Designing and Setting Hides

Setting Hides

Resources for Setting Hides

In formal Scent Work trials, highly experienced and talented trial officials will set the hides. Ensuring hides can indeed be found and are level-appropriate is an art! There are countless factors that may affect the odor picture, including but not limited to, weather, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, airflow and the presence or absence of objects in the environment.
Since the goal of Cyber Scent Work is to promote as many dogs and handlers become involved in Scent Work as possible, we do NOT have a requirement that approved officials set the hides.
We do, however, recommend that handlers and assistants learn as much as they can about odor theory.
Here are some recommended resources:

Helpful Tools

Other helpful tools to better understand what odor may do within a given search area include smoke pens or a smoke pencil, which can help one better visualize what odor may do within a given space. The Wind Tunnel Free app is another wonderful tool designed to provide a representation of what airflow may do within a given space.

Practice Beforehand

The biggest piece of advice is to practice setting hides and running the dog on them before submitting any entries to Cyber Scent Work. Practicing in this way will allow handlers and assistants to have a much better idea of what odor may do within a given environment.

Food and Paired Odor Hides

It is essential when using food and paired odor hides that the dog is able to reach the hide itself to self-reward. This means NO inaccessible hides (e.g. hides within closed drawers or closets) or elevated hides that are above the dog’s head that lack a way for the dog to safely reach them.
Here are some tips for food and paired odor hides:

  • For food hides, we recommend balancing the treat/food on top of an empty metal tin or similar odor vessel that has never come into contact with odor.
  • For paired hides, ensure any scented cotton swabs are placed inside the odor vessel and the treat is balanced on top of the outside of the odor vessel.
  • Depending on where you place your hide, it may be easier to use sticky treats (e.g. liverwurst, peanut butter, etc.).
  • Even though these hides must be accessible, they can still be placed so they are not easily seen by the handler (e.g. the underside of a chair).

Removable Object v. Environmental Hides

Whenever possible, placing a hide on a removable object is preferrable. This will keep the potential odor contamination in the space to a minimum.
This does NOT mean that all search areas need to be staged or filled with objects that are out-of-place. Rather, handlers and assistants are urged to be creative in how they design their search areas.
Here are some suggestions to get you thinking:

  • Fake deadbolt with the odor vessel within it attached to the doorframe via a magnet.
  • Fake rock that has the odor vessel within it.
  • Extra weather stripping with the odor vessel within it and then placed over existing weather stripping.
  • If placing an environmental hide (e.g. on a tree trunk, on a wall, on a piece of furniture, etc.), be careful about the odor vessel you choose (ideally the handler will not be able to see it as they are working the dog), ensure odor can indeed escape so the dog can source it and clean the area once the search is finished with white vinegar.

Choosing Search Areas

The goal of Cyber Scent Work is to promote as many dogs as possible to participate in the game of Scent Work. This may include dogs who have significant environmental sensitivities. As such, it is the responsibility of the handlers to choose search areas where their dogs will be safe and still be able to search. Safety is of paramount importance, so if a handler determines it would be safer for a dog to only search in familiar locations (at home, at a friend’s house, at a dog training facility), they may do so. This includes the upper levels of Cyber Scent Work where the requirements list “ideally, search a novel location”. Safety always comes first.
When choosing a search area, handlers must follow these rules:

  • Dogs must be permitted on the grounds.
  • If a business, obtain written or verbal permission prior to filming the searches.
  • All steps must be taken to ensure the safety of the dog, the handler, the assistant, any volunteers and public at-large (human and canine alike).
  • Includes but not limited to scoping the area out ahead of time and passing on a location if loose dogs are commonplace.

General Rules for Search Areas

When setting up a search area to be run and filmed for Cyber Scent Work, there are some general rules to keep in mind:

  • The boundaries of the search area should be visibly marked with surveyor flags, cones and/or painters tape.
  • The entirety of the search area, including where the hides are located, must be included in the video submitted to Cyber Scent Work to review.
  • All search areas must be left better than how handlers found them.
  • All brought in objects removed.
  • Dog is cleaned up after.
  • Any garbage in the area is cleaned up and removed.
  • All hides are counted, accounted for and retrieved.
  • Any hide locations are wiped down with white vinegar or Zero Odor after the searches are done.

NOTE: Click the icon to see a .PDF version of these tips.


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