Border Collie participating in a tracking trial competition

Can Border Collies Be Trained For Competitive Tracking Trials?

Are you curious about training your Border Collie for competitive tracking trials? As natural herders, Border Collies possess an innate desire to track and follow scents.

Their intelligence, speed, and physical agility make them perfect candidates for competitive tracking trials.

But how do you train them for such a demanding task? In this blog, we’ll explore the abilities of Border Collies and how to train them for tracking trials.

We’ll also discuss the various requirements, evaluation criteria, and championship titles in competitive tracking trials.

Join me as we dive into the world of Border Collies, and discover their potential in competitive tracking trials.

Aptitude for scent workX
Intelligence and trainabilityX
Physical fitness and staminaX
Coat suitabilityX
Disposition and temperamentX
Availability of training resources and mentorsX
Cost of equipment and travel expensesX

Abilities of Border Collies

Natural Instincts

Border Collies are known for their exceptional natural instincts, which make them highly skilled at performing a variety of tasks. Specifically, their herding instincts translate well to tracking trials, as they are naturally inclined to follow scents and locate prey or livestock.

Their strong work ethic and desire to please their handler also make them well-suited for competition.

With proper training and conditioning, Border Collies can excel in tracking trials, utilizing their natural instincts to become highly successful competitors. Furthermore, their intelligence and trainability make them easy to develop and tweak specific tracking skills that handlers may require in competitive tracking trials.

With patience, consistency, and the right approach, Border Collies can be trained to adapt to any tracking challenges thrown their way.

Overall, Border Collies possess a remarkable set of natural instincts that enable them to excel in tracking and other types of competitions, making them well-suited for competitive tracking trials.

Border collie participating in a competitive tracking trial event
Border Collies putting their tracking skills to the test at a competitive trial.


When it comes to intelligence, Border Collies are among the brightest dog breeds in the world. These dogs have incredible problem-solving skills and are known for their keen ability to understand and follow complex instructions.

Their intelligence allows them to excel in various tasks and challenges, including tracking trials.

Border Collies have an excellent memory, which enables them to learn commands and track scents with ease. They can also adapt quickly to changes and think on their feet, making them a versatile breed for various situations.

The combination of their intelligence, agility, and obedience makes Border Collies a great choice for competitive tracking trials.

With the right training and guidance, these dogs can excel and achieve great success in these events. Overall, Border Collies’ intelligence is a significant asset, and it’s one of the reasons why they are among the most desirable breeds for tracking trials.

Physical Abilities

Border Collies are an active breed known for their high energy levels and keen senses. Their physical abilities, including their strength, agility, and endurance, make them an ideal breed for competitive tracking trials.

Border Collies are built for speed and have a compact, muscular frame that allows them to cover long distances with ease.

Their sharp reflexes and nimble movements help them navigate difficult terrain and obstacles quickly. Their acute sense of smell, combined with their exceptional hearing and vision, enables them to track scents and sounds with incredible accuracy.

Additionally, Border Collies have remarkable stamina and can sustain their energy levels for an extended period.

This helps them remain alert and focused while training and competing, which is essential in tracking trials that can last several hours. Overall, Border Collies possess a combination of physical abilities that make them an ideal breed for training and competing in tracking trials.

With proper training, socialization, and care, they can excel in these competitions and showcase their exceptional skills.

Training for Tracking Trials

Basics of Tracking

Tracking is a canine sport that tests a dog’s ability to follow a scent trail left by a person or animal. It involves using a combination of a dog’s natural instincts and trained behaviors to navigate through a designated track.

See also  Are Border Collies Good With Other Dogs In a Multi-Dog Household?

The basics of tracking involve teaching your dog to follow a scent trail, using their sense of smell to locate and stay on track.

To start training your Border Collie for tracking, you need to introduce them to tracking from an early age. You can begin by teaching them to follow a simple scent on a short track, gradually increasing the complexity of the track as they improve.

Incorporating commands in your tracking training will help your pup understand what is expected of them.

Building endurance is critical for successful tracking trials. You can work to increase your dog’s stamina by encouraging regular exercise and gradually increasing the distance and duration of their tracking sessions.

Socialization is also essential, as exposing your pup to different environments and distractions will make them more adaptable to the trials.

In summary, the basics of tracking involve teaching your pup to follow a scent trail, incorporating commands, building endurance, and socializing them to the environment. With the basics in place, your Border Collie can be trained for competitive tracking trials.

Border collie participating in a competitive tracking trial event
Border Collies putting their tracking skills to the test at a competitive trial.

