The Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State (FACTS)

The trailing K9 is often referred to as a “tracking” K9, although “tracking and “trailing” are not the same to the purist.  The trailing K9 is directed to find a specific person by following minute particles of human tissue or skin cells cast off by the person as he or she travels.  These heavier-than-air particles, which contain this person’s scent, will normally be close to the ground or on nearby foliage, so the trailing K9 will frequently have its “nose to the ground,” unlike the air scent K9.

Each K9 is usually worked in a harness, on a leash, and given an uncontaminated scent article (such as a piece of clothing) belonging to the missing person.  The K9 follows that scent and no other.  At times, the K9 may track, following the person’s footsteps, or air scent, and home in on the subject’s scent.

Field contaminations (scent of others) should not affect his work.  He should be able to trail scents and pavements, streets, grass, water, etc.  When there is a good scent article and a point where the person was last seen, a trailing K9 can be the fastest way to find the victim.  Without the scent article and point where the person was last seen, these K9s cannot work effectively.