Our Nosework Trial October 4 – 6, 2019
We had our fall UKC nosework trial here Friday – Sunday, and I have to brag on my kids. Over the weekend I showed 7 dogs, 26 runs total, with 26 Q’s!
Friday we did exterior searches, Saturday we did interior searches and Sunday we did vehicle searches.
Elizabeth LoCascio came from Spokane to compete in her first UKC nosework trial and thankfully threw her camera into the car as she was packing. She took lots of photos of our dogs competing and I’m very grateful to have 93 of my dogs. We had Exteriors on Friday, Interiors on Saturday and Vehicles on Sunday. She was competing in Novice, so she didn’t take any of the novice classes (so Spirit in Novice Interiors and Cantor in Novice Exteriors didn’t get any) and only three of Cantor (who was in Advanced Interiors) and none of Mercy, who was in Advanced Exteriors. She did get some of Berakah on all three days. Berakah was in Elite Exteriors, Elite Interiors and Master Vehicles. Elizabeth also got some of GloryToo who was in Superior Exteriors and Superior Interiors, but none of her in Novice Vehicles. She got some of Lively in Master Interiors and Superior Vehicles. Lively already has her Elite Exterior title so didn’t compete on Friday. She also got some of Lovely competing in Advanced Vehicles. I also include photos Elizabeth took of Laurie and Jamboree, who is from the JJ litter and is Mercy’s sister.
For those of you unfamiliar with nosework, it is a completion dog sport that is a spin off from narcotics dog training. Instead of drugs, nosework dogs search for essential oils. Competition consists of five different levels and dogs compete in four different elements – exteriors, interiors, vehicles and a set of cardboard boxes called containers. Clubs offer one element per day of the trial and they choose which ones they offer. In both exteriors and interiors, the beginner class, Novice, involves a small area and only one hide, which is birch. Advanced dogs search a larger area for one hide, which is anise. Superior dogs search a still larger area for two scents – clove and either birch or anise, and have to ignore one distraction which can be either food or a toy. Masters level dogs search an even larger area with three to four scents – myrrh plus any of the previous scents and one or more distractions. Elite level dogs search a still larger area (multiple “rooms”) for vetiver plus up to three of the other scents and two or more distractions. Our October trial was held at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds. Since we used the large, bare Exhibit Hall for interior searches and the area under the grandstands for exterior searches, all our training group contributed “articles” that could be placed; a couple of our group scoured garage sales all summer and collected all kinds of interesting planters, other containers and anything else in which a Q-tip holding a drop or two of scent could be hidden. This definitely made for interesting trial photographs!
In vehicles, novice dogs search three passenger vehicles which are all facing the same way, and the hide will only be on the front bumper of one, the scent placed no higher than 2’. Advanced dogs search the entire vehicle, still a set of three facing the same direction and still no higher than 2’. Superior searches involve four to five vehicles, all but one of which must be passenger vehicles, set in a line but facing any direction. Scents may be placed up to 3’ high on the vehicles. Masters searches use five to seven vehicles (the judge used 7 at this trial), two of which need not be automobiles, in a scattered pattern with no specific orientation. Scents may be placed up to 4’ high. Elite searches need 6-7 vehicles (we had 7), two of which are not automobiles, set in a scattered pattern with no specific orientation. Scents may be placed up to 5’ high on the vehicles.
When the dog has passed twice at an element (such as novice exteriors) it gets an element title. Since we have two trials per day – one in the morning and one in the afternoon, – a dog can earn an element title in one day (as long as it successfully completes both searches that day). When it passes all 4 elements at that level it gets a full nosework title. Three of mine finished the big titles this weekend.
Allowed times vary from 3 minutes for Novice up to 7 minutes for Elite (note mine found the hides in very short times!). Time begins when the dog (or handler) passes between the cones marking the start. You must find the hide (or hides in higher levels) within that time or you flunk.
