During the initial stages of the training, each exercise must be planned so that the wind carries a smell to the dog, enabling him to detect it very shortly after the exercise begins. This is done by placing the retrieving dummy, with attached smell, on the ground in an open area, and concealing it in very light cover such as grass or other vegetation. Next, at least two other small piles of the same material or cover, not containing a retrieving dummy or smell, should be placed about three metres away on each side of the smell. All three of these piles should be in line. The two piles not containing smell will serve as distractions, since some dogs will instinctively examine an area that has been freshly disturbed. The starting and ending point should be established so as to point the dog to pass approximately six metres downwind from the hidden smell and retrieving dummy. The smell odour will be carried directly toward the line of patrol.
After the exercise is prepared, the dog should be brought to the starting point. Here a routine is established with the dog which is called the ‘starting sequence’. Through this starting sequence, the dog learns to associate detecting a smell, and consequently will begin hunting for it as soon as an exercise begins. This sequence, the dog learns to associate detecting a specific smell, and consequently will begin hunting for it as soon as an exercise begins. This sequence will eventually result in an attitude change and will be used at the beginning of each training and utilisation exercise hereafter.
As these exercises begin, the starting sequence is accomplished by the owner, who while controlling his dog with the leash in his left hand places the dog in the sit position on his left side and facing the starting direction. The handler should restrain the dog in that position in a controlled position while he places the collar around the dog’s neck and attaches the lead. After this he should physically and verbally stimulate the dog to a high degree of excitement. When the dog has reached his peak of excitement, the handler should quickly give the verbal and hand command ‘FETCH’, while hastily stepping out with the dog.
The handler should walk at a fast pace with the dog at full leash, along the route of patrol, constantly observing him. As the dog enters the smell area there should be a physically notable attitude change. He may react or alert in various ways. Normally, his body will become tense and he will turn into the direction the smell is coming from, while straining on the leash to trace the smell Also, his panting may cease to some degree while he inhales the odour through his nose. The owner must not hesitate to follow the dog as he traces the smell to its origin.
When the dog approaches the pile of grass containing the smell he will normally ‘nose’ or scratch through it and pick up the retrieving dummy. When this occurs, the owner should excitingly grab one end of the dummy and play the tug of war game with the dog while praising him.