Following are the elements that must be included in any K9 Nose Work® competition for title purposes. Each of the elements will be worth 25 points for a total possible 100 points overall. At each trial, there will be a maximum time limit set for each element; that time limit for the search cannot be exceeded if points are to be awarded. The elements may be presented in any order.
Note: for most trials, the time limit for each element is generally five minutes or less.
Elements of the Individual Competition
(100-point total score)
EXTERIOR AREA SEARCH
INTERIOR BUILDING SEARCH
The Container Search (formerly the box drill) element of the competition is similar to the ORT that is required for trial entry. The NW1 level typically includes boxes set in any pattern. The container search may, however, include any shape or size boxes at the NW1 level. Containers and/or luggage (or combination thereof) may be included at the NW2 and NW3 level and may be set in any pattern. Additionally, the container search for NW2 and NW3 may also include distractor odors, such as but not limited to food, toys, and animal smells. Only one box (or container) will contain odor at the NW1 level. NW2 and NW3 may include multiple or combination odors. The odor used will correspond to the title level requirement. The location of the container (box) holding odor will remain in the same spot for all competitors to allow for no total time differences in the search. Typically the search is conducted on-leash, but any length leash may be used.
EXTERIOR AREA SEARCH
Each competition includes an outdoor search area. Examples of areas previously used include the exterior of a building, a parking lot, grassy field, courtyard, etc. This can be an especially difficult element because the competitors must train for a variety of distractions that are encountered outdoors. Dogs may have to search while coming across doggie odors, other animal smells (cats, gophers, rodents and other critters), litter, food trash, and simply the smells of the great outdoors. Additionally, the dogs will have to search under all weather and wind conditions on trial day. The search may be conducted on or off-leash and is set by the NACSW™ official based on safety, and experience level of the dogs. The exterior search area will be clearly identified by flags, cones, tape or other identifiers marking the perimeter of the search area. The hides will only be within the designated search area. Dogs and handlers may move outside of those areas as part of their search pattern however. Handlers may choose to enter the search area from any angle but the clock will begin once they leave the designated start line even if the search command is not issued at that point. The location of the hide will remain in the same spot for all competitors to allow for no total time differences in the search. The search area and search time limit will be determined by a number of factors including, size of area, weather conditions, complexity, distractors, and title level and will change with each trial location.
INTERIOR BUILDING SEARCH
Each competition includes an interior building search that may include from one to three search areas depending on the title level. These are typically room-sized environments such as a kitchen, bathroom, conference room, office, or warehouse space. A single search area may include contiguous ‘rooms’ (For example: a master bedroom with adjoining bathroom). Often this portion of the competition is not open to spectators because the search areas may be small such as bathrooms and kitchens. The location of the hide will remain in the same spot for all competitors to allow for no total time differences in the search. The building could be any type of building such as a warehouse, school, church, restaurant, house, etc. The search may have on and off-leash areas, depending on the particular trial requirements.
There may be three to five vehicles in the vehicle search, depending on the title level. Any type of vehicle may be used (car, motorcycle, truck, trailer, semi, etc). Handlers must determine which vehicles contain the hide and specific location of that hide. The difficulty of this type of search is to pinpoint the location as the odor is likely moving around and below the exterior of the vehicle and/or bouncing among vehicles. Handlers must help their dogs work to the source of the target odor before committing to an alert. Handlers may be assessed a fault if their dog excessively paws or damages the vehicle at the judge’s discretion. The handler will never need to open a vehicle door for their dog to locate the hide. The location of the hide will remain in the same spot for all competitors to allow for no total time differences in the search.