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Nosework Rulebook Update

Some additions and clarifications applied to the UKC Nosework rules

October 15, 2021

Department: All-Breed Sports

The 2020 Nosework Rulebook has been recently updated with some additions and clarifications. Please take some time to read over this edition. If you have previously accessed the rulebook, you may want to refresh your browser or clear your cache, so that you receive the updated version. The new version will have the original effective January 1, 2020, date as well as the *Revised October 15, 2021 update listed on the front cover.

Included in the back of the rulebook on page 52 is an insert detailing all the updates and changes so they can be easily accessed. All current updates or changes will be in bold and/or italics. All previous changes within the rulebook have been changed to regular print.

The following is an overview of the updates and changes. This rulebook is effective immediately.

  • The term Certifying Official has been changed to Judge for all references in Nosework. This was done to have the terminology consistent throughout all our programs.
  • In the Novice A or B class only, the handler will be allowed to make one incorrect alert call. This first incorrect call will be scored as a fault. The time will not stop running; however, the judge will inform the handler of the error and allow the dog and handler to continue searching within the allowable time for the class. If the dog has not found the correct position of the hide within the allowable time, or the handler calls a second alert the search will be scored as a non-qualifying performance.
  • New distractions have been added to the Advanced, Master, and Elite levels. There is a new requirement of a toy distraction in the Advanced level. This was changed to allow dogs and handlers to experience a minor distraction in a lower level instead of having all the previously allowed distractions not appear until the Superior level. This will allow handlers to begin to learn to read their dogs behavior differences within a better time frame when the dog is investigating a distraction versus the target odor. One hidden toy will be the only allowable distraction in the Advanced level.
  • In the Master level, hidden toys or food can still be used with the addition of a distraction that is exposed. This distraction must be an object that mimics either an animal or a person. This distraction would be something such as a stuffed animal or a statue.
  • In the Elite level, hidden toys, food, or mimic objects may be used in addition to a human distraction sitting or standing inside the search area.
  • Clarification has also been added on the use of hides, the re-use of hides, how trials can be run and the use of search areas.
  • Clarifications have been added to the Master Handler Discrimination classes on when personal items should be brought to the ring and what happens if a handler does not bring their item prior to the boxes being placed in the ring.
  • The section on Placements, Awards, and Ribbons was moved and given a new Chapter. Placement ribbons and colors will remain mandatory while qualifying search ribbons will not be optional. The Total Dog section was updated within this Chapter as well.
  • A new Chapter 14 was added detailing the new Nosework Hall of Fame awards and competition.

In addition to the rulebook update, the following documents have been added to the website for your convenience:

  • UKC Nosework Judges Application (updated)
  • UKC Nosework Trial Manual (coming soon)
  • UKC Nosework Education Points: Shadowing a Judge
  • UKC Nosework Education Points: Assisting Form
  • UKC Nosework Nomination Form: Hall of Fame: Dog with a Disability

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. The department can be contacted via email at, or you can contact Program Manager Karen Shivers directly at

Guided by the belief that dogs make a difference by being the best partner a human can have in the field, on the job, or in a competition event, UKC is a community for people and dogs to pursue excellence together. Founded in 1898, UKC has been dedicated to enhancing the lives of Dogs That Do More, and their owners, by providing essential resources to help owners and breeders make informed decisions. The dog-human bond is celebrated through family-friendly programs highlighting the instincts and heritage of purebred and mixed-breed dogs alike at over 15,000 licensed events annually.

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