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Mantrailing - Facts Behind The Fun

Mantrailing, what's that all about?

Mantrailing is the search for a specific person with a dog. Mantrailing dogs are trained to follow a specific human scent to find that individual at the end of a trail. A 'Mantrailer' is the term given to the dog who is trailing. This skill is utilised by operational search and rescue teams to find missing people, but is also a fast growing dog sport too.

Where did Mantrailing come from?

In the 17th century, monks in Switzerland were breeding their own dog breed, which were the first St. Bernard. At first their task was to find the track covered in snow back to the monastery, but there are multiple reports from when these dogs also helped lost people in the snow by showing them the way back to the monastery safely. Around 1885 German military started thinking about using dogs as carriers for ammunition and to alarm intruders, then later on, the development of this training began to be used to help locate wounded soldiers on the battlefields.

During WWI, we saw a rise in these 'medical dogs' being used on the frontline and in 1940 we saw the start of systematically training search and rescue dogs for avalanches. WWII then continued to utilise dogs further for searching, where there became two types of 'search dogs': The air scenting dog; who found wounded soldiers, and the avalanche dog. Towards the last years of WWII the rubble search dog was also developed, starting out with what was thought to be coincidence of dogs continuously found people under the rubble of bombed houses, but after seeing remarkable results that couldn't have just fallen to chance, people began to realise how important these dogs could be to locate missing people in catastrophic situations. As you can imagine, this enhanced the trust in our dogs dramatically and the word began to spread with further interest and development going into training these dogs. The first Mantrailer used for the Police service in Germany was a Belgian Malinois in 2004. The use of operational Mantrailers is still fairly new, but is starting to become more recognised.

Operational Mantrailing

Operational Mantrailers are used during Search and Rescue operations for information gathering and to help locate a missing person . These dogs are scent specific, which means they are following a specific scent that has been presented to them by their dog handler. They can also determine or eliminate a direction of travel to state where the person they are searching for did or didn't go or if there is no trail to be found, because the person has never been in this location. Mantrailers can also determine if a person has been picked up by a vehicle and where this has happened. Within a real operational Search and Rescue mission, Mantrailers can be part of a bigger team where the Mantrailing dog gives a direction of travel and another member of the dog team, the air scenting dog, will check the area for human scent.

Dog Sport Mantrailing 

Mantrailing as a dog sport adopts the same trailing skill that many Search & Rescue organisations use to train their own operational trailing dogs, known as the Kocher method. The main difference here is that your 'missing person' isn't actually missing, they are just hiding from you and your dog for fun! It allows you to develop your trailing skills together as a team and work on scenario based searches to find your 'missing person'.  Mantrailing harnesses a dogs natural ability to trail - All dogs have this ability, we are just harnessing their amazing sense of smell and turning it into a super fun dog sport activity to do with our dogs! One of the many amazing things about Mantrailing as a dog sport, is that it is fully accessible to all people and dogs, regardless of age, breed or disability. Dogs are always worked one at a time which means even dogs with confidence and reactivity issues can take part. Mantrailing also relies heavily on teamwork and its important to have a line of communication between you and your dog at all times, therefore, dogs are kept on a long-line throughout the training session meaning that even dogs with a poor recall can take part. Mantrailing is also a low impact sport, which unlike some dog sports, means there is less pressure and stress on your dogs joints allowing puppies, older dogs and those who need more careful exercise management to still join in on the fun.

If you and your dog would like to get involved in one of the fastest growing dog sports in the UK, feel free to visit our website to find out more about our Mantrailing UK classes and workshops and book online:

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