When searching for odor, your dog always has the solution, but for those questions a sniffer can't answer, this is the place. Browse the complete list of frequently asked questions or click on a category heading below. For questions not answered here, Contact Us and we'll do our best to help. 


FAQ Categories

NACSW™ Membership Questions

Odor Recognition Test Questions

Trial & Competition Questions

Certified Nose Work Instructor & K9 Nose Work® Class Questions




NACSW™ Membership Questions

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Q: How do I become an NACSW™ member?

A: You can register for membership here.


Q: How do I register my dog with the NACSW™?

A: You can register your dog with the NACSW™ here.


Q: When do I have to renew my membership?

A: Membership is annual and runs August 1st to July 31st of each year. Currently, there are no prorated rates for membership, however, there may be discounted rates for early renewal and/or for new member sign up late in the membership year.


Q: How do I update my address or email address associated with my membership or dog registration?

A: You can change your account info by logging in, going to My Account, and following the instructions.


Q: How do I get a replacement membership card?

A: We do not require that membership cards be shown to participate in an event at this time.  If you do wish to obtain a replacement membership card, please visit and log in to your account.  There is an option to order a replacement card for $5 under the "My Account" section of the site.


Q: What if I don't have my dog's score book at the time of an ORT or trial?

A: Score books are not required to participate in an event.  They are for your own personal records only.


Q: What if I enter an NACSW™ sanctioned ORT or trial before receiving my membership number and/or dog's registration number? 

A: If you do not receive official confirmation that you are a registered member of the NACSW and/or confirmation that your dog has a registration ID number before participating in an ORT or trial, then the results of your performance will be invalid.  If you have any questions, please email


Q: Is my dog a rescue dog?  Why is this question on the dog registration form?

A: Your dog is a rescue dog if the dog's previous placement was unsuccessful and/or the dog was removed from a situation that was detrimental to their well being.  At each NW1 trial, the "Harry Award" is given out to a rescue dog participating in that trial.  For more information on the "Harry Award", click here.


Q: How do I join the NACSW™ groups?

A: We have two NACSW™ email groups.  The NACSW™ Membership Google group is open to members only.  All members who want to receive emails for upcoming Trials and ORTs can request to join the Membership Google group by following the below steps:

1) visit:!forum/nacswmembership 
2) When you click on the link, it will ask you to sign in to your Google account if you are not already signed in. If you do not have a Google account, you will need to create one.
3) Once signed in, you can click to “Apply for membership”
4) Please make sure to select the appropriate “Email delivery preference” to ensure you receive the posts to the group. You will also need to include your name and NACSW Member Number to have your request to join approved.

The second group is a discussion group and is open to everyone.  This group is currently a Yahoo group.   You can join this group by visiting:

If you have any questions about joining either of these groups, please email


Odor Recognition Test Questions

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Q: What is required to enter an Odor Recognition Test (ORT)?

A: Any dog participating in an ORT must be registered with the NACSW™ prior to entering the event. Any person handling a dog in an ORT must be a current member of the NACSW™. Click here to register with the NACSW™.


Q: Who is eligible to handle my dog in an ORT or trial?

A: Any current NACSW™ member may handle any NACSW™ registered dog in an ORT or trial (the handler must not be officiating the event and the dog may not reside in the same household as either official).


Q: How do I get more information about an upcoming trial or ORT?

A: You can find dates and location information for upcoming events by visiting the Trial Calendar or ORT Calendar. For all events you must contact the host directly for more information.


Q: How do I enter an ORT or a trial?

A: You can find information on upcoming ORTs and trials on the ORT Calendar or Trial Calendar pages, including instructions for entering events.


Q: What if I don't have my dog's score book at the time of an ORT or trial?

A: Score books are not required to participate in an event.  They are for your own personal records only.


Q: What if I enter an NACSW™ sanctioned ORT or trial before receiving my membership number and/or dog's registration number?

A: If you do not receive official confirmation that you are a registered member of the NACSW™ and/or confirmation that your dog has a registration ID number before participating in an ORT or trial, then the results of your performance will be invalid.  If you have any questions, please email


Q: Can anyone host an NACSW™ Odor Recognition Test (ORT)?

A: We welcome all potential hosts for ORTs. Visit Hosting an ORT for more information and to submit a request to host an ORT.


Q:  What is an ORT Title and how can I request a retroactive ORT title certificate?

