UPT Test ?

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association Tests

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UPT Test ?

Postby Densa44 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:50 am

This is one that I just don't get. If you and your dog have a good day you still only have a UTP prize when you could have got a UT prize, if you have a bad day, the team wasn't ready for the test.

I get that the jump from NA to UT is a big one, but IMO the step to UPT is almost as large. You could make NA a bit more challenging but that may not be a good idea, we do need to encourage the new handler with a young dog.

There are people here way more experienced than me and I'd like to know your thoughts. Our club now encourages handlers who have prepared their dog to try the UT test. Last year 5 out of 6 got a prize, one dog got a 204 score.
Pine Ridges Ginnieve NA 112 UT pz 1 200
Camridge's Sienna NA 112 UT pz 1 204
Foothill Joce NA 112
Czarina Vom Oberland VJP 70 NA pz 112
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Re: UPT Test ?

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Feb 17, 2016 10:41 am

I ran Jack in two UPTs at 17 and 18 month of age. Prize 1 is 157. He scored 163 and 172 Prize II and III respectively, missing Prize I minimums in steadiness in both tests. I shot over 200 birds over him in his puppy season allowing him to break and chase when the bird flew, so steading him up was real change of the rules. On a positive/what matters note, I developed a very nice hunting dog who's productive search for wild birds and recovery after the shot are excellent. I was working full time and there was no time or daylight for weekday training sessions on steadiness and I opt'd to hunt Jack during the open wild bird seasons and steady him after his puppy hunting season.

After his puppy season I let a lot of $5 pigeons fly off from launchers..., and at 17 months he was Prize I compliant with Ecollar on but not off at the time of his tests, but I went forward anyway. No big deal to me, I developed another excellent hunting partner and have enjoyed him for 12 years now. He is steady to flush and wing and breaks to retrieve when birds fall, while upland hunting. When hunting doves or waterfowl I keep him steady to shot and fall as well because I find it useful to our hunting objectives. Crippled ducks on the water are best shot if they can be and that is only safe if the dog is not yet in the water. Conversely no one I hunt with will ever attempt to shoot a crippled rooster on the ground, ... Hence why I train for and use two different standards between upland birds and waterfowl.

I agree with you that difference in UPT and UT is tiny. A dead vs live duck in the duck search (which is often argued to make the UPT actually more difficult due to no moving scent stream), and a requirement to be steady to flush and wing only in UPT, but also steady to shot and fall in the UT. These are the differences and it was the latter one that caused me to train for and test at the UPT level vs UT.

When hunting upland birds I want my dogs to be steady to flush and wing so that I, and most importantly others can shoot safely. I do not want my dog in harms way by chasing underneath a bird as a less inexperienced hunter makes a snap decision as to whether it is safe to shoot. But I also want my dog to break and proceed immediately to recover falling birds. I do not want steady to shot and fall while hunting upland birds and particularly pheasants. I think steady to shot and fall while hunting pheasants is an unproductive head start for wounded birds.

I have posted previously that I discussed this with the 6 NAVHDA judges in Jacks two UPT tests. Everyone of them admitted they let their dogs break at the shot during the wild bird seasons and retrain for steady to shot and fall for tests. Truth be known I think it is very rare for hunters to maintain the steady to shot and fall standard when hunting wild birds. Drags down the enjoyment for both hunter and dog, with little if any payback in the game vest is my stance on it.

I work very hard to develop and train my dogs in every way that contributes to our effectiveness in the field hunting wild birds. I am not interested in investing time and energy in training behavior that is not only not helpful, but in my view is actually harmful to our hunting success, in this case steady to shot and fall while hunting upland birds.

So that is why I test at UPT vs UT level. I am by no means attempting to sway others, just giving you one guy's answer to your question.
Last edited by AverageGuy on Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: UPT Test ?

Postby orhunter » Wed Feb 17, 2016 11:19 am

"NA a bit more challenging." Yea, they should add retrieving of shot game during the field portion of the test.
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Re: UPT Test ?

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Feb 17, 2016 11:39 am

orhunter wrote:"NA a bit more challenging." Yea, they should add retrieving of shot game during the field portion of the test.


I think the upper age limit of 16 months in the NA test is such that a lot of training will or should be evident for dogs that are approaching that age. Conversely I am entered to NA test my pup coming in April, in August when the pup will be 7 months old.

At that age I fully expect the pup to be marking and racing to the fall of shot or thrown birds and bumpers. How clean it will be in returning straight back to me with the fresh hot bird, especially in the presence of a gallery of dogs and people, is another story. Might be I have done some force fetch by then, might not. Depends on how the overall project is going at the time. Might be I still have the pup dragging a light check cord so that I have an easy method of addressing the puppy phase keep away tendency that have always been present in my prior pups around that age.

