How to Train Bloodhounds to Track & Find People

by Heather Vecchioni

    Afton Almaraz/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Bloodhounds are known for their keen ability to track scents and find people with their noses. For this reason, many bloodhounds are used by police forces to find missing persons. In fact, according to The Alliance of Search K9s training coordinator, Clyde Watson, bloodhounds are historically the best type of breed for tracking criminals and missing persons. Training your bloodhound to track and find people involves repetition, patience and bringing out your bloodhound’s natural trailing instincts.

    Step 1

    Bond with your bloodhound. It is imperative that your bloodhound wants to be around humans and wants to come to them. If he doesn’t have a connection with humans, he will not obey his handler and will not have the desire to track and find people.

    Step 2

    Train your bloodhound to come to you when you step away from him. Teach this command while in an enclosed setting, with your bloodhound able to roam. When your bloodhound begins to sniff the ground, run away from him while calling his name. When he comes to you, reward him with a treat and praise in a high-pitched tone of voice. Your dog should eventually associate your vocal praise with a reward for a job well done.

    Step 3

    Take your harnessed bloodhound out in the open with the help of another handler. Have your partner hold the bloodhound, while you walk in front of him. Shake an object that has your scent on it, such as a hat, and call your bloodhound’s name. Drop the hat where he can see it, then run away from the hat, all the while calling the dog’s name. About 20 yards away from the bloodhound, fall to the ground with your face down.
    Have your partner let your dog sniff the hat, then tell the bloodhound to "track" or "find" and allow him to work his way over to you. Praise your dog when he finds you and practice this routine three or four times, then take a break. Gradually increase your distance from the dog until you reach about 100 yards.

    Step 4

    Once your bloodhound has mastered the task in step 3, try the same thing except, this time, only allow the dog to briefly see the person running away, then turn him around. This will teach him to "blindly" find the face-down runner. Highly praise him when he finds the hiding person.
    Eventually work up to where the bloodhound is not allowed to see where the runner is going at all and wait a few minutes before allowing him to track. The amount of time this takes depends on the dog and how much practice takes place.

    Items You Will Need

    • Scented object
    • Helper

    Photo Credits

    • Afton Almaraz/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Heather Vecchioni is a freelance writer in Maryland. Her work has appeared in several animal-interest magazines, as well as Baltimore-area newspapers and publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland. She has worked in the veterinary field for over 10 years and has been writing and editing professionally for over five.

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