by grant
Words of Wisdom for Hunt Tests

Place brief HT tips in this thread.



by Greg Jennings
1. Be polite.
2. Offer to help with the test. I learned more by gunning SH and MH than any other way.
3. When running your dog, keep your mouth shut unless absolutely necessary.
4. In JH, get to the bird field as quickly as possible. In SH and MH, get their as slowly as possible.
5. After you get what you need to pass, water your dog, wet it down, and whatever else you can do to *subtly* keep your dog away from a chance to screw up.
6. Don't overdo JH. It can set you up for trouble later.
7. Don't view SH or MH so much as a goal as an acknowledgement of where your dog is consistently performing in training.

Best regards,



by SwitchGrassWPG
Don't forgo a lower level test because you think your dog is capable of passing a higher level.



by Ryan
Just be quiet and let the dog work. The dog cant disobey commands if you are not giving them.

Bring LOTS of water for you and the dog.



by Ruffshooter
Pepare your dog and yourself for strange things to go wrong.
So once you have your dog to the MH, UT level throw different situations at your dog like:
1) different breeds of dogs.
2) poorly trained dogs.
3) train in different places and in all kinds of weather.
4) poor flying birds.
5) train with other folks in the field with you acting as a moiving gallery.
6) Plant birds in trees.
These things come up in a test.
Run the test with the same demeanor as you train.
Before the test go through some leash and basic drills like heal, whoa, here etc. Just letting the dog know you are still the boss. They forget that sometimes in the bird field.

Have all your gear ready before called to the break away and have plenty of water. It can not only refresh your dog it can also give you time to regain your composure.



by original mngsp
2. Offer to help with the test. I learned more by gunning SH and MH than any other way.


Right on, I think gunning should be a requirement for becoming an AKC HT judge. Often times yuo see and hear more as a gunner than a judge will.

5. After you get what you need to pass, water your dog, wet it down, and whatever else you can do to *subtly* keep your dog away from a chance to screw up.


You have to be careful on that one depending on your judges. Some judges view the "find my one bird and hide" strategy very negatively and will reflect it in the dog's hunt score others find this acceptable. I always believe that a SH or MH dog should be able to find and handle multiple birds without inceident, expecially a MH.

Just be quiet and let the dog work.


It's always fun to see a handler/dog team that are in synch with one another and trust each other. Over handling is becoming a major problem in my opinion. If the bonding and training has been done right, let the dog what he does best, hunt and find birds. So many people hack thier dog around the course not wanting it to get to far off the path or else it might find birds or something bad like that. I like to see peopel act like they are hunting!!! Not playing a game.



by wannabe
Ruffshooter wrote:Prepare your dog and yourself for strange things to go wrong.
So once you have your dog to the MH, UT level throw different situations at your dog.

Great advise! The best way to do this is to hunt your dogs on wild birds with other people and their dogs. If your dog is doing MH work in the field, then a 30-minute hunt test will be a piece of cake. Most well trained dogs are capable of handling the different situations; it is usually the handlers that make the mistakes when something unexpected is thrown at them.



by RemchesterBrittanys
The tests we have run here have had a set time in the front field then and only then can you proceed to the bird field, once that time has elapsed you MUST spend the remainder in the back field. Keep in mind that unless you are the first brace birds can be encountered anywhere on the course. One thing we were advised to do is run some steam off the dogs before our brace, it might help to keep them from inadvertantly bumping a bird or appearing uncontrolable.

Must have been good advise Frankie is now a SH and Gunner easily passed his JH.



by gundogguru
Ya'll have forgotten the most important thing. Have FUN if your not having fun you should not be there. I see more handlers out there that think there at a foot race to win a millon dollars. Just have fun with your dogs.



by Maverick
The fun part is probally the most important.
When I ran Dixie through her puppy and senior titles I was nervouse and and I beleave Dixie knew it.
We finnished both titles and I learn lots.

With Maverick and his junior title I was told by the trainer I was sending him to to leave him as a clean slate. Meaning no training.
He passed every time and with great scores on everything but Control.. lol :lol:
He sure had a heck of a time out there as did I watching him.
Go and have FUN. Your dog will do fine, espeically at the junior level.

