Tracking Dog Urban

Tracking Dog Urban

By Carolyn Fuhrer | Jun 01, 2022


Tracking Dog Urban is an AKC optional titling tracking test which was introduced in 2014. The three regular titling tracking tests familiar to most people are TD (Tracking Dog), a 440-500-yard track which takes place on moderate, relatively uniform terrain – usually a large field, TDX (Tracking Dog Excellent), a much longer test of 800-1000 yards utilizing woods, fields and various vegetation and rugged terrain, and VST (Variable Surface Tracking) which takes place in business parks or a college campus and involves extensive work and turns on pavement and short, manicured grass and involves working close to buildings and other structures.

If a dog passes all three of the above tests, it earns the title Champion Tracker.

The optional TDU (Tracking Dog Urban) test involves work in a business park, school or campus setting, but does not require the extensive pavement (non vegetated surface) that VST does. In a TDU, the dog follows a track laid by a person under a variety of scenting conditions in an urban environment and finds articles dropped by that person. The track is 400-500 yards long and will have a minimum of 2 different surfaces - vegetated and non-vegetated. 10% to 30% of the total length of the track must be on a non-vegetated surface. The track may cross various non-vegetated surfaces, e.g. sidewalk, gravel path, bark mulch, to make up the total necessary non-vegetated surface.

There will be NO turns on a non-vegetated surface. The track will start on a vegetated surface – most likely grass – and the first turn will be on a vegetated surface. The track may have 3-5 turns and will be ½ hour to 2 hours old. There will be no physical obstacles as in a TDX test. Stairs are not considered an obstacle.

The articles for a TDU will consist of 3 personal, dissimilar fabric or leather articles and will be approximately the size of a glove or wallet. The first article will be at the start for the dog to take scent from, the second will be approximately midway on the track and at least 30 yards from a turn, and the last article will be a glove or wallet dropped at the end of the track.

TDU opens up the possibility to practice entry level tracking in many nearby places: school, office park, shopping center, etc. so you don’t always have to drive to a field to practice. You can go to a local area and put out several small segments of a track, run some errands, and go get your dog and run your little practice tracks.

TDU opens up a whole new range of possibilities to have tracking fun with your dog.

Looking for a way to learn how to start? Watch the Downeast Dog News calendar where clubs will post their practice sessions.


Carolyn Fuhrer has earned over 130 AKC titles with her Golden Retrievers, including 4 Champion Tracker titles. Carolyn is the owner of North Star Dog Training School in Somerville, Maine. She has been teaching people to understand their dogs for over 25 years. She is also an AKC Tracking judge. You can contact her with questions, suggestions, and ideas for her column by e-mailing

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