Cesar Milan is a talented and enjoyable entertainer who shares his love of the American pit bull with the public. However, TV shows are about entertainment and happy endings - not reality. No one would watch his show if he tackled the hard issues of euthanasia of unsound dogs or showed what happens after he leaves.

Cesar's methods of tight lead choking, hanging, kicking and intimidating dogs into submission can and does stop unwanted behavior - as long as the person doing the physical and mental intimidation is right there. It is important that dog owners realize that some dogs (pit bulls included) may stop dog aggression when physical and emotional trauma are applied - but when the intimidator is not present, the dog aggression will return.

PLEASE! Never leave American pit bulls together unattended. Even dogs which get along. Dog owners of many breeds have come home to tragedy (someone I know has had three of her Schipperkes killed by her wirehaird dachshunds on three separate occasions). Don't make the mistake of thinking dogs can be "rehabilitated" to the point where they will not act like normal dogs - they will.

Cesar has brought increased attention to the exercise needs of dogs - and for that I am thankful. But please, seek help from a reputable trainer. It takes much more than a fifteen minute "rodeo" to manage a dog in a responsible manner.


For more information on the difference between American pit bulls, American Staffordshires and Staffordshire bulls, click here.





CLICK HERE for tips on how to tell a GOOD breeder from a bad breeder.


















Pit Bull Informational Pages
by Diane Jessup 

A positive approach

Sport Bite Work
Agility and More!

Loose lead heeling
Not jumping up
And more!

French Ring
Schutzhund (VPG)

VPG - TR 1, 2, 3, FH 1, 2
"Fun" Search & Rescue

Schutzhund (VPG)
French Ring

Fun stuff!


Pup approaching the start pad. Lead under leg helps pull the dog's nose down rather than up and back.

Tracking is typically overlooked as a dogsport, and that’s a shame, for in reality it lends itself to modern pet owners in many respects. For instance, there are titles available for the growing number of non-registered rescue dogs. And just about any dog and handler can make it around entry level tracks, in fact, both handlers and dog will benefit from the exercise.

Some people are put off by rumors of before dawn trips to the chilly tracking field. Early morning is the best time to train tracking, but don’t let that put you off; you can track anytime. And while you will need to find some good sized fields as your dog’s training progresses, training with this step by step method, you can use relatively small areas for most of your dog’s training.

So, just what is tracking, and what titles are offered, and how do you train for it? Read on!



AKC Tracking Titles

The American Kennel Club offers three tracking titles for purebred, registered American Staffordshires, Staffordshire bulls, or altered dogs which are able to achieve an Indefinite Listing Privilege (ILP) as one of those purebreds. This opens it up to pit bulls which can pass as one of those two breeds. For information on how to obtain an ILP on your rescued bull breed, click the above ILP link.

The AKC offers three tracking titles. Let’s take a look at what they offer.
A dog may earn a title as young as six months of age, however, it must have been “certified” as able to track by an AKC tracking judge. Certification is necessary as there are very few tracking tests, and many folks eager to enter, and officials want to make sure that dogs which don’t have a prayer of passing don’t take up a spot in the test. To be certified, a dog must run a test very close to a Tracking Dog test, in a manner which convinces the judge it is sufficiently trained to deserve a spot in a sanctioned test.

The Tracking Dog Title (TD):
As per the AKC regulations: “The fundamental features of a TD test are the dog’s ability to follow a track laid by a person under a variety of conditions on moderate terrain and find an article dropped by that person.

Any AKC registered or ILP registered dog over six months of age, which has been certified by an AKC tracking judge as having the ability to pass a tracking test may compete. A dog may continue to participate in TD tests after it has passed and earned the title.

