Running and Officiating

the Search

Running the Search

Honesty and Integrity

The goal of Cyber Scent Work is to provide a bridge between training and trialing. To that end, handlers are expected to run the searches as honestly as possible to get the most out of the feedback from Reviewing Officials. Cyber Scent Work assumes all submitted entries were filmed following the required Rules and Regulations. This includes following the required odor concentration, hide preparation, hide visibility to the handler and the handler’s awareness of hide placement prior to running the search.

Calling Alert, Finish and Clear

Handlers must be certain to all “ALERT”, “FINISH” and “CLEAR” as loud and proud as they can to not only be heard by the assistant, but to be picked up on the video as well. This is especially important when running in outdoor spaces where there may be wind or vehicle traffic noise.

Calling Yes or No

In all levels, the assistant who sets the hides should also be the one who calls “YES” or “NO” when the handler calls “ALERT”. Assistants must determine what will constitute as a “YES” call and what will constitute as a “NO” call for each individual hide.
Once again, in formal Scent Work trials, these calls are made by experienced and talented officials who have extensive expertise reading environments, understanding what odor may be doing in any given moment and so on. These “correct call areas” may even be determined by an agreement between the hide setting official and the official making the “YES” or “NO” calls, depending on the trialing organization.
Since Cyber Scent Work is not requiring certified or approved officials to set the hides or officiate the runs, we urge assistants to lean more toward saying “YES” than “NO”.
Some examples may include:

  • Hide is set on the upper spoke of a vehicle hubcap. Dog sniffs the center of the hubcap and shows a change of behavior. Handler calls “ALERT”. Should be a “YES” call.
  • Hide is set on the underside of a chair toward the front of the seat. Dog hits on the chair from the side but is clearly sniffing the underside of the seat. Handler calls “ALERT”. Should be a “YES” call.
  • Hide is set inside a closed storage shed for an exterior search as an inaccessible hide. Hide is placed near the hinge, but the dog hits on the bottom corner of the door below the hinge. Should be a “YES” call.

When to Call "Where?"

If it is unclear where a handler is calling “ALERT”, an assistant may call “WHERE?”. This should NOT prompt the handler to prompt the dog to search again. Rather, the handler should merely point to where they were alerting. The assistant may then make a determination of whether this constitutes a “YES” or “NO” call.

Example: During an interior search in a classroom, the dog sniffs the chair where the hide is located but the handler does NOT call “ALERT”. Dog leaves this chair and begins to investigate a completely different chair. Handler, still facing the correct chair, calls “ALERT”. Since the dog is in a totally different location and actively sniffing, the assistant should call “WHERE?” to clarify where exactly the handler is calling “ALERT”.

Prompt Responses

The assistant must be ready to promptly respond to a handler as soon as they call “ALERT”. Delays can cause a handler to become confused or continue working even if they have found all the hides or if they were incorrect and called a false alert.

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


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