Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

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John S
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Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by John S » Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:22 am

Let me preface by saying all in all it was a great weekend for the Wife, Scout and me away from home visiting the Potomac Chapter in MD last weekend.
We tested Scout on Sunday, the day he turned 16 months for NA, this was to be our one and only chance to test for NA. We had watched the dogs run UT and NA on Saturday and since it was our first event we used the time to get an idea of what to expect. Going into this test we've had no coaching or training and Scout was not "prepared" in any way. After watching the testing I was confident in his field abilities but I was extremely worried about tracking and water. We have had no exposure to water at all other than crossing some small creeks and I've never had him track anything. None of this seemed to bother Scout, but I was becoming a nervous wreck.
Sunday morning rolled up and Scout was first up for NA after the UT dogs ran. I had overheard on the radio that there would be two birds planted in each of two adjacent fields but of course had no idea where in the fields the birds would be.
Here we are getting ready to start the Field test;
Image

As we worked our way into the field the gunner fired off two rounds separately, After the first shot Scout stopped and began looking around, when he did not see any birds going down he trotted over towards me and then he spotted the lone person with a shotgun and beelined towards him and stared at him. I told him that he was giving the gunner a stink eye for missing to which everyone had a good laugh.
As we were working the field I began to get worried since Scout had not gotten onto a bird and we were about 2/3 of the way through the field. As I was worrying that he had passed the birds he hit his first point, solid as a rock and picture perfect. After I flushed the bird he chased it for a bit until it got to the wood line, then circled back and began hunting again. On the second bird he locked up and when the bird flew he chased it through the hedgerow and into the next field. The judge I was standing next to kept mumbling for the bird to keep flying over and over. The bird set down about 150 yards away with Scout barely 20 yards behind it. Has the bird went to ground Scout caught it, got it in his mouth and promptly ran back depositing the still live Chukar at our feet. This won him praise from the judges, what I did not understand at the time was that if he had run off with the bird it would have cost points in "cooperation". But since he returned with the bird it actually increased his cooperation score. As we reached the end of the first field and were turning into the second field Scout had gone about 10 feet into the wood line and was circling an area around a tree. We stood there watching for a few minutes trying to figure out what he was doing when he jumped up to a tree and went into point. On the back side of the tree away from our view was pheasant that was left from the UT test. All in all Scout found and pointed 6 birds, and would get the praise of the judges at the end of the day for finding more birds in the field than any other dog that weekend.
The tracking test;
Image getting instructions from the Judge.
The judge told me that the feathers were in a pile over there and to just get the dog on the scent and release him as I normally do. I looked ot the judge and told him we've never done this before, I do not have a clue as to what to do. The judge was great and took the time to explain to me how to set the dog and walk him onto the scent and release him. As it was I set Scout loose on the upwind side of the scent trail. Not knowing what to expect I really thought that we tanked the tracking test. Scout was back and forth across the field and had run to the fence row twice and even pointed one time after going into the brush. The judge simply told me to call my dog and collar him which made me think we did not do well.
Image
At the end of the day I asked the Judge how he did on tracking and he told me he did perfect. He went on to explain some of the behavior that I thought was bad was just the dog using his nose to get his bearings and that where he went to the brush and pointed was exactly where the pheasant had gone.
The Water test;
I am not going to go into any detail here other than to say this was a total failure. Scout would not go into deep water and swim. He would get to his chest but has he host his footing he stopped. He would stretch for whatever was within reach and bring them back, but anything in deep water he would just not swim for. He ran back and forth on the shore whining and reaching, he walked out on a small downed limb in the water and even fell off of it and had to swim back to shore. But he would not retrieve a dummy.
He received a no score for the water which resulted in a total score of 89 and no prize. The water cost him points in Cooperation and desire as well as the water itself.
I am not disappointed in Scout at all, instead I am disappointed FOR him. This was our only opportunity for a NA test and I fear he will be judged wrongly because of it since no one will really know how exceptionally well he did on the rest of the tests.
I'll need to consider whether we work towards a UT test of possibly change direction all together.
Image

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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by wems2371 » Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:53 am

John, first of all, I want to sincerely say congrats to you and Scout on your Field and Tracking portions. Please know that those of us with experience, know that one day in a puppy/dog's life, does not reflect what a dog is. My senior Judge at my UT mentioned exactly that, as each individual entered the field with their dog. And I also know what it is like to be a 1st time trainer/handler.