Length: 400—500 yards
Turns: 3 to 5 ninety degree turns
Age: 30 minutes to 2 hours
Articles: 1 wallet or glove at end of track
Start: 2 flags 30 feet apart, indicating direction of track
Crosstracks: none

The Tracking Dog Excellent Title (TDX):
As per the AKC regulations: The fundamental feature of a Tracking Dog Excellent test is to show unquestionably that the dog has the ability to discriminate scent and possesses the stamina, perseverance and courage to do so under a wide variety of conditions.

Length: 800—1000 yards
Turns: 5 to 7 turns, 3 of which are ninety degrees
Age: 3 hours to 5 hours
Articles: 3 wallets or gloves on and at end of track
Start: 1 flag
Crosstracks: Crossed twice by two people

Any AKC registered or ILP registered dog which has earned a TD title may compete. There are actually four articles, described as “personal, dissimilar articles, about the same size as a glove or wallet”. The first is dropped at the start flag, and the dog does not have to indicate it. The next two are dropped somewhere along the track, but never closer than 30 yards to a corner, a crosstrack or an obstacle. The fourth article is a wallet or glove, and is dropped at the end of the track. Dog must indicate these articles to the handler. The TDX is crossed in two places by two people walking four feet apart about an hour after the track is laid (crosstracks).

The Variable Surface Tracking Title:
As per the AKC regulations: The Variable Surface Tracking Test is a test of credibility, verifying the dog’s ability to recognize and follow human scent while adapting to changing scenting conditions. The test is to be as practical as possible while demonstrating the dog’s willingness and ability to follow a specific scent which is given the dog at the start of the test. The training and conditioning of the dog must be designed to develop the inner drive, motivation and determination necessary for the dog to work with intensity and perseverance.

Length: 600—800 yards
Turns: 4 to 8 turns, 3 of which are ninety degrees
Age: 3 hours to 5 hours
Articles: 1 at start, 2 on track 1 at end of track
Start: 1 flag
Crosstracks: natural crosstracks may occur

Any AKC registered or ILP registered dog which has earned a TD or TDX may compete. A dog which has earned the VST may continue to compete. A dog which has earned the TD, TDX and VST will be awarded the Champion Tracker award by the AKC. The primary feature of the VST test is the variation of tracking surface. The track must have a minimum of three different surfaces, such as vegetation and two areas devoid of vegetation such as concrete, asphalt, gravel, sand, hard pan or mulch. At least 1/3 to 1/2 of the track shall be devoid of vegetation. At least one 90 degree turn will be on a non vegetated area. The rules note that any breed and any handler should be able to run the VST track. The four articles are to be “everyday items” which can be easily carried by the tracklayer and safely picked up by the dog. They can’t be smaller than 2” x 4” nor larger than 5” x 5”. One article shall be leather, one plastic, one metal and one fabric. As in the TDX, the first article is at the beginning of the track. The next two are dispersed on the track, and the fourth is at the end of the track.

Schutzhund Tracking Titles

The German sport of “schutzhund” recently underwent a name change for reasons we are not going to go into here. It is now called “Vielseitigkeitsprüfung für Gebrauchshunde” (VPG) which translates as “Versatility Test for Working Dogs”.

Schutzhund sport is alive and well in America—and they offer tracking tests for dogs - your dog need not participate in the bitework portion of the sport. There are three organizations in the United States which conduct sanctioned schutzhund trials. One is called the United Schutzhund Clubs of America, a strictly German shepherd breed organization where purebred American pit bulls must compete as "mixbreeds" and German judges have been seen to evidence prejudice against the bull breeds.

There is a German organization called the German Association of Working Dog Clubs (Deutscher Verband der Gebrauchshundvereine), which is called “DVG”. The DVG has allowed the U.S. to become a member, and American DVG titles are recorded in Germany. The DVG is a training organization, not a breed organization, so all breeds compete on an equal level (as equal as they ever can). DVG trials are open to all dogs. Your rescue or unregistered bulldog will be welcome. You will need to be a member of DVG, and have a scorebook.

