UT prize (including duck search)

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UT prize (including duck search)

Postby cjm » Mon Sep 04, 2017 3:00 pm

Last year, when my PP was 2, we ran a UT test and it went poorly (here's that thread: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=20410). Earlier this year, I gave an update on what we were doing to rebuild his duck search, which had tanked (that thread: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=21072).

Yesterday, we ran the UT again. He's 3.5 years old now. He got a 193 pz 2. He got a 4 on duck search. The pz 2 was because of a 3 on pointing, which I think was a little harsh but the judges explained what they thought they saw - so eh, live and learn. (His scorecard is in this pic: https://www.instagram.com/p/BYmqCC8Ax-J ... and.things) It is an awesome score, he had a great day that was fitting with his capabilities, and it was a rewarding outcome for the training season. I'm a little disappointed in the pz 2 only because I would have liked the opportunity to run the invitational but I'm happy with his performance.

A few notable things...

The field was great overall. He found 5 birds, ran hard, I hardly talked to him but he came around right away when we changed directions, he searched well, and he has a killer nose. He pointed from a long distance on most of the birds and I think this contributed to his 3 in pointing... he crept into a few of the points but still stopped 20+ ft from the bird and they said one of his points wasn't intense enough, but it was also really far. The judges also thought he bumped a bird - I can understand that because it flushed before I got there and he clearly smelled it, but he was still a long ways from it - so I can understand the score. He also had one retrieve that was weird - the bird was blown to bits and he didn't know what to do with it. I had to give him an extra "fetch" but then he brought it in. His other retrieves were great, so we still got a 4 in that. And his steadiness was great - which made me proud because we have had to put in some work there.

The duck search was okay - I wasn't happy with his first minute. He dinked around for a few seconds, then swam out a bit, then circled, and then finally swam out and to the right. He got up on some vegetation, winded a duck, and took off searching in that direction. He pushed a couple of ducks out into the water only a few minutes later and then they let him stay out chasing for a really long time. They said he was loosing the duck after it dove and went into vegetation, then he'd keep searching for it, find it, chase, lose it, search, etc... I gather they were sort of tallying up the minutes of searching between chasing. I'm not sure the total time, but it was well over 10 minutes. Because he didn't end up searching a lot of the pond, I was telling the judge with me that they can shoot the duck and let me send him again if he needs that for a 4. I wasn't totally sure if he'd get a 3 or a 4 but I was obviously happy to get a 4 because he searched intensely and would have gone back out if I needed him to.

The marked retrieve went well. He was amped to get to the water so I was a little nervous about heeling but he did fine. On the way out, he got snagged in a decoy and had it wrapped around him the whole way out and back. We had to un-knot it from his leg when he came back. He normally comes around to heel for a delivery, but because I didn't know what he'd do with the decoy I moved right next to the blind to cut him off and took the duck from him ASAP.

The drag went great. It was probably the shortest drag he's ever done.

All in all it was a great day, a great training season, and now I'm ready for a great hunting season with a finished dog - and that will be the most rewarding.
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Re: UT prize (including duck search)

Postby ForestDump » Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:17 pm

Congrats on the passing. How do the NAVHDA judges score pointing? Do they discount flagging? Add points for how far off a dog goes on point?
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Re: UT prize (including duck search)

Postby cjm » Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:09 pm

FD- Thank you. For scoring, I don't know all the details but basically pointing is scored from the time a point is established until the handler comes into the picture (and then it is steadiness being scored). They will mark down dogs for flagging, lacking intensity, creeping, needing commands, etc... They make notes on each individual bird and give one overall score for the whole field section. So, for example, creeping on one bird a few steps if 3 other birds were perfect is probably not going to reduce your score. From what I understand, they are pretty picky about pointing.
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Re: UT prize (including duck search)

