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Remember that you are not preparing for this test. We are looking for natural ability more than trained response.

You need an open area that is unfamiliar to the dog. With the 3 month test you need less space than the other tests at 6, 9, and 12 months. You’ll need at least an acre or so of open area. There needs to be an area of tall grass (less high for the 3 month old puppies). The tall grass needs to serve as visual barrier, but should not be so thick that the dog cannot penetrate it.

New plastic pots should be left outside and rinsed now and then with water to reduce their plastic scent. You want a pot with drain holes, but not the drain pans. The plastic flower pots should be placed before getting a dog out to test. This gives you time to test the direction of the wind, as the pots should be placed perpendicular to the wind or breeze so that the scent cone will be blowing across the line of pots.  The direction of the wind may change.

Towels should have been washed in fragrant free detergent and washed a second time with no detergent. Do not dry with dryer sheets. Towels should be in a sealed container (preferably glass) for a considerable amount of time (a least a week) with your target odor. The towels should be rolled an appropriate diameter for the dog’s mouth with enough space for you to grab the towel on either end for testing physical possession. The towels should be held in their rolled shape with cotton string. Use of tape or rubber bands could change the target odor.

Three month pups should be held by a second person by cupping under the belly and across the chest. Not overly restrained causing them to be distracted. The dog only needs to be held/restrained at the points before a throw or a hide (CR,HG,H1, H2; for three months only H1/H2); most of the time they should be free to move around. The three month pups can be left unrestrained while being teased in anticipation for CR (chase retrieve) and HG (hidden grass), but must be held gently for H1 (Hidden first time under pot) and H2 (Hidden second time under pot). It has proven helpful to have the older dogs (6, 9, and 12 months) drag a check line. It’s easier to get to the end of the line than to catch a loose, excited dog. But remember, the dogs should not be subjected to off-leash control. Control diminishes the dogs’ natural tendencies towards the reward object and their ability to act independently.

Traveling to the test with a dog in a trailer or dog crate will prepare the dogs for most adult dog assessments.

Video can either be done from a hand held camera, a tripod, or a head mount camera. Make sure the dog’s head can be seen while the person hides the towel in the video for H1 and H2, as this is the point we assess MP (mental possession).