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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The best part of this trial is I have lots of friends here to share the misery. Sorry this is long, but for people who don't compete in nose work I wanted to explain what is going on.

I have never seen anything like this - but I'm fairly new to competing. This is an AKC Scentwork Trial.

This trial has 4 levels of difficulty - Novice, Advanced, Excellent and Master. We're Novice and our first AKC Scentwork trial.

The Odor Search Divisions are - Containers, Interior, Exterior, Buried and they had Handler Discrimination (handler scents an item and it's put in a box and the dog has to find that box). We were entered in Containers and Interior.

Containers is in a separate building where they have a very smelly gasoline spill (made my stomach turn when we were in there). Exterior is outside the huge agility/crating building on the opposite side. Interior is in the agility/crating building at the front past a warren's den of storage rooms. The buried containers were inside but near the exit to Exterior and I don't know where Handler Discrimination was located. In addition, and unrelated to our scentwork trial there is a huge two day agility seminar going on in a large chunk of the building.

I mention all this because it's complicated - a 4 ring circus. Which is what we all expected. This is how nose work is - you expect it to be different hidden locations so you don't know where the scents are hidden. We train in different places.

It's also a magnet trial. My first magnet trial. Normally at a trial for each division and level of difficulty they post a list of the order in which people are to be tested. Your name, the dog's name and the breed are listed. Everyone can see the list, everyone knows the order and it's easy to know when to start to warm up your dog and get ready to go into the ring when it's your turn. Everyone is given either an arm band or a sticker to wear with their name and number.

A magnet trial is different. We were to take a tiny clothespin with our number written on it off a magnetic board. When we wanted to compete we stuck our magnet on the board for our order division when it was our difficulty level. Because it's just numbers on a board, you have no idea who is in front of you, you can just count the magnets on the board ahead of you. The idea is if you place your magnet on a board when you are ready to compete.

This wouldn't have been a problem except this club didn't let you know the order in which these trials are going on. It's random, even the volunteers helping out don't know what's going to be next in their area.

They are supposed to be calling the next trial and level of difficulty so everyone knows where they need to go and place their magnet to compete. Except people are outside, in another building or off in the warren of rooms.

I'm there with a good size group of people so everyone is listening for each other.... but sometimes they aren't calling changes. I went up to one board and it was labeled interior - but not the difficulty and there were 45 magnets and I asked what it was..... it was my Novice Interior so I added my magnet then went back and told my friends to go add theirs. When they were adding theirs, the discovered that the novice exterior was going on and they had signed up for that so they moved their magnets to exterior and missed the walk through for Interior. While I was physically in the room competing for Novice Interiors they had the run through for the Novice Containers. Luckily we were all sharing the information with each other - what door to go to, where the start line was, special instructions, what door to exit......

And they broke the rules of how the magnet system worked.... sometimes they were taking people strictly according to the order they put their magnet on the board. Sometimes if you were hanging around they allowed you to cut in front of other people. So unfair.

We hung around all day, never knew when our difficulty was going to be called so no one could relax and chat like you normally do at trials. Everyone was tense and angry. When you compete, if a dog messes up the ring - dogs pee on the hidden scent or ruin the site - they are supposed to have things prepared so they can switch in a prepared item to keep the trial moving. Not this club. When ever something happened in the ring they had to prepare a replacement from scratch which meant the item had to sit a prescribed amount of time for the scent to settle. They were totally unprepared at every step of the way.

Even the people doing agility were talking about what a disaster this trial was.

I'm stressed and exhausted for what should have been something simple and quick to do. I'm going back tomorrow with the expectation it will be chaos again tomorrow.

I will never enter any competition from this club again. I'm hearing complaints about other non-scent work trials they put on. I was wondering why many of the people from my AKC club were going to this trial.......now I know why.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
We qualified for Novice Interiors and disqualified for Novice Containers.

The Interior was hard - so many people who I know there dogs are amazing failed so I was thrilled my dog found it.

I wasn't surprised we failed Containers - that gas smell was overwhelming and Babykins was smelling all over the floor, I had trouble getting her to focus on the boxes. I heard other people had that problem too.

And some of the people here have competed at magnet competitions before and did not have the problems we're having here so it's not the magnets - it's the lack of organization and communication.

