Stage 1: Free search

Using your search cue (‘Find it!’ or whatever else you use), allow your dog to conduct a free search. This is where they search freely without any direction from us. Quite often dogs will find it during the free search stage. If not, make a mental note of the places they haven’t searched and move onto the next phase.

Stage 2: Directed search

If after completing the free search, our dogs look to us for help or disengage from the task, now is the time to begin to work together as a team. 

Ways to do this:

  • With a sweeping arm movement and flat palm, suggest places they could try searching
  • Re-cue them using your search word e.g. ‘Find it!’

Stage 3: Detailed search

In this phase of the search we can give our dogs more help by actually opening lids/flaps/removing layers so that they can search more closely. We could take items out of the line one by one to allow for a more thorough investigation.