JWR, HJL, SurvivalBlog Readers:
I have a few thoughts about tracking dogs. My wife does canine search and rescue for the local CERT team in our rural county. There are two main types of search dogs– area and trailing. A trailing dog will follow a scent from weakest to strongest along a track. They may cut, circle back trails, and follow the strongest scent trail. Area dogs look for the strongest scent, not worrying too much about a specific trail but concentrating on an area. Over many years (doing training) the dogs have always found me. The team dogs have done very well locating actual lost persons. The most difficulty has occurred when the track was laid in high winds and/or areas the wind swirls around and disperses. Dogs track well in the snow, over creeks, and best in the woods or scrub. Winds in open fields tend to send the scent all over.
Our dogs have trained to track persons in vehicles and done well for several miles on dirt and paved roads. Most civilian rescue teams may have a mix of area and trailing dogs, trained to find missing people. Our state police use area dogs only that are multi-trained for several duties.
Please be good to our civilian rescue units; we are here to help find the lost. Most team members are (me included) big followers of this blog. Keep up the good work. Thanks! -Hanging out in the great white north.