For those of you who wonder what all this stuff I've been talking about means, here is a somewhat brief rundown....
There is more than one organization that has a Nosework or scentwork program. But the NACSW is the first organization and widely considered the gold standard, as well as the one we have the most experience with so I will focus on it.
Nosework is essentially scent detection for companion dogs-the concept is similar to a drug dog or bomb dog, but we use essential oils as the "target." The three used by NACSW are birch, anise, and clove.
There are four search areas that make up a trial-containers (boxes to start but at higher levels can be luggage or other containers), interiors, exteriors, and vehicles. You must pass each area on the same day to earn your title for that level.
At Nosework 1 there will be one "hide" in each area, It will be birch. At Nosework 2 there will be one or two hides in each area. You will be told how many there are and they may be birch or anise. There will be two interior rooms and each may have up to two hides. They are timed separately. In Nosework 3 there are 1-3 hides in each search area. You are not told how many. It's up to you and your dog to figure that out. There are three interior search areas and one may be blank-no hides.They are all timed separately.
To pass you must find all the hides in an area in the allotted time. Typically one and a half to three and a half minutes. When you think your dog has found the hide-as indicated by a change in behavior (some people train a specific end response like a sit and some just go with what their dog does naturally) then you call "alert." The judge will tell you yes or no. If your dog has alerted in the wrong spot and you get a no this is a false alert, you have not passed that search area, and you don't get to finish searching. At level 2 and 3 you must also say finish when you are done searching to stop the clock.
Once you have passed the level 3 test three times you move to the elite division. Here the searches are often more challenging, with more hides, larger areas and longer search times. On the plus side though you don't have to be perfect. You can get some faults-you will not get a perfect score but your day is not over. At this level titles are awarded as you accrue points.
And that's pretty much the cliff notes version so hopefully you understand my posts a little better!