Recently the AKC has recognized the sport of schutzhund in a limited fashion. The German Shepherd Dog Club of America - Working Dog Association (WDA) is now holding trials and opening them to all breeds. Undoubtedly purebred American pit bulls will be forced to show as "mixed breeds". But, that is what we get for not forming our OWN working dog club!

All dogs competing in schutzhund trials must pass an entry level test to confirm the dog is of sound temperament and under control. This is called the “B” title (Begleithund) which translates as “Traffic Sure Companion Dog”. The “B” title is well within the grasp of any dog/handler team. It is not complex.

Schutzund tracking offers many more levels of difficulty than AKC tracking, which may entice the beginner. All handlers have the option to track their dog on a 33’ leash or off-lead. However, if off-lead, they must follow at a distance of 33 feet.

The main difference between schutzhund and AKC tracking is the schutzhund tracking is scored whereas AKC tracking is pass/fail. Because of this, schutzhund tracking is more precise. A lot more precise. But don’t let that scare you.

Schutzund articles are smaller than AKC articles. They are generally about 2” by 3.5”, and the rules call for no larger than 3.5” by 3.5”. Articles may be leather, metal, carpet or wood. Handlers must inform the judge, at all levels, whether their dog will “indicate” or retrieve the articles. Unlike AKC trials, where the dog may indicate in anyway noticeable to the handler, in schutzhund tracking, if the dog indicates, the dog must sit, down, stand or retrieve.

Tracking Dog I title:
Length: 300—400 yards
Turns: 2 ninety degree turns
Age: 20 minutes to 45 minutes
Articles: 1 on track, 1 at end of track
Start: 1 flag
Crosstracks: none
Minimum Age of Dog: 15 months

The TD I track is laid by the handler under the direction of the judge. Unlike AKC tracking, which is pass/fail, the schutzhund track is judged and points awarded. A score of 70 out of 100 points is needed to pass.

Tracking Dog II title:
Length: 400—500 yards
Turns: 2 ninety degree turns
Age: 40 minutes to 1 hour
Articles: 1 on track, 1 at end of track
Start: 1 flag
Crosstracks: none
Minimum Age of Dog: 15 months

One article will be dropped on the track, the second article will be dropped at the end of the track.

Tracking Dog III title:
Length: 800—1000 yards
Turns: 4 ninety degree turns
Age: 50 minutes to 1.5 hours
Articles: 2 on track, 1 at end of track
Start: 1 flag
Crosstracks: none
Minimum Age of Dog: 16 months

FH title: (translates as “Tracking Dog”)
Length: Minimum of 1,400 yards
Turns: 6 ninety degree turns
Age: minimum of 3 hours old
Articles: 4 articles
Start: 1 flag
Crosstracks: yes
Minimum Age of Dog: 18 months

FH II title:
Length: Minimum of 2,000 yards
Turns: 7 turns; 2 ninety degree turns, 1 arc
Age: At least 3 hours
Articles: 7 articles
Start: Dog must find start in 20 square foot area
Crosstracks: yes
Minimum Age of Dog: 20 months

The FH II track presents a unique challenge, that of locating the start of the track in an area 20’ x 20’ square. The track layer drops an article within this area, and it is from this article that the track starts. The dog is not scored for indication of the first article. The dog has 3 minutes to search the 20’ by 20’ area and locate the beginning article.

So, Schutzhund or AKC?
You can certainly do both. I have earned the AKC TDX and FH on the same dog. It is safe to say that if you train “schutzhund style” you will be able to pass AKC tests, no problem. However, if you train “AKC style” you may have problems passing schutzhund tests.

