Tracking Apprentice Guide

One of the requirements for becoming a new tracking judge at the TD/TDU level or applying for additional tracking judge levels (TDX or VST) is that the applicant complete two apprentice assignments. In order to support these applicants and set them up for success, judges should take this opportunity to mentor and encourage these apprentices. It is of utmost importance to the sport of tracking that we bring along new judges so that clubs have good choices and affordable options when they are considering their judging panel.

How does an apprentice set up an assignment?
A person wishing to attend a tracking test as an apprentice must contact the test giving club and both judges asking for permission. Only one apprentice is allowed at a tracking test. A minimum of three tracks must be plotted and judged for the apprenticeship to apply.

The club is agreeing to provide transportation for the apprentice during plotting and judging. The apprentice cannot have any other responsibilities for the test so clubs must understand that they cannot serve as tracklayers or have any other duties on plotting or test days. Judges are agreeing to serve as an example, instruct and educate the apprentice.

What is an apprentice assignment?
A person must “shadow” the judges at a tracking test at the level in which they plan to apply. During this two-day commitment, the apprentice should plan to attend the entire plotting day, draw track charts and observe test day judging procedures.

How to prepare to be an apprentice:
After receiving permission, the apprentice should communicate with the club to find out when and where to meet on plotting day. The apprentice will need to bring the following:

● Map making materials for drawing field maps during plotting
● Forms for drawing simulated judge’s book charts. Apprentices must transfer their track information onto chart forms (no need for 4 part forms… download single-page forms from AKC website
● Current copy of the Tracking Regulations (download available at
● Copy of the Tracking Apprentice Judging Form (download at Both officiating judges will need to fill out the form at the end of the apprentice assignment.

Completed charts and the Tracking Apprentice Judging forms from two apprentice assignments must be submitted with judging applications.

Judge and apprentice topics on plotting day:
● Details that need to be discussed with the club and head tracklayer (available land, plotting equipment, tracklayers and tracklaying conflicts, test day schedule)
● Approving articles including a duplicate start article
● Tracklaying instructions (time to lay track, drawing a map, walk-in, flags to leave/take, start article and possible replacement, sight line of legs, corner markers, triangulation of articles, walk-out and exiting the field, when the track will run and courtesy help after fail)
● Tracklayer instructions if there is an error or unusual circumstance
● Judge’s responsible for plotting regulation tracks
● Alternate track (judges decide, use for exhibitors, when it can be used for titling)
● Determining length of stride and conversion to yardage
● Judges and apprentice should review field maps to verify yardage and track shape
● Apprentice may need instructions on transferring information onto chart forms

Judge and apprentice topics on test day:
● Observing tracks whenever possible
● Judge must be at draw for running order (bitches in season, judge/exhibitor 10 day conflict, tracklayer/exhibitor 10 day conflict)
● Communicating with exhibitors and spectators (friendly, welcoming and approachable)
● Gallery location (possible club member appointed to direct gallery position)
● Judging (exhibitor instructed on approach to start flag, determining if the dog is working, description of guiding, restarts, article indication, minimum requirements met to award title?)
● Judge position on the track
● Co-judges discuss when and why a dog might be failed
● What to do if an article is missing
● Assist the apprentice in completing charts (wind, times, path of the dog, pass/fail with reason)

At the completion of the test please take a few minutes to ask/answer any questions, go over charts and discuss decisions made while judging the teams.

Thank you for your support of new and advancing tracking judges.

Please feel free to share this guide with current or future apprentices.