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Discussion Starter #1
Last Saturday was our first NW3 competition, having earned the NW2 title in early December. I haven't been able to get into a training class so have been practicing ad hoc with friends and alone. The rules changed in January 2020, it seems to make titling easier, but I never trialed under the old rules. I think that the main change is that you can false alert and still continue to search. A second false alert results in elimination from that element search. (I volunteered at an Elite trial last year where this was allowed.) FYI, at the NW3 level the handler isn't informed how many hides, and there can be a search area with no hides. You must call each hide that your dog finds and then Finish when they have cleared the search area. You don't find out how you've done until the judge's de-brief at the end of the day.

There were 6 searches, meaning two search areas for two of the elements, interiors and exteriors, and one area each for vehicles and containers. There was one blank area, one of the interiors, with no hides.

Overall I was happy with my dogs performance. A couple of positives: (1) He started strong, faded, and then came back later in the day. It's difficult for me to retain my energy level all day and so I was glad to be able to pump him up again even after a few stumbles. This was a long day, 9 am walk-through and ending at 5 pm, with both handlers and dogs staying in their vehicles between searches. (2) Another dog peed in an exterior search area and my intact male didn't mark on top of it. There was snow on the ground so it was easy to see, and when I thought he was thinking too hard I corrected him, and he left it alone. The judge gave me a compliment on the score card for the correction. Overall, the exterior search areas were much more complex than NW2.

We ended up with 2 clean elements, 1 element where we ran out of time but found the hides (I didn't hear the 30 second warning or I would have called Finished), and 3 NQs. It was easy for me to be relaxed because NW3 is so difficult that I wasn't expecting to qualify. It was fun, an enjoyable day out with my boy, and I'm looking forward to next time. It's difficult to get into a trial (I'm wait-listed for 4 other NW3 trials) so we could be at this level for a long time, but I'm committed to making it fun. Attached is a photo of one of the interior search areas where we found the hides within the time limit.
 

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I’m so impressed and a little jealous. They have no trials in my area and I know just to get in a trial is a lottery so it’s a pain to get into a trial. When they have trials here I will apply, but I’m not into traveling a distance. Crating from your car is hard especially when the weather is miserable because there is no inside space to go to warm up or cool off. And it is a long day to keep both you and your dogs energy up and focused on working.

This venue is hard, you can’t fail any search, all searches on that long day have to pass to get your title. I write this so people read this are aware how difficult this is to achieve.

I applaud you both for a wonderful attempt and hope one day to follow in your footsteps.
 
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Wow I am impressed. That all sounds way more complicated than anything I do in obedience and rally.
 
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I am impressed. The more I learn about nosework the more amazed I am. Wow! That sounds complex and intense. Congratulations on doing so well. And here I am as an obedience competitor being pleased when Noelle finds the right scent on a dumbbell we both can see. Nosework teams blow my mind.
 

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That’s great that you do this, it does sound very challenging. I’m interested to hear more about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
You might be surprised (or not) that most of the training is for handlers. After all, sniffing is part of every dog’s job description. It’s the handler’s job to note the wind direction, cover the search area, and observe their dog’s unique behavior, say, for odor versus pee. We also have to establish a search pattern, and then know when odor trumps the pattern. And lastly, but most important, to remember that it’s a game we get to play with our best friend so make sure to HAVE FUN!

FYI, treats are allowed in nosework, as is talking to and petting your dog. We’re asking for a behavior that’s innate and rewarding them for it. It’s a great sport for older dogs that are retired from activities like agility. NACSW developed nosework for shelter dogs, hence, the crating of dogs in cars. No problem with having a reactive dog as hosts go to lengths to keep dogs apart.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yesterday was NW3 trial #3. Maybe I should back up to #2, which was the last NACSW trial before COVID-19 lockdown in mid-March. I was really happy with my dog’s performance in March. He (or rather, we) succeeded at 5 of 6 searches, including a blank interior search. The sixth search was containers, where I called two false alerts and my dog missed a hide. Containers have come back to bite me.

Preparing for trial #3 wasn’t very intense. No formal classes, and I declined the on line video version offered by my trainer. This past week I went to the training club a few times with a plastic bin filled with containers. The first practice I elected to give my dog one pass at the U-shaped array. He hit on 3 out of 4 hot boxes, and I left it at that rather than run him past the boxes a second time. I can convince my dog that there are hides, even when there aren‘t, so the purpose was to encourage more independence (a tip from a container seminar last fall). The second trip to the club, he hit on 4 out of 4 (different arrangement, different type of containers). We also went to the local community college campus, which is currently a ghost town. We did some exterior and vehicle searches, which they don’t mind. I even had a security guard as an audience one day. I explained what I was doing and she had no problem with it. We practiced interior searches at home. It’s a game that both of my dogs love, especially as only one can work at a time and the non-working dog is delirious with excitement at having to wait.

