NW250: NW3 Prep - Mental Strategies and Advanced Puzzles

Instructor: Stacy Barnett

Course Details

NW3 is a whole new ballgame.  The emphasis shifts to pressured searches and handler mind games.  Pass rates tend to plummet at this level.  Get ready for the rigors of trialing at advanced levels with this class.  Feel confident going in and confident in making the right calls.  In this class, we will cover topics such as:

  • advanced scent puzzles (NW3 Level and Elite Division Level)
  • developing the right startline routine for your specific dog
  • assessing your dog’s alerts and how they differ under stress
  • learning to read your dog in blank rooms
  • improving your handling so that you cover the entire search area in the fastest time possible
  • acclimation strategies for your dog and dealing with handler nerves
  • searching for an unknown number of hides
  • building mental stamina

This class is appropriate for any team looking to build NW3 skills or who are already trialing at the NW3 level.  If you are getting close to finishing your NW3 Elite and would like to try more challenging puzzles...  Advanced Scent Puzzles each week will have an Elite Division option.

Class Preview:


There are no scheduled sessions for this class at this time. We update our schedule frequently, so please subscribe to our mailing list for notifications.

Registration starts at 11:00 AM PDT

Enrollment limits: Gold: 12 students, Silver: 25 students, Bronze: unlimited. If you are interested in bronze level, you can sign up any time during the registration period.


Week 1:

  • What to expect at a NW3 trial, why it is a different Ballgame
  • Self Assessment and goals for the course
  • Start a customized prep plan for your dog.  Building skills and confidence at the same time.
  • Baseline timed, blind hide with unknown number of hides
  • Handling the stress of the day
  • Advanced Puzzles Week 1:
    • Inaccessible and Accessible with Converging Odor
    • Converging Odor with One Hide in a Corner
    • Pooling Odor

Week 2:

  • Developing the right staging routine and startline routine
  • Develop a plan for the trial day to help your canine partner cope with the stresses of the day
  • Practicing your startline routine on confidence building searches
  • Using cool down boxes
  • Taking your startline routine on the road
  • Advanced Puzzles Week 2:
    • Extreme Converging Odor
    • High and Low with Converging Odor

Week 3:

  • Assessing your dog's alerts and how they differ away from home
  • Maintenance for insistence of the alert
  • Reading your dog - the KEY to NW3
  • Understanding how to read your dog in a blank room and when to call Clear
  • Training strategies for blank rooms, maintaining motivation in your canine partner
  • Large search area
  • Advanced Puzzles Week 3:
    • Elevation Discrimination
    • Extreme Elevation

Week 4:

  • Assessing the search areas during the walk through
  • Strategies and techniques for covering the entire search area
  • More practice with blind, unknown number of hides
  • How to assess when you have found all of the hides
  • The enigma of the single hide search area
  • How to NOT convince your dog to false alert
  • Learning from a "No"
  • Advanced Puzzles Week 4:
    • Elevation with Distractions
    • Suspended Hides

Week 5:

  • Mental search stamina.  Practicing the ability to cope with stress of up to three sequential timed, blind hides with unknown number of hides
  • Mental search stamina in novel locations with increased environmental distractions
  • Advanced Puzzles Week 5:
    • Fence Hides
    • Pole Hides

Week 6:

  • Dealing with NW3 Containers.  How to know when to stop searching.
  • Practicing increased complexity in vehicle searches
  • Advanced Puzzles Week 6:
    • Inaccessible and Accessible on the Same Vehicle
    • Converging Odor in Containers
  • Revisit Self Assessment

Prerequisites and Equipment

There are no specific prerequisites for this class; however, teams should be confidently searching multiple hides in all competitive elements (Exteriors, Interiors, Vehicles and Containers).  Strong NW2 teams (regardless of titling status) might benefit greatly from this class.  If you have specific questions about whether this class is right for you, please contact the Instructor.

Course Testimonials

A sampling of what prior students have said about this course ....

This was my first class with Stacy, and I was quite impressed! She gave great ideas for NW3 and Elite level puzzles and great explanations for applicable scent theory. And gave great information on how to get ourselves and our dogs mentally ready to trial. This class was great!!! Molly B          

Course materials were dense with information and the instructor's engagement with Gold students was very impressive.      

I am so happy that I took this course. My confidence in trialing at the Elite level with Sheila has increased tremendously. The advanced odor puzzles were very helpful. The understanding of elevation, scent cones, and converging odor was something we needed to work on. Besides all that you are such an enthusiastic and positive trainer. All your observations and suggestions were always presented in a helpful and positive way:) Planning on taking the NW230 Gold Level with my NW2 dog Pax!!         

I loved this class! ~ I couldn't wait to go out and try the exercises. Very thought provoking, you really had to think about the hide placement and set up. Great feedback on student videos. If there were one thing that might be changed is that this course could actually be probably three full courses. Massive amounts of information and I'm very grateful that the lectures are stored because I will be using the information for quite some time.       

Very impressed with this instructor and her willingness to connect with students as well as share her secrets for success.

Thank you! Clear understandable lecture materials, and good exercises.