Mantrailing with an anxious or reactive dog
What is Mantrailing?
Mantrailing is when a dog is trained to follow and find an individual human. The sole focus of a mantrailing dog needs to be on an individual human scent, ignoring all other distractions. Dogs learn to seek out an individual’s scent from skin rafts that naturally shed from the body. Before the exercise begins, the dog will sniff an article that the person has touched. They then follow the trail on a long lead attached to a harness, aiming to find that person.
Mantrailing is like no other activity or sport that you can take part in with your dog. The training of a mantrailing dog focuses on teaching the dog to discriminate between the scent of the target human and multiple other interesting scents also in the environment.
It is completely unique dog training in many ways. It can help solve a number of unwanted behaviors problems that may challenge your everyday life with your dog such as fear, hyperactivity, phobias, stress, anxiety, reactivity and aggression. Mantrailing is allowing the dog to make the right choices independently and will be much more satisfying and prioritising the preferred habits in the brain.
A dog’s nose dominates its brain, so naturally Mantrailing provides mental, intellectual stimulation for your dog, providing an exceptional workout for the brain, tiring them out without the need for physical exercise. This is perfect for dogs that are still bouncing around the house after endless walks, puppies, elderly dogs or dogs that are unable to complete as much physical exercise for one reason or another. Mantrailing is suitable for puppies, elderly, blind, and deaf dogs. It’s a perfect low-impact activity. It's not competitive or over arousing like some other dog sports. It is fantastic at getting the dogs to solve problems, which in turn will build confidence and make the dog more likely to respond to behavioural modification training as the dog will want to engage and learn. This will help to change the dog’s reaction to certain situations such as a person, a dog, another animal or person.
It is one of the very few sports where the dog can work freely and the handler can enjoy watching their dog work. It is all about putting the dog in control and the owners taking a back seat and watching how the dog works the trails out themselves. By doing this, the handler learns to read the dog's body language, which creates a great bond and ultimately will equate to further progression in their behavioral and every-day training.
The dog’s enthusiasm to mantrail is encouraged and strengthened by their ‘reward’ when the person is found. The reward is usually food or toys and must be of a very high value to the dog. A lot of dogs find trailing rewarding in itself.
Once the dog understands the idea of Mantrailing, which happens mostly within the first session, there is no stopping them from doing their ‘job’. The dogs are extremely intent on following the trail to find their missing person, that whatever or whoever gets in their way is completely ignored. This is great for our anxious and reactive dog and can help them to ignore any other dogs on or near their trail. Anxious dogs have been brave enough to pass objects or things they once wouldn’t pass or take food from strangers that they might not normally approach.
We have loved Mantrailing and I thoroughly recommend it to all you anxious dog owners.
So go on, put on your big brave pants and see if you can find a group near you and give it a try #dogsinyellow