So I am not sure how realistic a retrieve of shot game in a NA test is for the younger pups. Depends a lot on what standard of the judging is set. Looking for a pup which will race to the bird, pick it up and carry it, I think would be great. Expecting younger pups to return a fresh shot hot bird directly to the handler, particularly in the presence of all the test day distractions is a stretch and brings in a lot more training than NA is my lean.
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Re: UPT Test ?

Postby orhunter » Wed Feb 17, 2016 5:25 pm

I didn't say, "directly." Sloppy works for me.
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Re: UPT Test ?

Postby Densa44 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 5:42 pm

I'm not sure that I have this right. Flush, shot and splash. So you train your dog to be steady to flush but not shot and splash? Or from what you wrote, steady to flush, and shot but not splash?

I have zero confidence in other hunters, I'm afraid that they would shoot a cripple in my hand. Paranoid I guess and I shoot a lot of ducks, only about a 100 roosters but lots more ducks. I find that the dog doesn't mark the fall if she is already running. When the bird hits the ground I cut her loose and she has brought them back from 300 yards, some of my friends don't shoot that well.
Pine Ridges Ginnieve NA 112 UT pz 1 200
Camridge's Sienna NA 112 UT pz 1 204
Foothill Joce NA 112
Czarina Vom Oberland VJP 70 NA pz 112
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Re: UPT Test ?

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:01 pm

I interpret your question to be what do I require my dog to do when duck hunting. I require him to remain in his place until I release him to retrieve. So steady to shot and fall (splash in your term) is how I would phrase it. Not saying he won't break sometimes when the guns go off and birds are falling, but I correct him when he does and take measures to prevent it. When training for retrieving duties, he is always required to remain sitting (or lying down in the case of layout boat or field dog blind) til I command him to fetch. Lets me decide if a cripple needs to be shot on the water and also allows me to delay sending the dog on dead birds floating in the decoy spread if more birds are working at the moment.

As you are aware the UPT test requires the dog to be steady to shot and fall in the water retrieves and the duck search and Jack was in both tests with scores of 4 all around. It was in the upland portion that he took a few early steps when the birds flew before the gunner shot the bird on the first pointed birds in each test. He settled down and held steady on subsequent birds but was scored down below Prize I in steadiness for his transgressions on the first birds.

We caught a bad break in the 2nd test and he apparently caught a couple of soaking wet refugee chukars at the very start of the upland portion. Nobody saw what happened. Jack just emerged from heavy soaking wet cover proudly carrying a live, so wet it could not fly chukar, delivered to hand sitting on my left proud as he could be. Happened Twice before he had a point on the quail that were planted for the test. Does not make for a perfectly steady young dog when he encounters the next bird after catching two refugee non fliers in a row just prior. The dog is a predator and he knows a bird that is not going to fly when he encounters one.

I let him break at the shot and falling bird when hunting upland as I explained. Keeps him out of harms way while shooting but fast onto the falling bird.
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Re: UPT Test ?

Postby KJ » Thu Feb 18, 2016 9:28 am

I think NAVHDA missed the boat on the UPT. Yes, it is pretty good benchmark for training for reasons AverageGuy said, but most will just choose to go for the UT.

I think this "middle" test has much more use as as breed test, like how the Europeans use it. More like an advanced natural ability test with an age limit for evaluating a dog's breeding potential, with a stronger scoring emphasis on ability subjects instead of trained subjects. And a 10 point system. Unfortunately, the UPT is really more about evaluating the training progress towards UT. Big difference, at least from a breeder's perspective.

For non-Euro testers I think the VHDF Advanced Hunting Aptitude test (AHAE) got it right, though. Take that test at 14-24 months and I think you will have a score card that will tell you much more about the dog.
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Re: UPT Test ?

Postby orhunter » Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:31 pm

AverageGuy: I like to see pups at tests that have a hunting season under their belt. Big difference between a "trained" pup and a hunted pup, age is not a factor unless the pup is just too young. A hunted or trained pup, should be fetching as a factor of cooperation and an indicator of potential. Anyone who uses the NA as breeding criterion or success, needs to know this stuff.

If I were running NAVHDA, and it's a good thing I'm not, I'd set the minimum age for NA at 10 months. I might also do away with fall testing for NA. We'd see a far greater number of hunted pups and the standards for those pups should be a bit higher. We should also see far fewer failures because of water and tracking. If we need to fail some dogs, it shouldn't be because they are too young and have never hunted. We need a level playing field so the scores have real meaning.
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Re: UPT Test ?

