I have a puppy. Can we play too?
Yes! As long as your puppy is 6-months or older, they may participate in Cyber Scent Work, Inc.
What if my dog is not on odor yet? Can I still play? Can I use food or paired hides?
Yes! Our goal is to promote more dogs to play the sniffing game. So, if you and your dog are using food or paired odor hides, we still want you to participate! We offer three distinct hide tracks to choose from: Food Hide Track, Paired Odor Hide Track and Odor Hide Track.
Okay, but would I have to stay in a given track?
No! You may do multiple hide tracks at once, move around among them or switch.
As an example, you may submit 3 Interior Beginner searches using the Food Hide Track, earning a Interior Beginner Element Food Track Title. You then decide to submit 3 additional Interior Beginner searches using the Odor Hide Track. If you passed all of those searches, you would then earn your Interior Beginner Element Odor Track Title.
Wait…isn’t the Food Hide Track only for beginners?
No! There may be dog and handler teams who are never going to train on target odors and have no plans of formally competing. Having their dogs do the searches as laid out in these rules and hunting for food is just as impressive as if they were hunting for target odor.
It is also possible that highly-experienced dog and handler teams who are already formally competing are either addressing an enthusiasm issue or have retired from formal competition and have chosen to now use food hides in their searches.
Is there a limit to how many dogs I can submit videos for?
No! You may register as many dogs as you like, the more the merrier! When you do submit your videos, they will be separated by dog to ensure that we are applying the correct results to the right pup.
I already have a ton of videos of my dog doing training. Can’t I just submit those?
Sorry. We need the searches to follow the Rules and Regulations we have outlined for each element and level. If a submitted search does not follow these guidelines, it will not pass.
That being said, please do not look upon the videos you have on-hand as a waste. They are great training tools that you should refer back to often, as they can help to highlight what you and your dog’s strengths and weaknesses are and how to tackle those in your training going forward.
How should I video these searches?
Great question! If you have a smartphone, that is really all you need. Having a tripod can be extremely helpful, but someone can hold onto the camera as well.
As far as what we need to see on your video:
The search area, including the start line and boundaries.
Where the hides are BEFORE the dog and handler run.
The entirety of the search itself (the dog and handler team approaching the start line, crossing it, their entire search, when the handler calls “ALERT” and when says “FINISH” to end the search).
Do you have any tips about the video itself?
Hold your smartphone sideways to take a landscape video. This will allow the reviewer to get a better view of what is going on.
Try to position your camera so the sun or brightest light source is behind the camera.
Ensure there is enough light. When working indoors, open the shades and turn the lights on so it is as bright as possible.
Ensure the CSW Review Official will be able to see the entirety of the search area and the hides as well as the dog and handler team who is working.
There is no need to zoom in while a team is working; the camera should be positioned in such a way that this is not necessary.
The CSW Review Official will need to hear the handler call out “ALERT” and “FINISH”, so make certain the handler knows to speak up, especially when working in exterior searches on windy days!
Vehicle searches can be challenging to video. Having someone hold onto the camera is best so they can try to reposition if necessary to see the dog and handler team working. As long as the reviewer can see where the hides are in the video, you are good.
Most importantly, don’t let the videoing piece be a stress point. You’ve got this!
Am I allowed to edit my video?
The only edits that are permitted is the combining of multiple clips. For instance, the footage of how the search area is designed and the team actually running the search may be two separate videos. You may, and should, combine these into one file.
Other types of edits are not permitted, such as adding annotations, text, graphics, music or splicing a search (e.g. having a dog run a search twice and trying to be sneaky with editing to make it look like it was a single search).
How do I get my videos to you?
Once you have finalized your video, upload it onto YouTube. You may choose to have this be a Public or Unlisted video, that is entirely up to you. To get the video to us, all you need to do is go to YouTube, find your video, click on SHARE and then click on COPY to copy the shown URL. You will then paste this URL into the order form that you will submit to us.
Am I able to submit multiple videos for a single run and have you review them all?
Participants are limited to submitting a single video for a single run, which will be reviewed by the Cyber Scent Work Review Official. However, if you wanted to submit three runs in an element, Beginner Interiors for example, you would submit three separate orders, each of which would have its own individual video associated with it for us to review.
This doesn’t seem so bad, I think I will submit all the orders and videos I need to earn my level title right away!
While you could do that, we strongly encourage everyone to limit themselves to submitting a single order when they first participate with Cyber Scent Work. What we offer is entirely different from formal Scent Work competitions and we want to ensure you are familiar with our review process and what we are looking for. Once you are, feel free to submit as many orders and videos as you like!
Do I need to start at the Beginner level?
No. We believe that you know best where your dog is both training and experience level-wise. Therefore, you may start at any level you wish. That being said, if you are just starting out, we highly recommend that you start off at the Beginner level.
Do I have to go up to the next level once I earn a level title?
No! At Cyber Scent Work, we believe in offering choice and granting as much freedom to the dog and handler teams as possible. Again, you know your dog best.
Maybe they are really loving the Advanced-level searches but you think the Master-level searches will be too much for them right now. No worries! You may stay in Advanced for as long as you like.
Even better, you may go DOWN a level whenever you wish. This can be especially helpful for senior dogs or dogs who are coming off of an injury or illness. Allowing your dog to still play the game without exhausting or straining themselves is a wonderful thing.
If I choose the Odor Hide Track, what odor concentration do I need to use?
Good question! We’ve designed Cyber Scent Work to utilize the two most common odor preparation options seen in trial.
