Article Indication by Dennis Helms



The proper way for a dog to indicate an article when found is for the dog to lie down in a straight line with the track. The article should be between the dog’s front feet and he should touch it with his chin.



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Article Indication by Dennis Helms

by: Dennis Helms

  This is a rather long article and will take a while to load. The information is critical to the development of a tracking dog If a dog turns in a perfect TD, TDX, or FH track and he misses the article(s), the dog flunks the trial or test. The purpose of the track is to find the article(s). The article needs to be established as being the all-important objective of the track. Having an effective method for teaching proper article indication is most important. The system of teaching article indication presented in this chapter has been used to train tracking dogs who have turned in perfect 100 point tracks. Proper indication of the article is a good place to start tracking training. 

The proper way for a dog to indicate an article when found is for the dog to lie down in a straight line with the track. The article should be between the dog’s front feet and he should touch it with his chin. After touching the article, the dog should be able to free himself so he can relax and start checking where the scent trail goes while the handler comes to pick up the indicated article. This may sound like a lot to expect from a dog and will be hard to teach. It is not hard to teach the dog to indicate in this manner. What is important is knowing how to teach the behavior and expecting compliance. 

Teaching the indication behavior Start with your dog in a down position without an article between the dog’s paws. Point to the area between his paws with your right hand and say, “Show Me”. When the dog scents the area indicated, give it praise, and reward it with a treat of hot dog or liver sausage from your hand right. 

Article indication is started without an article between the dog’s front feet so aversion to the article is not developed in the early stage of training. 



Most likely the dog will not have a clue as to what you are asking it to do when you say, “Show Me”. If the dog does not understand, how can he comply?  When you say “Show Me” push the dog’s head down with your left hand placed just behind his ears until his nose touches the ground.


At the same time tap the dog’s nose gently with two fingers of your right hand helping to direct the nose to the target area.

Some of these photographs reproduced on the dark side but they give the idea.

Reward the dog when it touches the ground with its nose with a treat and praise.



Move your hand with the reward up and down encouraging the dog’s nose to follow your hand.

This exercise must be repeated over and over. When you can say, “Show Me”, the dog is to drop its head, touch the ground with its chin, and then look up expecting to be paid. When the dog can do this consistently, the behavior is in place.

Working on article indication when the dog is hungry will help develop the required behaviors.  Each time the dog indicates properly, reward it with a piece of hot dog from your hand placed on top of the target area, and with lots of praise.

  As food is presented to the dog, as payment for showing the desired behavior, move your hand from the ground to a foot or so above the ground and back to the ground before paying the dog. Encourage the dog to follow your hand with his nose. The reason for moving your hand in such a way with the bait is for later on in the dog’s training. When the dog has properly indicated an article on a track we want him to be able to free himself up and relax.  


The idea behind this tracking training manual is to develop a strong, confident, accurate tracking dog.                          

Before introducing the article let the dog associate the scent of the article with the scent of food.

With the dog on a proper down stay, hold a tracking article and some food in a closed hand. The food should be a sample of the bait used earlier in the training. Let the dog scent your closed hand so he can associate the food with the scent of the article.

Place an article between the dog’s feet and start the “Show Me” training over again. This time developing the importance of the article. Once the article indication “Show Me” behavior has been developed move the article few inches in front of the dog’s paws. Ask the dog to “Show Me” and tap the article if necessary to get the dogs attention.



Move the article a foot or so in front of the dog and ask him to indicate. Tap the article to get his attention.  

Begin to spread out the distance until you can throw the article 7 or 8 feet and, on command the dog will go and indicate the article. Be sure to pay the dog for each article indication.

In the early training you may need to bring the dog to the article and help him indicate it. Be sure to pay the dog for each correct indication.


Permission given from Dennis Helms the author 9/02