Yesterday we were very lucky in that the temperature was in the 80s rather than 90s. I set up a new pop-up awning, which was just as easy as it was at home. Backed up my car to a grassy field, which helped to stay cool, rather than being surrounded by asphalt. For NW3 there are 6 search areas with anywhere from 0 to 3 hides. And there’s no indication of how you’ve done, even when you finish a search. It is a true exercise in letting go. My dog aced it, succeeding in every search. I very nearly aced it, except for the search where I ran out of time before calling ‘finished.’ I know that my dog doesn’t care, but I was kind of sad to have blown it. We earned a leg, which combined with another leg will equal an NW3 title. We also earned the NW3 vehicle element title (we succeeded in the vehicle search at three separate NW3 trials). I’m well down the wait list for the next two trials, so that won’t be any time soon.

I’m grateful to finally be able to relax during competition, which is helpful to my dog’s mental state. Also to be okay with the results. Nosework is such a fun sport, and I feel good about participating in an activity that taps into my dog’s innate talents. Sniffing is part of his job description.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
We earned another leg today to complete our Nosework 3 title. We also finished the exterior element title. The day started rainy, but we lucked out as the predicted thunderstorms missed the area. Two more NW3 titles are needed to earn the NW3 Elite title. There are a couple of upcoming trials that I'll enter, hoping to make the random draw of 30 participants. All in all, we're lucky that the NACSW venue lends itself to COVID safety measures.

We also have a couple agility trials over the next month. The first is my home club's outdoor trial. The second is an indoor trial at a large soccer facility. I don't know what to expect in a competition venue, as my dog is super excited by all of the other dogs and activity and hasn't trialed in a while. Although we've been practicing on our own and with friends, I miss formal agility classes that haven't resumed.
IMG_5136.jpeg
 

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Congratulations! Glad the weather held out for you. At an agility trial when it rains, it brings out all sorts of smells which is not good. However, in nosework, maybe a recent rain works in your favor?
 
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Thanks for the good thoughts, training friends!

Carolinek, I didn't anticipate the effect of rain on exterior searches. The certifying official said that it caused the odor at the vehicle search to spread across the ground. My dog was sure all over the place during that search.
 

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I love hearing about nosework. I think Asta would really like it, but I am, starting on a new task to help me with my bipolar disorder,.- so with that nosework maybe in later day.. Congrats on your accomplishment.
 

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Wow scooterscout99, you are doing amazing work. Huge congratulations.

I’m so jealous that you have NACSW trials near you. I‘m on the trial committee for our AKC and we will have none until everyone is vaccinated. I only have C-Wags to enter and while I enjoy their searches, I would dearly love to do NACSW.

I was planning to do ORTs this year and travel to trials before Covid existed and shut that plan down.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
One more NACSW trial in the books. Yesterday we participated in an exterior element trial at the Fairbury racetrack in Illinois. This is a super fast format, for anyone considering. There were 4 separate exterior search areas. We arrived at 12:30 and left at 3. I felt safe being either distanced and masked outdoors, or sitting in my car. We finished 6th overall, but I'm the weak link in this partnership, not making effective use of the wind to allow a faster find. There were 2 other spoos there and several poodle mixes . . what fun! All of the spoos titled.
FairburyNWsmall.jpg
 

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Congratulations to you and all the poodles. Best way to have safe fun in a pandemic.
 
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NW3 qualification #2 yesterday! It was our first trial since last fall. All of the searches seemed good to me--I didn't call any false alerts--but you don't know until the end of the day when maps of the search areas are posted showing number and location of hides. There were 2 each interior & exterior searches and one search each of vehicles and containers. And they saved containers for last (grr) which is our Achilles heel. We were one of 7 teams to qualify, with one of the exteriors being a blank, or empty, search area. Maybe it's just repetition that has made nosework easier. But it could be that my dog was neutered a year ago and he's less interested in other smells :sneaky:. We received a couple of 'pronounced' ratings, which means it was an extra good search. My dog puts the same energy into nosework as he does toward hunting voles. Such a joyful boy.

I had hoped to take a detour to a local nature sanctuary that whooping cranes frequent, as the annual crane count had taken place earlier that morning. Time worked against us and it seemed more prudent to start the 2.5 hour drive home instead, not finishing with the trial until 6:20 pm. The biggest challenge of NW3 is maintaining focus (and energy) of both dog and handler over a very long day.

Next up are several element trials, level 2 containers and level 1 interiors. Interiors will be fun. Containers will be challenging because there will be distractors in some of the containers. My friend was in a level 2 trial recently where there were 4 distractors, one being a tennis ball. Could be difficult for some dogs. The nice aspect of these trials is that we will know how many hides there are, unlike in NW3.

We need to pass one more NW3 trial to earn NW3 Elite, and then start vying for the Elite trials that are even harder to get into!

This photo was taken on the porch which was a blank search area. It can be frustrating for some dogs who will 'find' an odor. I praise and treat lavishly at the end of every search, as I don't know which have been successful until the end of the day.

FYI, this trial was held at a county fairgrounds. I prepared by practicing in and around animal barns. Turned out that was not needed as the searches where held in and around reconstructed historical buildings (photo shows the quilting barn). However, there was a firing range on site which was in use during the trial. My dog is okay with gunfire, but not his beagle-rat terrier older 'sister.' She has an incredible nose however will never compete because of her fears.
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Well done! Those distractors were always tough for Mia, who gets lots of practice scavenging on our daily hikes. You're an impressive team!
 
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