Postby ckirsch » Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:52 pm

That's not a bad score - definitely better than the 167 Pz 3 score my pointer and I earned a week ago in Fargo. I ran him last year as a two-year-old and he scored a 180 Pz 2 after some poor retrieves and steadiness, and a 3 duck search. (I thought the retrieve and steadiness scores were generous, but was a little disappointed in the duck search as he crossed the water twice, never stopped searching, and stayed out the whole time.) Decided to take another stab at it this spring, and the dog was so solid in training that I rarely got any corrections in. Had not taken a step on a bird in over six weeks prior to the test. Never had a misstep on the sequence by the blind. Very cooperative and handled like a dream. Not sure what happened on test day but he performed like I had just picked him up from the pound. I actually had to chase him down to catch him after two of the test segments. Broke on two of the four birds, lousy retrieves, and no handle at all. He was steady at the blind, but when I sent him on the retrieve he decided the distraction gunner was more interesting. Scored a 4 in the duck search on some big water, and a 4 in the drag. I was embarrassed to waste the judges' time. Long eight hour drive home.

Probably going to give up on this dog as far as testing goes. The lack of obedience was discouraging in a three year old. He knew better. Will wait for the next pup to try again.....
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Re: UT prize (including duck search)

Postby cjm » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:07 am

CK - test day brings out another level in them I think... hearing shots all day, long wait times, knowing what's coming and wanting to get on with it. And it sure is frustrating when they don't perform like we know they can. I still don't know what I'll do as far as testing again - I'm happy with his score, I just have to decide if I want to try get to the invitational with him.
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Re: UT prize (including duck search)

Postby ryanr » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:21 am

Sounds like the fairly consistent creeping into points is what most likely what knocked you to a 3 in pointing. Plus possibly the bumped bird and the point that lacked intensity. They look at the whole thing, it all factors into the picture they see. Pointing from a longer distance shouldn't matter, after all the dog is supposed to point as soon has it gets scent. The only thing is it can make it more difficult for the handler to find the bird if it's too far out or not pointing intensely.

Regardless, that's a really good score. Congrats.
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Re: UT prize (including duck search)

Postby cjm » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:46 am

Ryan - Thanks! Yeah - I agree - I talked to them about it and it was definitely all of those things together. As far as being 'perfect' for the score, I see what they judged. Functionally, I'm happy with his pointing - on a breezy day, I don't mind him moving in if first sent is 40 yards away. I also like him moving on a running bird while hunting, but that wouldn't be judged positively. I think they also learn quickly that training birds hold tighter and I might have been able to help him on this a little more if I had more time to get him on wild birds this last month.
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Re: UT prize (including duck search)

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Tue Sep 05, 2017 4:11 pm

cjm wrote: The pz 2 was because of a 3 on pointing, which I think was a little harsh but the judges explained what they thought they saw - so eh, live and learn.... He found 5 birds, ran hard ...He pointed from a long distance on most of the birds and I think this contributed to his 3 in pointing... he crept into a few of the points but still stopped 20+ ft from the bird and they said one of his points wasn't intense enough, but it was also really far. The judges also thought he bumped a bird - I can understand that because it flushed before I got there and he clearly smelled it, but he was still a long ways from it - so I can understand the score.


If your descriptions and measurements are accurate I'd say you may have been harshly judged. Frankly, I don't mind dogs creeping in for a better nose full if they end up pointing "a good ways" away. Dogs know these birds aren't wild, and also know there are other plenty of other scents from previously planted birds in the field. That's what a dog is supposed to do. Same with the dog not having his point "intense enough" but was still "really far". Dogs don't point intensely when the bird is "really far" away. Who cares?

Having run six UT's myself I no longer believe their morning spiel that goes something like, "we're going do everything we can to help you and your dog have a successful day." I've lost points when my dog has stopped momentarily to sniff another dog's pee while doing the heeling part. I've had judges tell me my dog took out a bird when under the conditions at the time my dog wouldn't ever take out a bird. Running downwind over a bird that the dog didn't scent isn't taking out a bird, etc.

