Tracking tests are judged by two judges working together for two days: Plotting Day and Test Day. On Plotting Day the judges assess the tracking site’s terrain and cover and design a series of individual regulation tracks within the available space. They draw field maps of these tracks and flag the starts, corners and article drops. Tracklayers work with the judges, drawing their own field maps to record significant landmarks and field markers. The judges communicate continuously with each other and with the tracklayers.
After the test tracks have been plotted, the judges redraw their field maps on official “charts” that document each track for titling purposes.
On Test Day the tracklayers walk their tracks, pull out the corner and article drop flags, and drop articles as designated. When each dog/handler team runs a track, the judges follow the team and determine whether or not the team fulfills tracking test requirements. Tracking tests are judged “pass/fail.”
Several skills are essential to Tracking judging, including the ability to assess property, thorough knowledge of tracking test regulations regarding plotting tracks and how tracking tests are organized and run, thorough knowledge of dogs’ tracking styles and of how track scent operates in different environments, drawing skills, and communication skills. Tracking judges must be physically fit and be able to work congenially with other people. They must think clearly, quickly and creatively, and respond decisively to solve problems that come up “on the spot.”
Qualifying to judge Tracking requires many years of experience in the sport: training and titling tracking dogs and volunteering in all capacities required to put on tracking tests. Judging approval also requires apprenticeship with an approved Tracking judge. ASCA’s requirements for Tracking judging approval are included in the “Tracking Rules and Regulations,” Appendices A, B, and C, followed by a 5-page Tracking Judge Application Form. Judges who already have been approved by other canine titling organizations may be “grandfathered into “ the ASCA approved list.