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Some thoughts on NAVHDA and training a hunting dog

By: Phil Swain

These days, our focus on hunting is very critical.  The number of people, who have actually hunted, in a variety of conditions, and for a variety of upland birds and waterfowl, is on the decline.  This statistic is often very obvious in the people who are entering NAVHDA tests.  While the lack of knowledge these folks have can be frustrating, we need to remember that it is important to gain allies for our sport--especially in these times when attacks on the hunting community and pet owners in general are increasing.  All of us, we should remember, had to start without much knowledge at some point in time.

In order to build our chapter and increase awareness, while being open to helping inexperienced or new members, we need to work to develop knowledge and integrity in some of the following areas:

  1. We have to be hunters ourselves.  Without the knowledge working a dog in the field on wild game brings to us, we will, sooner or later, and probably often, be at a loss to understand what our hunting dogs are doing and why.  We handicap the dog and ourselves when we don't try to increase our knowledge of what it takes for a dog to put together a successful hunt on wild birds.

  2. We need to constantly stress the conservation aspects of our activities.  From participating with the Ruffed Grouse Society, Pheasants forever, Quail Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited and so on, we need to stress our participation in developing habitat and conserving game and non-game species.  This advocacy of conservation needs to be reflected in every aspect of our NAVHDA events, from how we handle the birds used in the test (before, and importantly after use), how we treat our dogs and the general environment we create around all of our training, testing and hunting events.

  3. NAVHDA is an expensive activity.  Generally, people involved have discretionary money and therefore have some level of success in their life.  In any event, they understand the value of a dollar.  This means we, as representatives of NAVHDA and our sport, must ensure people believe they have received good value for their investment of money, time and effort in our activities.  We need to be good communicators, knowledgeable and approachable by each other and by people who come to observe and participate in our activities.

  4. Above all, we must work to increase our knowledge and our ability to care for and enhance the performance of our dogs.  From nutrition and conditioning to training, we must strive to do the best we can for the dogs.  After all, without them, we wouldn't have NAVHDA and our related activities.
March Training Day Registration

The intent of training days is to impart you, the owner, the knowledge to train your VHD.  You are expected to participate in training days with your dog and continue working with your dog outside of training days.  If you do not, you will likely achieve unsatisfactory results at home, in the field, and at the test.

Great dogs take great investments in both time and monetarily.  The VHD community recognizes this and thanks you for your contribution and part in developing better VHD’s.  The VHD community could not and would not have the quality dogs we have today without YOU!

Testing provides invaluable information the community needs to continue to improve the VHD breeds in line with NAVHDA’s values, purpose, and goals.  If you have no intent on testing, that is your prerogative.  We urge you to reconsider the value testing provides not only to you and your dog through the training process, but also provide breeders insight through testing.  Without you, we cannot improve the VHD!  Testing ultimately benefits you today, tomorrow, and in the future.

Individual Registration (One Dog) Group Registration (Multiple Dogs)

Event Date 03-31-2018 8:00 am
Event End Date 03-31-2018 2:00 pm
Capacity Unlimited
Registered 2
Individual Price $20.00
Location EE Wilson - Quinlan Rd
$20.00
April Training Day Registration

The intent of training days is to impart you, the owner, the knowledge to train your VHD.  You are expected to participate in training days with your dog and continue working with your dog outside of training days.  If you do not, you will likely achieve unsatisfactory results at home, in the field, and at the test.

Great dogs take great investments in both time and monetarily.  The VHD community recognizes this and thanks you for your contribution and part in developing better VHD’s.  The VHD community could not and would not have the quality dogs we have today without YOU!

Testing provides invaluable information the community needs to continue to improve the VHD breeds in line with NAVHDA’s values, purpose, and goals.  If you have no intent on testing, that is your prerogative.  We urge you to reconsider the value testing provides not only to you and your dog through the training process, but also provide breeders insight through testing.  Without you, we cannot improve the VHD!  Testing ultimately benefits you today, tomorrow, and in the future.

Individual Registration (One Dog) Group Registration (Multiple Dogs)

Event Date 04-28-2018 8:00 am
Event End Date 04-28-2018 2:00 pm
Capacity Unlimited
Registered 0
Individual Price $20.00
Location Luckiamute Valley Pheasants
$20.00
2018 Spring Natural Ability Test Registration

The Natural Ability Test is designed to evaluate the inherent natural abilities of young dogs and gain insight into their possible usefulness as versatile gun dogs. It rates seven important inherited abilities: nose, search, tracking, pointing, water, desire and cooperation. Dogs are eligible for a Natural Ability Test up until, and including, the day they reach 16 months of age. Dogs over 16 months may be run for evaluation only. Dogs over 16 months may only be run if space is available. No prize classification can be awarded the dog run for evaluation.

