Have you ever wondered what a Nose Work Trial search looks like? Recently the NACSW™ authorized official videos at selected Trial sites. We are very lucky to be able to share these videos of an NW3 Trial.
What is a Nose Work Trial?
In an NACSW sanctioned Nose Work Trial, there are four Elements, each with its own hides. Each dog/handler team searches each Element, for the same hides, one at a time. And the Elements are:
- Exteriors. An outdoor location. Surface can be paved or not, area can be large, medium or small.
- Interiors. An indoor location. Typical Interiors are classrooms, restrooms, offices, warehouses, etc. There is one Interior search at NW1, two at NW2, and three at NW3.
- Vehicles. Typically automobiles, but sometimes buses or tractors or anything else on wheels. The dogs search the outside of the vehicles, never the inside.
- Containers. Cardboard boxes, suitcases, paint cans, you name it. In an NW1, Containers are always closed cardboard boxes. Any container-like item that can be closed can be used in an NW2 or NW3, and food or toy distractions may also be hidden as decoys.
In an NW1, the dogs will be searching for Birch Oil, and there will be one hide in each search. In an NW2, the dogs will also be searching for Anise Oil; there could be one or two hides per search. In an NW3, Clove Oil will be added to the mix; there can be zero to three hides per search.
In an NW1 or NW2 Trial, the object is to test the dog's ability to drive to the source, and to communicate to the handler. The NW3 is testing the handler's abilities to manage time pressure, to understand odor, and to be a great partner to the canine part of the team.
What is an NW3 Trial?
In an NW3 Trial, the handlers aren't told how many hides there are in each search. There can be up to three hides in each area. If you haven't found three hides yet, you work to clear the area, to make sure you haven't missed one. Often, more time is spent looking for hides that aren't there, than finding the hides that are. Only strong working teams should practice this; less experienced dogs are likely to get frustrated and lose the desire to search. To enter an NW3 Trial, the dog must already have an NW1 and an NW2 Title.
Linda & Tigger Compete
This Trial was on a frigid November day in Sacramento. The first search was Exteriors. You can see the volunteers bundled up like they're at the North Pole instead of in California. The cold energized Linda's dog Tigger, who searched with much enthusiasm.
Linda says, "Instead of working a pattern, Tigger finds hides faster and has more fun, if I let him be in charge. He found the first hide at about 15 seconds and the second at about 40 seconds. We then spent the next 2 minutes trying to clear the area. It took us longer than it should have, and during the wrap-up, I found out why. The Judge told us that odor from the extra "hot" boxes for Containers was blowing all over our Exteriors search area. Looking at the video, I can see Tigger trying to go toward those boxes (which were not in sight); of course I couldn't let him. It must have been confusing for him. I called Finish just before time ran out. Some teams finished faster, but we had a good, fun, successful search."
When they finished the Exteriors search, they went directly into the Containers search. There can be up to three containers with odor, as well as enticing items (food, toys, balls) placed in one or more odor-free containers.
Linda says, "I let Tigger choose the best path to odor, even in Containers. This is harder for me than working a pattern, because I have to remember where we've been. But he's a fast dog, so we generally have time to work a pattern before I call Finish. He found the first and only hide at about 20 seconds. We spent the next 40 seconds making sure the other containers were clear. At 30 seconds, he went back to his find; he may have been telling me he was done. Tigger finally had enough, by the time we got to the back corner. He stood on the box and stared at me, as if to say, Why are we still here? While I'm pleased that we were successful, I could have done a much better job keeping track of where he'd been, and reading his body language. We could have shaved 10 or 20 seconds off our time."
At mid-day, Linda and Tigger got to do Interiors. Interiors are seldom made available for video because of physical lack of space, and that was the case for this Trial as well. So we have nothing to show you. Linda and Tigger found all the hides, didn't call Alert on any hides that weren't there, and came in 6th place in Interiors.
They finally got to search Vehicles in the late afternoon shadows. It was a long day, but Tigger was still enthusiastic and eager to search. Several teams were confused by odor blowing on downwind vehicles. Tigger even gave a weak Alert on a downwind vehicle, which he eventually followed back to the hide he'd already found (out of view of the camera unfortunately).
Linda says, "I started him on the downwind side of the cars, as I knew that would lead him to odor more quickly. Then I let him lead the way, even though it meant we had to take extra time to clear the area at the end. He had a lot of fun! He found the first hide at about 10 seconds and the second hide at just under a minute. Then we spent another 1½ minutes clearing the rest of the cars! While I'm happy with our successful search, if I had paid more attention to where we'd already been, I could have shaved quite a bit of time from our total. Tigger did a really nice job, and I'm absolutely delighted that he paid no attention to the critters in the bushes. Critters are almost irresistible to Tigger, so that's huge!"
At the Awards Ceremony, well after dark, Linda and Tigger received one of the ten Titles earned that day. There were 28 dog/handler teams in total.
We hope you've enjoyed these videos of an NW3 Trial, by Agility in Motion. If you'd like to know more about participating in a Nose Work Trial, contact us here.