I would like to relate my experiences with tracking dogs that are not even trained. We had a beagle who was born mostly blind. She was a pet. She had an incredible sense of smell that I have seen in other trained hounds, but not in a pet.
We would bring her to our children’s high school, which had 2,000 students. I would put her in the front of the multi-building facility and command her to “Find the kids.” She would start off walking making big S-shaped turns as she headed to and between the buildings. All of a sudden the large sweeps would stop, the dog would change her demeanor and now she would head in a straight line with just her head moving side to side. She had the trail. At that point you could just follow her and she would locate my children very quickly. I would not believe that a dog could pick out my two kids trails from among 2,000 stinky students at the front of the school but she would do it any time we brought her.
Once upon the trail, nothing would distract her and to get her to stop would require her to be physically picked up and restrained. For a dog that usually was super friendly, when on the trail she would appear almost irritated when the other children would want to pet her. On one or two occasions we went on a short tour of the school but when we asked the kids where they had been they confirmed that the dog had just followed the path that they had left. When she tracked animals she would follow the scent onto and across pond water and generally would come out on top of the tracks where the animal came out. On occasions she would loose the scent on the water and swim several tight circles and turn around and come back to where she came in.
My point in all of this is simple. If a good tracking dog (or even no so good) is on your trail, then you are not going to shake it very easily! – P.D.