I just got home from trialing under the new NW3 rules with my 12 yr old Standard Poodle, Joey. We had a BLAST! I was so excited about the rules that I HAD to write a blog!

The really amazing part is between the lines in the rules… sure, the rules allow for qualifying legs, but the real magic is in getting to work after a “No” and in the VARIETY.

So here’s the blah, blah boring part… rule explanation!

  • There are 6 searches, but instead of always 3 Interior searches, the searches can be spread amongst other elements
  • You can proceed after a “No”, but after the second “No” in a search, the cane comes out and you must leave! This is per search, NOT per element!
  • You can make 1 “error” and earn a qualifying leg. 2 qualifying legs results in a title. An “error” is either (1) a missed hide, (2) a false alert, or (3) a time out.
  • Points are based on the number of hides, just like Elite. You lose a hide’s worth of points for a No. BUT… points only matter in placements and well honestly… if you don’t title or get a qualifying leg, does the score REALLY matter?
  • You can have a single blank search (although not required), although there will not be more than one blank search in a trial. Blank searches can be any element.
  • To get Overall Pronounced, you have to get P’s in EVERY SEARCH… yes, you get a yellow sheet for EVERY search you do!
  • To get NW3 Elite, you need to accumulate 3 titles and show “competency” in each element through either NW3 Element titles or titles at the Level 3 Element Speciality trials

The new rules are freaking awesome and here’s why…

There I was trialing my low drive, low confidence, OLD Standard Poodle who I really only trial because I love the heck out out of him and he has a blast trialing with mommy… Joey got a “No” on his first search of the day. Honestly, it was a skill issue. The wind gusted into the Interior and he alerted on blown odor. He was motivated and worked his somewhat short tail to the bone! The really cool part was that we could KEEP GOING. That meant that he got to figure out the puzzle in a trial situation (when does THAT happen?) AND he was able to end on a good note, rather than a “No”. (and YES! your dog knows a “NO”.)

We kind of bombed Interiors because of blown and pooling odor. Honestly, I’m not worried. He was motivated and confident and he pranced back to the van after each search knowing that he and mommy had a BLAST!

The search areas were FUN!

Another great aspect was that the host and Certifying Official had more leeway in search area selection. Both of our Interiors (we had 2), were rather large for NW3. The cool part was that each area had additional “rooms” attached and we had 3:00 for each search. The Infirmary had an additional bunk room and the Lodge had a bathroom. I thought that this was a FANTASTIC preparatory exercise for Elite! I don’t think that under the old rules that we would have been able to work those areas. (Minor clarification… you could always have multiple spaces in each search area… but in this case we were able to have 2 large areas with 3:00 each. That combo would not have been likely prior to the rule change)

And the potential for BLANKS!! WOW!

Holy moly!! We had 2 Exterior searches and one was BLANK!! That sounds terrifying… but if you think about it, what better way to prepare for Elite than to work a blank area in another element? Once the team gets to Elite, you will not only see blank areas, but you will see large parts of search areas with no odor. This only gets compounded at Summit. What a great opportunity!

I’m SO PROUD of Joey who quickly told me that the second Exterior had no odor. In fact, we WON Exteriors! That meant that we had the cumulative lowest time with no faults for both Exterior areas. Not bad for a 12 year old!

Joey and me… 1st Place in Exteriors. Go Old Dogs!!

Now because I know you are ALL interested….

The hide sheet!!

What I really loved…

Because Joey was able to continue to search after a “No” in Interiors, he got a chance to work out challenging odor in a trial environment… PRICELESS

Because Joey got to search after a “No” he (and his handler) felt optimistic… PRICELESS

The parking lot was optimistic because people focused on Qualifying and didn’t feel bad if they had an error… PRICELESS

The searches were more conducive to preparing a team for Elite than the old format of NW3…. VERY PRICELESS

Bottom Line

Change is often challenging and at times is a little painful… this change though… give it a try! Personally, I love it.

Happy Sniffing!