Types of Nosework Events

Types of Nosework Events (Printable PDF File)


The main types of searches in Nosework include: Container searches, Interior, Vehicle and Exterior and Handler Discrimination. They are explained in detail below.

PRE-TRIALS (1 pass required/title)

Before you compete in United Kennel Club (UKC) Nosework, the first thing you need to do is a Pre-Trial. During the Pre-trial, your dog searches a row of 12 identical cardboard boxes, and the handler must identify which box contains the target odor. This is the easiest type of search.


The level of competition (Novice, Advanced, Superior, etc.) determines the odor. In Novice Pre-Trial, and ALL Novice searches, the target odor is Birch.

In all Advanced Pre-trials and all Advanced searches, the only target odor is Anise. In the upper levels, additional odors are added.

ELEMENTS (2 passes required/title)

In UKC nosework competition, there are 4 types of searches, known as Elements:

  1. Container– The hide is inside a box. The dog searches a row of cardboard boxes.
  2. Interior Building– The hide is secured inside, underneath, between or on top of objects inside a building. For example, you may search an office where the hide is taped under a chair.
  3. Vehicle– The hide is secured on the outside of a vehicle e.g. on the front bumper. The hide is never under or inside the vehicle. More advanced searches include more vehicles, and different types of vehicles e.g. buggies, ATVs, or tractors.
  4. Exterior Area– The search area is outdoors. Surfaces may include grass, gravel, leaves, snow, etc. Because of changing wind and weather conditions, and the presence of animals such as bunnies and birds, outdoor searches are generally the most difficult type of search.

Each Element has unique rules, which are dependent on the level of competition (Novice, Advanced, Superior, etc.). To complete any Element title, the dog must pass twice. For example, to complete a Novice Container title, the dog needs to pass 2 Novice Container Searches. To complete a Novice Interior Title, the dog needs to pass 2 Novice Interior Searches.

HANDLER DISCRIMINATION (3 passes required/title)

Handler discrimination is a separate stream where the dog searches for the handler’s scent (see below), rather than an essential oil. The handler gives their pre-scented cotton glove to the steward, who hides it inside a box. The dog searches a row of boxes and the handler must identify the box containing the glove with handler’s scent. (To spectators, the search area looks very similar to Pre-trials and novice container search.) To complete a Handler Discrimination title, the dog must pass 3 times. For example, when he passes Novice Handler Discrimination 3 times, he completes his NHD title, and may then move up to Advanced Handler Discrimination.


So to recap, to compete in the Novice elements, the dog must first pass the Novice Pre-trial, using Birch. Once the dog passes the Novice Pre-trial once, he has completed his PTN (Pre-trial Novice) title. Then he is allowed to compete in the Novice Elements.

All 4 Novice Elements (Container, Interior, Vehicle and Exterior) test Birch odor only. To complete each element title, you need to pass that element twice. When the dog completes a title in all 4 Novice Elements, he earns the Novice Nosework (NN) Title.

Once a dog earns his Novice Nosework title, the team may continue to compete in Novice in the B Class, or the team may move up to the Advanced level. The club’s premium list should tell you when move-ups are allowed or you can ask your Show Secretary for the move up form.

To compete in the Advanced Elements, the dog must first pass the Advanced Pre-trial, using Anise. Once the dog passes the Advanced Pre-trial once, he has completed his PTA (Pre-trial Advanced) title. Then he is allowed to compete in the Advanced Elements, which all test Anise only.

Not sure how many qualifying legs your dog has? Contact the UKC and request a “points check”. http://www.ukcdogs.com/Web.nsf/WebPages/PointsCheck


Hunter’s Heart Nosework Blog https://nosework.huntersheart.com/

United Kennel Club (UKC) Helpful Links  https://nosework.huntersheart.com/2016/03/07/united-kennel-club-nosework-links/

Requirements for Searches at Each Level (Summary Chart) http://wp.me/p74GTg-3g




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