Incorporating Commands

To train Border Collies for tracking trials, it’s important to incorporate specific commands that they can follow. Some commonly used commands include “track,” “down,” “check it out,” “leave it,” and “find it.” When teaching these commands, consistency is key.

Handlers must be specific with their commands and use the same words every time.

Positive reinforcement, such as treats or praise, can encourage the dog to follow commands more consistently. It’s also important to gradually increase the difficulty of the commands as the dog progresses in its training.

Handlers may start with shorter tracks and simpler commands and gradually lengthen the tracks and incorporate more complex commands.

By incorporating consistent commands and gradually increasing the difficulty level, Border Collies can be trained to excel in competitive tracking trials.

Building Endurance

Building endurance is a crucial aspect of training border collies for competitive tracking trials. Aside from being physically fit, adequate endurance ensures these dogs can track for extended periods.

To build endurance, you need to start with regular exercise.

Going for long walks and jogging sessions are excellent ways to build endurance. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of these activities to help the dog builds stamina.

Mixing up the routine is essential in building endurance.

Incorporate obstacles like stairs, hills, and inclines to challenge the dog both mentally and physically, ultimately building its endurance. Additionally, keep your dog hydrated during these exercises.

Offer water frequently, especially when training for long periods.

This way, you will prevent dehydration, which can have a detrimental effect on your dog’s endurance. In summary, Building endurance takes time, patience, and consistency.

With regular exercise, gradually increasing duration and intensity and mixing up the routine, border collies can build the endurance they need to successfully compete in tracking trials.

Socialization and Distractions

Socialization is an essential part of training for any dog breed, and Border Collies are no exception. It’s crucial to socialize your Border Collie thoroughly during training for tracking trials.

This helps them get used to different environments, sounds, and people, preventing them from getting distracted during events.

Distractions also have a significant impact on a Border Collie’s training for tracking trials. While training, it’s essential to incorporate distractions such as sounds, smells, and other elements that they may encounter during the competitive events.

This will prevent them from getting too excited or overwhelmed by new elements, which can negatively affect their performance.

Incorporating socialization and distractions in training for tracking trials helps your Border Collie become more confident, focused, and resilient in various environments, leading to better performance during the competitions.

See also  How To Prevent Border Collies From Jumping Up On People?
Border Collie participating in competitive tracking trials
A focused Border Collie intently follows a scent trail during competitive tracking trials.

Competitive Tracking Trials Requirements

Types of Trials

Competitive tracking trials involve different types of trials that test a dog’s tracking abilities in various environments. Here are the common types of trials in competitive tracking:

  • Urban Tracking: This type of tracking involves following a scent trail in an urban setting with multiple distractions like people, cars, and noises.
  • Wilderness Tracking: Wilderness tracking takes place in natural environments, and the scent trails usually have more variables like different types of vegetation, terrain, and wind directions.
  • Variable Surface Tracking: This trial involves varying terrain and surfaces like grass, gravel, and wooded areas.
  • Tracking Dog Excellent: This is considered the highest level of competitive tracking, and involves a challenging scent trail with a time limit.
  • Tracking Dog Urban: This trial is a variation of urban tracking and is usually easier than the standard urban tracking.
  • Tracking Dog: This trial is the initial level of competitive tracking.

These trials evaluate the dog’s abilities to track scents and follow instructions while encountering various distractions. The trials vary in difficulty and require different skills that a well-trained Border Collie can generally perform excellently.

Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria are a crucial aspect of any competitive tracking trial. Hence, it’s essential to understand what they entail before competing.

The judges evaluate a dog’s performance based on several criteria, including accuracy, speed, enthusiasm, and focus.

Dogs must accurately follow the scent trail with minimal guidance from their handlers and complete the trail in the shortest time possible. An excellent performance in these domains is a clear indication that your Border Collie is in good shape for a competitive tracking trial.

It’s worth noting that minimizing the time taken to track the scent trail does not imply taking short cuts, running, or excessive pulling of the leash.

Such behavior is likely to result in disqualification and a poor performance evaluation score. Lastly, being able to handle distractions and work well under pressure is an essential evaluation criterion.

Your Border Collie must withstand various distractions such as interference from strangers, other dogs, or moving objects.

Excellent performances in these areas result in high scores and, ultimately, an excellent competitive tracking trial result.

Border Collie participating in competitive tracking trials
A focused Border Collie intently follows a scent trail during competitive tracking trials.

Championship Titles

Competitive tracking trials offer a variety of championship titles that dogs and handlers can work towards. These titles showcase a team’s abilities to track, follow commands, and navigate difficult terrain.

