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Detection dog trials


  • Once competing at a certain level, you may not move back down to a lower level without permission of a director.

  • You may move up a level at any time, it is decided by the handler unless you 'win out'

  • You may start competing DDT at any level.

  • You can enter any level NFC regardless of the level you are competing in.

Winning Out

  • PRELIM - If you win a Prelim trial OR score 75 points or above 3 times, you must move up to Novice.

  • NOVICE - If you win a Novice Trial or score 75 points or above 5 times, you must move up to Intermediate.

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  • 5 minute search time. ( tier 1 )

  • You may ask for a time check.

  • 1 hide No hides will be buried.

  • Hides will be no more than 1 meter off the ground.

  • The dog will always be able to get to source.



  • 5 minute search time.

  • You may ask for a time check.

  • Novice has 2 hides. 1 is Prelim standard.

  • Second Novice hide - this hide the dog may not be able to get to source.

  • Second Novice hide won't be more than 2 meters off the ground or more than 30cms deep.



  • 8 minute search time You may ask for a time check.

  • 1 - 3  hides, handlers don't know how many.

  • Handler should call the area clear if under 3 hides.

  • Hides will be no more than 3 meters above the dog.

  • No hides will be buried, but can be up to 20cms below floor level, for example in a drain.

  • For deep hides - hide will not be placed more than 50cms from the dogs nose.

  • For concealed hides - hide will not be more than 20cms from the dogs nose.

  • Dogs may or may not be able to get to source on all hides.

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  • Tier system for odours allows more search time for more complex odours.


Tier 1 -

Normal Time

  • Birch

  • Clove

  • Gun oil

  • Truffle oil

  • Catnip

  • Pseudo 

  • Cannabis

  • Scentlogix


Tier 2 -  

Plus 2 Minutes

  • Tobacco

  • HRD/Cadaver

  • Petrol

  • Narcotics type 1

  • Kong

  • Conservation type 1

  • Explosives Type 1


Tier 3 -

Plus 4 Minutes

  • Digital Hardware/SIM

  • Gluten

  • Blood

  • Pyrotechnics

  • Cash

  • Conservation Type 2

  • Explosives Type 2

  • Bedbugs


•  Hosts should generally provide the odours, however Judges and Hosts may discuss this at the time of booking. 

•  If an odour is expensive, difficult to obtain or requires a license*, the competitor should provide this and the host should take this into account when creating the running order, giving the competitor time to get the odour to the judge for preparation and placement. Where possible this needs to be given as pure odour, with the judge making up soaks if needed, this is to ensure as much as possible that there is no contamination or handler odour involved, as this could be an advantage to that team. If this isn’t possible due to soak time required, then DDT protocols must be followed when preparing the odour.

*If an odour requires a licence, the host must have the licence as well as the competitor to be able to handle the odour.

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Teams are scored over 10 sections, scoring is never reflected by time.


  • Odour Location – This is scored purely on whether the dog located the odour, a high score would be the dog locating the source or strongest point of odour. A low score could be the dog hitting odour but not locating source.

  • Area Coverage – How the area is searched as a team, this needs to be the dog searching the area rather than just being in it. In Prelim and Novice it is the area covered until the dog finds the hide/s. If an area is missed but the dog would have got to it if it hadn’t worked a hide in advance of it. In Intermediate it is the whole search area.

  • Obedience to Search – This is the dog focussing on the search, ignoring distractions and listening to the direction of the handler if needed. A dog that looses focus, becomes distracted, or doesn’t listen to the handler where appropriate would receive a lower score.

  • Handler Tasking – This looks at how appropriately the handler tasks the dog and works with the dog, or lets the dog work through the area. You are looking for a fluid search where dog and handler compliment each other. Lower marks would be over tasking, especially in a specific area, and not helping a novice dog by tasking IF NEEDED.

  • Handler Recognition – This is again handler based and it is the handler recognising that the dog has hit odour and acting accordingly, this of course can be doing nothing if that is what's needed, but as a judge you should be able to tell by the handlers body language. Not noticing or pulling the dog away from odour would loose marks.

  • Odour Recognition – This is scored on the dog only, did the dog recognise the target odour when entering the scent pool. Lower marks would be for dogs that passed the area a few times before recognising their odour, this could be due to being distracted or a more novice dog that needed more work on imprinting. A judge needs to be conscious of the different odours and how they behave when scoring this section.

  • Commitment to Odour – Once the dog hits odour does it commit and stay with the odour working to source without leaving the area, some dogs can tend to work on if the hide is more difficult.

