Isabella working a trail off lead in Trailing & Locating II

The sport of Trailing & Locating tests the ability of all breeds and mixed breeds of dogs to track, trail and locate quarry, typically safely caged live rats, above ground in a natural hunting environment. Derived from a day in the field with working terriers, the activity developed into a sporting test for all breeds in 2016 and is sanctioned by the North American Sport Dog Association. Event rules and additional information about the sport is available at As an independent minded earth working terrier, the Parson Russell Terrier’s keen nose, determination and single-minded sense of purpose makes the breed ideal for the sport of Trailing & Locating.

Not unlike the sport of earthdog, a scent trail or series of scent lines are laid utilizing prepared rat scent or a scented drag. At the higher levels, cross trails are introduced. Dogs need not follow the trail step for step but should work independently of the handler to locate the quarry. This is a timed test, where time starts once any part of the dog or handler have crossed the start line and ends when the dog alerts on the quarry and the judge calls, “Yes!” An alert is defined as any behavior which indicates the dog has found and acknowledged the quarry. In Level I, the rat will be within 24” of ground level but at the higher levels may be as high as 72” off the ground, such as safely secured in a tree. Dogs may compete on or off leash at Level I and Level II.

Most dogs quickly find joy in the sport of Trailing & Locating and in fact, the sport has benefits for those aspiring to compete at the Master Earthdog level by establishing a quality and consistent walk up behavior. It also has a benefit to dogs competing in Barn Hunt in that it provides an opportunity to interact with the quarry in a more visual manner while also engaging the dogs in a complex scent puzzle. In short, the dogs find the sport of Trailing & locating to be challenging but also great fun.

Blade finds the rat.

To earn the Level I title, dogs must earn a total of 100 points. Dogs start each run with 25 points and a minimum of 20 points is required to qualify. Deductions are assessed for items such as failure to come when called or excessive direction on the part of the handler. Dogs are not penalized for fouling the course, however, failure to pick up feces is an automatic fail. A bonus of 5 points is given to the fastest dog with the least deductions in each breed and a 10-point bonus is awarded for High in Class, which is the fastest dog with the least deductions of all entrants within the class in a trial. To earn a Level II title, dogs must earn a cumulative total of 500 points, of which at least 400 have come from the Level II class. The first Parson Russell Terrier to earn the Trailing & Locating I (TL-I) title is Comet (Jacks Wild Travel the Galaxy) loved and owned by Carol Snee of Nevada.

Trailing & Locating will be offered as part of the Parson Russell Terrier Association of America 2019 National Specialty on Monday June 10, 2019 in Fairfield, CA. For additional information on this event including all activities offered, premiums and entries, click here. We hope to see many Parson Russell Terriers competing in this fun and challenging sport this April! (This event is open to all breeds and mixed breeds.)