A:  The ORT title is earned by successfully passing the Odor Recognition Test for all 3 target odors - Birch, Anise, and Clove. There is no requirement to pass all three odors at the same event, but the ORT title will not be earned until all 3 odor tests have been passed.

Titles have been granted retroactively for all teams previously achieving the requirements for this title.

Effective July 1, 2019 any team that passes all 3 odors will automatically receive a title certificate for this title when we send out title certificates. This happens on a quarterly basis, so titles earned July 1-Sept 30 will be sent out in mid October.

If you've earned your ORT title (prior to July 1, 2019) and would like to request a complementary title certificate, please submit the request form by going to

We will be accepting requests for complementary certificates for these retroactive titles through Sept 30, 2019. After that time, if you wish to obtain a certificate for the ORT title earned prior to July 1, 2019 you will need to submit a replacement title request through the NACSW site for $10.

Complementary title certificate requests received by June 30, 2019 will be processed in mid July. Requests received between July 1 and Sept 30, 2019 will be processed in mid October.

Questions can be sent to



Trial & Competition Questions

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Q: What is required to enter a trial?

A: Any dog entering an official trial must have passed the required ORT for the trial level being entered. In addition, any dog participating in an official trial must be registered with the NACSW™ prior to entering the event. Any person handling a dog in an official trial must be a current member of the NACSW™. More detailed information can be found by visiting the Trial Requirements & Eligibility page. It is strongly recommended that dogs and handlers participating in an NACSW trial prepare for the challenges of a real-world competition experience. Visit the How do I Know if I am Readty to Trial page for more information.


Q: How do I enter an ORT or a trial?

A: You can find information on upcoming ORTs and trials on the ORT Calendar or Trial Calendar pages, including instructions for entering events.


Q: When are title certificates sent?

A: We send title certificates out once per quarter.  You will receive a title certificate for the first time you earn a title at the same level (i.e. if you trial at NW2 for a 2nd time as FEO and earn a passing score, you would not get a 2nd title certificate).  For NW3, you will receive a certificate the first time you earn the NW3 title and then you will be sent a separate NW3-Elite certificate when you achieve that title.


Q: How do I get a replacement title certificate?

A: Replacement title certificates can be ordered online by visiting and then log in to your account.  Under the "My Account" section, please select "My Dogs" and then click on "Titles".  There will be an option to order a replacement title certificate on that page.  Please note that if you had a typo in your dog's name that you will need to edit your dog's information to correct the name prior to submitting the request for the replacement title certificate.


Q: Can anyone host an NACSW™ trial?

A: We welcome all potential hosts for official trials. Visit How to Host a Trial for more information and to submit a request to host a trial.


Q: Can I or my family/friends take video or photos of my dog searching at an NACSW™ trial?

A: NACSW™ recognizes how important it is for members to see how they perform in competitions and to have that performance memorialized in video. Additionally, NACSW™ recognizes the importance of competitors trialing in new locations. Toward this latter end, NACSW™ makes every effort to secure new and interesting trialing locations for its competitors. However, many of the locations that NACSW™ obtains are highly regulated and may have sensitive corporate information contained in the trialing areas. Even more importantly, many of the trialing locations have photographs of children, spouses, and other personal information of employees that work at such locations prominently displayed on desktops. As it is a given that employees at these locations would not want such personal information captured on video, NACSW™ has not allowed the use of personal videos at any NACSW™-sanctioned Trial. In making such a decision, NACSW™ is balancing the desire of its members to watch their own video and the expectation of privacy that all private property owners have in their own locations, which they have graciously opened up to NACSW™ for trialing purposes. Therefore, as much as NACSW™ would love to broadcast all of the videos of each of its competitors to further their education in this sport, we have to protect the privacy of our hosts. Thank you for being considerate of our private property owners and of their employees and their expectations to a right to privacy.


Q: Under what circumstances can I request to have my trial video or trial score reviewed?

A: We will ONLY provide a review in situations where it will affect a qualifying score, a title, Elite Division points, or move a team into the top 3 placements.  

We will offer review of scoring in the case of the score card not matching the score that is showing in the official results.  We will also offer review of trial video ONLY in the case of a score card inaccuracy.  That is when the judge's responses during the search are not reflected on the score card.  We will only be able to review the video in the situation where we actually have official NACSW video that clearly confirms the inaccuracy.  We frequently do not have video or the video is not clear due to a variety of circumstances.  We are able to use video service video to review search results. Video Service video must be submitted via a URL, we cannot receive large files or physical flash drives, etc. 

