Evading Tracker Dogs

Evading Tracker Dogs

So, what can you do to fool the dog? Let’s split the mission up into four phases: lying up, pre-contact, distant contact, and close contact.

If you have to spend any length of time in a lying-up place, always obey these simple rules, even if you have no proof that a search dog’s operating.

1. Keep as close to the ground as possible. �
2. Put most of your clothing over you, so that the ground absorbs your scent rather than letting it out into the open air. �
3. Breath down into the ground, or at least into the vegetation. �
4. Keep as still as possible. �
5. Bury rubbish under where you are lying.�
6. No smoking, no fires wherever possible. �
7. If you’re discovered by anyone, move away as fast as you can.


Use all the normal physical camouflage tricks to blend into the environment, plus a few that are designer to throw the dog off the scent.

1. Travel over ground already used by other people or by animals. This makes the dog work much harder to keep on your track �
2. If you’re travelling as part of a group, split up from time to time. Double back on yourself. Leave a false trail whenever possible. �
3. Use streams and running water to confuse the dog, but don’t try to walk for too long in the stream itself – it will slow you down too much. Instead, cross the stream diagonally, doubling back perhaps two or three times so that the dog can’t tell which of your exit tracks is the real one and which ones are dummies. �
4. When you’re preparing food, pay close attention to the direction of the wind. You must bury all wrappings and container, but remember too, to handle them as little as possible. The smell of the food is one thing – your smell on the wrappers tells the dog that it was your food. When you bury the remains, don’t touch the ground with your hands. Use a metal tool of some sort. Whenever you can, sink the rubbish in deep water. The same goes for urine and faeces.

Distant Contact

If you’re sighted from a distance, speed becomes important.

1. Try and tire the dog and handler team; it will be easier to destroy their confidence in each other if they make mistakes through tiredness. �
2. If you’re part of a group then split up straight away, and arrange a rendezvous for later. �
3. Make for hard ground. A road or a rocky surface makes and hold much less scent than a soft one. �
4. If you are in wood country or scrub, double back and change your direction as often as you can. �
5. The tracker dog will be on a long lead; if you can get him tangled up, you can increase the distance between you and him, and maybe break off the contact entirely.


If the dog catches up with you, you’re in deep trouble. Not so much from the dog; he’s done his job in finding you. Now you’re in trouble from the handler and whatever combat back-up he may have available.

1. Forget the dog for the moment. You’ll know from the look of him whether he’s an attack dog or a tracker. If he’s a tracker, he probably won’t come near you. �
2. Move as fast as you can. Get out of sight of the handler. �
3. Get rid of loose pieces of clothing, food (Especially food – the dog may be distracted by it when he comes looking for you) and any other pieces of kit that aren’t vital to your mission or your survival. �
4. If the dog sticks with you, you must kill or immobilise it.

Dog tracking teams �

Alot has been written about dog tracking teams and how to avoid them. There �
are many different theories on how best to do it. The obvious methods �
would be to cause harm to the dog or the handler. In WW2 the french underground �
used to use ground up glass mixed in with drugs to avoid being caught. �
The drugs would stop the dog from being able to smell and the ground up glass �
would eventually cause bleeding in the lungs and possibly death to the animal. �
These techniques should only be used in dire situations. I do NOT recomment causing �
harm to animals or people and I do NOT recomment using drugs of anykind. �
I will now cover other techniques to avoid a dog tracking team. �

Everyone knows a dogs sense of smell is much more sensitive than a humans. Some �
of the different types of tracking dogs are ground scent, air scent, cadaver dogs, �
visual tracking. Dogs are trained to smell out what is known as rads. A rad �
is basically decay. When you are walking you are leaving dead skin cells, �
the places your feet fall breaks the crust of the earth killing small plants, bugs, �
micro organisms. This is what the dog is tracking. It’s important to remember that �
it’s not just the human scent the dog is tracking. He’s also tracking the trail you �
are leaving as you pass throug an area. The wind will carry your smell in a cone shape. �
The dog will try to stay in this cone. �

The best way to evade a dog is to overlad it’s senses. Imagine someone pointing a bright �
flashlight in your eyes and how it causes you to shut your eyes. This is sensory overload. �
Now imagine you are running and you pass through an area that has been freshly cut �
by the local farmer. When the dog arrives in this area he will have sensory overload, �
begin sneezing and will lose the scent. �
Now think of when you walk into a room and someone has just sprayed some deodorant. �
The smell is overpowering at first but you get used to it. If you leave the room �
and reenter after a few minutes you can smell the deodorant again. A handler will �
need to clear his dogs nose and restart tracking. This will slow them down but it �
will not stop them. The entertainment industry makes us believe that a dog works �
on his own but the reality is the dog and the handler will compliment each other. �
This is extremely important to remember the dog and the handler will compliment �
each other. They do not work independantly. �

The dog will be first followed by the handler. The handler will usually use a very �
long leash on the dog to give him freedom of movement. The handler will be an �
expert at reading his dogs and he will also be good at tracking. �
The dog moves in the scent cone following the track fairly quickly. The handler �
will know when the dog loses the scent. The handler will then stop at the last �
point where the dog was in the scent cone and he will make the dog go in a �
circle downwind and giving more lenght to the leash. The dog will reacquire �
the scent cone and then they will continue tracking.

Boy do I understand about the economy…. �
Anyways, I digress. I have taken some E and E classes from Kevin and others (and had an unfortunate experience myself so I’m speaking from experience-another story for another time) so my understanding is more of a coagulation of these schools, and some of my own thoughts/experiences, so please forgive me if I’m off the beaten track or just plain got it wrong. Kevin, please correct me if I am. �

“1.I was recently having an argument about E&E, as well as counter tracking, and I was sure of things, but not so much now (as many trackers know, when doubt sets in, it’s hard to get rid of), and I have a few questions: In counter tracking, if you leave a footprint, it is best to destroy AND conceal it, right?” �

First of all, my understanding is that counter tracking is more directed against the trackers. I believe what your referring to (or at least it seemed so to me) is anti-tracking. Generally, anti-tracking are techniques used to change the appearance of the track, hide the track, or trick the tracker into thinking that they have it wrong. And to answer your question, I don’t think it’s that cut and dry. I believe that it depends more on several other factors, some examples being; the situation your in, the terrain your in, and most important-what exactly your intent is. Each situation is different. �

If your intent is to destroy and conceal the track, just how are you going to do so? Are you going to utilize some of the surrounding terrain? And if so, are you just transferring the sign from ground level (i.e. the track) to the upper levels (rob Peter to pay Paul so to speak)? Something to consider. �

Also, is it always best to destroy it? I’m not so sure. For example, you might want to change it’s appearance by making it look older or belonging to someone else completely, thereby tricking the trackers. These are just two examples and again, I don’t think every situation calls for the same answer. That’s just me though. �

2. To confuse dogs, and take away confidence in handlers, running around in circles, and leaving false scent trails works, whereas travel over water doesn’t help, correct? �

This is one way to destroy the handler’s confidence in the dog. I wouldn’t just run around in circles though. For example, when you come upon an area, say for example a distinct section of clearing with some trees, it’s good to run around in circles, but also utilize angles, jagged edges, double back,etc. Try to make it so that it appears, at least to the handler, that the dog is making no sense whatsoever. Now this is assuming that there is enough of a time lapse between the K-9 team and you to do this of course. �

This might not work against a Tactical Tracking Team (hereafter referred to as TTT) however. This team should see right through this ploy. Even if the TTT doesn’t see through the ploy and doesn’t know what’s going on they will simply box the area out and regain the track (or utilize one of several other methods to regain the track). �

3. Does leaving an item of your clothing on your scent trail, with something such as stinging nettle slow pursuit? �

Why? In my opinion, it doesn’t help. And again, what kind of team are we talking about here? In Law Enforcement they traditionally utilize a K-9 team (although this is slooowly changing in that some K-9 handlers and police departments are getting their K-9 team members trained in Tactical Tracking). �
There are some Tactical Tracking Teams also, and both, the traditional K-9 teams, and the TTT, have their advantages, and their disadvantages, which one can exploit (but that is another thread). �

Getting back to the question, in the case of the K-9 team, if anything, it only helps the dog. To the dog, that piece of material is your scent with a piece of stinging nettle attached to it. It only strengthens the dog’s picture of you. It helps the K-9’s handler by giving them another piece of evidence to connect you to the starting point of that track; thereby enabling them to testify in court that it was without a doubt you they were tracking. If possible, you never want to leave anything behind. Evidence is evidence no matter what or how small it is. �

Now if it’s an TTT, the team might slow down a bit initially but they are looking at more than just that piece of material. They might be initially more cautious as they approach that piece of material’s area, however, they are also looking at other sign to see if you are in the area. And you are actually helping that team by leaving them a signpost that says “Hey Guys! I was over here!” To me, any benefits leaving a piece of material are not worth it in either case. �

4.I was once told by a fellow tracker that a certain “powders” mixed with blood can make a dog go crazy, is that correct? �

Are you referring to “bitch scent” (i.e. female dog urine/scent)? I was told the same (i.e. it’s supposed to help distract the male dog), but what if it’s a female dog? Not sure what your referring to here. Are you referring to the more lethal, or even less than lethal substances out there? I’m not comfortable talking about such matters on this forum in the open. Sorry. �

5. And finally, any booby trap, even if a badly concealed spike pit, forces the Tracking Team to slow down, correct? �

Not too comfortable about talking about this either but I’ve seen other members, including Kevin, talk about this so here goes…This is correct. Now your talking counter tracking (counter tracking is against the trackers themselves). However, I don’t see everything so cut and dry. There are pluses and minuses to everything and one has to consider such in these circumstances. �
As mentioned before some of the things you have to consider in balancing out these pluses and minuses are your situation, terrain, and most important, your intent. For example, some of the minuses of laying booby traps are: 1. although efficient, they are indiscriminate. you could injure or kill a friend, or potential ally, thereby possibly turning that friend, or potential ally, against you. 2. If you get a team member than it could have the unintended effect of increasing the resolve of the rest of the team (“Let’s get this SOB for Harry!” type thing). Everything has pluses and minuses. �

These are just a few examples and I could go on but I think you get the point I’m trying to make. �
I hope I didn’t muddy the waters by being anal and reading too much into the questions, but I don’t see some of these E and E situations as so cut and dry because of the hidden variables; which I believe should at least be considered in making your choices. Again, Kevin, please correct me if I’m wrong. Thanks. �

I spoke to two people who are dog handlers. One does fugitive recovery with the Dept. of Corrections, the other I met while involved with a S&R group on the coast. They both said that the pepper wont work but would probably help the dog clear his nose from the sneezing he would do. It would slow him down for a minute or two in an area of only a couple feet. As far as covering in animal **** or dung, they said you would simply smell like a human wearing animal waste to the dog. If you went through water, they and a tracker would simply circle from where they last knew you were, working outward until they found your scent/sign. �
They told me the best chance, aside from getting in a vehicle and riding, is either #1: Hurt/kill the dog �
#2: Hurt/kill the handler�
#3: Make it as hard for the dog and handler to follow as you can. The dog thinks it is a game, but not just any joe blow can handle a tracking dog. So make it hard to follow you. Double back, go over/under obstacles, up cliffs, through and up/down streams, set traps if you have time, anything to slow them down. �
All I know is I began to watch, I mean really watch, my hunting dogs do they’re stuff while trailing, and it is simply amazing where they can pick scents up, and how they naturally circle to pick up lost trails and such. The dogs will win unless you do some dirty fighting.

I have been a dog handler for over ten years. I admit I take a little offence at shooting the handler and/or the dog. However, this is probably your only choice if you are trying to escape. We have tried every thing to throw a dog off track. CN/CS, pepper spray, masking agents, ammonia, bleach, and any other method we could think of. Nothing works to the point of stopping the dog.�
Going to water is great if you want to get caught. Scent lays on top of the water better than land. It slows you down, makes noise, leaves good sign, and possibly makes you hypothermic.�
Our dogs run off lead and will avoid you in close quarters. If they find you, you may not even know it. They will come back and alert me where you are located. On criminal cases I carry an M4.