The Natural Ability Test measures seven hereditary characteristics which are fundamental to the makeup of a good, reliable versatile hunting dog. The importance of this test cannot be overemphasized.  The natural, inherited abilities of a hunting dog usually manifest themselves at an early age, and it is desirable to take advantage of this fact by testing dogs while they are still young. By so doing, the owner or trainer gets an impartial evaluation of the dog’s strengths and weaknesses and thus is better able to map out a future training program for the animal. If the dog displays serious deficiencies, the owner may wish to obtain a new prospect. The conscientious breeder will study the dog’s record in the Natural Ability Test, along with the records of its litter mates, with a view in making any changes in his breeding program.

Although the Natural AbilityTest is of extreme importance, it should not be regarded as an infallible gauge of a dog’s future worth. Obviously, deficient dogs aside, there is the case of the “late bloomer,” or dog that does not display its potential as early as some others. There is also the precocious youngster that does well in the beginning, but later on reveals some inherited character fault or physical disability that makes it a less than desirable gun dog. It is for this reason that NAVHDA strongly urges that dogs be tested at various stages of development.

Individual Registration (One Dog) Group Registration (Multiple Dogs)

Individual Price Members $135 & Non Member $155 - $175
Location Luckiamute Valley Pheasants
6
2018 Fall Utility Preparatory Test & Utility Test Registration

The Utility Preparatory Test measures the dogs’ development midway through their training toward the Utility Test. No previous testing required. It is a test midway between the Natural Ability Test and the Utility Test. The dog’s level of obedience and training should demonstrate that it is on its way to becoming a Utility dog. The Utility Preparatory Test is intended to help the hunter/trainer measure progress of his or her hunting companion on route to being a complete hunting dog. The test is intended to measure progress toward qualification in the NAVHDA Utility Test. Since the Utility Preparatory Test is measuring progress towards the Utility Test, it has less stringent levels of performance. Utility judging standards fully apply in the Utility Preparatory Test up to the UPT performance limits. A handler will get a better understanding of the UPT Test and enhance their training preparation by reading through the Utility Test rules. Also, the handler and dog gain experience and appreciation of the hunting team concept through exposure to the UPT test. The results of a Natural Ability Test, a Utility Preparatory Test, and a Utility Test combined, give a strong indication of a dog’s breeding potential.

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 field and marsh, and on different species of game.  While the dog that is successful in the Natural Ability Test might be likened to a promising young apprentice, the dog that successfully completes the Utility Test will have demonstrated that he is a master, or at the very least a good, solid and reliable journeyman. This test is a challenging and demanding one, as befits the NAVHDA aim of “fostering, improving, promoting and protecting the versatile hunting dog in North America.” It is not, however, an unreasonable test with unattainable goals. A very large number of fine dogs have already earned prize classifications in NAVHDA Utility Tests. It is interesting to note that the majority of these successful dogs have been owner-trained. Serious breeders generally await results of the Utility Test before making a final evaluation of a dog’s probable worth as a sire or dam. Most dogs entered in the Utility Test have reached maturity, and latent faults will probably have surfaced.
 
Individual Registration (One Dog) Group Registration (Multiple Dogs)
Individual Price Members $160 & Non Member $180 - $200
Location Luckiamute Valley Pheasants
5
2018 Fall Natural Ability Test Registration

The Natural Ability Test is designed to evaluate the inherent natural abilities of young dogs and gain insight into their possible usefulness as versatile gun dogs. It rates seven important inherited abilities: nose, search, tracking, pointing, water, desire and cooperation. Dogs are eligible for a Natural Ability Test up until, and including, the day they reach 16 months of age. Dogs over 16 months may be run for evaluation only. Dogs over 16 months may only be run if space is available. No prize classification can be awarded the dog run for evaluation.

The Natural Ability Test measures seven hereditary characteristics which are fundamental to the makeup of a good, reliable versatile hunting dog. The importance of this test cannot be overemphasized.  The natural, inherited abilities of a hunting dog usually manifest themselves at an early age, and it is desirable to take advantage of this fact by testing dogs while they are still young. By so doing, the owner or trainer gets an impartial evaluation of the dog’s strengths and weaknesses and thus is better able to map out a future training program for the animal. If the dog displays serious deficiencies, the owner may wish to obtain a new prospect. The conscientious breeder will study the dog’s record in the Natural Ability Test, along with the records of its litter mates, with a view in making any changes in his breeding program.

Although the Natural AbilityTest is of extreme importance, it should not be regarded as an infallible gauge of a dog’s future worth. Obviously, deficient dogs aside, there is the case of the “late bloomer,” or dog that does not display its potential as early as some others. There is also the precocious youngster that does well in the beginning, but later on reveals some inherited character fault or physical disability that makes it a less than desirable gun dog. It is for this reason that NAVHDA strongly urges that dogs be tested at various stages of development.

Individual Registration (One Dog) Group Registration (Multiple Dogs)

Event Date 08-12-2018 6:00 am
Event End Date 08-12-2018 5:00 am
Capacity 10
Registered 2
Available Registrations 8
Individual Price Members $135 & Non Member $155 - $175
Location Luckiamute Valley Pheasants
8