Before you are allowed to enter an AKC Tracking Dog Test, you must be ‘certified’ by an AKC Tracking Dog Judge. Here are some helpful strategies to make the process successful.
The Tracking Judge you contact probably has a regular job just like you do. He/She likely works a job and then needs to take care of family matters, just like you do. He/She probably also has a dog (or dogs) to train, a house to maintain, and other activities just like you do. He/She is not ‘required’ to certify your dog. SO! When you decide the time has come to contact the judge, please call or email at a reasonable time of day, and leave a clear message. The judge will contact you when he/she has time. You will need to arrange YOUR schedule to accommodate the judge, not vice versa.
Do not call the day before entries close and expect an enthusiastic response; plan your certification at least 2 weeks before entries close. If you do not receive a response within a few days, call another judge. The first may be out of town, busy, or tired!
You will receive 4 certification slips. You must include one with each TD test that you enter. These certification slips are good for one year.
It is generally considered a courtesy to gift the judge; in 1980 the gift was $10… with inflation you can figure out what is appropriate.
Proof your dog before your certification by preparing him to succeed. Practice your tracks before certification; if you know your dog has trouble on some aspect of the track, work that out before calling the judge.
You, the Handler
Mentally and physically prepare yourself for certification; wear the same kind of clothes, use the same equipment that you have been using while you have been training. Now is not the time to try out that new harness or line. Keep the routine the same for your dog.