Mantrailing is one of the best dog sports you can do in Dorset. Teaching your dog to find 'missing people' is thrilling, and the benefits for their overall behaviour are second to none. It's one of my favourite things to teach!
However, you might not know how incredible Mantrailing is. This article will discuss what Mantrailing is, how it works, why it is so beneficial for your dog, and the options you have to pursue a potential newfound passion!
What is Mantrailing?
Mantrailing is on-lead search and rescue. Developed as an alternative to traditional search and rescue in Europe, Mantrailing allows search and rescue dogs to explore areas inaccessible to their off-lead peers.
Search and Rescue dogs are trained to find anyone in an environment. This requires that everyone who is not the missing person leave the area. This is all well and good, but what happens if you're looking for a specific person in a town centre? What if it's impossible to work a dog off lead in an area?
Mantrailing works by using something 'Match to Sample'. This is where the dog finds the missing person based on their scent in the environment. They'll start with a specific object in the environment and work their way from there. Objects could include:
A dropped glove.
A misplaced wallet.
The side of a gate or door handle.
What matters is that it has the lost person's scent on it. Just based on that, they can search for miles, zoom in on a location and find that 'misper' (this is shorthand for missing person!).
But your dog couldn't do that, right?
That's where you're wrong!
I've worked with hundreds of dogs to teach them how to Mantrail. Nosework is inclusive to all, and there is no reason why your dog couldn't excel with them.
So far in Dorset, I've worked:
Dogs who are reactive to other dogs and people.
Dogs who are anxious of new spaces.
Adolescent dogs who get aroused easily.
Young puppies who need to use their noses!
There's a common myth that only certain dog breeds can be good at Mantrailing. This is false. All dogs can be good at Mantrailing. Some of the breeds I work with weekly include:
An American Bulldog.
A Romanian Rescue.
A Staffie cross.
It doesn't matter whether you've got a Labrador, a Great Dane or a Chihuahua. Any dog can thrive when doing Mantrailing!
So we know it's inclusive, but how can it help you attain your Ideal Dog? Read on!
How does it work?
Mantrailing can be summed up in a simple sequence. However, it is more complex than it first appears!
The missing person leaves an item that smells like them at the start of the trail. They proceed to run off and hide.
Your dog appears and is asked to sniff said item. Once your dog has done so, we give them a cue.
Using their incredible nose, your dog then searches the area until they find and locate the missing person.
That's how Mantrailing looks in it's completed form. There are numerous steps we take beforehand to ensure your dog knows how to play the game and loves it. However, at it's core, it is as simple as that!
What would I need?
Not a lot!
There are only a few key bits of kit you'll need for Mantrailing. These include:
A well-fitted harness for safety.
A long line of around three-five metres (depending on your dog's height and weight).
Someone to hide for you (we'll supply this bit!).
Your dog's favourite reward (blog post coming soon.)
If you have those four things, you can get your dog Mantrailing. I'll have a blog post coming soon on my preferred Nosework equipment, so watch this space.
We've spoken a lot about Mantrailing - you should see it in action! Below is a video taken at the end of last year in my Wednesday Nosework classes. It speaks for itself!
So now you know what Mantrailing is and what you'll need - but what are the benefits. How will this help you attain your Ideal Dog? Read on to find out more!
Massive Confidence Boost:
Mantrailing is designed in such a way that it boosts the confidence of even the most anxious dogs. There isn't a more effective way to get your dog to like people.
This may sound counter-productive - surely getting your dog to run up to a stranger will stress them out? But it doesn't!
Because the game is so much fun, your dog builds massive positive associations. I work with dogs who hate men to start with, but by the end of a block of classes? They'll happily take food from me!
Dogs also work in a new location each week, meaning that they're constantly being exposed to new situations. This means exposure to:
Strange noises (cars, cyclists etc).
Don't worry if you're dog struggles with this, everything is done at their pace - but the results are incredible! You'll see your dog come out of their shell and grow in confidence.
To showcase this, Rocket here is tasked with finding someone he has never met before in Bournemouth Town Centre. Would you be able to tell he is reactive from this video?
Harness their natural instincts!
