Hosting a Trial

Hosting A Trial

Hosting a SDDA-sanctioned trial is extremely rewarding, but it’s also a huge responsibility. Both the organization and the competitors want to be sure that your trial is fair, organized and fun. Here are some guidelines for hosting a successful trial.

Before hosting, consider these three suggestions to help you prepare. These are not required but will be very helpful.

  1. Volunteer at a trial or fun match so you can see the procedures first-hand
  2. Trial with your own dog(s) at several venues and under several judges
  3. Host at least one Designated Odour Test (DOT) or fun match as “practice”

Note that you must be a current Registered Participant to host a trial.

Trial Host Requirements (venue, judge, approval)

  • Familiarize yourself with the requirements as laid out in the Master Rule Book with regard to scheduling, supplies, search areas and odour care. You will find this information in the Hosting a Trial Section.
  • An SDDA trial is defined as a single offering of any Level within a 12-hour period and will be assigned a unique trial number. A trial event is two or more trials on the same day or consecutive trial days.
  • Find a trial location that is suitable for the levels or games you wish to offer. You can describe it to the SDDA in your application form but it may help to have it reviewed beforehand so that the application process goes smoothly.
  • Contact a judge (see the Contact Us page on this website) and determine their availability. The judge may ask you questions regarding your venue, levels offered and supplies.
  • If you are hosting an Excellent and/or Elite level confirm that your potential judge is qualified to judge that level.
  • Please note that hosts may hire the same judge twice only before being required to use a different judge for their next trial.
  • Send your application at least six to eight weeks in advance, earlier if possible, so that there is time to resolve any issues, devise a Premium List and promote the event, plus, it may be possible that your date conflicts with another trial already approved in your area, in which case you will need to reschedule.
  • Once you have determined the likely number of entries you will receive, contact Kathy Shaw or go to the SDDA Forms page for a trial supplies order form to order your Q ribbons and score sheets. There is no cost for these. Ten business days minimum notice is recommended so that there is time to mail them to you. If ordered too close to the trial, courier charges may apply.
  • Title ribbons can also be purchased from the SDDA if you wish by contacting Kathy. You will be billed only for the title ribbons you award and do not return. You can also purchase title or placement rosettes from your own supplier.
  • DOWNLOAD the trial workbook available on the Forms page of this website.
  • Score sheets, Q ribbons and Title ribbons can be returned after the trial unless you wish to keep them for a future trial.

What else do you need to host a SDDA Trial?

  • SDDA approval by using the online application form.
  • If this is your first trial, discuss with your judge and/or the SDDA board (email what supplies you have and what you still need to acquire.
  • A secretary who will be the main contact for competitors who have questions about your trial. This is also usually the person who fills out the score sheets and provides sorted sheets to the judge, so they must be organized and responsive to questions.
  • Volunteers or staff to cover check-in, gate steward, timer, judge’s steward, admin/scoring, and other roles as needed.
  • A Premium List that will be sent out to SDDA Registered Participants once approved by the SDDA. Three days after this notification, you may make it available via email, on your website (if applicable) or social media to the general public.
  • Enough dogs in your region that are trial ready. We have found that on average a single day trial can accommodate 75 to 100 runs, depending on what levels or games you offer. Judges may also request limits.
  • Regardless of number of potential entries, please limit the schedule for each judge to a maximum of 8 hours including lunch and breaks.

What if I need to make a change to a trial?

  • If the Premium List has already been sent out and people are entering based on that Premium, then you must inform all your trial registrants of the changes and offer a refund if the changes cause an inconvenience. Remember a minor change to one person may not be minor to another.
  • You must also notify the SDDA Secretary and send a *revised* Premium List so that the new link can be posted on the website.

More helpful hints

  • Make sure you have more than enough of everything from pens to containers to vehicles. Supplies can break, get lost or can get contaminated so be prepared to replace anything at an instant’s notice.
  • When bringing your containers out of storage or from your vehicle, make 100% sure that your scent containers are not placed with or near your clean containers. Even residual odour can transfer easily to nearby objects.
  • Scent containers (including lids) should either be new (never used) or have only ever had official odour in them.
  • Make sure to have perfectly clean distractors and swab holders available. Provide them in their original packaging if possible so the judge does not have to wonder if they’ve been stored improperly or otherwise contaminated. Obviously, swabs must be clean as well, not stored with odour and there should be plenty of them.
  • Have de-odourizing spray on hand for bodily function accidents or areas contaminated by a competitor with food or by an exposed swab.
  • Official score sheets are provided by the SDDA. Prepare your score sheets ahead of time with names and alerts. It seems obvious but this can be laborious so leave plenty of time for it. Make sure you have enough spares in case of move-ups or damaged sheets.
  • Shadow judging score sheets can be downloaded from the website or copied from the official sheets by the judge applicant or the host. It is not the judge’s responsibility to provide them.
  • Ensure that your search areas are as clean and safe as you can make them. Especially for Started teams, wash your vehicles and thoroughly clean up any accidents.
  • If your trial is at a training facility, avoid using the same search areas for training at least one week before your trial.
  • Clearly mark any areas at your venue that are not to be accessed prior to the component held there or at any time. Or conversely, clearly mark where competitors should go. Competitors should not have to guess where they can potty their dogs or find out they’ve accidentally entered an Exterior Search Area.
  • To the best of your ability, prevent any loose dogs or cats from entering the venue. If this is somehow unavoidable, put up a visual barrier.
  • Make sure you have enough help. Treasure your secretary and let him or her work in a quiet area. Prepared and considerate timers, runners (to call up teams if needed and to retrieve completed score sheets) and gate people can make or break the trial experience for competitors.
  • Ask for help or advice if you need it. The SDDA board is more than happy to clarify anything or suggest options to ensure that your trial is a great experience for all.


  • $50 per trial day for your application
  • To the Judge: minimum of $200 per day or Standard runs $3 each, Game runs $2 each, whichever is greater.  A Judge’s Expense Form can be found on our SDDA Forms page.
  • Travel expenses as applicable to the judge(s) (.58/km if driving)
  • Expenses incurred by the judge directly related to the trial (hotel, meals, etc.)
  • Hospitality for judge(s) and volunteers
  • Trial supplies (clipboards, pens, poop bags etc.)
  • Location rental (if applicable)
  • Insurance (if not already included in your policy)
  • Ribbons and/or prizes if you choose to provide them
  • $5 per run (each dog in each component for Started, Advanced & Excellent levels) and Games to the SDDA once the trial is complete
  • $10 per dog for Elite level to the SDDA once the trial is complete

After your trial

  • Email your completed (and carefully proofed) workbook to
  • Score sheets can be mailed to SDDA Secretary, c/o Norm Dressler, 6400 Glen Knolls Drive, Ottawa, ON K1C 2X2 OR scanned and emailed to
  • E-transfer run fees to or use the WebStore to pay the run fees
  • Return any unused trial supplies to SDDA Treasurer, c/o Stacey Shaw at 11 Patrick Drive, Barrie, ON L4N 5Z1 unless you wish to keep them for future trials.

Occasionally, SDDA offers financial subsidies to trial hosts. Go to our SDDA Forms Page to check if subsidies are available and to download a request form.

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