This is a video from a PSD “Speed” trial. I entered Coach in the Advanced level, since he has a NW3-Elite title in NACSW. There are 3 groups of containers, 2 of the groups have a hide, and one group is blank. There are also containers that have a distraction, either food, toy, or some novel scent that is not birch, anise or clove. Coach was quick off the line, so you don’t see him searching the first grouping. We need to pass this 3 times to earn our Advanced Speed title. Sometimes, there will be 2 of these trials offered on the same day, making it a little faster path to earn your Qualifying runs (Qs). So, three Qs earn you a title.
This is a video from a PSD “Container” trial, the Advanced level. At this level, I know the # of hides (2) and understand there are going to be distractions in one or more containers, such as food, toy, or other novel scent. We need to pass this (Q) 3 times to earn our Advanced Containers title. Note the type of containers used, and the spacing between them, vs NACSW’s NW2 Container search below. Quattro is experienced, being at the Elite Champion level, but that doesn’t’ mean either of us are perfect! We had not done small, random containers like these in a long time! Note how the first container he alerts to, a little red box, he misses checking several times. Its a good example of how the odor spreads out from the center to collect on things around it. He picks up odor on the wheels on the fence / gate, and that leads him (finally) straight to the hot box. Note me getting tangled in the leash! There was a friend of mine watching who I’ve done NW with for 10 years, so I look up cracking up, knowing she would be laughing at me! In the cylindrical container, there are holes at the bottom. It looks like the odor is moving towards the lower right of the screen, and him sniffing the lid of the container on his first pass, does not produce enough (any?) odor for him to react to. It’s only at the end of the video, where he starts to sniff the other side of the cylinder container that he picks up odor and alerts.
This is a video of a NW2 Container search. This is one search of five that we have to do in one day in order to obtain our NW2 title. I must pass all four types of searches – or Elements – in one day in order to title. The Elements consist of this Container search, 2 Interior room searches, a Vehicle search and an Exterior search (totaling 5 searches). At this level, I know the number of hides (there were 2) and I must call Finish for time to stop. I can still pass if I forget to say Finish, but will receive full time. Note the types of containers – this is consistent across all NW2 trials, regardless of the host.
The following videos are from an NACSW Level 2 Container Element Specialty Trial (L2C EST) This means, that there are 4 searches that all consist of containers. These Element Specialty trials have shorter time limits, and can have some twists – elevated containers, exterior containers, some variation in type of container, but still limited to boxes, paint cans and tool boxes and off leash options. To title in an EST, you must pass all four searches in one day, OR, earn a “leg” by obtaining 75% of the trial, twice. These trials are fast and fun, and a great way to practice one element you may be having trouble with. I had been working towards NW3 with Coach, and we’d missed our NW3 title a couple times because we missed several Container elements. At NW3 last year, you had to be perfect – pass all four elements in one day – to title. So it was always disappointing to miss by ONE thing – darn containers! So this was a good way to practice – known number of hides at this level are so much easier than the unknown number you face at NW3. You can see how happy I am after the search in the gym to have passed it! The exterior search video somehow did not record the entire thing. There were 2 hides, we found one right away, but then walked up and down several times before we found the 2nd hide. I was a little disappointed in this, as you can hear but my Alert and Finish calls, which is totally not fair to Coach. I believe what was happening, is that the odor was driving to the grass (and the frog pond, you can hear in the background!) I had walked up and down the pavement with Coach, and I think he needed access to the other side of the containers to pick up that odor. So I had no right being disappointed with him, when I did the same path over and over, not giving him access to the odor.
So, while there are similarities, there are some big differences. Doing the PSD trials, felt like one search for me, rather than a trial. The nice thing is, you can sign up for however many trials the host decides to put on that day, so you can do up to 6 trials in one day! If you pass your trial, you earn a Qualifying score and ribbon, and are eligible for placements 1-4. So there is a good chance you will leave with a ribbon 🙂
NACSW has 4 – 6 searches in a day to make up a trial, depending on the level you are at. There is a title ribbon, if you pass all searches in one day, and placements 1-3 for each element, and then an overall placement. The only time you get a qualifying score, is the Element Specialty Trials and there are no Q ribbons or placement ribbons for an EST, only a EST ribbon.
Note the difference in sound – NACSW trials are pretty quiet, since dogs are crated in vehicles, and general spectators are not allowed, only spectators who come with the dog running. NACSW trials are held in places like schools, campgrounds or fairgrounds, where PSD trials are generally held in dog training facilities. I like that there are venues people can chose from – do you like short, quick searches, with minimal walking, where you can hang out with your friends and dog, volunteer and trial in the same day, enter a trial almost every weekend to accumulate Qs and quickly gain a title and progress up a level? Or, do you like the consistency of knowing what to expect for containers and other elements, the challenge of a novel environment, a more relaxed pace as you wait your turn to run, the quiet of a search area, less distractions for your dog, and the day long challenge ahead of you? You can always do both! Find what works for you AND your dog, and be prepared to give it more than one go to make up your mind. Each day is different, each search and trial offers their own unique challenges, ease, and learning moments!