Sage Monkey

Sage Monkey

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Preparing for the NAVHDA Utility Test

Per the NAVHDA website, "The Utility Test is designed to test a hunting dog's usefulness to the on-foot hunter in all phases of hunting both before and after the shot, in the field and marsh and on different species of game." The UT test is challenging and demanding. I relate it to someone training for and testing for their blackbelt in martial arts. It takes time, discipline and lots of practice. Today we trained Cleo, and her brothers Bruin and Griz for several parts of the UT test. First up was "Walking at Heel" which is a test of obedience. The dog must walk at their handlers side through at least 10 pairs of stakes set on a zigzag. Its much harder than it looks. Regardless if you speed up, slow down or stop altogether the dog must remain at your side.We started off with this today and Bob walked each pup through several times and then handed the reins off to each owner for them to practice and learn.

Bob walking Griz through his first time
Bruin going through his first time
Bob with Cleo
Now the Handlers turn. This is Jim with Cleo. We felt she did a really nice job.
Ed and his handsome boy Griz
Steve working Bruin
We also did duck drags today which is something that we did last week and is part of the upcoming test. After yesterdays retrieves we were hopeful she would bring the duck back. Cleo was up first and she did a great job. Watch the video below to see her in action.
Steve was kind enough to drag the duck off for us and then hide in the woods so that he could let us know whether or not she picked the bird up or played with it first. He reported back that she nipped it several times before bringing it back. When it was Bruins turn he had a similar result. He brought his duck back to hand but he had nipped it as well. This is an issue because they will loose points on the UT test for nipping. Griz on the other hand had no issues with nipping and brought it back but not to hand. Again, he will also loose points for this. See his video below.
After the duck drag we put each dog back on the whoa table to start from basics in order to break them of their retrieving issues. Cleo and Bruin for nipping and Griz to retrieve to hand. Once they got it on the table we transitioned to the ground and then back to retrieves.

Jim and Cleo
 Steve and Bruin
Bold Grizmont
Next up was "Steadiness by the Blind". This portion of the test per the NAVHDA website, "is a test of the dog's reliability in the presence of game while in the exciting atmosphere of repeated gun fire." We set up a dog blind that Bruin of course pee'd on. Let me just take a moment and point out that Bruin pees on allot of stuff. Today he pee'd on Bob's blind twice, he pee'd on Jim's throwing bumper, and most notably he pee'd on Steve's boot. Which was hilarious. And since were on the topic last week Bruin was kind enough to empty his bladder on Jim's cooler, Bob's truck, Jim's truck and I'm sure countless other items. If I can recommend to anyone who has a small child and knows Steve Fiasco watch out because Bruin may just take out your kid with a stream of free flowing urine. Just saying. Anyhow, each handler stood behind the blind with their dog while another person/gunner stood several yards away in order to assist by firing and another person was available to throw a bumper for the dog to retrieve. During the actual test this will occur at a pond and a dead duck will be launched into the pond for the dog to retrieve. But we need them to understand what is required of them on land before we move to the water. Check out the video below of Griz in action. Griz did a very nice job.
Here is some pics of both Cleo and Bruin doing the same thing. Cleo is shown in the blind with Jim and Bob below.
   Cleo retrieving the bumper
Bruin in the blind with Steve. Jim in the distance as the second gunner.
Bruin on retrieve
Next up and last on the list for our training for the day was putting out a bunch of decoys and having the dogs retrieve the bumper thrown out for them among the bumpers. This exercise would normally be done in the water but we introduce it to the dogs on land so they understand what is expected of them before they are put in the water. I thought Cleo would struggle with this because at home she tries to stuff as many toys in her mouth at one time as possible. But she actually did pretty good with it!

Jim walking Cleo through the decoys before throwing out the first bumper

Cleo being sent out on retrieve of the bumper
Cleo bringing the bumper back
So it was a great day for the older dogs. Everyone learned allot both dogs and handlers. Not to mention it's just great to hangout and talk some trash too. We were joined for a good portion of the day by Jim Given who owns a full blood sibling to Cleo, Bruin and Griz named Scout but he is only 19 weeks old. Scout is an amazing puppy. He did the decoy drill above that the elder 19 month old pups did and he had zero issues with it. He really is an amazing puppy. I walked the field with him earlier today and he shows a very high level of awareness. He looks for his handler, will follow hand signals and comes when called. He also pointed birds and held his point for Jim. Scout has desire and I think he will do amazing things come his NAVHDA Natural Ability Test this fall. Below are some pics of the super sweet and very cute Scout.

Scout is a tank!! He's very solid for 19 weeks!
Jim, Scout and Bob
Scout on Point
We also got to see Anthony and his 18 week old DK puppy Chase. Chase looked great in the field today. It's amazing how much he grew since last weekend. He had nice definitive points and looks so flashy in the field. Below are some pics of Chase doing his thing.

Nice point Chase!
Chase loves those birds!
 We also got to see our Red and White Setter friend Chaeli (hope I spelled her name right this week) who is owned by Ron Levin. I only got to see one of Chaeli's run's today but it was clear you could see improvement from last week. She has a nice nose and her first bird today she hit from a good distance off. Way to go Chaeli!!
Chaeli wanted those birds today!
What a cute face!
Once again it was a great day of training. There were a few more dogs there today that we didn't get to see or I didn't get pictures of. At any given moment there is a lot going on and I wish that I could be in more than one place at a time to get it all documented but its just not possible. But as always its no nice to get to spend time with the dogs and their owners. Learning this is so much fun. It's a challenge but it's also very rewarding.

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