The score breakdown can be seen on the NAVHDA website, and I think the magazine, so it will show how he did in the other sections of the test. My older shorthair got a Prize 1 score 112 and my younger dog got a Prize 3 score 100. She had a bad day at the track, as did others, and scraped by with a 1. I could have retested her, but saw no point in it. She is every bit as talented as my older dog, if not more so. So please don't give this NA test more weight than you should. You're dog either wasn't exposed enough for swimming or simply had a bad day. It happens.

Rather decide if NAVHDA testing is a challenge that you would enjoy and whether you think you can (or want to) overcome the water element. If you have a Chapter near you, I would highly recommend joining, as they would be able to help you with the water portion of the test. It can be done, and it sounds like he's on the verge, if he's at least entering the water. As soon as the weather warms, waterwork would be my #1 priority. I personally know of a few folks whose dogs don't care much for swimming, that after a summers worth of training, knocked out an exceptional duck search at their UT. It can be done.

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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by mtlhdr » Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:20 pm

+1 on what wems said. Sounds like Scout had an excellent day and excelled in the areas you expected him to excel in and in an area you didn't (the track). The water can be tough, especially with little to no exposure, but you guys can work on that. I guarantee you Scout doesn't care that he didn't prize :) Sounds like the test was a good experience and has given you some food for thought going forward. Use the NA experience and how you felt when you heard the scores to motivate you for the next time, whatever that may be. From your description, Scout sounds like a very nice dog, good luck and have fun with whatever direction you choose to go.

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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by ACooper » Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:29 pm

Any test or trial is one day in the life of your pup, and overall it sounds like you guys did a very good job.
Last edited by ACooper on Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by campgsp » Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:21 pm

You and scout did a great job. Some of the best dogs never passed NA test. Let alone a JH title. Don't worry about it.

If you intend to do UT now you have more knowledge of the training you will have to do. Which by I mean water. I hope you do choose to set up scout for that.

Keep us posted, good luck.

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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by Fran Seagren » Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:52 pm

John,

Although I have EXTREMELY limited experience with NAVHDA/NA, I totally agree with what others have stated about not giving up because your very nice young dog didn't do a water retrieve.

My husband and I ran our red setter pups in a NA test four years ago. There were many dogs that didn't do the water retrieve. As I've trained field labs for years, I can tell you there are many Labrador retrievers that will not go in the water and retrieve a bumper the first time you try. Most pups need a little introduction to water. You stated that Scout had only walked through creeks before the test. Based on your description and the picture, it looks like Scout is "that close" to making his first water retrieve.

Our two red setter pups aced the water test simply BECAUSE they had been retrieving bumpers in water for months before the test. A couple of the handlers that their dogs didn't pass the water retrieve part were asking us afterwards what we did that made our dogs so crazy to go. I think because people knew we had labs, too, they figured there was a "retriever" secret or something. :D I told them it's no secret. We never force puppies/young dogs in the water. We wait until the weather is warm and make it a fun thing. The best method for me is to have another dog(s) that already loves the water with you. As you're throwing bumpers or birds for that dog, let the young one just run around and get excited and watch the other dog - no restrictions. Most of the time, the young one will just follow the older dog in and start swimming. If the weather cool, be sure and don't let the young dog stay in the water too long. Get him/her out and running around. Dry the dog off completely so that they never "think" the water is cold. Once it's in their young head, it stays - good or bad. Many years ago a couple bought a lab puppy from us. They lived on a lake and couldn't wait for their pup to go swimming. So, they threw her in the cold northwest Washington lake. Last I heard from those people, she still hated the water and wouldn't go swimming.

Our older setter, Ruby (mother to the pups we ran in the NA), wouldn't go swimming when she was a pup. My lab, "Jonz" (gone now) tried his hardest to get her in the water. :lol: She would go up to her chest and Jonz would run past her, grab the bumper from the water and swim to the other side of the small slough. He "flipped" the bumper around and around on the other shore, teasing Ruby until I called him back. He did this over and over. We tried on several occasions at different times until I actually thought we may have a dog that won't swim.

Ruby was about a year old when one day my husband was holding her on a lead watching us work a young lab pup. We were trying to entice the puppy to go swimming. We had my lab who was happy to jump in and retrieve the duck several times while the young pup was getting more and more excited. I tossed the duck once more and before I could send my dog, Ruby broke free from my husband, and with the lead dragging behind her, "labrador leaped" off the bank and swam out, grabbed the dead duck and brought it back! We were stunned. From that retrieve, almost 8 years ago now, you cannot keep Ruby out of the water. She would get hyperthermia if we don't watch her - seriously. She will jump in the water before our labs do every single time, no matter the temperature. Ruby is the most swimming dog I've ever seen. It doesn't matter if there are any ducks around or not, she's in the water looking for them. I guess the moral to this story is as long as they think it's fun, it IS fun.