Postby AverageGuy » Sat Feb 20, 2016 4:34 pm

Harvey, Thanks for the additional thoughts.

I am just an avid hunter who works hard to develop, train and hunt his dogs. Have done some NAVHDA testing and been a gunner in some NAVHDA tests. Both were fun, educational and a great opportunity to meet some folks and see some dogs. With my prior pups the first season to open is always Sept 1st doves. They have been about 5 months old at that age. I have lived in the country on acreage since age 19, and have had each pup ready to do really well marking, searching for and retrieving the doves from land and water. But I usually still had them dragging a light check cord that I could get my foot on and reel them in and praise them, if they wanted to play some keep away and play with the dove. I am gentle, give lots of praise, and it goes well. I then hunt the pup on thru each bird season as they open, traveling around in Mo, Ks, Ia and SD. In the past I was working so I delayed steadiness and FF until after that first puppy hunting seasons. Not sure what I will do this time around as I have more time and daylight through the week now. I don't want to rush things however so not sure of my FF and Steadiness timetable. And once I start either of them I don't want to stop or accept wrong behavior, so not sure I want to start during the first hunting season vs waiting until they close and we go back into pure training/exercise mode. How the pup is doing overall will drive it I expect.

The pup Kelly is sending me was born at the end of January so if I waited until a Spring 2017 test it would be right at the 16 months age limit and not a great indicator of its true NA was my thought. So I entered the August test when the pup will be 7 months old. A little young perhaps, and while we will hopefully have run across some wild quail and pheasants we won't have had the opportunity to hunt them before we test. If I were to guess it might be the tracking that presents the most challenge for a 7 month old pup in an NA test. Or not? My current dog Jack was burning down the tracks of a wild hen turkey and her brood of poults, and popping into quivering intense points on the poults he tracked up to, at about 11 weeks of age. Cooperation may well be a challenge, but it would be a good indicator at that age in my view. All my best dogs have bouts of being some degree of out of control in the presence of game at a young age. I like to see that fire and then get it under control over time. Perhaps similar to your point about testing after hunting.

Besides being excited about Kelly's breeding program, I am also excited about the pups age going into hunting season. It will be 7 months at the start of dove and teal seasons and 9 months when quail, pheasant and duck seasons open. Perfect to get a lot done in its first season (which is where a dog is made for the most part). Looking forward to it. Sure I will be posting asking for some advice along the way.

I am no great shakes of an advanced hunt test dog trainer, but I have the time and resources living in decent bird country to develop a really nice hunting dog and I know Kelly will send me great raw material. So I am excited.
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Re: UPT Test ?

Postby orhunter » Sat Feb 20, 2016 10:57 pm

The problem with Kelly's dog's is their over the top desire. Being able to channel and nurture it in the beginning can be a challenge. Most everyone would agree this isn't a problem but you need to be prepared. Your finished product will really be something but the road might be a little rocky. One cool thing about Kelly's dogs is how much they like people, they want to be everyone's buddy. If you can establish a good solid buddy/boss relationship early on, you're half way home. Heavy on the boss..... There's no logical reason to expect one of his pups to not pass NA at 7 months. If it doesn't, it doesn't matter one little hoot.

There are training techniques you can start using from day one to help the pup adjust to the fact their world is through their nose. Throw some bits of kibble into tall grass and let the pup find them. No pup ever turns down food. You can do hot dog drags with a piece of kibble every few feet so the pup gets constant rewards for keeping the nose down. Make the drags simple or complex but the pup should be successful every time out. A drag in the beginning might be only 3 ft. Don't try to make the pup fail. Eventually, you can do bird drags but continue with the kibble, slowly weaning the dog from treats. Once the pup gets it, you don't need to keep at it, maybe once a month and then two weeks before the test.

Try to keep the pup from sight pointing birds. Any bird training you do, make sure the cover is sufficient to hide the birds.

One thing to help a young pup's search is to run him/her where there are few/no birds. If you plant easy to find birds, the dog will not develop a proper search. It's all about what they don't find that takes advantage of their natural drive for game contact. Kelly's dogs have plenty of that. Keep beer and Prozac handy.

When do you get your pup? I'll be driving past Kelly's on my way to Idaho to see some dogs that will be arriving from Wisconsin around March 21st. I'll probably stop in and say howdy, maybe get a look at the litter.
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Re: UPT Test ?

Postby AverageGuy » Sun Feb 21, 2016 10:07 am

Harvey, PM sent.
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