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As noted in the Rules and Regulations, Cyber Scent Work has the following requirements for exterior search areas: 

  • Search area must be outside.

  • Search area should have a maximum of 2 solid walls.

  • Space may have a roof or overhang, such as a shelter in a park or overhang for a porch.

  • Space must be free of any safety hazards (e.g. broken glass, garbage, sharp objects, poison traps, sudden drop-offs, etc.).

Size of the search area will depend upon the level of competition:

  • Beginner: 10-300 sq ft

  • Novice: 100-500 sq ft

  • Intermediate: 100-800 sq ft

  • Advanced: 100-1000 sq ft

  • Master: 100-1500 sq ft

  • Expert: 100-2000 sq ft

Considerations and Tips

  • For food and paired odor searches, all hides must be accessible to the dog so they may self-reward. This means NO inaccessible hides and any hides elevated above the dog’s head must have a way for the dog to reach the hide itself (e.g. a hide placed high on a pillar at a park, the dog can climb on top of the nearby picnic table next to the pillar to reach the hide).

  • For odor searches, ensure odor can escape the odor vessel (e.g. use metal tins with holes on top as opposed to solid tins with no holes) and think about where the odor will travel. Ask yourself, “Can the dog follow the odor trail back to source?”.

  • It is crucially important to think about the wind, where the odor will be going and whether the dog will have access to that odor trail (e.g. placing a hide on a fence but having the odor travel to the opposite site where the dog cannot access it).

  • For levels where inaccessible hides are permitted (and you are NOT using food or paired odor hides), ensure the odor vessel is placed toward the seam or opening to allow as much odor to escape as possible.

  • Practice is the key to success, so handlers and assistants are urged to have previously designed and run searches playing with various elements and factors typical of exterior searches. These include, but are not limited to, vegetation and standing water, sunny areas v. shadowy areas, weather conditions (dry, humid, cold, warm, raining, snowing, windy v. still day, etc.) and time of day.

Search Options

Handlers and assistants are urged to be creative with the location and composition of their exterior search. The overall size of the search area is set by the level (please refer to the Rules and Regulations).

Some potential hide placements you may choose for your exterior search include, but are not limited to:

  • Hide placed near the threshold of the search area.

  • Hides placed around the perimeter of an area.

  • Hides placed in the center of an area.

  • Hides placed on landmarks or objects.

  • Hides placed on trees or bushes.

  • Hides placed underneath rocks.

  • Hides placed on walls.

  • Hides placed on fences.

  • Hides placed in exterior corners of buildings.

  • Hides placed underneath exterior doors or in door jams.

  • Hides placed near exterior windows or window sills.


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