Tomorrow is another day so I'm heading to bed for another early start.
 

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Wow Skylar, what a day! I just want to say Good Luck tomorrow and it sounds like Babykins did a great job today! I always enjoy reading about your competitions/titles and this just shows that you are both a great team no matter what the circumstances. Again GOOD LUCK tomorrow !
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks StormeeK. This trial also is evidence of all the friendships I’ve developed since starting competition dog sports and how supportive these friends are. I’m not the only one suffering, we’re all suffering and supporting each other through this.
 
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Oh my that sounds miserable in just way too many ways to have been remotely close to fun. At least you have friends to help each other out and for commiseration.



It is very hard to run a trial of any sort and I imagine nose work maybe is harder still since there are so many categories of entries and since it is still relatively new. I hope things are a little better today.


Congrats on that Q.
 
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Sorry to hear of this stressful experience in a sport that should be fun. My nerves would definitely be passed on to my dog in that situation.

I owe a post on our recent nosework trialing, but will have to sit at the computer because it will be long.
 

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That just sounds horrible. I am sorry you ended up trialing at such a difficult place. Congratulations on that Q. It's impressive given the circumstances. I hope it went better today.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Oh my that sounds miserable in just way too many ways to have been remotely close to fun. At least you have friends to help each other out and for commiseration.

It is very hard to run a trial of any sort and I imagine nose work maybe is harder still since there are so many categories of entries and since it is still relatively new. I hope things are a little better today.

Congrats on that Q.
Thanks.

It's true that nose work is new - this is their first trial, but my AKC club had a trial last fall that was their first and very successful. Plus these people are also members of my AKC club. My trainers and others knew a week ahead of the problems and tried to fix them but the people running this didn't want to make any changes. I found out there was a lot of politics involved and this may be their one and only nose work trial.

When I first got involved I had no idea all the friends I would be making.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This morning I took a different tactic. Instead of waking up at 5 to get there on time for the start, I decided to get up when I normally would, have a good breakfast and then drive in. I decided that I didn't care if I missed one of my trials. It was the best decision. I arrived in a good mood, well rested and I didn't miss anything.

They didn't learn from the complaints from yesterday....today was more of the same. They had run throughs for 3 of the Novice events ...... all at the same time which is just plain wrong and unfair to beginning competitors.

Now I knew some people who were only there to compete on Saturday so I wasn't surprised that they weren't there on Sunday. However there were less than half the people - many people just decided not to come back Sunday. You could see their magnets on the board - so many magnets that people didn't pick up.

I'm thrilled to say we qualified in our two trials - Novice Containers and Novice Interiors. It's interesting that my dog is much better in interiors compared to containers. Containers are simply 10 boxes laid out in two rows of five - that's all the dog has to check for scent. Interior is a small room and the smell can be anywhere from the floor to up to 2 feet high - it can be under a chair or on top of a vacuum cleaner, behind a planter or tucked into the plant itself. Take any room and stick scent anywhere - clearly much harder than containers. But for some reason my dog does better with the more complex interior.

What nice is that in the next AKC trial we're entering, we have a chance to earn two titles if we do well there- so I'm really looking forward to that trial. It's being held at a local University. Scary part is there will be no indoor crating - we either crate in our car which I've never done or bring some kind of camping or tent to sit in the parking lot. I've never done this so this will be a new challenge.

There was a good reason why I did go back today. The building this trial is in is also where agility trials take place. I'm terrified every time I have to compete. Nose work is the one sport where I'm not nervous. While I want to do well, I just don't care enough about it to worry. I know that sounds odd, but we compete in several sports and some are more important to me than others and this is the least. I like that she AND I are getting the experience of competing where I don't have severe anxiety. It's helping me be a less fearful competitor and it's giving my dog an opportunity to not feel the fear at the end of the leash. Hopefully I can remember that feeling of calm entering the ring - and the ability to concentrate on what we need to do to compete successfully in other sports
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Sorry to hear of this stressful experience in a sport that should be fun. My nerves would definitely be passed on to my dog in that situation.

I owe a post on our recent nosework trialing, but will have to sit at the computer because it will be long.
As I mentioned above, the nose work is not as stressful for me as my other sports. And since this trial was such a mess, I just couldn't take it seriously, I just couldn't let it get me down. I paid for it, I was going to just make the best of it that I could.

