Following are the elements that must be included in any NACSW Trial for title purposes. Each of the elements will be worth 25 points for a total possible 100 points overall. At each trial, there will be a maximum time limit set for each element; that time limit for the search cannot be exceeded if points are to be awarded. The elements may be presented in any order.

Note: for most trials, the time limit for each element is generally five minutes or less.
Elements of the Individual Competition:
(100-point total score)



A container search consists of a group of containers set in any arrangement with no minimum spacing distances. The container search may be conducted indoors or outdoors. For NW1, containers will be boxes of any shape or size. Containers at NW1/L1 are defined as either cardboard OR rectangular. Examples include cardboard literature mailers, triangular mailers, plastic shoe boxes, etc. Containers at NW2 and NW3 may be boxes of any shape or size, or alternate containers that are not fabric such as paint cans, plastic bins, shoeboxes, cookie tins, or any similar type of container which may collect the scent. The Elite Division may use any of the containers acceptable at NW2 and NW3 as well as luggage and other fabric containers. Additionally, the container search for NW2 and NW3 may also include distractor odors, such as but not limited to food and toys. Container searches at Elite may also include distractor odors of any type including food, toys and other novel items. The search is typically conducted on leash, but any length leash may be used. Handlers are not permitted to touch the containers. Dogs may walk on the containers; however, the judge may award a fault if they feel the dog is damaging or disturbing the environment.





Each competition includes at least one outdoor search area. Examples of areas previously used include the exterior of a building, a parking lot, grassy field, courtyard, etc. Dogs may have to search while coming across doggie odors, other animal smells (cats, gophers, rodents and other critters), litter, food trash, and simply the smells of the great outdoors. Additionally, the dogs will have to search under all weather and wind conditions on trial day. The search may be conducted on or off leash and is set by the Certifying Official based on safety. The off leash option is rarely offered and would only occur if the search took place in a secured area (Like a fenced in tennis court for example). The exterior search area will be clearly identified by flags, cones, tape or other identifiers marking the perimeter of the search area. The hides will only be within the designated search area. However, dogs and handlers may move outside of those areas as part of their search pattern. Handlers may choose to enter the search area from any angle after the dog has crossed the designated start line, but the clock will begin once they cross the designated start. The search area and search time limit will be determined on a number of factors including, size, weather conditions, complexity, distractors and title level and will change with each trial location.

Each competition includes at least one interior building search. These are typically room-sized environments such as a kitchen, bathroom, conference room, office, or warehouse space. A single search area may include contiguous ‘rooms’ (For example: a master bedroom with adjoining bathroom). Often this portion of the competition is not open to spectators because the search areas may be small such as bathrooms and kitchens. The building could be any type of building such as a warehouse, school, church, restaurant, house, etc. The search may have on and off leash areas, depending on the particular trial requirements.
There may be up to five vehicles in the vehicle search, depending on the title level. Any type of vehicle may be used (car, motorcycle, truck, trailer, semi, etc.). Only the exterior of the vehicle is searched. The search is typically conducted on leash, but any length leash may be used. Handlers may be assessed a fault if their dog excessively paws or damages the vehicle at the judge’s discretion or if the safety of the dog is compromised, for example if the dog disappears from view under the car. The handler will never need to open a vehicle door for their dog to locate the hide. There are no limits to the number of hides that may be on each vehicle.