See your dog's nose? Inside there is a superpower!
Dog's noses are an incredible piece of kit. If we had the equivalent power with our general eyesight, we'd be able to see a stop sign clearly on the moon.
Because of this, our dog's lives are driven by their nose. This is wonderful in some ways, and not so great in others! I've worked with hundreds of dogs who's noses have led them astray.
From disappearing into Hurn Forest, to pulling relentlessly through Upton Country Park, if you struggle with any of these issues:
Pulling on lead.
Refusing to come back when called.
Ignoring your cues.
Barking and lunging at squirrels, pheasants and cats.
Then it'll be partially due to their desire to scent!
Luckily, we don't need to fight against this. By using the Mantrailing techniques you'll learn in classes and 1-2-1s, you can fulfil that desire to sniff, making it far easier to get your dog's focus and attention.
Work your dog anywhere!
Imagine having a dog you could take anywhere - wouldn't that be amazing?
Mantrailing focuses on working your dog in as many different places as possible. From forests to fields, town centres to industrial estates, having your dog be able to work at a high level amongst all these distractions is a game changer.
Our classes and 1-2-1s take place at a variety of locations across Dorset, but they include:
-Ferndown Town Centre.
-Iford Playing Fields, Southbourne.
-Ramsdown, Hurn Forest.
-Wimborne Town Centre.
-King and Queens Park, Bournemouth.
-Slades Farm, Bournemouth.
Just to name a few!
Your dog will also learn to thrive around other dogs. Classes are small, with only four dogs each. Your class is guaranteed to have a dog who is anxious and/or reactive. Who knows, it might even be your dog! And that's okay - classes are designed specifically for anxious and reactive dogs.
To see what I mean, check out the video below - you'll get to see a variety of dogs I work with all in the hustle and bustle of Poole Park!
How can you get involved?
I can imagine you're chomping at the bit to get your dog involved in Mantrailing! Luckily, there are tons of ways you can do that. Let's see which one suits your dog best:
Ultimate Nosework Classes:
Ultimate Nosework classes are the best way to do Mantrailing. In your group of four, you'll not only learn the foundations of Mantrailing, but you'll also be exposed to the two other Nosework disciplines I teach - Tracking and Scentwork (find out more about them in an upcoming blog post!).
Classes run on Wednesdays and Sundays. If you'd like to join, click the button below - it'll take you to the Ultimate Nosework Class homepage where you can fill out the form at the bottom and away we'll go!
If time is an issue, I run a series of Nosework 1-2-1s throughout the week and weekend. These are designed to fit around your schedule, and we'll work together in a chosen environment to teach you all the skills you'll need. You can watch your dog grow in confidence in your own time!
To discuss options for these, you're best contacting me at my email address - email@example.com
Workshops and One-Off Sessions:
I also run a wide variety of workshops! These vary from Gundog (more on that another time) to Urban Skills. But I also teach specific Mantrailing sessions and Workshops. These are separate from my classes and 1-2-1s, and give you the opportunity to work in a group without the time commitment.
One off workshops and sessions include:
Hounds and Hooves - It's a pleasure to work with the wonderful team up in Dorchester. You can find out more information about my workshops with them here.
Mantrailing After Dark - These are an absolute delight! Working under the cover of night, your dog will have to find and locate their missing person without the benefit of the sun. These sessions are restricted to dogs who have done a minimum of one block of Ultimate Nosework classes or attended a Mantrailing Workshop at Hounds and Hooves.
Mantrailing Assessments - Want to earn a certificate? You're in luck! We run in-house Mantrailing assessments, where you attempt to find a 'missing person' in gradually more difficult circumstances. The video of Rocket in Bournemouth Town Centre was one of those assessments! Those are only for dogs who have completed two blocks of Ultimate Nosework classes or attended two Mantrailing Workshops at Hounds and Hooves.
To find out more information about workshops and one off-sessions, you're best joining my private Facebook group and liking my Facebook page. It's the ultimate destination in Dorset for dog training advice. Click here for my group and here for my page!
And there we go! A brief breakdown of Mantrailing in Dorset. I can't wait to work with you and your dog! If you have any questions, you know where I am.