Lesson 23 of 23
In Progress

The mini search

Returning to our 3 elements to scentwork, it’s now time to link all 3 phases of the search together: scent identification and discrimination, indication and search. Exciting!

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

For this final stage of the Introduction to Scentventure we need to go back to the choice game where we established the scent discrimination. Introducing the search at this point is very similar. It’s almost like playing the choice game, but with the addition of a few more containers, which should all be of the same type so that we can set up a small ‘linear search’. 


  • Approx. 6 pipes, mugs, plant pots or ankle boots! 
  • Sample pot containing target scent plus decoys 
  • Harness and lead

Set up

Place pipes in a long straight line, close together and evenly spaced. If we keep the search hides close together, our dogs will learn a concentrated and continuous search. 


  1. Place your target scent pot into the first pipe and then 3 or 4 decoy pots in the other pipes. You need to be very sure which pipe contains the target scent as believe me, mistakes are so easy to make!
  2. Pop our dog on a harness and lead and ask them to sit. Introduce the cue e.g. ‘Search’ to break the sit and start searching.
  3. Start the search at pipe 1 (you will eventually finish on this same pipe). 
  4. For the first few searches you can guide your dog to each pipe but try to phase out the hand guidance as soon as possible. 
  5. Wait for dog to indicate. Don’t expect a long indication at this stage as we’ve increased the difficulty – a second is enough for now. 
  6. Now, move the target scent to pipe 3 and start your search again from pipe 1.
  7. Keep working the row of pipes, always starting from pipe 1 until your dog becomes proficient and can walk along the line searching as they go. Some dogs will put their nose into every single pipe, some will almost skim over the surface. 
  8. Repeat until you reach your optimum indication time e.g. 8 seconds.
  9. Vary the duration of the indication time, for example 3 seconds, then 2 seconds, then 7, then 5. 

As scent is moved from one search pipe to another, our dogs may be aware of residue scent and indicate on an empty pipe. If his happens, wait it out. At this stage we are teaching the dog to go as close to source as possible. With practice the likelihood of false indications will become almost non-existent. 

Top tip!

Get into the habit of keeping training records as this will help you when you are reflecting on your dog’s performance and planning the improvements you would like to make. 

Continue to summary your practice sessions using the formula:

What went well and why?

Even better if?


You have reached the end of the course – well done.

I hope to work with you again for Level 1 where we delve deeper into the fascinating world of searching. The best preparation you can do for this will be to continue strengthening your scent discrimination and increasing the duration of the indication.

Thank you so much for joining me on a Scentventure – happy sniffing!