While your on the move and not using your hands break off small branches from trees like pine, stop to catch your breathe occasionally and whittle down a few small spikes like little pencil sized needle points or big toothpicks. Plant one or two deep in the ground(so it doesn’t give when stepped on) and cover them with a leaf or whatever spread the scent around they will adapt to traps. Eventually plant enough and the dogs or handler might step on a few, and if your really lucky it will give them a nasty non-lethal incentive to abandon pursuit. And if you don’t have a pocket knife on hand then you probably deserve to be captured.

Here is a post I found on a tracking forum concerning tracking dogs.�
Actaully, a well trained dog is not going to be thrown off your scent easily. Getting into a car that is completely closed, and driving on a very busy interstate highway, so that there are lots of cars and trucks to disperse the dead skin cells( rafts) that carry your personal scent signature, may possibly do it, but I know of one televised case where a dog followed the scent from one exit to the next, and actually found the exit where the suspect drove off the interstate. �

There are things that can be used to interrupt a dogs scent glands for awhile, preventing him from following a scent trail further, but I would rather not discuss them here. And there are drugs that can be used that will actually kill the dog if he is following your scent and gets a whiff of them, but I will not mention them here. �
As to rivers and streams, air scenting, as opposed to ground scenting, dog are actually able to smell your scent in the air above the waters, and pick your scent back up on the other bank. You would have to travel downstream in the water for a long distance to lose the dog and his handlers, who would rather work the riverbank than actually go into the water to follow you. Today, you then have to deal with airplanes and helicopters and heat imaging devices that can see you in the woods, where you might hide. �

I worked with a master K-9 trainer teaching visual tracking skills to his k-9 officers, and helped him while he taught scent work to the officers and dogs. We laid out scent tracking problems, both for practice, and for training. One of my best friends, who was a tracker, and also was working his own bloodhounds, ran a trial course for an AKC event, where the trail went through a drainage ditch. The track layer had waded up the stream aaout 50 feet and then climbed out of the ditch on the opposite bank. There was so much disturbance of the grass and weeds that lined the bank that it was easy for Don to see where he came out from where the tracks entered the water. Although the tracks had been layed hours before Don ran the course, his bloodhound had no trouble following the scent up stream, and she tracked the man into a crowded pavillion at a county fair site, and went right up to him where he was sitting up on some bleachers. �

When you understand where the scent the dog is smelling comes from, and that is not just an aroma wafting in the breeze, you understand how difficult it is to lose a scenting dog. 65% of your body heat escapes off the nape of you neck and back of your head. With it goes thousands of dead skin cells. You shirt sleeves act like funnels forcing air out and throwing out thousands of skin cells . Your pant legs likewise act like huge pepper shakers, and send out thousands of dead skin cells with every step. Run, and the shaker puts down more cells. The cells are attacked by bacteria, and as they decompose as they are eaten, they give off the odor the dog is sniffing. If it was not for the presense of bacteria, we would be buried in miles of thick layers of bones, and dead skin cells. In fact, Life could not exist without the bacteria that live in the air, and soil.d So, it only takes a well trained dog handler, and a well trained and practiced scenting dog, to follow a trail. The handler is more likely to wear out than the dog will. And, if they get off trail, it is almost always handler error that is responsible for the move. Even my friend, the master K-9 instructor screwed up during a practice session one day, pulling his dog off my scent, to wander off after some visible tracks made several days before by someone working on the grounds. I purposely stopped when I saw those tracks. stomped my feet several times, scuffed the ground to bleed the vegetation to give a ripe odor, before walking on in the same direction I had been heading before seeing the cross tracks. He was embarrassed, but admitted that this was the very reason he wanted to do this practice session, as he had not run his dog on a scent trail in weeks, and was afraid he was getting rusty! �

That dog , a few years later, back tracks a man who was found hanged in a tree through the woods( going from strong scent to weaker scent) to the man’s car, where they fond his wallet and car keys, and found a note on the front seat with a map showing the path he was going to walk through those woods to the tree he had chosen to use to commit suicide. My friend had then the only dog certified to be able to do back tracking scent work, and I know of no other case in Illinois, where such a feat was done, and verified not only by footprints found on the trail, but by the victim’s own map. Police found a suicide note at his home. He is one heckova trainer, and that was one fine dog.

Dogs have no trouble finding people in an urban environment, they track missing kids, fleeing fugitives, VERY frequently in urban environments. They lock onto your scent regardless of the environment the scent is in. Covering yourself in a unique scent….for example deer urine, in a urban environment, would make it EASIER to track you. �

For some reason people think of evading tracking dogs in the wilderness. If you’re not IN the wilderness now, and THSTF, why would you be fleeing dogs in the wilderness after? You need to learn to evade in your current AO. �

The best evasion tactic is to DELAY the dog and buy yourself time for a better plan. The risk is you don’t know how far behind the do team currently is. They don’t bay and bark like in the movies. The most effective tool to delay a tracking dog is a fence. Or better yet….10 fences in a row. To reaquire scent they have to circle and recircle until they pick it up. �

Doubling back is effective because they way a dog determines the direction of it’s target is by STRENGTH of scent. If it’s stronger in one direction….that’s the direction it’s target is heading. �

Avoid water at all costs. Ever SMELL a wet dog…..the smell is stronger. Same with people, once you get out of the water you’re dropping concentrated scent in a clear direction. Also judging by some of the previous posts by some people here…swimming with 80 lbs of BOB on is a bad idea.

you can buy a spray bottle of expel oder neutralizer for like 10 bucks? they also have a wash for clothing and body soap too….if a deer cant smell you ,i would think a dog cant either? just make sure you dont have any skin/hair exposed to the air…clean all equipment as well…

Speaking as a retired correctional officer I saw two ways inmates used to thwart the drug dogs. One was to put their dope in the bottom of a coffee can, the other was to put it in the bottom of a deodorant like a speed stick. I guess those two smells just overwhelmed the dogs noses. �

I imagine that anything you have at hand that is fairly pungent should do the same trick.

(1) Dog characteristics. The dog(s) follows a trail faster and can continue to track at night. Despite years of domestication, dogs retain most of the traits of their wild ancestors. If put to controlled use, these traits are effective when tracking.

(a) Endurance. A dog can hold a steady pace and effectively track for up to eight hours. The speed can be up to 10 miles per hour, only limited by the speed of the handler. The speed and endurance can be further increased by the use of vehicles and extra teams.

(b) Mental characteristics. Dogs are curious by nature. Dogs can be aggressive or lazy, cowardly or brave. A dog’s sensory traits are what make him seem intelligent.

(c) Aggressiveness. Tracking dogs are screened and trained. They are aggressive trackers and eager to please their handler.

(d) Sensory characteristics. Knowledge of the following sensory traits and how the dog uses them helps the evader to think ahead of the dog.

    • Sight. A dog’s vision is the lesser of the sensing abilities. They see in black and white and have difficulty spotting static objects at more than 50 yards. Dogs can spot moving objects at considerable distances, however, they do not look up unless they are training up a tree. A dog’s night vision is no better than man’s.
    • Hearing. A dangerous problem for the evader is the dog’s ability to hear. Dogs can hear quieter and higher frequencies than humans. Even more dangerous is their ability to locate the source of the sound. Dogs can hear 40 times better than men.
    • Smell. The dog’s sense of smell is about 900 times better than a human. It is by far the greatest asset and largest threat to the evader. Dogs can detect minute substances of disturbance on the ground or even in the air. Using distracting or irritating odors (for example, CS powder or pepper) only bothers the dog for a short time (3 to 5 minutes). After the odor is discharged by the dog, he can pickup a cold trail even quicker. The dog smells odors from the ground and air and forms scent pictures. The scent pictures are put together through several sources of smell.
    • �–Individual scent. This is the most important scent when it comes to tracking. Vapors horn body secretions work their way through the evader’s shoes onto the ground. Sweat from other parts of the body rubs off onto vegetation and other objects. Scent is even left in the air.
    • �–Reinforcing scent. Objects are introduced to the dog that reinforce the scent as it relates to the evader. Some reinforcing scents could be on the evader’s clothing or boots, or the same material as is used in his clothing. Even boot polish can help the dog.
    • �–Ecological scent. For the dog, the most important scent comes from the earth itself. By far, the strongest smells come from disturbances in ecology such as crushed insects, bruised vegetation, and broken ground. Over varied terrain, dogs can smell particles and vapors that are constantly carried by the evader wherever he walks. �

