How much Human scent do we leave on a track?

Our dogs can track our scent because we are leaving tiny traces of organic material carrying our odour behind us along the track. The main component of this organic matter are dead skin cells. Our skin cells are constantly dividing and as such our body continuously makes new skin cells to replace all the skin cells we lose. In general, the accepted figure is that every person loses around 40,000 skin cells per minute, that is the somewhat surprising figure of approximately 57 Million cells per day!

These dead skin cells take the shape of tiny flakes called skin rafts. Once shed from the body these tiny skin rafts can float on air currents and/or drop to the ground depending on humidity levels, wind currents, sunshine, cloud cover, terrain, and temperature.

At a walking pace of approximately 3 miles an hour and a shedding rate of 40,000 cells per minute this equates to around 150 cells per foot of distance walked. When laying a track for your dog you are moving forwards at a much slower pace than normal walking pace so will be leaving lots of dead skin cells for your dog to track.

If you are interested in investigating this further there is more information around this topic available on the Ohio Valley Search and Rescue website.