  • Indication – This score is given for the indication/alert that the handler marks. Not when the find is called. So the handler can call the find and have it confirmed then you are looking for the handler to mark the dog when it is holding the indication at source rather than once its come away or looked to the handler for reward.

  • Team Impression – How the dog and handler work together as a team, this doesn’t matter if they find or don’t, it is purely on how they are as a pair, the reward comes into this section, as would a handler helping a more nervous or novice dog in an area, or how they deal with an issue during the search.

  • Judges Discretion – This leads nicely on from team impression, this is for those extra marks you wish to give, usually for a specific occurrence during the search, maybe the dog working well through a distraction that others didn’t have, or the handler making the decision to put/let the dog on or off the line, anything that you feel you want to mark for that doesn’t come under the other criteria's.

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  • Handler recognition. If a dog does not locate their odour and the handler does not call any false or incorrect finds, they should receive a score of 6 in this area. 

  • Novice scoring – to be split across the two hides, 50% of the scoring attributed to each. 

  • Intermediate scoring – Split across the number of hides placed, then the average is taken for the total.

A copy of the rules can be downloaded from here:


• Championships are held in January, the year following qualification. So all 2022 qualifiers went to January 2023 champs. 

• Prelim has 2 Preliminary Championships, one in August of that year and one in January of the following year, this is due to the speed dogs tend to move out of prelim into the higher levels.

• Qualifying for August Prelim Championships ends 31st July. 1st August – 31st December qualify for January.

• If you qualify for the championship at any level and have moved up to a higher level before the championships are held, then you may still run at the level you were competing in when you qualified, providing you haven’t also qualified at the higher level you are now running in.



Diamond for a competitor who scores 90 or above. 

Gemstone awards are additional skills and achievements that you can work towards alongside competing in the DDT levels. These Gemstone awards are currently only being run by DDT. We will let hosts know if/when they are opened up.







Accumulated throughout the year and announced at the Championship.

HIGH PEAK – Highest Points awarded 

HIGH SUMMIT – Highest accumulated points average 

EXPEDITION – For the team who has shown the most improvement throughout the year (Nominations from all Judges) 

ESPRIT DE CORPS – the common spirit existing in the team and inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and strong regard for the honour of the cause (Nominations from all Judges)




•To be eligible to qualify at a trial, competitors must be able to provide their DDT membership number. They can become a member through the DDT website.

•You may only enter one dog per level per trial. 

•The only time you may enter 2 or more dogs at the same level is if they don’t run in the same elements. So if the trial is offering 4 elements then you can enter 2 dogs in 2 elements each, the trial host must approve this, so you must email the host to confirm before entering. 

•Any breed may enter a trial, this includes mixed breeds.

•Competitors must advise the host of any other odours the dog is trained on, as well as the odour they are competing on. 

•Teams may not switch run times unless they are running on the same odour and this has been approved by the host.

•We welcome nervous or reactive dogs but please be aware that you will have 2 judges in the search area with you, they can give the dog space but need to be able to see the dog work and indicate. Please also be aware of the safety of those around you. The host reserves the right to ask you to leave the trial venue if they feel that the safety or welfare, of you, your dog, or other people or dogs is an issue.

•Bitches in season/heat may run at the end of the day where odour placement allows. This is however discretion of the host so please inform them with as much notice as possible if your bitch comes into season/heat prior to a trial. If the host cannot accommodate your bitch in that trial, you would receive a credit to enter a trial on a later date.

•Your dog must be microchipped OR be registered to enter a trial or become a member of DDT, you may be asked to provide proof of this at or when entering a trial. All breeds may enter, including mixed. 


  • Element trials are where a level has more than one element to it, this is either 2 or 3 elements to give hosts flexibility with venues.

  • Examples of elements: Vehicle search (any vehicle, not just cars! Think planes, trains and tractors!) – Perimeter Search – Open area search – Room clearance – On line search (search must be completed with the dog on a line) - Blank area (handlers wouldn’t know which element was blank *intermediate only) 

  • Line up search ie; boxes and luggage will not be an element. We have the DDT Odour ID test for this.


  • Trials can have up to 4 elements per level, per trial. 

  • A competitor can enter as little or as many elements as they like.

  • Each element will run with the rules and timings of that level, so for novice for example, each element will have 5 mins and 2 hides.

  • There will be a winner and reserve per element and winners qualify for championships.

  • Where there are only 2 elements, hosts may run the competitor in both of their elements consecutively with a 4 min break between. Usually though, all of element 1 will run, then all of element 2 and so on.

  • Prices are discounted in the UK for multiple element entries:

  • 1 Element = £25 – 2 Elements = £45 – 3 Elements = £65 – 4 Elements = £85

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