I'm glad you posted and it's a good thing it's long. I know many people aren't interested in reading long posts .....but for anyone possibly interested in nose work I think it's helpful to help them understand the sport. Dogs love it - nose work is natural to them....... add in tons of treat and what's not to love.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
That just sounds horrible. I am sorry you ended up trialing at such a difficult place. Congratulations on that Q. It's impressive given the circumstances. I hope it went better today.
Thanks Click. It was horrible. But what was wonderful is having friends to share the experience, without them It would have been so miserable. I hope that none of us every have to experience anything like this again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hopefully the club is taking lots of notes and learning what NOT to do at their next trial!
I hope so. I wouldn't enter again unless I knew ahead of the time that they have made huge positive changes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Skylar


For everything you've been through over the weekend - at least this was a benefit for both of you.
Exactly, I guess you can say I made lemonade from lemons
 

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Skylar, interiors might have been easier for your dog because the odor has a chance to flow like a stream, rather than sit in one spot, and can be followed back to source. At the interior where we didn’t qualify, the room was as cold as outdoors and hence the odor didn’t move. If the dog didn’t have their nose right on it, they wouldn’t be able to find it.

At the second interior trial, I was a little nervous that my dog was sniffing around where the judge was seated. Turned out that the odor was pooling in that location and my dog was able to follow it back to source. He wasn’t just greeting the judge!

That was the most helpful about the NACSW venue. I wouldn’t have known this without the post-trial discussion by the judges. Imagine if, after an agility trial, the judge reviewed the best strategy for running each course.

I paid for videos from both trials and am going to watch them with my instructor for her insight at my next lesson. The videos don’t look as bad as I felt about our performance at the time. One focus for me now is to develop search patterns, to go in with a plan rather than let my dog wander when he’s not on odor. One of the judges even mentioned his web site that has videos at no cost.

An interesting note about the NACSW judges, they were all in law enforcement, either bomb or drug sniffing canine handlers.
 

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Thanks Skylar for the easy to read explanation of all the different parts of the trial and different levels of the nosework. It really helped me understand what is involved in this sport. Sorry you had such a nightmare of a trial this time. Hers hoping that the next trial is a better experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Scooterscout, I wish that our trials had a post trial discussion. I know that our trainers will have that with us at class. My trainers compete in NACSW so I’m guessing some of this filters down. We have talked about pooling and the movement of the scent and some strategies to help such as being downwind so they can track back to the source.

I know there’s quite a few people and trainers in my area who are deeply serious about NACSW and eventually there will be trials here. One of them used to train dogs for the armed forces and another works with law enforcement.

In this trial the container judge refused to even say where the box was if you didn’t find it. Which I thought was annoying yet the next day she gave a lecture to the novice group about being serious to train for distractions and showed in this trial (Novice was last so she wasn’t giving any secrets away) that she had used salami, bacon, a rabbit tug toy that her dogs adored and was heavily slobbered over and well loved balls. Those were real distractions not like the extremely stale dog kibble they use in my rally competitions. So that was helpful except my trainers had already discussed this with us and we’ve been using serious distractions. I’m going to buy some kind of rabbit skin toy though because this judge is local and she judged me in a CWAGS trial last fall. I’m sure her dogs rabbit toy will show up somewhere again.

I wish there was a simple well written book that covered everything, I’d buy it. I do think that deep understanding of how the scent is moving, whether in wind, by fans and heating of buildings or us moving around is important. We’ve also been practicing what happens when s ent falls and is put back, even when left awhile to descent, some of the scent is pooled where it fell....simulating when a dog knocks the scent in the search and it has to be put back in place for the next dog.

I’m at the level where this whole concept of how the scent is moving is fascinating.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Asta’s Mom. I hope some people will read this and see that they can do it. It’s really now complicated to start. As you get more advanced you developed a deeper understanding of the sport.

and While putting on a trial is complicated, it’s not much harder than clubs holding rally and Obedience trials where they have different levels of difficulty and it’s separates into A (new dogs who have never done that level before) and B (dogs and handlers who already have titles at that level but are competing for more complicated titles to show mastery of a level).
 
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