There are several things to do and it kind of depends on what the start line is. If it’s in a big outdoor area I make sure to get my dog hooked up to the correct collar/harness well before the start line, usually at the last staging area. I go to the cue up area and TRY to remember to watch my dog when the person is talking to me and as we walk up to the start line. I tend to stop at the start line because my dogs shoot by. I think about the wind. I wait for calmness and hopefully some air scenting. As I mentioned my dogs generally decide when to release themselves and I pay out the line at that point. I try to remember NOT to step forward until my dog clears the area near the threshold. If they’re on task, working something else in the search area I will note to come back to the start line to recheck.
If the search is a Vehicle, I will likely make sure my dog checks the first vehicle before letting them move on.
If the search is a small room with a doorway threshold, I will stay back and give them a chance to turn around back to the threshold if they don’t catch something right away. If they’ve moved onto the rest of the space I may follow slightly.
If the search is a large room I will do something similar but might start off-leash and then go on-leash. Or I might do it all on-leash to keep track of where we’ve been.
If we have to open our own door, I’ll crack the door, let my dog sniff the crack, open the door the rest of the way, let the air settle and then let my dog search.
Nothing is black and white. And sometimes you have to make adjustments on the fly. But the biggest thing is to not distract your dog from the search area, especially at the threshold, and watch to see if they give you any signals about where they might need to go.
Joyride K9 Dog Training