Ideally you start mantrailing at puppy age. But every starting age is possible.
We recommend learning mantrailing in a group with experienced mantrailing trainers!
There are many "methods" of how to train mantrailing. For us, the approaches described below have proven to be successful.
Depending on how self-confident the puppy/dog presents itself, one starts playfully. The puppy/dog gets the collar and the harness put on, you hold the dog by the collar. The the first times no line is used. A large scented article of the person to be searched lies a few meters before the puppy/dog on the floor. This person has the reward for the puppy/dog in their hand, shows it to the dog, calls the name of the dog several times and runs about 20-30 m straight away from the puppy/dog and hides left or right behind bushes or a tree. At the moment the person disappears, the dog handler releases the puppy/dog. When the puppy/dog runs over the scented article, the dog handler gives the the command. Here it is necessary to condition a word that is not used in everyday life and is only used at the start of the trail, please never use it on the trail. When puppy/dog finds the hiding person, the handler and the hiding person are exuberant happy and the puppy/dog gets the reward from the hiding person. Then the puppy/dog is cuddled and praised by the handler and the harness is taken off (order completed) and the dog is led back at the collar on heel.
Depending on the learning level of the puppy/dog, this scenario is repeated several times and the trails are extended individually.
As the next step the puppy/dog gets the collar and harness put on. The dog handler attaches the leash to the collar. The puppy/dog is led to the start. The handler straps the leash from the collar to the harness. Start situation as above described; thus large smelling article, hiding person shows the puppy/dog the reward. The Hiding person runs away, hides behind the bushes. Right up to this point, the Dog handler to keep the puppy/dog calm, e.g. in sit. Certainly not easy because the dog is up to chase the hiding person. The influence of the dog handler may however not cause the puppy/dog to drop interest in the hiding person, it is not about subordination. Build up a calm atmosphere at the start from the beginning, is very important for the further success. The dog should stay focused at the start.
If the hiding person is out of sight, the handler lets go of the leash, gives at the moment of crossing the sent article the code word and off you go.
Die Länge dieser Trails hängt vom Lernstand des Welpen/Hundes ab, ist aber schon deutlich länger, als bei den ersten Trails.
At this stage it is very important that the handler does not headlessly follow the puppy/dog running after it, but quickly follow it with constant speed and works with the leash, releasing it or is catching up.
Up to this point the handler more or less knows the course of the trail. Should the dog once fritter away, do not run after, but release leash until the dog notices, okay here no trace anymore, breaks off and comes back. Here then of course verbal praise is given. It's the only way to bring the right tools to puppies/dog at a very early stage of the mantrailing exercise. Finds the puppy/dog follows again the same ritual: again exuberant joy, reward, dog put it on the collar, take off the harness and lead it back again.
The next trails will be built the same way, there are only a few more difficulties for the dog/human team, e.g. smaller crossings, varying the length of the trails.