To submit a request for review, please use the webform at: You will be required to provide the handler's name/member number, dog's name/K9 ID, dog's breed, date, location and level of the trial, the element in question, and a scanned or photographed image of the score card in question. This request must be submitted within 21 days of the trial date. We will respond to the request within 30 days of the submission of the request. Trial results will be updated at that time if applicable.


Q: Some of my NW3 Element title ribbons are of the original format and some are of the new format, is it possible to get a matching set?

A: As of October 23, 2015 we will switch over to the new ribbon format. For those who have already earned a ribbon with the original format and who wish to have a "matching" set of all 4 elements, we will be offering an option to purchase a ribbon of the original format for a limited time.  You will still receive your ribbon of the new format at the trial where you earn the title.

You may order these ribbons at:


Q: How does the random draw for trial entry work?

A: We know that as more people are entering trials, more people are ending up on wait lists for these trials. We would love to have more trials on the calendar to help address the demand, so if you are interested in hosting and have a potential location, please let us know.

We have been getting a lot of questions lately regarding how the random draws are performed and we wanted to take the time to give you the inside scoop on the process.

All entries come in through the NACSW™ trial entry tool. The NACSW™ staff member then extracts all the entries for a given trial into an excel file. Then we add a column and use the Excel random number generator to assign a random number to each entrant. Then the trial coordinator sorts by the assigned random number and that is the resulting draw order. The draw results are then sent from the NACSW to the trial host so that they can send out the entry confirmations and wait list emails.

Very rarely, a priority entry may be given to a person for significant contributions to the trial process. These are few and far between. Anyone who hosts a trial and opts to not enter their trial gets a priority entry to be used at a future trial, but they only get one priority entry per year regardless of how many trials they host. Trial hosts receive "double draws" for each additional trial weekend hosted in that year - a double draw gives them two chances in the draw. There are also several NACSW staff members who put in significant hours to the behind the scenes work for the NACSW™ that may be given a priority entry (but again no more than one per year per person). And last, occasionally there is a unique situation that results in many people getting a trial opportunity because of one person's sacrifice that might earn a priority (again only one per year) - for instance we once had a judge who had an entry in a trial with their own dog, who agreed to sacrifice their trial opportunity to judge so that everyone else could trial.

We understand the frustration with the wait lists, but rest assured the draw is random. We have investigated many possible options for all the people who deserve entries (those who volunteer a lot, those who have been wait listed many times, those with older dogs, those who can't travel, etc, etc) and the unfortunate situation at this time is that many, many people deserve entries and there isn't an easy way to address the situation given our current resources, so the fairest solution is a random draw.

We encourage all of you to get involved in some capacity to help us make more trials happen so that we can help alleviate the long wait list issues in some parts of the country.


Q: How far in advance of a trial must my dog have passed an Odor Recognition Test?

A: Effective February 1, 2014, the criteria for being included in the initial draw for most trials will require that you have earned the appropriate ORT at least 14 days prior to the trial entry date. If your ORT is earned closer to the entry date, your entry will go in the secondary draw. This new policy will give the ORT host time to put together the results file and submit it to the organization and will give us a few days to get the results loaded into the system.

Sometimes we will get results loaded sooner than the 14 day window and the system will alert you that we have your ORT on file, but please be aware that if it is not at least 14 days to the trial entry open date, you will still be put in the secondary draw.

We have grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years and are having multiple ORTs many weekends and frequently have multiple trials opening for entry each week.

In the past, ORT results have been counted for trial entry even if the trial opens for entry the day after the ORT. We are now finding that the volume of ORTs and trial entries happening on a weekly basis make it impossible for us to process ORT results within a day or two of the ORT. It's also hard on the ORT hosts to require that results be submitted so quickly after their event. Especially since more people are traveling long distances to trials, so we can't just assume that ORTs local to a specific trial are the ones that need expedited processing.

Each time this scenario happens, we get multiple emails from those whose results are not in the system, we then have to email the host to get the results rapidly (many hosts have day jobs), the ORT coordinator needs to load the results as soon as she gets them (she does have a day job too) and then we need to notify the trial coordinator (who also has a day job) to hold off on doing the draw until all of this happens. In the last two weeks, this came up for at least 8-10 different ORTs for 5-6 different trial entries.