Below I list what elements each of my dogs competed in, their search time, placing and any other notes. The novice and advanced search areas for exteriors and interiors were side by side – and the superior search area as the combination of the two lower levels’ areas – so I didn’t allow those dogs (Spirit, Cantor & GloryToo) to search off leash. The upper level search areas were separated so I could let Berakah & Lively search on their own. We have to be very careful about not scratching people’s personal vehicles that we are allowed to use for the trial, so I kept all of mine on leash except for the very last one, when I decided to try Berakah off leash (not photographed) since she had shown no desire to jump on a vehicle AND since she had caught a scent on the other side of the trailer in the first run and had scooted all the way under the trailer to get to it, making me drop the lead and race around the trailer to catch up with her, where she was already holding an indication on the scent.
Trial 1: 2 minutes 49.41 seconds, searched off leash 2nd place
Trial 2: 3 minutes 26.28 seconds, searched off leash, 2nd
Trial 1: 2 minutes 17.74 seconds, searched off leash, 2nd
Trial 2: 2 minutes 18.04 seconds, searched off leash, 1st & HIT (High in Trial – fastest time of both A & B divisions for that element & level – A is for first time handler has tried to title a dog in that element at that level; B is for those who have previously titled a dog at that level in that element, or for professional trainers)
Trial 1: 2 min 12.34 sec, 1st & HIT
Trial 2: 54.88 seconds, searched off leash, 2nd
Finished Masters title
Trial 1: 1 min 8.40 sec, 5th
Trial 2: 1 min 19.11 sec, 2nd
Trial 1: 17.16 sec, 2nd
Trial 2: 15.00 sec, 1st. AMAZING!!!!! He would have had HIT but he tried to shove his head into the small space where the hide was and ended up on his shoulder with butt in the air pushing hard, until finally sank into a down. It was hilarious.
Lively (Berakah’s cousin):
Trial 1: 1 min 51.57 sec searched off leash, 5th
Trial 2: 47.50 sec, searched off leash, 2nd
Trial 1: 1 min 58.63 sec, 5th
Trial 2: 56.47 sec, 3rd
Finished Superior title
GloryToo (Lively daughter):
Trial 1: 1 min 8.44 sec, searched off leash, 2nd (this was her 2nd leg; she had passes another time at a previous trial, so she moved up to Masters in the afternoon trial)
Trial 2: 1 min 38.29 sec, searched off leash, 3rd
Trial 1: 35.52 sec, searched off leash, 1st & HIT
Trial 2: 22.03 sec, searched off leash, 1st & HIT
Trial 1: 1.56 sec, 1st & HIT
Trial 2: 13.97 sec, 3rd
Finished Novice title
Spirit (Lively daughter from different sire):
Trial 1: 11.62 sec, searched off leash, 3rd
Trial 2: 14.57 sec, searched off leash, 2nd
Mercy (Lively granddaughter, GloryToo’s niece):
Trial 1: 48.03 sec, searched off leash, 4th
Trial 2: 25.63 sec, searched off leash, 3rd
Lovely (GloryToo daughter, Lively granddaughter):
Trial 1: 1 min 4.09 sec, 7th
Trial 2: 8.94 sec, 2nd
Vehicle Search Photos
Our group uses the Dave Kroyer method for training nosework, where the dog’s indication consists of staring at or trying to touch the hide while assuming either a sit or down (depending on the height of the hide) until we release it to come to us for reward, so some of these photos were taken before my dog made the complete indication and then was released (I use a quiet “yes” as release) to come to me for its reward. For my older ones, the reward is food, but for the younger ones (Spirit, Mercy, Lovely & sometimes Cantor), the reward is a ball and game of tug (recommended by Dave to give more intensity for searching). Laurie also uses a toy reward for Jamboree (Mercy’s sister from the JJ litter).
Other people teach subtler indications, such as a pause and/or look at the handler, which could be missed for those photos if the photographer waited until taking the photos. You’ll see some complete indications and some incomplete indications in these photos of my dogs but enough show the full indication so you can get an idea of how they’re trained. In the upper levels, where multiple hides must be found, you reward after each find and then tell the dog to search for more, which you may see in some photo series.
Advanced Level: Lovely
We can start at either end of the line of vehicles so it’s just luck if we hit the car containing the hide first off (as Lovely did in Trial 2), or search it last.
Superior Level: Lively and Jamboree (Mercy’s sister, owned by Laurie)
Masters Level: Berakah
Trial photos of all the competitors can be seen at https://www.flickr.com/photos/185026749@N08