Running a Trial

Information for trial organisers

At the moment we are offering the running of Scentwork UK trials to just a few trainers/clubs, to see how things go, however as Scentwork UK grows we will need more trainers/clubs enabling us to provide a national coverage of Scentwork UK trials.

So you want to run a trial?

If you are a club/trainer already running Scentwork UK classes, your students will eventually want to experience or will be ready to enter a Scentwork UK trial. We suggest that you start with a ‘Pre-trial’ (see here). A ‘Pre-trial not only helps you to get to grips with running a Scentwork UK trial but also enables competitors to experience a trial when this might be the first time that they have ever entered a competition

A ‘Pre-Trial’ is aimed to be more relaxed, without the pressure of a Level 1 trial, where competitors have the choice of rewarding their dogs if they wish. The ‘Pre-trial’ is a non-progressive trial and therefore Scentwork UK does not require you to invite a recognised Scentwork UK judge or that you send Scentwork UK the results.

Ready to run your first Level 1 Trial?

For any trainer or club who wishes to run a trial, you will need to attend a ‘Judges & Trials Managers’ workshop. This is a day course which tends to run twice yearly and you need to contact Heather Donnelly (click here)to find out when the next one is planned.

‘Open ‘or ‘closed’ trials:

Open Trials – An open trial is open to anyone. It must be advertised on the Scentwork UK website and the Scentwork UK facebook group. The results must be sent to Scentwork UK which will be added to the data base and points will go towards both the ‘Excellent’ and the ‘Dog of the Year’ titles.

Closed Trials – Do not need to be advertised on the Scentwork UK website or facebook and the club/trainer can limit the entries to its club members. As Scentwork UK does not require the results, points will not go towards ‘Excellent’, ‘Dog of the Year’ awards or ‘Progression’ to the next Level.

Combining ‘Pre-trials’ and Levels 1-7

You can combine the ‘Pre-trial’ alongside another ‘Level’ on the same day. This is to be encouraged as it will enable new competitors to watch what happens at the other levels whilst at the same time having a go themselves.

Note: It is recommended that the Scentwork UK trial runs first before the ‘Pre-trial’ as so not to contaminate the area with dropped food.

Capping Trials

The trials manager can ‘cap’ (put a limit) on the amount of entries per trial and this must be stated on the trial’s advert. Capping enables the trials manager to control the number of vehicles owing to car park restrictions and the number of entries a judge is allowed to judge per day which is 20; However once this number has been reached the Trial’s manager does have the option to appoint a second judge.

So how do I start?

You need to firstly inform Scentwork UK that you intend to run a trial. Complete and return the trial registration form. The information provided will be used to advertise the trial on this website together with a downloadable entry form.

Note: You need to check that there isn’t an established trial venue within a 25 miles radius from you as your registration is likely to be turned down. However this does not apply to pre-trials or closed trials

Once your registration has been confirmed

Contact your proposed judge, if you haven’t done so already, to see if they are available on that day, letting them know the date, time and venue of the trial and levels to be judged. After agreement send them the ‘invitation to judge’ letter to be signed and returned. (Click here)

Selecting a Judge

If running Levels 1-7 you need to contact a Scentwork UK recognised judge. You can find Scentwork UK judges from the following list ‘Judges’ If you don’t have a Scentwork UK judge close to where you wish to run your trial, Scentwork UK will consider personnel from the following fields: Medical Detection Dogs, Operational Handlers (e.g. Customs & Excise, Search & Rescue, Explosive and Security Handlers). Contact Scentwork UK (Click here) if you have someone else in mind and/or you aren’t sure of someone’s eligibility.

Applying for a Scentwork UK trials pack

You need to apply for a trials pack at least 3 weeks before the date of the trial. (click here)
The trials pack consists of:

1. Scentwork UK Trophy
2. 1-4th place rosettes and 10 ‘Clean Sweep’ rosettes.
3. Running Order sheets
4. Score sheets
5. Personal Scoresheets
6. Certificates (optional)
7. Trial managers check list

Also: you need to consider the following


Your venue needs to have an indoor as well as an outdoor area suitable to hold both ‘interior’ and ‘exterior’ searches. There must be sufficient parking for competitors, judges & helpers although entry numbers can be ‘capped’ if parking space is limited

The venue must also have:

  1. A suitable area to exercise dogs.
  2. Toilets, preferably with access for people with disabilities.


You will need a ‘scribe’ and ‘runner’ for each judge.

Judges & Helpers Expenses

Expect to pay the judges petrol expenses at 20p per mile and award them a small gift. Helpers should also be presented with a suitable thank you gift.

Entry forms

Check signed and returned entry forms for:

  1. Number of small or elderly dogs entered
  2. Competitors using scents other than ‘Cloves’, ‘Gun Oil’ & Truffle’
  3. Those who have 10 points or more in the entered level (You may need to order ‘Excellent’ rosettes with your trials pack.)