Lesson 12 of 23
In Progress

The Indication – Session 1

The Indication

Returning to our 3 elements to scentwork, this week we are looking at the most crucial aspect of all – the indication!

  • Scent identification – getting the scent ‘up the dog’s nose’ 
  • The indication – the freeze!
  • The search itself 

By now we are on our way to having a dog that can sniff two identical containers (one with target scent and one without) and receiving a click and reward for sniffing the correct one. We’re now taking things to the next level because a fleeting sniff is not a strong enough behaviour for us to identify the fact that our dog has found the target scent. Therefore a longer indication (freeze) is essential. To do this we need to increase the duration that our dog stays at the target scent.


  • Tin or pot containing scent
  • In class: drainage pipes
  • At home: you can practice this at home with plastic beakers drilled onto a wooden base or use heavy-bottomed plant pots


Start the session by allowing dogs to sniff and explore the new equipment, scattering food around to help create a positive association. 


Step 1

  1. Using the pot/tin containing the target scent, allow your dog to sniff and be ready to mark and reward. 
  2. Now, slowly increase the time that your dog has their nose in the bowl. To do that, increase the duration between our dog’s nose going to the bowl and your click. 
  3. Build up the number of seconds!

Step 2

  1. Place a single drainage pipe on the floor near your chair 
  2. Hold a pot containing target scent and allow dog to sniff, mark and reward. Repeat this several times. 
  3. Let your dog see you drop the pot into the pipe. Sniff, mark, reward, repeat

It is absolutely fine to tap the pipe to show your dog where you would like them to sniff. We tend to need to do this a lot at first but the aim is to fade it out eventually.

Step 3

  • Increase the time between your dog’s nose going to the pipe and the click. Like in Step 1 we will do this by delaying the click. 
  • Aim: 3-5 second freeze on a single pipe 
  • Move pipe around and change your own position 


  • Try to build that 3-5 second freeze. This is the main goal for the week and we need to be at this stage before tying anything below.
  • Once you have got a 3-5 second freeze we need to practice in different environments and with different distractions.
  • Can you do this in your garden? In a quiet area of the park? 
  • Can your dog maintain their freeze while you move you hand? Your foot? Your whole body?

This is very brain-power intensive for dogs, make sure you give them plenty of rest and water breaks!

In the coming videos you’ll see me train Dexter to indicate on a coin. He had never done this before so his journey will be similar to your own dog’s.