What is Mantrailing and Why is it so Addictive?!

I could talk about Mantrailing all day and this is my most frequently asked question - What exactly is it and why is it so addictive?

Mantrailing is the fastest growing dog sport in Ireland right now. It's taking the country by storm and dog owners just can’t get enough. But if you’re new to the concept of Mantrailing, then this post is for you!

What is Mantrailing?
Mantrailing is a specific type of scent work or search and rescue activity where dogs are trained to trail and locate a specific individual based on their scent. Unlike tracking, Mantrailing focuses on following the individual's unique scent trail.

Woman with dog on path with pink long line

In Mantrailing, a dog is provided with a scent article or a personal item that carries the scent of the person they are searching for, such as a piece of clothing or an object they have touched. The dog then uses their incredible sense of smell to follow and trail the scent trail left by the person.

Mantrailing dogs are typically trained to work on a long line up to 10 meters in length. They use a mixture of air scent and ground scent. They can follow the scent through various terrains, including urban areas, wilderness, or even indoors. The dog works with their handler, who interprets the dog's behaviours and body language to help the dog problem solve on the trail.

The training process for Mantrailing involves teaching the dog to recognize and differentiate the specific scent of the person they are searching for among other scents in the environment. They learn to focus on the scent article and follow the scent trail, disregarding distractions (other people, dogs, traffic, stock etc) or other scents along the way.

Mantrailing is often used in search and rescue operations to locate missing persons, whether it's a lost hiker, a person with dementia who has wandered away. At Hounds and Heli's, we train dogs for operational Mantrailing on a SAR team and pet dogs for Sports Mantrailing. 

It's important to note that Mantrailing, even with pet dogs, requires specialized training. It may look easy but unless you are under the instruction of an experienced accredited Mantrailing instructor, you will soon find that you and your dog are not progressing and developing in confidence and skills.

Girl kneeling with two dogs. Holding a certificate

What Breed of Dog is Suitable for Pet Dog Mantrailing?

For Mantrailing as a sport/hobby, any breed of pet dog can do it. Here at Hounds and Heli's, we have pet dog clients who trail with mini Dachunds and Cockapoos, right the way up to Rotties and Malis and everything in between! We have tripawed dogs, dogs with arthritis, elderly dogs and puppies starting as young as 12 weeks.

Girl with brown hair with her back to the camera holding dog looking over her shoulder at the camera

Why is Mantrailing so Addictive?

Mantrailing can be addictive for many reasons, both for the pet owner and the dog involved in this activity. Here are a few factors that contribute to the addictive nature of Mantrailing:

  1. Bond and teamwork: Mantrailing requires a strong bond and teamwork between the handler and the dog. As the dog and handler work together to problem solve the trail and locate the hidden person, they develop a deep connection and understanding. The partnership and cooperation fostered during Mantrailing can be incredibly rewarding and addictive.
  2. Reactive Dogs are welcome: Reactive Dogs have a tough time and are often turned away from other dog activities. Mantrailing is an awesome sport for reactive dogs. Dogs are worked one at a time in training sessions and once the reactive dog knows the game and is motivated for to trail, we can expand their trail routes to busier environments. The sense of accomplishment and fulfilment that a owner with a reactive dogs feels on completing a challenging trail in a busy environment. It can be highly addictive and drive the desire for more Mantrailing experiences
  3. Mental and physical stimulation: Mantrailing provides both mental and physical stimulation for both the handler and the dog. The mental challenge of interpreting the dog's behaviour and body language, analysing the scent, and making strategic decisions keeps the handler engaged and motivated. For the dog, the mental stimulation of following the scent trail and solving the search puzzle taps into their natural instincts and provides a fulfilling task.
  4. Connection with nature: Although we trail in urban areas, Mantrailing often takes place in various outdoor environments, including forests, parks, or wilderness areas. The opportunity to spend time in nature, enjoying the fresh air and exploring different landscapes, can be highly addictive. The beauty of the surroundings and the adventure of the search process contribute to the addictive appeal of Mantrailing.
  5. Adrenaline rush: The intensity and excitement associated with Mantrailing can create an adrenaline rush for both the handler and the dog. The anticipation of the search, the thrill of following the scent trail, and the possibility of locating a hidden person create a heightened state of excitement. The adrenaline rush experienced during Mantrailing can be addictive and drive the desire to continue participating in this activity.
  6. Positive reinforcement: Mantrailing training involves positive reinforcement techniques, where the dog is rewarded for successful searches and correct behaviours. The reinforcement of rewards, praise, and play during training and actual searches creates a positive association and can be highly addictive for both the dog and the handler.

Overall, the combination of bonding, accomplishment, stimulation, nature connection, adrenaline, and positive reinforcement makes Mantrailing an addictive activity for many individuals. The unique blend of mental and physical challenges, the satisfaction of helping others, and the thrill of the search process all contribute to its addictive nature.

How do you get involved?

If all this sounds good to you, sign up for one of our Introduction to Mantrailing Workshops. We hold them in numerous locations in Cork, Waterford, Kerry and Galway. Once you complete the Introduction Workshop, the real fun begins! You can join any of our weekly training sessions, Mantrailing Seminars with international experts and training weekends.

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Check out our website for booking www.houndsandhelis.ie


Mantrailing Instructor Eadaoin O'Gorman

Hounds and Helis was born from a deep passion & respect for dogs. Founder Éadaoin has worked extensively with dogs as a Puppy Foster Care Supervisor for the AADI and an Operational Search and Rescue Dog Handler Éadaoin is a qualified Mantrailing Instructor and runs regular workshops and seminars specialising in Mantrailing, Airscent and Cadaver Training. 

Follow Éadaoin  and her canine adventures on Instagram and Facebook.

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