Mav.....



by ezzy333
Mav,

That is the theory I have been preaching also. JH is a natural ability test and let the dog do its thing. You can train later for the next levels.

Ezzy



by billy
Great Advice! I am excited to see owners training thier dogs to Senior & Master Hunter Skills. Hunt Test last season held by different dog clubs in my area had full braces each day. Some Clubs declined entry's prior to closing date to being full. The last test in our area held in March had 2 master braces, 7 senior braces, and 15 junior braces.

***My advice is send in your entry's in early!



by original mngsp
The master level is really becoming a big thing around here. We are starting to gte a lot more entries from NAVHDA people, which is great to see.

This spring most area tests had around 15 or so MAster braces per day.



by billy
Original MNGSP, Thank you for heads up! I imagine it is Heading our way & we will probably see a great deal more Master Braces this winter down South.



by original mngsp
Billy

Hope you guys do. The HT program is a good one for owner/handler/trainers to see what thye can do.



by Texrab
What about introduction to horses? I've never had my dogs around horses so I'm not sure how they will react. How would you handle this without access to a horse?



by ezzy333
I wouldn't worry about it. They will adjust to a horse just fine. Get there a little early and lead your dog up near the horses but you ignore them. Your dog will investigatye and probably lose interest.

Ezzy



by spankey
Im new at the game and i know the tests and other events are becomeing more frequent in Ut. now I have a 13 week GSP which is doing fabulous, really fabulous.
My questions is, she is holding points long enough for me to adjust her tail, she uses her nose always to find birds, and is playing fetch to hand 90% of the time. I know this is good, but im affraid im going to screw it up, what do I do?
Before you answer though Ill tell ya what I am doing with her. I haven't put her on a wing ever, which i think is attributing to her nose and no sight points. I play the fetch/retrieve game with her to promote the retrieve to hand issue. I put her on 1-4 birds roughly every other day. She is still very excited and MOTIVATED when she hits the field.
What do you pro's think..

Mike



by birddog1220
one thing you can do,ounce you get your bird and retreve if you havent already got your back, try to get your self in position so you dont come into it head on.



by Don
There are three thing's I saw in hunt test's that caused more down fall than any other. First was not reading the dog. If you learn to read your dog, it'll tell you pretty much what it's gonna do. Next was not trusting the dog, trust the dog. And the worst mistake was being a handler. You don't go out to impress the judge with your handling skill's, you go out to have him look at your dog. Most time's the best dog's don't seem to be handled at all. But then if you trust the dog and you understand what he's telling you, you find you don't have to handle it that much.

I am a man of a few thousand word's so if you'll bear with me I'd give you an example.

I was judging at a field trial once, an amature gun dog stake. A young lady in her first trial with the first dog she ever owned had her dog on point, very nice dog by the way. she went past her dog about 10 yds to the right and as she got another 10 or so yards in front, the dog glanced to the left. I looked over and there went the bird, running. The young lady was so busy looking for the bird that she didn't watch the dog. But, when the bird left, the dog went soft, just standing there and would now look at her. It was trying as hard as it could to tell her what had happened and she didn't get it.

Two thing's went wrong for her, first she didn't read her dog and second she made a bad approach on the bird. Had she looped around and come at the dog's nose, she would have had the bird between her and the dog and her eye on the dog. as soon as that dog glanced to the left, she should have gone left. Then if she didn't produce the bird and the dog went soft, she should have asked for a relocate.

