Tracking Rules (USCA)

General IPO Rules (USCA)

  • Tracking may be held on all natural terrains (e.g., meadow grass, pasture land, ploughed or dirt fields, and forest soil).  Snow has not been a deterrent, but it is up to the judge's discretion 


  • Within any one (1) track, articles different from each other must be used.  Their color may not stand out considerably from the terrain, and their size may not exceed 10 cm long, 4 cm wide, by 1 cm thick.  Size and material will be strictly enforced.


  • For an IPO1 track, the handler uses his/her own articles.


  • Before laying an IPO1 track the handler must show his/her articles to the judge.


  • For an IPO2 and IPO3 track the articles are provided to the track layer who must wear them on his/her body for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to laying a track.


  • The dog must approach the track calmly without any act of compulsion.  Any handling of the dog, such as tucking the line shall be done no closer than 2 meters from the scent pad.


  • The dog must be given a verbal command to start the track (including restarts after an article is indicated).  Additional commands such as "such" are considered restarts.  


  • Tracking is performed on a 33 foot (10 meters) line, and the handler must remain at the starting point until the dog has reached the end of the line.  Following too early is faulty and will be penalized.


  • The dog is to follow the course evenly and intensely with a deep nose.  Whether the dog tracks fast or slow is not a factor in the scoring, so long as the track is worked out intensely, uniformly, and convincingly.  The tracking line may sag as long as this does not result in substantial shortening of the distance between dog and handler.  Lightly touching the ground is not faulty.


  • Corners are to be worked out closely and confidently.  If the dog checks the corner, to convince it of the lay of the track, it is not faulty so long as the dog does not leave the track.  Close circling of the corner is faulty.  The handler may not influence the dog at the corner.  The corner is defined as 1 meter before and after the turn.  The dog must continue tracking at the same rate of speed after the corner - speeding up is considered faulty. 


  • Indication of the articles must be done convincingly, in the directly of the track, right before the article (i.e. with the dog laying down with the article between the dog's front legs in front of the chest).  The dog should not move or disturb the article.  If the dog indicates differently on the articles (i.e. sitting on one, and downing on the other) a "B" satisfactory rating is the highest it can earn.  The handler must move to the indicating dog calmly and at a normal rate of speed, reach down, pick up the article and show it to the judge by raising it in the air.  The handler must restart the dog from that position - standing at the dog's shoulder and not from behind the dog.


  • There is a 4 point loss for false indications.


  • If the dog leaves the track and the handler restrains the dog from doing so, the judge will instruct the handler to follow their dog.  The handler must obey the judge's instruction.  Tracking will be terminated if the dog leaves by more than 1 tracking line length.


  • Minimal praise is permissible in IPO1 tracking only (i.e. "good").  Praising at the article is permissible at all levels in the same position in which the dog has indicated (before or after showing the judge the article).


  • The command "such" is only permissible at the start, and the restart after each article.

Track Shape, Length, Articles,

  • IPO1:  300 paces, 3 legs, 2 turns (typically a "|  |" shape); 2 articles - 1st article placed a minimum of 100 paces, on either first or second leg, 2nd article placed at the end of the track.  Minimum age: 20 minutes


  • IPO2:  400 paces, 3 legs, 2 turns; 1st article placed a minimum of 100 paces, on either first or second leg, 2nd article placed at the end of the track.  Minimum age: 30 minutes


  • IPO3:  600 paces, 5 legs, 4 turns; 1st article placed a minimum of 100 paces from the start, on either first or second leg, 2nd article placed at the judge's discretion, third article placed at the end of the track.  Minimum age: 60 minutes.


Scoring the Track

  • 100 Points in total


  • Article Value:  IPO1 = 1x11 points and 1x10 points.  IPO2 = 1x11 points and 1x10 points.  IPO3 = 3x7 points.


  • 79% of points in working the track, 21% of points in the articles - 100% total.   79% of working the track may be distributed to areas of the track based on the difficult of the legs and corners.


  • For articles not found, the prescribed article points will not be given.


  • Repeated starting, strong wandering, tracking with a predominately high nose, hectic tracking, urinating, defecating, mouse-catching, etc., are penalized up to 8 points.