Tasmanian Dog Training Club Scent Work Trials

For details of how to enter trials see Trialling – General Information.

The club holds a number of Scent Work trials throughout the year. They are held at the various venues in northern Tasmania.  Venue will be advertised in the Gazette.

Note: Other Tasmanian dog training clubs also hold scent work trials – these are advertised in the Dogs Tasmania Gazette.

To enter a trial, your dog must be a minimum of 6 months of age at the trial date and registered with a member body of ANKC.

A few notes before putting in your entries for a trial:

• You should read the official rules if you are going to enter a trial.
• The rules can be downloaded from the ANKC website www.ankc.org.au (or search ANKC Rules)
• Look under – Rules – then Rules for the conduct of Scent Work Trials – (effective 1 July 2020)

Click here to go to ANKC

Scent Work trials consist of a series of searches in various locations/conditions with the dog starting at Novice level and progressing through to Masters level. Novice level being fairly simple single hide searches. As you progress through the levels, the searches become increasingly more difficult with varying size of search areas, number of hides/odours, placement of hides.

The dogs search for target odour hides. These are prepared using the following four specific target odours:
1. Birch
2. Anise
3. Clove
4. Cypress

There are 4 levels/classes of difficulty:
1. Novice
2. Advanced
3. Excellent
4. Masters

and 4 elements (search types)
1. Container – the target odour is hidden within a container (box, bag, bucket, etc)
2. Interior – the target odour is hidden on, under or in an object or concealed within the environment in an indoor search area.
3. Exterior – the target odour is hidden on, under or in an object or concealed within the environment in an outdoor search area.
4. Vehicle – the target odour is in a small container and hidden on the exterior of a vehicle.

The odours may be used at any level – across all 4 elements:
1. Novice classes use one odour
2. Advanced classes use up to two odours
3. Excellent classes use up to three odours
4. Master classes use up to four odours

The club holding the trial will advertise which odours will be used at each level

There are two ways of achieving scent work titles.
1. Class/Level Category
SWN Scent Work Novice 6 qualifying passes
SWA Scent Work Advanced 9 qualifying passes
SWE Scent Work Excellent 12 qualifying passes
SWM Scent Work Masters 12 qualifying passes

In the class category the dog has to gain a number of qualifying certificates in each of the four elements, under at least 2 different judges.
e.g. SWN has to gain 6 qualifying passes at novice level. So, 1 qualifying pass in each of container, interior, exterior and vehicles elements, plus 2 extra passes – so maybe 1 in container, 1 in vehicle.

2. Element Category
SWC Scent Work Container 11 qualifying passes
SWI Scent Work Interior 11 qualifying passes
SWX Scent Work Exterior 11 qualifying passes
SWV Scent Work Vehicle 11 qualifying passes

In the element category the dog has to gain a number of qualifying certificates in one particular element at each level of difficulty, under at least 2 different judges.
e.g. SWC – doing only container searches – has to gain 11 qualifying passes – 2 at novice level, 3 at advanced level, 3 at excellent level and 3 at masters level.

Regardless of which title you are aiming to achieve, a dog which has gained:
2 qualifying passes in any element at novice level
OR 3 qualifying passes in any element at advanced level
can not compete further in that element at that level. e.g. if your dog has 2 Q passes at novice level containers, it must move up to advanced level containers in the next trial.

A dog can progress through elements at different speeds  e.g. a dog may compete at novice level container and advanced level interior at the same trial.

Once a dog has achieved an Excellent or Masters title it may continue to compete in either of these two levels.
Note: a qualifying pass can be used towards 2 different titles. E.g. 2 novice container Q passes can be used towards both the SWN and the SWC titles.

It is the handler’s responsibility to enter the dog in the relevant element/level search. Changes can not be made at the trial.

The judge will determine the time allocated for each search. The minimum/maximum times are listed in the rules.

The handler must call ‘alert’ when the dog indicates the hide(s) and call ‘finish’ if more than one hide or more than one search area. If the dog’s indication of the hide is not clear to the judge, the judge may ask the handler ‘where’ and the handler must point to the source. The judge will call ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’. If incorrect the search ends.

There are a number of faults (errors) which can be incurred during a search. Minor faults will not affect your qualifying pass but will affect your placing. There are also non-qualifying faults which will result in a Fail. A dog can also be disqualified for a number of reasons. The faults and disqualifications criteria are listed in the rules.

All tests are judged on a Pass/Fail basis.

To be awarded a Qualifying Certificate, a team must:
1. locate all hides;
2. not incur any non-qualifying faults; and
3. complete the search within the allotted time.

Placings within each element/level are determined by number of faults, then search time. So a dog with Zero faults and a search time of 50 seconds will be placed higher than a dog with One fault and a time of 20 seconds.

On the day of the trial, make sure you arrive early. You will need time to get parked and make your dog comfortable. You must then register and collect your dog’s entry number.

At the start of each day of a trial the judge will give a competitor briefing. It is particularly important that you attend this briefing. Dogs should be left in your car/crate. The judge will give an outline of the day’s activities, element/class running sequence, which odours will be used, and any other pertinent information. This is your time to ask relevant questions.

The judge will then escort the competitors to each of the search areas, will indicate the search area threshold, search area boundaries, etc. Once again you may ask relevant questions.

The running order and approximate times will be displayed on a board with the dog’s entry number and your name. It is your responsibility to check this board, and be ready in suitable time when it is your turn. Make sure you have toileted your dog and have all your dog’s equipment, rewards, etc. ready, and your dog’s entry number displayed clearly before going into a search. If you are not ready on time you may miss your turn.

When it is your turn, the assembly steward will direct you to a staging point. There will be another steward at this point, and you must wait quietly with your dog until directed to either the next staging point or to the trial steward who will be assisting the judge. The trial steward or judge will check your entry number and name, you then get the dog ready to start. The judge will give you instructions about the search, and tell you to commence when you are ready.

At the end of the day, the judge will present the successful dogs with their qualifying certificates and will announce the placings within each level/element. It is considered good etiquette to stay for the presentations, whether or not your dog has been successful.


1. any questions/queries relating to the trial but not relevant to the judge should be directed to the Trial Secretary
2. Trials are not social outings for the dogs. Please be aware that some dogs may have ‘personal space’ issues and do not want/like to be approached by other dogs. Some handlers may prefer to keep their dogs away from other dogs to avoid over-excitement. Respect the needs of other handlers/dogs and act appropriately.
3. We all like to catch up with friends and have a chat, but please keep away from the assembly steward area and any other staging areas, so that handlers/dogs waiting their turn can be quiet and calm.
4. We’re also all keen to get started when it gets near our turn but try to stay away from the assembly area until the steward calls your name/number.
5. Trials are held under trial conditions and should not be considered as a training session, so please don’t ask the judge for training tips when he/she is judging – though the judge may offer you advice. If there is time, you can approach the judge at the end of the day with any questions.
6. The running sheets are prepared once entries have closed. If you decide to withdraw, please inform the trial secretary at the earliest, so your dog can be removed from the running sheets.
7. If you are delayed travelling to the trial, contact the trial secretary, and if necessary, it may be possible to reschedule your dog’s search to a later time.
8. Wherever the trial is held, always pick-up after your dog. Poo bags are always available.
9. At the end of the trial, stay back and offer your help to clean up/pack up. As you are all aware there is a lot of work involved in organising/running a trial, and the judges/stewards/organisers are pretty well exhausted by the end of the trial and would appreciate half an hour of your time to get packed up and ready to leave.
10. Good luck, relax, breathe and enjoy the day.