Trust your dog, read your dog and don't be a handler. Your part of a team.



by ernurse
Thats really good advice Don, thanks, I am new to this site and planning to attend/enter into the hunt test in my area next month. I have a Gordon Setter that is my first pointer. She is 2 y/o but I plan to enter the Junior test, there isnt an age limit is there?
Can someone tell me the difference in how much more weighted the Senior is from the Junior in regards to the different categories? In particular the hunting, is there a big difference? either the dog hunts or it doesnt, or am I missing something? Remeber I am a novice :)



by Don
As I recall there is no age limit. It is meerly a test to determine the potentional of the dog. It's been quite awhile for me so hopefully someone will correct any mistake's I make here. Your dog will have to show a desire to hunt, best seen when it's out and away from you and not constently hanging around to see what you are going to do next. He/she needs to be off looking for something and not under foot. That may be hard to explain to someone on their first time out. Look for your dog to be 40+ yds out constently. That's not very far at all but a pointing dog in gun range serves little purpose. What they are looking for is a gun type dog. As I recall, the dog will go into a bird field and need's to establish a point but, I don't recall we shot bird's in Jr Handler. The rule's for a jr dog are not to strict.

If you write AKC, Performance Event's Div, they'll send you a copy of the guideline's for pointing dog test's. Keep in mind, if you don't think you did well, don't get discourged, you went out there. I didn't notice where you live but look for a NSTRA club near you that has fun day's. An AKC club would be best but out here the AKC club's don't do that for some reason. Those NSTRA guy's that I've known were mostly nice guy's ready to help and a NSTRA dog should nail Sr hunter with no problem. Look up NSTRA or National Shoot to Retrieve on the internet and their main office will help you find a club as close to you as possible.

Anything else I can do, holler.



by tenbearsviz
I would like to add a little to Don's post above. You only use a blank gun in JH. Gunshyness is tested in your trainability score.

As for the difference in JH & SH in the hunting category. Both must hunt but the SH is watched with "less tolerance"... Wonderful AKC wording. I interpret that as have more maturity and less JH play and over all showing a more serious attack on the objectives.

There is a huge difference in the JH and SH when it comes to pointing. in SH the dog must be steady until released or when the bird is shot.

Retrieving and honoring are not required in JH.

Here is a link to the AKC rule book. It will explain in more detail then I did. http://www.akc.org/pdfs/rulebooks/RHTPNT.pdf

No matter what happens the main thing to take from hunting tests is the enjoyment of working with your dog. Have fun!!!



by ernurse
Thank You for the input, I think she is going to do very well to get her Junior tiltle :D

I just wasnt sure what they were looking for, she hunts independantly up to approx. 40-50 yrds, I have made a habit of keeping her with in that range for grouse hunting. My only other concern is that if I do eventually pursue Senior title I will have to train the steady to wing and shot, I have kept her steady to wing but always let her go with the shot so I didnt lose any birds, to me this is a dilema.

K



by Don
She won't need to be steady to shot for senior, just master.



by GoodTime GSP
Great Advice Everyone, I would add this as well. Hunt test are not a win, lose game. It is just what it says a test with one objective and that is passing both dogs. As a judge and handler I alway encourage others to introduce themselves to the other handler and discuss thier game plan on how they are going to get both dogs through this test(Regardless of the level). Remember if you see the other dog not doing well and your dog is sweeping the bird field back off and give the other dog a chance. Water them take them to a corner of the field etc..... Also someone mentioned train for the worst to prepare your dog for anything. Great advice! Lastly I would also recommend that you alway train for the master level even though your are not running in it yet. This will make it so much easier to go to that next level each time.



by phermes1
GoodTime GSP wrote:Lastly I would also recommend that you alway train for the master level even though your are not running in it yet. This will make it so much easier to go to that next level each time.


Exactly what I was thinking. While your dog can break on shot in SH, the transition to MH and field trials is much easier if you don't let them get into that habit.



by parshal
Great advice here and I'm sure I'll repeat some of it.

I've run NAVHDA tests for years and finished my first MH this year. We skipped JH and SH and went 6 for 7 in Master. I had run two MH braces a few years ago with a GWP but that was all I'd seen before this spring so take this advice knowing how much I've done. A few things stuck out as I ran over three weekends in two states. One, the judging is inconsistent. Some judges won't tolerate a dog running behind too much. Some want a dog to pick up a dead bird found in the field and others want the dog to point it. Some will let the dog drop a bird on a retrieve three times and some want it directly back. In short, expect to get a few inconsistent calls from test to test. Don't get upset, that's part of the game.

