximity alerts and scents” relating to the pending conclusion of the search trail that included the line; “If you can read proximity alerts and you become a good handler with a good dog, proximity will save your life, your dog’s, or that of another person one day.”
The Straightest Path is about “reading a dog” and it is a straightforward approach to police dog trailing. Jeff does a commendable job in simplifying and explaining his training, methodology, and terminology regardless of the reader’s level of experience. He shares his successes, his failures and his lessons learned. It became rather obvious to me as I read this book that he is extremely passionate about the art of trailing. Let’s go hunting!
Sergeant Bill Lewis II (Retired)
Oxnard (CA) Police Department
Training and Consulting [TAC] Team, LLC
Facilitator for and TacticalDebriefs.com
Board Member & Region 1A Representative for California Association of Tactical Officers (CATO)
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