Indication / Alert for the Search Dog

The K9’s indication, or alert, is one of the most important aspects of training a search and rescue dog. Law Enforcement uses the term “alert” as the final behavior offered by the dog after a find. ARDA uses the term “indication”. Whichever you use, we are discussing the final trained behavior the dog has been taught, which communicates the location of the target odor/scent.

K9 Detection Indications

The final trained behaviors come in two flavors: passive and active. Dog can be trained using a combination of both. A dog can have a passive indication (final behavior) and a very active alert (interest), such as digging or bouncing between source and handler, before offering a final and steady sit at the source.

Active K9 Indications

An active indication is something that is high energy and high emotion, yet very focused. Some examples are:

  • Stay & Bark
  • Scratch
  • Dig
  • Recall-Refind with a Bark, Tug, Jump, etc...

Passive K9 Indications

A passive indication is something that is calm and quiet, and usually does not disturb the source. Some examples are

  • Poke & Hold
  • Sit
  • Down

Dog Alert Indication


Video of a Stay and Bark


Video of a Recall-Refind with a Bark


Video of a Recall-Refind with a Jump


Video of a Recall-Refind with a Tug


K9 puppy Grom "preaches" (speaks) his indication in a variety of scenarios - before search work begins

These exercises let "puppy" Grom understand he will get his toy anytime, anywhere when he hears his cue to bark. This is the foundation that his Handlers built upon, ensuring a strong series of barking when applied to search work.