NAVHDA judges do a great service and they also have to keep up their own handling skills in order to be in the system. Plus, all their time and expense is donated. But that doesn't mean however that the system is immune from overly critical trends and unnecessary harshness. Anyway, I feel your disappointment but admire your willingness to move on. Moreover, you'll have a better dog to hunt with this fall.
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Re: UT prize (including duck search)

Postby cjm » Tue Sep 05, 2017 4:37 pm

Thanks, Bruce. I felt like it was a little harsh for the same reasons you mention. And I'm also willing to acknowledge (1) I might not have seen things they did, (2) he wasn't perfect, and (3) that I'm pretty new to this and someone with more experience might have seen it differently. It was still a fun day and I'm really happy with the dog I get to hunt with now!
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Re: UT prize (including duck search)

Postby ckirsch » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:45 am

Sounds like you've done a nice job with your dog, and he's obviously right there. The two of you might be Invitational-bound with a different set of UT judges. They're human, and not all of them will see things the same way every time. The Invitational is quite an experience. Given how close your dog came to qualifying, you should take another run at the UT.

One of my challenges is the distance I have to travel to test. Minimum of five hours, so my dogs never see the test grounds until the morning of the test, while others have been trained on those grounds for months leading up to the test. I'm also short on training partners so it's often difficult to provide a test-like training setup, with other dogs barking in their crates, a couple of gunners shooting and three or four people following along. My dog came a little unglued in this last test as the gunners were often taking three or four shots to knock the birds down. I should have had gunners shooting multiple times in my training, rather than just me usually taking a single poke at launched birds. At the end of the day I have no excuses for the lack of compliance my dog demonstrated in our test. He was off on his own adventure with little or no regard for me, as opposed to his being very cooperative in the training. I had trained the last few weeks without the e-collar, and it had no impact on his handling.

This was my fourth UT so I thought I had the training figured out, and was confident this dog would get through pretty clean. Turns out I apparently don't know as much as I thought I did. Given how solid he'd been in training, I was far more confident in him than in any of the previous dogs, yet his score was the lowest that any my dogs have posted. Over the years I've seen big changes in my dogs' cooperation levels once they turned two, but the previous dogs were all about as compliant as they were going to get at this dog's age of three, so I'm less than confident that another year of maturity is going to make much difference. I'd love to get back to the Invitational, but as much as I like this dog, and as impressed I've been with his performance while training, I'm hesitant to make another five- to eight-hour drive to provide him with another opportunity to tune me out. I might be better off just waiting for the next pup.
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Re: UT prize (including duck search)

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:55 pm

I ran my 18 month old pup in a UT middle of August. Prize 1 199 - 4s across the board with a 3 in steadiness and a 3 in Heeling.

The pup would heel perfectly through the gates here at home but I could not duplicate the strange dog scent. We travelled 3 hours one way to one training day before the test and he stopped, hiked a leg and pee'd on a gate at the training day. So at the Test I purposefully hustled him on through faster than I would have otherwise as I knew we would get knocked out of Prize 1 in Heeling if he stopped and pee'd.

My Gunners missed the first 3 birds worked in a row and they missed 5 of the first 6 birds. Finally hit the 7th one to complete 2 retrieves needed. I had practiced missing birds but not 3 in a row and 5 out of the first 6 in a row. It factored into a 3 in steadiness. For an 18 month old I was real pleased with how he held up to the pressure.

The Judging in my Test was 100% fair and accurate and I am thankful that people are willing to give that much of their time for little to nothing in return, at least monetarily. Makes me think about where I can give back as well.

We trained through the summer but live on a remote rural farm, so I have no training partner or gunner handy. I enlisted and trained the Wife to run the ecollar controller as needed for steadiness in the field while I flushed and gunned. Then she handed the controller back to me during the retrieve so I could correct for a dropped bird as/if needed. It was cumbersome but the only way and we got through it well in the end.

I had worked this pup at 6 different duck search waters but had nothing locally that duplicated the heavy flooded timber debris in swimming depth water forcing the dog to swim up to floating or below the surface downed timber and crawl over them to advance and search. A drought required the use of this area for duck search when the normal marsh dried up. My Wife, Pup and I travelled up and trained on the new area twice and without it I am not at all sure my pup would have been ready for it. Most difficult duck search water I have seen.

