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Tracking Titles: The TD, TDX and VST 

by Cherrie Brown & Ron Horn

The AKC offers three levels of noncompetitive tracking tests. They are Tracking Dog (TD), Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX), and Variable Surface Tracking (VST). 

The TD title is required before one can enter either of the other two tests. The TDX title is the next level for traditional tracking. VST is the newest form of tracking. A dog that earns all three titles is awarded the Champion Tracker (CT) title by the AKC, a title that appears before the dog's name. 

newfoundland dog trackingLucy at work- photo by Ron Horn

TD and TDX tests are held on vegetated surfaces. The TD test track is 450-500 yards long with three to five turns. There are no major vegetation changes and no physical obstacles. There is only one article for the dog to find, a glove or a wallet, at the end of the track. The dog runs the TD track 30 minutes to two hours after it is laid. Before a dog can enter a TD test, an AKC judge must certify that he is ready to pass a test. 

The TDX test is also held on vegetated surfaces, but the track may cross a variety of obstacles including paved roads, fences, small streams, deadfalls, major cover changes, etc. In addition, the track is crossed in two places by a fresher track. The track has four articles the dog must find. TDX tracks are run after they have aged three to five hours, and they are 800-1000 yards long with five to seven turns. 

Variable Surface Tracking is a totally different type of tracking. The tests are generally held on college campuses or similar environments. The track starts on vegetation, but at least a third (usually more) of the track must be on non-vegetated surfaces such as parking lots, parking garages, sidewalks, mulch, gravel, etc. The tracks are 600-800 yards long, three to five hours old and contain four to eight turns. While no official cross tracks are laid, the environment in which the tests are held assures that the general public will cross the tracks frequently. There are four articles, as in the TDX test. The VST is the AKC's answer to urbanites who wish to participate in tracking but lack access to open fields. It is a very difficult test with an average pass rate of just 4 percent. This contrasts with an average pass rate for the TDX of about 20 percent and a much higher pass rate for the TD test.



Tracking: The Most Fun You Can Have with a Dog and a Rope by Cherrie A. Brown 

Addicted To Tracking by Ronald V. Horn 

Getting Started in the Wonderful World of Tracking by Joyce Arivella

Learn More:

AKC Tracking Info





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