Our young brittany(Seven) has already been swimming. When I was romping him with our two red dogs in one of the areas we train, we went down to the river where Ruby and Robert went in and Seven just followed. Some dogs take a while to get it and some just "do it" right away.

I plan to try and pass a UT test with Robert and Ruby. But, have been advised that I should join a training group first. I think that's good advice. Have fun!

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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by birddogger » Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:15 pm

mtlhdr wrote:+1 on what wems said. Sounds like Scout had an excellent day and excelled in the areas you expected him to excel in and in an area you didn't (the track). The water can be tough, especially with little to no exposure, but you guys can work on that. I guarantee you Scout doesn't care that he didn't prize :) Sounds like the test was a good experience and has given you some food for thought going forward. Use the NA experience and how you felt when you heard the scores to motivate you for the next time, whatever that may be. From your description, Scout sounds like a very nice dog, good luck and have fun with whatever direction you choose to go.
+2, especially on the comment of not giving the NA more weight than it is. Having said that, I know what you are feeling. I had the exact same experience as you had. Everybody wants to be successful but it is really not that big of a deal at that stage and you, like me, will get over it. Be proud of what your pup did and realize that the judges and others at the test know how talented your pup is :wink: .

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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by SwitchGrassWPG » Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:07 pm

There are a couple chapters on the east coast that have Handler's Clinics scheduled and if you want to continue in NAVHDA, attendance is well worth the fee.

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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by Red » Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:45 pm

Stuff happens, been there. My pup got a 2 in nose in his NA, didn't pass, I'm still a little pissed. Not many dogs get a 2 in nose.
Few weeks later he took his Derby test with the Nadkc and received a Prize 1 (all 4's).

A new chapter opened up in North Jersey, great folks and really nice land...

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John S
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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by John S » Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:23 am

Thanks for all the encouragement everyone.
I went and met with one of the local chapters at the training site this morning. Seems like a great group and several were very enthusiastic about helping Scout get through the swimming issue.
I'll be meeting with them again next week as a member and to start Scout on working towards a UT. I'll be sure to check ion and let everyone know how it progresses.
In the meantime I need to purchase a bird bag, anyone know where a good deal is?

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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by Ms. Cage » Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:54 am

Good luck training for the UT. You'll do fine.

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Munster
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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by Munster » Sat Apr 20, 2013 2:36 pm

John, you and the pup did very well! Wems is right on as with her comments and you should take them to heart.
NOW, get your speedos on and get in the water with that pup! :lol:
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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by Elkhunter » Sun Apr 21, 2013 7:44 pm

At least you SHOWED UP!! That alone is 100X more than a lot of people! Sounds like he did was a bird dog should do! Whats water anyway? My dogs drown in the water! :D

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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by Cactus » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:30 am

Congrats on having a heck of a hunting dog. Just like the others are saying, the test is only one day in the life of Scout. The real tests are when you and Scout go hunting in the field, and the enjoyment and satisfaction that you get from hunting with Scout. As far as the water retrieving goes, just take Scout out to a lake with another dog that likes to swim. It won't take Scout long to figure things out. Anyway, enjoy your hunting dog, he sounds like a winner!

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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by Jagerdawg » Fri Apr 26, 2013 1:04 pm

It sounds like you did pretty good to me, anything can happen when we step to the line. Happy hunting

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John S
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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by John S » Thu May 09, 2013 10:37 am

Hey Guys, I figured I would give a quick update on things. First, I got a printout from NAVHDA detailing Scouts NA test scores. I know that there is a degree of interaction between several of the tests and how they score. I am hoping someone here is familiar enough to explain it to me.
  • Use of Nose 4
    Search 4
    Water 1
    Pointing 4
    Tracking 4
    Desire to Work 2
    Cooperation 3
I did not list the indexes because I did not think them relevant here.

Now about training, I've had Scout out to the water once since returning and have been able to coax him into the water. I was able to get out about waist deep before a drop off would have put me over my head. Once I was out in the water I could get him out on a lead if a tugged him. Once he was swimming he would swim to me and try to hang on to me momentarily, then he would swim back towards shore. On his way back he would get a bumper and bring it back to my wife standing on the shore.
After doing this a few times I only had to give him a short tug on the lead to get him coming in the right direction and he took it from there.
We'll continue to work with him but I am looking for a kayak to enable me to get into deeper water and make him swim more. Hopefully this will get him more comfortable with swimming. I am also looking for someone nearby with a good swimming dog to go out with. I really think getting him with another dog that swims will get him motivated.

