Mantrailing: A Brief Explanation
This fun, exciting new activity will leave you proud, satisfied and with a tired dog!
Mantrailing is a new fun activity taking the dog world by storm and it is open to all!
Whose dog doesn’t love a good sniff? Ever wondered if there was a way to put that sniffer to good use and have a tired doggy at the same time? If so, then Mantrailing is just what you’ve been looking for! Whilst ideal for high energy breeds, it is suitable for any dog, regardless of age or breed and the same goes for their humans too! Even nervous and reactive dogs have been shown to improve greatly after starting this amazing activity.
So what is Mantrailing?
Mantrailing is the search for a specific person using your dog’s natural ability to follow scent trails. In this activity you and your dog become a team working together to find “missing people” in a whole range of environments. Rather than take your dog for a walk and have it follow you everywhere, with Mantrailing roles are reversed, you place your trust in your dog’s nose and follow it through open land, woods, beaches or cities to find “the missing person”. At the end of each trail your dog is rigorously rewarded with a small pot of food.
My first experience of Mantrailing was in April 2018 when I attended an Introduction Course held by Lisa Gorenflo, the founder of Mantrailing UK. Bea, my 5 year old female Beagle completed this course with me and so the addiction began! During that same year I started training to become a fully qualified Mantrailing Instructor with Mantrailing UK, the only Mantrailing organisation to be certified by Mantrailing International. Since then I have been holding Introduction Courses and follow-on sessions in South Wales and am amazed by each and every dog’s ability to trail something so subtle.
Mantrailing is ideal for our four legged friends as they get given an appropriate way to use their hunting instinct, which stimulates and exercises both mind and body. This nearly always leads to a sleepy, relaxed dog! The most fulfilling benefit I have seen it have on dogs is that it helps nervous and reactive dogs build confidence. I highly recommend this activity for rescue dogs to build a bond with their owners and feel more self-assured in new surroundings.
For those with dogs who are difficult to manage off lead you will be pleased to hear that trailing is done entirely on a long lead attached to a harness. There is also no ‘obedience’ needed in Mantrailing, so it is suitable for any dog, no matter what age, background or training level. I have found that people enjoy the trailing just as much as their dogs as they get the satisfaction of seeing their dogs work in a fun, pressure-free environment as well as being able to have a good natter with like minded dog owners.
While being involved in Mantrailing I have discovered that this is not something we are teaching our dogs to do as they know perfectly well how to follow a scent! All we are doing is harnessing that natural ability and giving them a motivation to trail a specific human scent instead of other animals. It has been scientifically proven that dogs are able to trail DNA, but no one knows exactly how dogs are able to do this. However, we do know that everyone has a distinct scent that is the equivalent to a genetic fingerprint. Every person leaves scent, mostly due to the shedding of 5 - 7 hundred skin particles per minute which float to the floor like snowflakes wherever we go (which is a lovely thought). The person may leave but the scent particles stay like a trail of microscopic breadcrumbs for our dogs to follow. Even after the person has long gone, those scent particles are still there, and dogs have proven that they can easily follow a trail 36 hours old. This is down to the astounding sense of smell dogs possess, hounds, shepherds and spaniels being amongst the best. To put it into perspective, dogs have up to 300 million olfactory cells for smelling odours while you and I have only 5 million. Due to this remarkable ability Mantrailing dogs are used by the Military, Police and Search & Rescue, with little to no difference in training method.
If you would like to get involved there are a growing number of Mantrailing instructors across the UK and over-seas. I offer Mantrailing Introduction Courses in Carmarthen and follow-up trailing sessions all over Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. I am also able to come and teach a Intro Course at other training establishments, clubs and events. If you are not in my area the Mantrailing UK website has a map of qualified instructors so you can easily find out where your nearest courses are; . All your dog needs to get started is a nose and an appetite! However, if your dog isn’t a foodie, don’t worry, the qualified instructors will have a solution!