A dog is "tracking" when he is following the scent trail or disturbed vegetation scent, left by a person (or other animal) that has traveled along a certain route. Following a track is one of the many useful things dogs can do to help people. Hounds track game, rescue dogs track lost children, police dogs track suspects, well trained pets can find lost items.

At the beginning and end of each tracking training session, it is a good idea to talk about or write in a journal about problems and goals. At the end of a session, discuss or write about the problems the dog had. At the beginning of the next session, remind yourself what changes need to be made. An example of this would be a severe change in weather conditions from what the dog has been used to. If a particular condition has caused the dog to have a problem, then wait until that condition no longer exists. A difficult track on a hot, sunny, windy day for example, might lead you to make sure the next tracking session is in the cool morning or evening, perhaps even after a period of moisture. This doesn't mean you can't go back to hot, dry conditions; it only means you shouldn't repeatedly train in such difficult conditions.

Recognizing tracking problems and solving them is both an art and a science. It is an art because you have to be constantly on the lookout for subtle signals your dog gives. These signals may have more to do with your close personal bond with the dog than anything really obvious to others. It is also a science because you need to apply a rational, well-thought-out strategy to the problem at hand. This involves considering what information you have, considering your options carefully and deciding on a specific course of action. The most important thing in problem-solving is to be flexible, and only continue doing those things that work.

By carefully observing your dog, planning for conditions you expect at a tracking test and learning along with your dog what works (as well as what doesn't), you can minimize the long term effects of most training problems.