I'll update more as we progress.

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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by Ms. Cage » Thu May 09, 2013 10:54 am

This is a question your should have asked the judges after the test. Your dog did well in nose, search, and tracking. The 3 in cooperation was propably do to the poor water performance. Cooperation is judged on the overall test. 2 in desire to work , can not answer that but the judges could have. Once the scores are red the judges always asked if anybody would like to discuss the scores. you missed the oppertunaty.

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John S
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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by John S » Thu May 09, 2013 11:08 am

I actually did get the opportunity to speak to the judge afterwards but I was not knowledgeable enough to ask about the relationship between Cooperation, desire to work and the other scores.

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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by TraditionsGSPs2010 » Thu May 09, 2013 12:37 pm

I agree with Ms. Cage about the best information coming directly from the judges. That said, it is pretty typical to get dinged in both cooperation and desire with a failure to swim. Those areas also typically get dinged when their is a failure on other parts of the test. The correlation between the different areas I think you are asking about goes something like this: If the dog fails to swim, it is showing a lower desire to accomplish the task at hand. It also shows less cooperation because it fails to do what you have asked. I did not see where you may have mentioned used of bird at the water. In most cases, when a dog will not swim for a bumper, they go to a dead bird. This will result is a much lower score but the dog cas still prize. If your pup would not swim to the bird then I would say the judges assessed him accurately... ON THAT DAY.

I agree with everyone else who said you got a heck of a score and all those 4's are something to be proud of. If your pup would have swam, it sounds like you would have nailed a 112, Pz I. Sounds like you are well on your way!
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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by Munster » Thu May 09, 2013 3:18 pm

John S wrote:Hey Guys, I figured I would give a quick update on things. First, I got a printout from NAVHDA detailing Scouts NA test scores. I know that there is a degree of interaction between several of the tests and how they score. I am hoping someone here is familiar enough to explain it to me.
  • Use of Nose 4
    Search 4
    Water 1
    Pointing 4
    Tracking 4
    Desire to Work 2
    Cooperation 3
I did not list the indexes because I did not think them relevant here.

Now about training, I've had Scout out to the water once since returning and have been able to coax him into the water. I was able to get out about waist deep before a drop off would have put me over my head. Once I was out in the water I could get him out on a lead if a tugged him. Once he was swimming he would swim to me and try to hang on to me momentarily, then he would swim back towards shore. On his way back he would get a bumper and bring it back to my wife standing on the shore.
After doing this a few times I only had to give him a short tug on the lead to get him coming in the right direction and he took it from there.
We'll continue to work with him but I am looking for a kayak to enable me to get into deeper water and make him swim more. Hopefully this will get him more comfortable with swimming. I am also looking for someone nearby with a good swimming dog to go out with. I really think getting him with another dog that swims will get him motivated.

I'll update more as we progress.

Can you swim? I would swim with him. Let him know it is a lot of fun. Another trick is if he is food motivated. Float some cheese puff balls in the water. But, all in all it doesnt really matter anymore if he gets in by himself. From here on out it is trainability. if you go on to UT he will swim for a duck search and you can get him to swim with force fetch.
I still think you did a great job for a first time handler.
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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by Ruffshooter » Tue May 14, 2013 7:36 am

First, I have not read all the other posts.

The NA test is just one day in the life of the dog.
The NA test does take some prep work, one should not really train for it to have a true evaluation.
Looking at the Pics of your dog, Just looking at the body language, the eyes and tail. You have nothing to worry about and He will show what he is made of in true fashion, once you actually start training.

I have a GSP Mercy she is now 13. She failed her NA test. That same year at 15 or 16 months old she got a Prize #1 UT, Then two years later a VC.

There is plenty of opportunity for your pup to bloom.

Be patient, and enjoy the ride.

Your dog is a nice looking brit.
Rick
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Re: Back from NA testing... Disappointed...

Post by Blackjaw » Tue May 14, 2013 8:37 am

I am probably echoing what everyone else has said, but don't give up. The way I look at it is you have a dog with alot of talent. Now that you've been to a test you know what to train for. Train for the things your dog had problems with and the next time will be AWESOME!

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