The breakdown is as follows:
For the Beginner, Novice and Intermediate-levels, you are to follow the “24-hour cooking method”. This means that you will fill a canning jar with cotton swab (with the paper straws) halves and place 3-5 drops of target oil on the inner wall of this jar. Close the lid, shake the jar and allow it to sit for 24-hours. You may then use 3-5 cotton swabs per odor vessel.
For the Advanced, Master and Expert-levels, you are to place 2-drops of target odor onto each individual cotton swab and place only 1 scented cotton swab into an odor vessel.
How will you know if I am using the right odor concentration or odors?!
This is where the honor system will come into play. Just know that we have designed the requirements to help you and your dog be as prepared as possible. So, if corners are cut, you will not enjoy full benefits Cyber Scent Work has to offer.
Where can I order the target odors?
What type of odor vessels should I use?
The more variety, the better! Some examples include metal tins, straws, lip balm tubes, etc. The main thing is you MUST use an odor vessel in the searches you set-up for Cyber Scent Work - no naked q-tips!
Who sets the hides?
Hides are set by an assistant. They do NOT need to be approved or certified through Cyber Scent Work. The main thing is that they are familiar with the Rules and Regulations and follow the guidelines set for each level and element.
We strongly recommend that gloves be worn whenever handling or setting odor, particularly when you are searching in areas other than home.
Do I need any other special equipment?
Great question! For our purposes, the only equipment that is required is the target odors, the odor vessels, something to affix the hides (earthquake putty, Gluedots, etc.) as well as start line cones and boundary flags or cones. The start line cones and boundary flags/cones help the reviewer determine the size and composition of the search area.
Should Interior and Exteriors search areas be natural or staged?
Great question! This is entirely up to you and what is easiest for you to do. We encourage everyone to be creative in setting up their searches, while also stretching their dogs.
This means having a true exterior search that does not have a lot of other “stuff” in it can be a great challenge for the dogs. But you must also balance this with the level of competition and experience-level of the dog.
All of that to say, we are not against staged search areas but urge everyone to find ways to create natural search areas as well.
Are the searches still timed?
Yes. Each level has a designated time limit. For instance, in the Beginner level, dog and handler teams have 2:00 minutes to find all of the hides in each of the individual searches.
Time begins once the dog’s nose crosses the start line and will end when the handler calls “FINISH”.
Do I get a 30-second warning?
Yes. The assistant, or another volunteer, should be timing the search and should announce to the dog and handler team when they have 30-seconds remaining.
Do I have to call “ALERT”?
Yes. When a dog has found a hide, the handler should call an assertive, “ALERT!”. Handlers should be certain to call this “ALERT” loud and proud so that not only the assistant can hear them but so that their response is picked up on the camera as well.
Some handlers may prefer to raise their arm instead of calling a verbal “ALERT”. In Cyber Scent Work, the verbal “ALERT” is required, but handlers may raise their arm as well.
Do I have to call “FINISH”?
Yes. Handlers should call “FINISH” when they believe their dog has found all of the hides in the search area. Doing so will stop the time for the search. Handlers should be certain to call “FINISH” loud and proud to ensure they are heard by not only the assistant but also the camera.
For blank searches, handlers will also call "FINISH" when they believe their dog has successfully cleared the space.
Why are there no buried or handler discrimination searches?
Great question! Cyber Scent Work is designed to help promote the activity of Scent Work to as many dog and handler teams as possible. With that in mind, we found that the buried searches were too cumbersome or potentially hazardous to the dogs.
For handler discrimination, while we do think this is a fun game for people to play with their dogs, our main focus is on dogs hunting for novel target odors. That being said, we may add more search divisions at a later date.
Why are the hides known in the Beginner through Intermediate levels?
Fantastic question! Since Cyber Scent Work is positioned to be an intermediary between training and trialing, as you move from Beginner to Intermediate, we remove one known hide at each level, as a way of transitioning people from the training mind space to a more trialing one, increasing confidence along the way.
By having known hides, Cyber Scent Work Officials are able to determine if the dog is truly hunting or if the handler is merely leading them around the search area. Officials can also isolate the unintentional ways handlers may be leading or hinting to their dogs where a hide is while also highlighting parts of a search they may have missed entirely.
What are consecutive searches?
Consecutive searches are when a dog and handler team must complete one search and then immediately go on to complete another in the same element. Consecutive searches are introduced in the Advanced level. So an example of a consecutive search in the Advanced-level would be Interior A → Interior B and there would be 4 total hides split among them (e.g. 3 hides in Interior A and 1 hide in Interior B).
Consecutive searches are a great way to test the physical and mental endurance of a dog and handler team while getting them ready for what they will face at formal Scent Work trials.
What are blank searches?
A blank search is a search area that does not contain ANY odor in it. These searches are an excellent way to determine if dogs really know what the game is all about: finding the source of a target odor, or if they are simply “alerting” on items or stuff in the search area.
How do I pass a search?
Great question! With Cyber Scent Work, all dog and handlers teams are assessed against 20-test items for every search they submit. Each test item counts for 5-points.
We have a sliding scale of the amount of points a dog or handler team may need for a given level. For instance, teams only need to earn 70 points to pass a Beginner search whereas they need 90-points to pass an Advanced search.
Teams may also earn faults during their search, with each fault costing them 5-points. However, there is also the opportunity for teams to earn bonus points during their search, each of which will earn a team 2-points.
When should I expect my review?
All reviews, feedback and training advice will be sent to you within 7-business days of you submitting your videos.
What if I fail a search?!
First off, please don’t fret. This is good information for you! Since Cyber Scent Work is designed to provide training advice to help dog and handler teams further improve, you will still receive the feedback you need to help you pass the next time! In other words, pass or fail, you will receive our valuable feedback and training advice. How great is that?