Prepare your dog for everything that can happen in a test and go out with a dog that is trained 25 - 50% better than required for the test. So many people go out there hoping their dog will do it. Don't show up with a dog that CAN do it, show up with a dog that knows what to expect and WILL do it.

Don't hack at your dog. As mentioned above, the best handler/dog teams are virtually silent. When the handler changes direction the dog changes direction. Trust your dog. If you can't relocate your dog on point for fear he'll take out the bird you need to train more. It's going to happen in the test at some point. You need to trust your dog on relocation.

Don't be afraid to give commands IF you need them. Don't let the dog figure out that he can get away with things. If you have to stop him from stealing point, give the command and leash up your dog. Take your lumps if you have to. You can softly speak to your dog as you walk in on point.

The best advice I can give is to find another experienced handler and watch them. See if you can follow them in the field. Watch what they dog and, more importantly, what they don't do.



by Liz A
We've got a 8-month old Vizsla, and we're trying to find hunt tests near Waco, TX. We're planning on going to Amarillo in September, but would like to find some other events.



by snips
After running several HT's the last several weeks I have some observations. Biggest problem I see are people running dogs in upper levels that are nowhere ready. It takes lots of training to pass a Sr or Master, do your homework and observe alot then go train before putting your dog in these levels. Many are JH's that just throw them in and hope for the best. No 1-you are not helping your dog any by allowing them to get away with stuff in the test before ready, and No2-you sure have no respect for the bracemate. One more issue is people running dogs that are either aggressive or just plain obnoxious to their bracemate!!!!! I have had 3 braces where my dogs were jumped and 2 where the other dog rammed mine so hard it tucked its tail and was scared to get near another dog. It is almost enough to really detur my from starting my dogs in hunt tests. One male jumped my BITCH! Mostly see this in male Weims....I am getting so parnoid about my bracemate I am trying to get as far away from them turning loose as possible and they will run your dog down unti they get a lick in, then go on. There are things to do to stop this behavior if you see it in your dog. So, this is probably venting as much as advice 8) :)



by parshal
snips wrote:....Mostly see this in male Weims....


Obviously it's not a regional thing then. I saw the same out here this past spring when I ran my GSP at a Weim hunt test.



by snips
Sounds like they need to do some adjusting in their breeding :x



by CherrystoneWeims
I think the biggest problem is the owners/handlers of the Weims.

Brenda, I have seen one woman (and you were braced with her when I judged you last year) who is totally oblivious to her dog's aggression issues. I was about ready to tell her to pick her dog up until he blinked the back for your young male so he was picked up anyways. She just lets her dog continue on and does nothing about his being aggressive. I've also seen him be aggressive at field trials and the other handler was saavy enough to pick up her dog. I also blame judges for NOT having the dogs picked up when they are aggressive. I always warn handlers before the dogs are released that if I see any aggression I will have them pick up their dogs.

As far as male Weims I don't have a problem with mine. None of my males have ever been in fights and I have them together in the kennel yard. Now granted I won't do that if I have a bitch in season because of testosterone levels!

I've also had one of my bitches attacked by another Weim bitch at a hunt test. The handler was smart enough to pick up her bitch.



by snips
You are right Pam about the owners. They seem positively oblivious to it. The dog that rammed my Dolly hit her so hard she ran back to me with tail tucked, this was a Wire. This was after 2 weeks ago the Weim (the one you are referring to) jumped her. This is a nice young dog with nothing but hunting on her mind, now to be totally freaked about any new bracemate. My goal was to start her in Walking Trials in the spring, now I will have something else to fix. You are also right about the judges, I think it happens so fast that they just think it is overwith, so leave the dog down :evil: I had one dog take out a bird in front of her on backcourse, she handled that, then up ahead I see the dog still down running. I asked the judges why the dog was still down, they said if he interferred they would pick him up....Ugh. I said, HE ALREADY INTERFERRED...So they did get him up. Get a CLUE! So this Wire rammed her than took out her bird! Just about enough to make me quit runing HT's. The judges DEFINETLY need to be more on top of things.



by Don
You guy's need to remember something. At the end of the day, everything you complain about was allowed by a judge. That is the problem that really needs dealing with. I have seen far to many judges that did not judge the whole dog. Far to many looking for reason, in test's, to pass a dog and avoiding the bad things. I have seen them bump up a score that would fail a dog because they liked something else. Imagine taking a spelling test and getting a failing grade but, the teacher thinks your a good guy so overlooks enough wrong answer's to give you a passing score. The test loses it's credibility!



by bwjohn
I just recently completed my first JH for the dog and the owner and the one thing that I came away with is to keep your training routine on the test day.

The first day we did nothing similar to the way we trained. I kept in a kennel all day, fed him and walked him like we were on a stroll through our neighborhood. And the results showed, he thought that it was play time with his brace mate. I asked to separate them after a couple of minutes. The judges were very kind.

The second day, I took him for a run the way we do during training. I had my whistle, made him change directions with me and covered a lot of ground with him. I put him on his tie out after words with water and let him calm down. We went back out for a second run after he calmed down and a few tie out exercises. When it came time to do the hunt test the second day, he payed very little attention to his brace mate and hunted very well.

The second day should have been a little better because we both had a little better idea of what was going on and what was expected. But I believe going back to our routine was a big help.

I would be very interested in hearing what some more experienced people do on the hunt test day to prepare their dogs to run. We have until March until our next event, so I am all ears for help.

Brandon



by CherrystoneWeims
OK first of all when you ran the dog the first day I wouldn't have asked to separate the dogs. Just do it. In JH the only time the dogs really need to be together is at the break-away. In JH you don't want your bracemate coming along and busting your dog's birds so why take that chance? You also don't need your dog to honor the other dog.

When I train we pretty much take turns running our dogs since we all have multiple dogs that we run. Which means that they will have to wait their turns on either the tie-outs or in their crate. This is the same as we would do for the tests or FT's. We run them in braces during training sessions and I also make sure that I run my dogs with other breeds.

Why wait until March? You can look at the AKC website to find other hunt tests to participate in.



by phermes1
Don wrote:You guy's need to remember something. At the end of the day, everything you complain about was allowed by a judge. That is the problem that really needs dealing with. I have seen far to many judges that did not judge the whole dog. Far to many looking for reason, in test's, to pass a dog and avoiding the bad things. I have seen them bump up a score that would fail a dog because they liked something else. Imagine taking a spelling test and getting a failing grade but, the teacher thinks your a good guy so overlooks enough wrong answer's to give you a passing score. The test loses it's credibility!


I think Don hit the nail on the head.



by bwjohn
I did not want to be one of those handlers that just let their dog go nuts. He is a puppy (9 mos.). But I still did not want to take away from the other dogs run.

I do not know when our next HT will be. I made a mistake when I checked the AKC website the other day. I searched the Calendar year instead of Future events. The events that I thought were in March of 08 were in March of 07.


I train my dog alone most often. I have not found a group to train with consistently yet. Also, maybe one of the reasons that he was not use to running with a brace mate.

Brandon



by CherrystoneWeims
BWJohn, we have hunt tests coming up this weekend here in S. Carolina. Great grounds and we have an excellent game feast on Sat. night! We also have some at the beginning of Jan.
http://www.grchasweimclub.org/hunt.htm
Contact Deb about this weekend. I don't think we are full yet.

I have seen them bump up a score that would fail a dog because they liked something else.


Yes I have seen judges do that.

I've had HT secretaries come up to me after I judged and question a score that I gave which failed a dog. One that comes to mind is a test which the dog pointed beautifully on a covey that it "stumbled" upon. So I gave her an 8 for pointing. Had to give her a 2 for hunting though since she didn't hunt at all.



by bwjohn
It is a little late for this coming weekend. We have plans to be in Maryland at a club event, it is not a hunt test, but a chance to get on birds in a training situation with other dogs.

There might be a chance that we come to the one in Jan. We would rather finish sooner rather than later.

thanks for the club info., I booked marked it.

Brandon



by phermes1
CherrystoneWeims wrote:
Yes I have seen judges do that.

