Here is the sequence of events for the TSA/ACS Hunt test. Remember, it should be done in the same order every time.
1. A walk to the site for Chase Retrieve (located near the site for the Hidden Grass test).
2. Chase Retrieve – Tease the dog with the scented rolled towel in a manner that you can create focus and throw the object without breaking the dog’s focus. 3 month old dogs can remain loose; the older pups need to be restrained by leash/collar or leash harness (leash should be a light weight check line that is about 30 feet long). Have the tester throw the object into an open area and have the handler release the dog once the object has landed. Chase Retrieve is complete when the dog picks up the towel.
3. Allow the dog to enjoy the reward. Possession is the key, so don’t hurry to get to the next step. Through movement away from the dog and vocal encouragement most dogs will return. If not get to the end of the line and gently reel the dog closer to you. Attempt to take the toy from the mouth, realizing you are trying to generate some tug of war with the towel. Once the towel is free you should be near the tall grass to make a throw for Hidden Grass.
4. Hidden Grass – With a 3 month old pup they can again be loose. Throw after a short tease that develops focus on the object. Throw about 5 feet into deeper grass. With older dogs have the second tester tease the dog and make the throw 10-20 feet past where the taller grass begins.
5. Once the dog gets the towel after the Hidden Grass throw, move toward where the pots are set up. This is a good time to evaluate Independent Possession. Does the dog keep the towel regardless of input with the handler or tester?
6. Hidden 1 – With 3 month pups, just have the handler gently restrain the pup with a hand underneath and a hand across the chest. Don’t hold tightly as the dog might then struggle or be distracted. With the older dogs, you should have the dog on a harness or flat collar. This is just to help gather the dog in should they have lots of possession while aroused. Restrain the dog a few feet away from the first overturned pot. The tester should tease the dog briefly with the towel before hiding the towel. The handler and dog should be on the downwind side of the pots, so that they can best access the odor. The tester must pretend to hide the towel under each pot to prevent the dog from cueing only on the area where the hide was made. Hidden 1 has the tester remain at the end of the row of pots a few feet to the downwind side. The handler should pay attention to the dog’s desire to focus on the movement of the tester to determine Mental Possession.
7. Repeat for Hidden 2, having the tester return and take a position behind the dog instead of remaining at the end of the row of pots.
8. Allow the dog to continue carrying the towel until you are ready to put the dog back in the vehicle for the final assessment of Independent Possession.