Some of the championship titles available for competitive tracking trials include the Tracking Dog (TD) title, Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX) title, and the Variable Surface Tracking (VST) title.

In order to earn these titles, dogs and handlers must demonstrate proficiency in their tracking abilities through various tests and evaluations. Judges evaluate the dog’s ability to follow a scent trail, take the correct path, and find specific items along the way.

Handlers must also demonstrate their ability to effectively communicate with their dog and guide them through the course.

Overall, earning championship titles in competitive tracking trials requires dedication, hard work, and a strong partnership between the dog and handler.

Border Collie participating in competitive tracking trials
A focused Border Collie intently follows a scent trail during competitive tracking trials.

Border Collies in Competitive Tracking Trials

Success Stories

Border Collies have proven to be successful in competitive tracking trials. These dogs have set numerous records in tracking competitions due to their exceptional skills and natural instincts for tracking.

Here are some success stories of Border Collies in competitive tracking trials:

  • Lacy – in 2015, Lacy became the first Border Collie to achieve the VST (Variable Surface Tracking) title by tracking over three different surfaces – pavement, grass, and dirt – and finding all three articles within ten minutes.
  • Jai – Jai has won multiple tracking championships, including the prestigious AKC Tracking Championship in 2018. Jai’s exceptional tracking abilities helped her to complete the 440-yard track with ease within the allocated time.
  • Echo – Echo is known for winning several national championships and titles, including the AKC Championship. She has amazed the judges with her accuracy in tracking and retrieving articles.
See also  How To Prevent Border Collies From Chewing On Household Items?

These success stories demonstrate that Border Collies excel in competitive tracking trials and are capable of achieving championship titles with proper training and guidance.


Challenges: While Border Collies have the potential to excel in competitive tracking trials, there are several challenges that can arise during their training and competition. Some of the common challenges include distractions from other animals, lack of focus, fatigue, and difficulty following commands.

Moreover, given their high energy levels, Border Collies may become overly excited and may need a lot of reinforcement to stay focused during training and competition.

Furthermore, since tracking involves a lot of outdoor activities, the weather conditions such as rain, snow, heat, or cold may also pose a challenge for Border Collies. They may need to adapt to these weather changes, which can impact their performance.

One of the significant hurdles in training Border Collies for tracking trials is their tendency to get easily distracted by scents, which can lead them off track.

This behavior can be discouraging for the handlers, and it requires a lot of patience and consistent training to overcome. To overcome these challenges, handlers need to be patient, consistent, and provide ample exercise to their dogs.

Additionally, socialization, reinforcing positive behavior, and building endurance can help train Border Collies for tracking trials.

Handlers should also keep their expectations realistic and provide a stable and supportive training environment for their dogs. With proper guidance, training, and support, Border Collies can excel in competitive tracking trials.

Tips for Handlers

If you’re planning to train your Border Collie for competitive tracking trials, here are a few tips for handlers to keep in mind:

  • Consistent Training: Consistency is vital when training a Border Collie for tracking trials. It would help if you made a routine and stick to it throughout the training process.
  • Patience: Border Collies are intelligent, but training them for tracking trials can take time. Be patient, and don’t get discouraged if your dog doesn’t get it right away.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Positive reinforcement is the best way to train a Border Collie. Use treats and praise whenever your dog completes the task correctly.
  • Socialization: Socialization is essential for a Border Collie to succeed in competitive tracking trials. Expose your dog to different environments, sounds, and smells.
  • Keep it Fun: Border Collies are work-oriented dogs, but it’s essential to keep the training sessions fun. Incorporate games and activities that your dog enjoys.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can train your Border Collie for competitive tracking trials successfully.


Border Collies are a highly skilled and intelligent breed capable of excelling in competitive tracking trials. Their natural instincts, intelligence, and physical abilities make them an excellent candidate for this sport.

Training is crucial for success, including the basics of tracking, incorporating commands, building endurance, and socialization with distractions.

Understanding the requirements of competitive tracking trials, such as the types of trials, evaluation criteria, and championship titles, is essential for handlers to prepare their Border Collies for success. While there may be challenges along the way, the success stories of Border Collies in tracking trials prove that with dedication and hard work, these dogs can achieve great things.

As the popularity of this sport continues to grow, we can only expect to see even more Border Collies on the podium.

For those interested in training their Border Collie for competitive tracking trials, there are many resources available to help you get started. With patience, persistence, and proper training, you and your Border Collie can reach new heights in this exciting and rewarding sport.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *