Category Archives: Beginners Clinics

Beginner’s Tracking Clinic April 22-23 FULL

Updated registration form and new date!

A new registration form is ready for this clinic! The dates were changed for better weather (we hope!). Working Team limit of 6 dogs for maximum work and attention. Deadline to register is March 3, 2023.

Click here to learn more, and hope to see you there! Tracking is FUN! Full description here.

Register now! If you’re interested in auditing please contact me. Auditing is $250 for the two day clinic.

What’s Your Why?

Thanks everyone for all of the messages about 2023! I love hearing from you. Mandatory reading for all Coaches is Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why. I planned to start blogging again (I was an original blogger in the day!) next weekend but wanted to talk a bit about 2023 tracking and why I organize it as I do.

Registration Forms for 2023 are now online

Kendra and Rosie


Over the years I’ve changed a focus from CKC and sport tracking to just “good tracking.” Yes you need to know rules for sport but if you have a passion for tracking you’ll want more than the title and ribbon.

I started out in the 80s with mentors in law enforcement, conservation officers and SAR. That turned into CKC tracking for many years and great experiences. Moving to Alberta I’ve been drawn back to my roots in SAR – not as an active participant but to help others.

I’ve been fortunate to learn RCMP tracking methods from the head trainer and to have good dogs to apply the training to! I’m following police and security dog trainer Dick Staal and former military tracking and trailing master Jeff Schettler (GAK9). K9 Manhunters is a popular Fb group following these standards too.

My Goal as a Coach and Instructor

I want the same for everyone I work with. I want you to succeed at and love tracking. Not for a ribbon or title but as an activity that is natural for our dogs and bonding plus good for your own growth, soul and spirit. Goals are important and great but let’s remember to aim for excellence.

So how does this relate to 2023?

Location Location Location

Location is in your best interests (I drive there too!) It’s 1.5 hours one way for me and part of the ritual as far as I’m concerned. Of course this crazy climate change is wreaking havoc on the shoulder seasons but we track in all seasons and it’s worth the drive.

I stick with Olds and Red Deer as I’ve taught tracking in those areas since shortly after moving to Alberta. It’s central!

On top of that, Olds is one of the best places I’ve tracked and I want the best for you. And I’ve tracked and judged across Canada.

On top of the varied and beautiful venues, these areas are less busy than Calgary, more dog friendly for tracking in small groups, easy to drive around, relaxed and they are where tests are (for sport people).

There’s enough room for us to all have working space galore on a full day of lessons and enjoy a variety of exercises. If you’re a SAR tracker or have other goals, the area also offers great open space, fields and green space and friendly neighbourhoods and back lanes.

*you may see fees are higher this year. It’s because of gas and insurance prices and it’s not going to my pocket 😩


We move around a bit for experience of course. But a hub that we know well makes for more consistent training lessons. I’m grateful to everyone who has converged there for going on 13 years now! I swear I see ghosts of dogs (my own and others) every time I’m there.

Foundations Followed by Independence and Discipline

I always offer beginners foundations. People need to start somewhere and to understand what tracking is.

The beauty of tracking is that you can train on your own. In fact the simplicity of tracking and that time alone is one is the reasons most of us love it. Yes you need foundations. But to progress you must get out and work on them. Tracking is a discipline.

As a professional coach I aim for habits and autonomous skills. Until you put in the time repeating straight lines, L-tracks, transitions, starts, article indications – you won’t develop the line handling, footwork and multi-tasking you need. Plus you won’t develop the intuition and second sense required for good tracking.

We don’t do this in lessons. I count on you to do it alone or with a Buddy and to show up prepared. Lessons are not for practice.

Teaching, Mentoring and Coaching

You know that there’s a difference between coaching and instruction right? I try to find the balance with everyone. In the beginning it’s a lot more about teaching which is different from coaching aside from setting some goals and motivating people.

Instruction and teaching start to combine with coaching as people advance. Eventually people get to know their own dogs, the line they like, how they reward and what kind of practice best suits them. I love this and step back to keep them going and “light there a spark” in the words of outdoor educator Freeman Tilden.

Finally there is mentoring combined with coaching. Sharing, caring and preparing. Coaching through the mental hurdles that come with reality and testing. Keeping those goals and that confidence alive.

Lessons Focus

In lessons I can help tweak, observe, suggest and help. But unless you present progress you’re essentially floating down the river and my job is to help you cross it. I’m not in this to have students that coast along and not put in the work – that’s just not rewarding!

My joy and job is to push you to grow as a team. Your job is to push yourself and be accountable to yourself and fair to your dog.

Time and Miles – and Passion!

In tracking we say it’s about “time and miles.” It’s a reason so few go beyond beginners titles. It’s also a reason there is a deep passion in our small world. That grit and determination to do better. Not for ribbons and tests. But to be a good tracker.

It’s no different than my other passion of sheep herding and stockdogs. I’m fortunate to work with people who want good dogs that can work sheep first, not dogs trained to pass courses in trials.

Why Small Groups?

After graduating from Coaching (out of Erickson College’s Int’l Coach Federation sanctioned program) I tried lessons online. I have discovered that coaching always works for accountability, habits, confidence, goal setting and lasting change.

As far as the other piece – teaching – goes, I found that beyond webinars for specific topics or concepts, in person is still the best for me. I need to see you work to help you the most.

My smaller groups are to make sure you get quality time because tracking instruction takes a lot of space and time per team.

Showing Up

Guess what? YOU need to see others to grow too. While we train alone we do not test or search alone. We all work together and it’s a tradition to help others and work together. It’s a part of tracking. So we show up.

We show up ready. We show up willing to put in the time and miles not just for ourselves but for the greater good whether that be SAR or tests or simply to support and encourage each other and make the slogging fun.

The Circle

Last August at the tracking camp over dinner I asked people to prepare a few words about what they would say to new trackers. I was overwhelmed by one theme.

It was about the group. The people. The togetherness. The support. The lack of competitiveness. The tradition of helping that we enjoy and maybe take for granted in tracking. I heard voices crack with emotion on this topic.

I try to set up my training to lay the groundwork for this too. I want this for you. I don’t just want good tracking. I want an excellent life experience all the way around for all of my students and friends.

Back to My Why

I may not judge for a year but can’t imagine giving up coaching tracking. It is an inspiration to me to see others and be around like-minded people and keeps me motivated to work my own dogs. Plus despite the independent training we do need that small village as we advance.

I am always thrilled for everyone and every milestone and success. Tracking instruction brings me challenges, it makes me exhausted. And it is my joy.

We all need this motivation. We all need to be around others to grow. We also need to be with a group to learn to work together and help each other. This is actually an essential skill in tracking. It’s why I prefer a small group at first, before 1:1 lessons. I save the 1:1 for advanced trackers who I KNOW “get it.”

If you can’t make it I understand. I know I’m not the only person who teaches tracking. However I highly recommend Dick Staal’s online training if you can’t make it to lessons this time. You’ll find the link on his Fb page.

Thank you

I’m so grateful for the people who keep coming to experience the same togetherness and to help each other. Thank you to the people I’ve tracked with and learned from since 1985! The professionals and the CKC people. For me, seeing the sheer joy on the handler side of of the line never grows old, and I’ve been instructing for 28 years now!

I’m damn proud of my resume and accomplishments in tracking. I’ve worked hard and enjoyed every minute. I’ve learned from the rough experiences too and try to share this to help others. I’m a continual learner, still working with my own dogs.

I love the contacts and friends I’ve made across Canada and in the States. I love the dogs! But most of all it’s the people in this circle that make me the most happy. Thank you for trusting me to be part of your journey.

What’s Your Why?

I hope this inspires you to think about why you are doing this as it will help you with goals and to choose the training path that is best for you.

See you in 2023! (Or, this weekend and next as the 2022 season comes to a close)

Olds College September 2021

Tracking Alert! 4Winds Tracking 2023!

Updated November 26 – see below Beginners Workshops, Lessons, Fun Days and Tracking Camp – November 26 Updates to dates noted below.

Tracking Alert! 2023 is shaping up now with a blend of new and regular training. Here’s a look at what you can register for! Details about each session follow below.

Registrations are now available for each session along with deadlines. If you are keen, please contact me to let me know so I have an idea of numbers and expectations.

Update – Note that the March beginners workshop has been moved to April due to fears about weather. The registration form will be updated. Deadline to register is March 10.

See below for lesson updates

  • Tracking 101 Blog Series will begin November 19 – watch for the blogs on a variety of topics for the beginner and seasoned tracker.
  • Beginners Workshop Weekends in April and August – Intro to Tracking and Tracking Foundations
  • Lessons February – May are full.
  • 1:1 Lessons from June through September by arrangement
  • Trailing – monthly trailing group fun days – aiming at int’l GAK9 standards – you must have tracking knowledge and basics to take part
  • Tracking Camp is moved to September!

Registration Forms are now online

Two Beginners Workshop Weekends March date changed to April!

  • April 22-23
  • August 12 – 13

These workshops will combine indoor learning and presentations with outdoor exercises. They are designed for beginners. If you have never tracked or are not sure how to work on foundations, mark these dates on your calendar! By the end of day two you should be ready to work on your own or with a tracking buddy on foundations such as

  • How to get your dog’s nose down to follow a scent
  • How to encourage forward, independent motion along the track
  • Article importance, type, and indications
  • Start routines
  • Working on different surfaces
  • Motivating your dog (it doesn’t take much!) to be a happy tracker
  • Progressing from short straight lines to curves and turns
  • Aging the track
  • How to lay good practice tracks

There will also be information about what you’re aiming for. What is tracking? What can you do with it? Should you aim for kennel club tests or Search and Rescue or both? These foundations will be suitable to all tracking venues, preparing you for whichever path you choose.

Location: Olds / Red Deer, Alberta

Fee: $400 / working team; limited to 6 working teams
Auditors are welcomed – $250 to audit all weekend
Lesson participants taking monthly lessons may audit for $50 (what a bonus!) if you’d like reminders about foundations.


1:1 Lessons

From February 1 to September. Your dog must be able to track and have foundations in place for a lesson. Lessons are 1.5 hours. Fee is $125. Due to gas prices I will limit travel and try to organize lessons accordingly. Locations may be in Calgary or Olds.

Trailing Days

I am working to establish a standard for trailing sport tests to come to Canada using the GAK9 standards (used in the US and Europe. Standards have various levels for beginners, specialist and master tracking in both urban and forest or field. GAK9 can be found online and on Facebook. K9 Manhunters, a popular social media channel, follow GAK9. Trailing is suitable for SAR and can be fun for sport trackers as long as you will continue to work on precision in your tracking and not allow the dog too much fringing. Tracks can be from 400 m to over a kilometer long.

Watch for Trailing Days to be announced. There will be criteria and standards for participants.

Annual Tracking Camp Is Moving to a New Date!

Mark September 9-10 tentatively on your calendars! We hope for cooler weather and to prep for Fall tests.

  • Smaller participant numbers
  • Less long tracks and more focus on skill and age
  • Some trailing “certifications” (pretend – practice for GAK9) will be offered
  • Urban Day followed by a field day
  • Group meals
  • Annual 4Winds Circle of Excellence presentation

Tracking Camp details will be announced soon. Maybe we will have a ‘surprise’ guest presenter or judge… stay tuned!

Fall is Tracking Season!

What’s happening this fall?

I don’t know about the rest of Canada but this summer in Alberta has been WET (at first), then HOT for a month. I mean, temps hovering around 30 C. Just too hot to track, even though we gave it a game try during the fun August tracking camp!

Today, the heat warning ended and thunderstorms are predicted. I couldn’t be more happy! Bring on the cool weather and rain! It’s the weather we trackers love best.

Of course, in response to this change in weather, I have pulled together the Fall 2022 schedule, knowing that all trackers are looking to the skies and dreaming about their muck boots and garters. As much as I love tracking, I really have a heart for teaching and sharing it with others. As always, expect up-to-date tracking methods based on the best information and new science, suitable for sport tracking, SAR and Trailing.

Visit Upcoming Events for links to register and for more details.

Below are things I am organizing, but first, this message,,,

What else is happening in 2023? Think – Trailing!

Stay tuned for some exciting news as I bring in some Trailing Clinicians, or maybe even THE training clinician. Dick Staal, do you think he would come to Canada again? I am on the case. As you know, I follow both Dick Staal and Jeff Schettler (GAK9). I figure if I put on some seminars, why not bring in my heroes?

Now, back to our scheduled messaging…

The Fall Beginners Clinics are one-day clinics held once monthly. In the day long clinic, you will receive enough information and homework to carry you to the next clinic! Clinics will occur in September, October and November. They kick off with a Zoom Intro to Tracking Class. If you missed out on the clinics, this class is an awesome alternative to figuring out how to start.

An even better idea is to take the Zoom Intro to Tracking Class along with the Winter Tracking Webinar. While you may not get the 1:1 hands on coaching, you should be well-armed to get out feeling confident to start your tracking journey. I might put on a spontaneous – ONLINE classes only day for some hands on as a Christmas treat, so watch this website and Facebook page closely.

I am judging a one day Urban Test in Red Deer on October 2, so we are being very careful not to train together within the ‘no training’ window, and will not be on any potential test sites as well. If you are entering the test, I will be giving you the 411 on this rule. Most Beginners should be thinking about spring tests! To that end, I am continuing the Beginners one-day Clinics in February, March and April.

Check the CATS FB page for information about the Field and Urban tests on October 1-2.

Take heart, there may be openings for these, and I may also put on a standalone. Then, watch for a mock test and opportunities for urban pre-test certifications if you wish to enter a CKC Urban ‘beginner level’ test first (before a TD beginners test).

Find out details about all of these events here. Subscribe to the blog to receive timely posts and be sure to ‘like’ the 4Winds Facebook page for pictures and other fun stuff, including links to the latest events.

Thanks everyone for continuing to trust me and allow me to be part of your tracking journey. Your journey is my journey! Always keep learning.

Donna, and the crew, Ben, Micah, Finn and Quill