What’s needed to get started?
It starts very simply with you, your dog, a buckle collar and a 6’ leash. If you decide that you want to pursue this more actively then a non-restrictive harness and a 40’ tracking line are needed for the dog. For the human, well, you’ll quickly accumulate a couple of pairs of hiking boots, lots of thick socks, rain gear, water bottles for you and the dog and a fanny pack or hunting style vest to carry all the articles you’ll be using on training tracks.
Here in California the tracking season is from the first drenching rain until the dry season starts. More specifically, that first rain must soften foxtails enough that they are no longer a threat to the dogs. And in the spring, once those foxtails start to dry out, the season is over. But you can train year round by working in parks, school grounds or other open vegetated areas, just be aware of any fertilizer or other chemical applications that can be hazardous to your dog.
If you’re interested in exploring tracking as a new activity with your dog, contact one of the people you’ve seen that have titled their dogs. It’s a great idea to partner up with another tracker. It helps keep you motivated, you can lay track for each other and an extra set of eyes on the dogs is always useful to pick up signals that you might overlook. There are a number of good books on tracking. A couple of excellent books that discuss both the theory and teaching of tracking are Glen Johnson’s Tracking Dog – Theory and Methods and William “Sil” Sanders Enthusiastic Tracking-A Step by Step Training Handbook. Both are available from www.dogwise.com as well as other dog book retailers.