We thank you for your patience as we grow as an organization. If you have any questions, please email


Q: How do I know if my dog and I have a spot in the trial I entered?

A: For every trial entry, you will get an email either way (if you got in or not) by the date specified in the premium. A lack of an email does not mean you did not get in and you should check with the host to verify (after the date specified).


Q: What is the role of a trial judge?

A: The Judge is responsible for determining if a dog/handler team has correctly identified the hide location. They are also responsible for issuing any faults that may be incurred by the team. Qualifications:  Most of our judges come from a professional detection background. Many of them are current or retired law enforcement or military detection handlers. The judges have thousands of hours of experience watching dogs work scent. Often in situations that are dangerous or even life threatening. Their ability to read a dog working scent in a real life working scenario makes them uniquely qualified to judge our trials. We have been very lucky that so many professional handlers have been willing to give us their time.


Q: What is the role of a trial Certifying Official (CO)?

A: The Certifying Official (CO) is responsible for selecting the hide locations, setting the search area parameters and ensuring that the trial is run to our standards and rules. Our COs have been through extensive training regarding our standards of hide placements for each of our trial levels. Their training also covers all aspects of a trial in a variety of regions. This helps us to maintain a standard at each level at trials throughout the country. All of our COs attend continuing education meetings and volunteer at other trials to continue their education. We appreciate the time and effort these people have put in to learn the necessary skill sets to help set great hides and provide new challenges at all of our trials.


Q: What is the role of a Trial Representative?

A: The NACSW™ Trial Representative is at the trial to help support the CO and the host (and frequently the Score Room) in the trial process. They represent the NACSW™ with respect to rules and policies. Trial Reps have received extensive training in all aspects of running a trial, setting up flow, working with all the individuals involved in putting on a trial, and NACSW™ policies and rules in a variety of regions.


Q: what is a red bandana dog?

A: A dog wearing a red bandana at an NACSW™ event is meant to signal to others that the dog  needs more space from other dogs when leaving and returning to the parking/crating area.

It has become apparent that there are some misunderstanding regarding the meaning of red bandanas at NACSW™ ORTs and trials and our rules regarding reactivity at official events. The activity of K9 Nose Work® is something that almost all dogs can enjoy and we have found that the activity has helped many dogs with sensitivities improve tremendously - sometimes to the point where they can safely navigate a trial environment.  However, the sport of K9 Nose Work® will not be something that is appropriate for all dogs as the ORT and trial environment are real life environments.  We can't control these environments as much as class environments can be controlled and surprises do frequently happen.  Our primary goal is to keep your dog comfortable and safe - no dog enjoys being put in a situation where they feel it necessary to react - and for some dogs, this may mean that the trial environment is not right for them.   Please read below for clarification.  Questions or concerns can be sent to


Q: My dog is “dog reactive”. Can we still play?

A: The sport of K9 Nose Work® uses real-world trial locations, and may not always be suitable for those handlers with reactive dogs. Contact Us to get more information to find out if the competition environment is right for your dog. Virtually any dog can enjoy and benefit from the activity of K9 Nose Work®. The activity is designed for each dog to work individually and rest safely in his crate between turns. Socializing during K9 Nose Work® is only for us humans. Note: dogs with human aggression issues or extreme environmental sensitivities may want to enjoy the activity privately, with a certified trainer.


Q: Are there K9 Nose Work® workshops to help me prepare for competition?

A: Yes! K9 Nose Work® workshops focusing on competition skills are held across the country. Check out the Workshop Schedule on the K9 Nose Work® website for event locations and signup information. Only the founders of K9 Nose Work® or approved faculty of the NACSW™ may conduct full day workshops. Anyone may submit to host a workshop. Contact for details on hosting a workshop.


Certified Nose Work Instructor & K9 Nose Work® Class Questions

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Q: How can I become a Certified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI)?

A: The criteria for becoming a CNWI are available upon request. Learn more about the instructor program on the Certified Instructor page. You can also Contact Us for more information.


Q: Where can I take a K9 Nose Work class?

A: K9 Nose Work® classes are taught by certified instructors (CNWI), or associate instructors in the certification process (ANWI). For a list of instructors in your area, visit the Certified Instructors page. Please contact instructors directly for information on class offerings and schedules. If you cannot find an instructor near you, check the Workshop Schedule for upcoming Intro to K9 Nose Work® workshops in your area. If you're still having trouble finding K9 Nose Work® in your area, Contact Us.