Training for running with strange dogs and backing is a hurdle to running my pup in the INV. Would require alot more all day sesssions with 6 hours on the road. Not sure I am going to do that.

I have posted numerous times my views on using Test Scores to validate breeding dogs. Not big on it. But I will also say that the benefits of a dog with UT test level manners around game is really nice. Opening day of dove season it was hot and we had a long walk to get where we wanted to hunt. I carried about 40lbs of water on my back and kept my pup at heel on the way in and out to avoid overheating. He sat next to me, marked birds and waited to be sent to retrieve. Sat and delivered to hand. It was nice. And it will be nice having a dog safely out of the line of fire when we hunt upland birds this fall as well as a dog which will keep looking for downed waterfowl in heavy cover with no presence or prompting from me. Those are the value of the test system for me and well worth it.
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Re: UT prize (including duck search)

Postby Texasphez » Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:12 pm

So question:
What could you have done differently as far as him pointing to far away? Reason I ask is because I had this exact thing happen this morning. Was working my pp trying to cross wind the bird but he circled to far and got downwind and stopped pointed but from about 150 yards. When I walked up to him he was definitely locked on the bird but with no style or anything. I ended up releasing him to relocate,at which time he moved in and then locked up around 15 yards.
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Re: UT prize (including duck search)

Postby cjm » Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:48 pm

CK - thanks, I might run him again but I'll think about it after hunting season. The first time I ran him, I think all the unique situations that come with a test threw him - like the multiple people, lots of shots, missed birds, etc that you mentioned. And I think it adds an extra hurdle if you don't have a training group nearby.

AG - for the above reason, I think that score with a young pup is especially impressive. And I agree that most of the benefit is getting to hunt behind a finished dog. I also think it's fun to have a goal to work toward and extra motivation to work toward it.

Part of the reason I'm interested in the invitational is I want my dog to back anyways. He already takes a pretty good line for blind retrieves across big water and I'd also like to polish that up and add a little casting, which we started last winter but dropped to focus on the duck search. So the training would overlap with functional goals.
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Re: UT prize (including duck search)

Postby cjm » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:00 pm

TP - my two cents would be that you don't need to do anything about pointing from a distance. For testing, this should be fine if he holds steady and then relocates closer on release - especially if the closer point is more intense. I think judges should take the distance and conditions into consideration but they're all different. (And that wasn't the only thing that happened for my pointing score). For hunting (and I guess testing), he'll learn that he doesn't need to be that far away through experience with birds, including the experience of being released to relocate.
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Re: UT prize (including duck search)

Postby Hunters Edge » Sun Sep 24, 2017 9:00 pm

Congrats, on your pz ll. Remember test day is a different day then training or hunting, you should be proud of it and if you desire rerun the dog for a pz l.

I was not there but have seen times that judges did not do their judging correctly, but majority of the time they are pretty right on to the guidelines or standard that you are being judged to. Of course with adding in human issues, we all make mistakes.

The distance a dog points from either far or on top of the bird is not an issue, that is judged. Even lack of intensity is not in the standard that you are being or should be judged, they can not even penalize flagging that would be disqualification with AKC master hunt test. What is judged is if the dog is relocating by itself. Once the dog goes on point he does not move until given a command to fetch or relocate. Also you mentioned a bird was popped. Their are several reasons this could happen. The dog is running and the bird pops but for obvious reasons the dog can not smell it because of wind direction, he still needs to stop and wait to be released. Another is the dog is following scent and the bird pops, even if wind direction is wrong it is considered roading and is penalized. Of course he might of self located or even been released to relocated and busted the bird.

Now even if he roaded or busted a bird in the beginning. If he worked perfectly on the next 4 he would have been a pz l. On the other hand if later in the bird finding, he/she is coming unglued and you are not going to get pz l and sometimes not even prize if other things are happening during the run. Again I was not there, so just giving ideas on why the pup was dinged.

I like the pz l, and work toward that, but see very little difference between pz l, ll, or lll, they are all good dogs and whose to say if just a little difference, the dog would have been a pz l.

Congrats again on your Utility dog.
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