Schutzhund tests put emphasis on the dog being precise. Dogs cannot wander around, cut corners or stop and start on the track. For purposes of this tracking series, I am going to be discussing schutzhund style tracking. This way, you will be able to compete in any format you like
What Will You Need To Start?
To start your dog in tracking you will need:
· ·One 6’ leash
· ·A flat collar
· ·At least 20 little landscape flags
· ·Six “articles” 2” x 4” made of leather, carpet, wood or metal
· ·Food which your dog is crazy about
· ·A pair of waterproof boots
· ·A cheap cotton nail apron
· ·A 15’ 1/2” cotton lead
· ·A 33’ lead (1/4” width is best)

I would suggest you spend some time finding out what food your dog loves. Tracking is all about food drive. If your dog has low food drive then you will need to improve it. I really like the “loaf” dog food you can find at the pet superstores. I find they cost about the same as hotdogs, and I LOVE the fact they are not slimy, and don’t have to be refrigerated.

For the little landscape flags, go to your local hardware store and ask for them (see picture of one above in picture of puppy approaching start of track.

I am often asked: how can we, as humans, teach a dog to track? The answer is, we teach the dog not so much how to track, but what to track. Body scent or “origin of scent”; or both. There are different types of “tracking” dogs, based on whether they follow airborne scent or the scent of the disturbed earth, or both.

Trailing Dogs: Examples are bloodhounds and mixbreed coonhounds employed by law enforcement to trail escaped criminals. Bloodhounds which search for lost children are trailing dogs. These are dogs which follow both the disturbed earth of the actual footsteps, and the shed skin cells and other odor producing items which float off a human. In other words, they both track and air scent the subject. They generally move quickly along the general area of the path followed by the subject. Police K-9 dogs are generally trailing dogs. The trailing dog may work with its head high or low.

Search and Rescue Dogs: These animals search an area - indicated by their handler - for scent of a subject. They rarely if ever follow the origin of scent from the footsteps, but rather are searching for the body scent from the subject. They quarter an area, head high, testing the wind for indication of the subject. If they scent the subject, they move in, following the scent blown from the subject to the dog by the wind. They can use ground scent, but it is not their primary focus.

Tracking Dogs: The vast majority of tracking dogs are animals trained for competition. Tracking lends itself to competitive judging, as the dog follows the footsteps closely, and is judged by its precision to the track. The tracking dog follows the “origin” of scent, meaning the scent of the disturbed earth where the subject steps. The dog literally tracks by going from footstep to footstep. The dog will rarely move more than a foot or two off the actual path of the footsteps. Its nose will be very “deep”, meaning right on the ground.

To understand this in terms a human can understand, picture a pitch black room. In that room, there is a line of pepperoni slices on the floor, going from the door across the room, and ending somewhere in that dark room where the subject is hiding (holding more pepperoni in their hand).

As a human, when you walk into that pitch dark room, you smell pepperoni. You know that the person had passed through the room, and may even be in the room. If you crisscross the room, sniffing, you will be able to get a rough idea of which direction the subject went, and, by working that scent, you will be able to eventually locate the subject. That is trailing.

If, on the other hand, you get on your hands and knees, and, putting your nose down right above the pepperoni pieces, you go ahead across the room and arrive at the feet of the subject, you would be “tracking”.

When teaching tracking, we teach the dog to ignore the wafting body odor and stick to the truer scent of the crushed ground the subject has passed over. Body odor gets blown away rather quickly—the scent of crushed dirt or vegetation lingers.

Ever enjoyed the wonderful smell of a freshly mowed lawn? That scent is what our tracking dogs follow—only their noses are so sensitive they can smell that smell when a simple footstep has crushed the grass. Even dirt or mulch will have a scent when disturbed. This change in scent from stepped on grass (for instance) from the unstepped on grass around it, is what we teach the dog to follow.

Tracking footstep to footstep is not “natural” behavior for our dogs. We must teach them to be precise, to ignore crosstracks, and to indicate anything that the tracklayer has dropped.

Teaching dogs to track in schutzhund style, you do not need large tracts of land. You can teach tracking in parks, lawns in business parks, even the open space in freeway interchanges. Large, open fields of varying kinds of grass or even plowed dirt are great, and access to a turf farm is “the dream”, but we will make do with what we can find.

Get your stuff and let’s go tracking!


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