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It’s great you are taking time to build back the value of the game. Things like this can happen and associations made, and it’s important these steps you are taking to make it a positive and fun experience for Dottie again.
What you are doing is perfect. Go slow and build that value back. Short sessions are good!
This “We had a party of liver treats and play (with a toy) after each find. She was definitely not ready to stop, but I did stop the session after she found the 3rd (final) target. “ Is absolutely perfect. You’re doing great and that is exactly what we would suggest you do. Treat parties, short sessions, build that confidence back!
Having her “stumble” upon them is good too. Again very short sessions, but what we would recommend is exactly what you did. Which is going back few stages make it easier and get her to genuinely want to play again. When you progress, do so slowly.