I've had HT secretaries come up to me after I judged and question a score that I gave which failed a dog. One that comes to mind is a test which the dog pointed beautifully on a covey that it "stumbled" upon. So I gave her an 8 for pointing. Had to give her a 2 for hunting though since she didn't hunt at all.


I've had people do that too. Dog heeled its way around the course and pointed a bird that the handler walked right by. They were QUITE upset at us for failing their dog. Sorry - it didn't hunt.

I've also seen judges fail a dog in 1 category, basically stop judging every other category. OK, if a dog fails to back, give it a 0 in backing - but take the 10 seconds required to grade the remaining categories. The handler probably already knows why their dog failed, but might like to know what you thought of the other aspects of its performance.



by dustertoo
I'm a total novice, but I would imagine that by SH and MH level training is underway, that you ought to have your dogs around others in the field.

Last Saturday I had the privilege of pheasant hunting over a pair of MH GSP's belonging to a friend. We were with a large group hunting drainages on an enormous midwest farm. Several other dogs were on the ground also, some well trained, some still pups.

I watched my friends MH dogs get climbed on while whoa'ed, get bowled over while hunting, etc., etc., but they never missed a beat...just took it all in stride. Very impressive.



by CherrystoneWeims
Brandon, just wanted to remind you of our club's hunt tests in two weeks.

www.grchasweimclub.org



by Vom Britt
Around my parts all of the tests I have entered had a back course followed by a bird field. My first PRIORITY when I reach the bird field is to get my dog into a bird, always paying attention to the wind direction and having a plan on how to hunt the field, no bird no pass. I have refused judges request for an honor when we were birdless. After we find a bird they get a drink from a bottle of water to try and settle them down a bit and we go looking for more birds because I trust my dogs and we have more fun finding birds then trying to stay away from them. Maybe not the smartest thing to do at times but to me it is not all about the pass. On hot days,depending on cover, birds seem to move to the edges of the bird field or beyond so don't over look this portion of the field. I don't care for backing/honoring callbacks so we go for the real thing if possible after we find a bird. Know your dogs strengths and limitations. One dog the day after we passed SH needed a back. This young dog I knew would blink if set up and knew if I could surprise her with another dog on point her natural instincts would help us get through this portion of the test. The only heavy cover I could find would have my dog running up her bracemates tail and went for it, as soon as she cleared & saw her bracemate she locked. The judge later asked me why I came up that dogs rear. The answer was easy, I knew my dog. I watch a few braces if the bird field can be viewed both before and during the brace because I like to watch dogs run and you never know what you can pick up. Before braces I pay attention to what is going on in the bird field especially with bird planters, some are predictable and do not care to walk very far :wink: Teaching your dog a silent or non verbal whoa command or two just may get you through a difficult situation.

I have watched quite a few folks run dogs paying attention to the pros & better ameatures & how they handle, more so than their dogs. The pros & top ameatures head are always INTO THE GAME. Never fail your dog by not paying attention to them, your eyes should be on em 100% of the time. Nothing worse IMO, than failing your dog by not being a step ahead of them when they need you. I know because I have been there & do not care for the feeling it left in my gut. :oops:



by Jake Levi
I was talking with a breeder today and she mentioned the various tests her dogs were taking this year and mentioned hunt tests, so I thought I'd look on the forum tonight and see what i could find out about hunt tests.

I read 3 pages of things not to do, but guess what, in 3 pages, I still dont have an idea of what a hunt test is. I'll keep looking.

I kept reading hoping somebody would spell it out, step by step for novices like me , nobody did.

More puzzled then anything.



by Vom Britt
Jake,

The thread read Tips for Hunt Tests. The best information you can receive about the rules on hunt tests would be from the parent organization, AKC, NAVHDA etc.



by earlthepearl
Make sure you bring your sense of humor and dont be too hard on yourself :lol:
Thats my 2 cents after our first HT was a disaster :oops: Hopefully we do better next time.



by corytch
in junior hunter if your starter pistol dosent work YELL BANG!!!!



by CherrystoneWeims
Always remember that there will always be another HT if you don't pass this one. Each one is a learning experience that you will take things from to use on future events.