(2) Favorable tracking conditions. Seldom will the conditions be ideal for the tracker and dog teams. During training, they become familiar with the difficulties they will face and learn to deal with them. The following conditions are favorable for tracker and dog teams.

(a) Fresh scent. This is probably the most important factor for tracker teams. The fresher the scent, the greater chances of success.

(b) Verified starting point. If trackers have a definite scent to introduce to the dogs, it helps the dogs to follow the correct trail.

(c) Unclean evader. An unclean evader leaves a more distinctive scent.

(d) Fast-moving evader. A fast-moving evader causes more ground disturbances and individual scent from sweat.

(e) Night and early morning. The air is thicker and the scent lasts longer.

(f) Cool, cloudy weather. This limits evaporation of scent.

(g) No wind. This keeps the scent close to the ground. It also keeps it from spreading around, allowing the dog to follow the correct route.

(h) Thick vegetation. This restricts the dissemination of scent and holds the smell.

(3) Unfavorable tracking conditions. Marked loss in technique proficiency can be expected when the following conditions occur.

(a) Heat. This causes rapid evaporation of scent.

(b) Unverified start point. The dogs may follow the wrong route or scent.

(c) Low humidity. Scent does not last as long.

(d) Dry ground. Dry ground does not retain scent.

(e) Wind. Wind disperses scent and causes the dog to track downwind.

(f) Heavy rain. This washes the scent away.

(g) Distractive scents. These take the dog’s attention away from the trail. Some of these scents are blood, meat, manure, farmland, and populated areas.

(h) Covered scent. Some elements in nature cause the scent picture to be partially or completely covered. Examples are sand that can blow over the tracks and help to disguise the track; snow and ice that can form over the track and make it nearly impossible to follow; and water. Water is one of the most difficult conditions for a tracker dog team. Water that is shallow, especially if rocks or vegetation protrude, can produce a trail that a dog can follow with varied degrees of success.

Regarding dogs: It has been mentioned, and is true that pepper, and other such ruses do nothing to hinder tracking dogs, indeed pepper does quite the opposite, it will actually enable the dog to track you better. Consider that a dog’s nose is quite sensitive and capable of differentiating millions of different odors hundreds or even thousands at a time. When a dog has tracked you it becomes fatigued from the active tracking. You throw some pepper to cover your tracks and voila the dog sneezes, and clears out a multitude of irrelevant scents that he had acuired. He can now track you even more efficiently than before. Good job, you’re as good as caught. �

Your best bet if evading tracking dogs is to understand the way dogs track. There are two types – ground trackers, and air trackers. Bloodhound types are ground trackers, their noses are on the ground sniffing away and every step you take will be followed by them relentlessly. Air trackers, on the other hand track your scent with their heads and noses in the air, catching the bits of scent that float hither and yon. Ground trackers can track older scents better than air trackers, but air trackers have the advantage that if your spoor trail (that you made by zig zagging about the country side) comes close he will make up ground by ignoring your odors and heading for the strongest i.e. newest scent.�

How do you confound these dogs? You can’t. What you can do is to understand these differences in the dogs tracking types. For the inexorable ground trackers like bloodhounds, you focus on maneuvering though as difficult a terrain as possible. You won’t hinder the dog, but his trainer who is holding the leash(es) will be hard pressed to follow the dog through briar patches, across barbed wire fences (several times in a row) etc. Wear out the dog handler. �

When it comes to air trackers your best option is to kill the dog. Snares and booby traps for the dog are good ideas. Also if your are in a rural area kill the dog and take his liver, it’s high in protein and vitamins galore, plus the dog handlers will not likely send more dogs after you when they know you are willing to eat his dogs.