AKC’S NEW SCENT WORK PROGRAM

The AKC Scent Work program is now active. Several NW judges, including Paula Ratoza, have been approved to judge all levels and all elements.  December trials have been scheduled in the NW and can be found by searching AKC’s website.

Many of you are familiar with other scent work competition organizations, this is an overview of the similarities and differences to AKC’s Scent Work program.

National Association of Canine Scent Work

The National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW) gained tremendous popularity among Scent Work enthusiasts since they first started sanctioning trials in 2008.  NACSW has three basic titling levels – NW1, NW2, and NW3.

To enter a NACSW trial, a dog must pass an Odor Recognition Test (ORT).  Since NACSW trials have a dog searching all four elements in one trial, space is limited so only trained dogs are allowed.  When a dog has passed the ORT for the NW1 target odor, he may enter a NW1 trial.

To earn a NW1 title at a NACSW competition, the dog must successfully search and find the target odor of birch in all four elements – container, interior, exterior, and vehicle.  If the dog does not successfully find the target odor in one of the elements, he does not earn the NW1 title.  He must then be entered in another NW1 level trial and pass all four elements to earn a title.

Dogs search for birch at NW1 level trials.  They search for birch and anise at NW2 level trials.  They search for birch and/or anise and/or clove at NW3 level trials.

American Kennel Club Scent Work

AKC does not require a dog to pass an ORT before ente ring a trial.  Since a club can hold a trial with only one or two elements, space and time are not as much of a consideration.  AKC does, however, limit the number of searches a judge can oversee to 125.

Elements
AKC also has four search elements – container, interior, exterior, and buried.  But, instead of passing all four elements in one trial, a dog can earn a title for successfully locating and alerting to the target odor in one element in three different trials.  For example, a dog is entered in three separate Novice level container trials and locates and alerts to the birch odor in each trial.  That dog has earned his Scent Work Container Novice (SCN) title.

Clubs are not required to offer all four elements in an AKC trial.  They are also not required to offer all levels of searches.

Levels
AKC currently has four levels of searches.  The searches become increasingly difficult as the dog progresses to the more advanced levels of competition.  Currently, dogs will be able to earn titles at the Novice, Advanced, Excellent, and Master levels.  At the Novice level, dogs will search and alert to one hide of birch.  At the Advanced level, dogs will search and alert to two hides of birch and/or anise.  At the Excellent level, dogs will search and alert to three hides of birch, anise, and/or clove.  At the Master level, dogs will search and alert to an unknown number of hides, either one, two, or three, of birch and/or anise and/or clove and/or cypress.

If a dog titles in all elements at all levels, he would earn 16 separate titles – four elements, four levels.

Handler Discrimination Division
In addition, AKC has a Handler Discrimination Division where the dog is searching for an item with the handlers scent.  At the Novice level, the dog searches a container for a cotton glove or sock.  At the Advanced level, the dog searches an interior location for a cotton ball or swab with the handler’s scent.  At the Excellent level, the dog searches an exterior location for a cotton ball or swab with the handler’s scent.  At the Master level, the dog searches 2 different environments – i.e. container/interior or interior/exterior – for three handler scented cotton balls or swabs.

Detective Class
A dog that has earned at least one Master level Scent Work title may enter the Detective Class.  The intent of the Detective Class is to emulate as closely as possible the work of a true detection dog.

The Detective Class will consist of 3-5 separate search areas with 5-10 searches per course.  Each search area in a course may contain 0-3 hides.  The hides will consist of birch and/or anise and/or clove and/or cypress plus the handler’s scent.  Titles can be earned at four levels – Novice, Advanced, Excellent, and Master.

For more information, click for the AKC Scent Work regulations.

Other differences in the two organizations:

AKC

NACSW

Does not allow bitches in season. Allows bitches in season to participate in trials at the end of each element
Does not have ORT’s but allows dogs six months and older to participate in trials. Allows dogs six months and older to participate in an ORT.  One year and older may participate in a trial.
Encourages exhibitors to have friends and family video or photograph their searches.  AKC allows GoPro’s to be worn by dogs and/or exhibitors. Does not allow anyone but the official trial videographer or photographer to take videos or pictures at a trial.  GoPro’s are not allowed during a trial.
Does not allow dogs with bandages, sutures, or visible wounds.  But, does allow physically challenged dogs including amputees, deaf, and blind dogs. The rule book states “all dogs must appear to be healthy on the event day”
Allows a dog to enter 2 levels in the same element on the same day – i.e. novice container and advanced container.

 

Requires a dog to enter and pass the NW1 level before entering a NW2 trial.

 

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