Brief Utility Test Training Plan- By Steven

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Re: Brief Utility Test Training Plan- By Steven

Postby Fun Dog » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:05 pm

jlw034 wrote:Just signed up for the June 1/2/3 UT test here in MN. I appreciate all the input shared here. A little worried about cold water and lack of training birds, but we'll give er hell.


When I tested my dog Viking I almost pulled her from the test. It was 48 degrees out and raining. We were up in the mountains so you know the water was cold. Viking hates cold! But then I remembered I had a secret weapon up my sleeve. When I trained fo duck search I never used the shot to send her. However, she had been duck hunting. The day before the test she did not want to get in the water. I figured the best I’d see was that she would run around the edge of the lake. Then With the added shot before the send Viking took a huge leap into the water and proceeded to do a perfect duck search. No one was more surprised than me. She earned her prize one that day.
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Re: Brief Utility Test Training Plan- By Steven

Postby marysburg » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:03 pm

Dori's advice is spot on. I train without a shot a the duck search departure. Makes the shot on test day more compelling. Also, I do a lot of off leash heeling, using a soft nick for a correction instead of a leash tug. We never walk in a straight line, but zig-zag instead with invisible poles, taking 5 or 6 strides between corners. It keeps the dog watching my footwork for directional cues. In all our field work all spring and summer, we incorporate zig-zag heeling between birds. After I receive the retrieve of the shot bird, I give a small drink of water, then zig-zag heel before stopping to take a deep breath and then send the dog. It keeps me and the dog calmer on test day, and we use it all the way through the hunting season too.
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Re: Brief Utility Test Training Plan- By Steven

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:37 am

I am not sure about training without a shot on duck search. I think introducing a new/different component at the test day can just as easy cause unintended consequences. I train with a shot on the first send and no shot for subsequent send. And once a dog has the basics down I always include at least two sends and retrieves in duck search training. So the dog learns both (shot and no shot) in the order/manner the test will be run.

If the core problem was a dog that would not work in cold water, I would work to train the dog out of it before I ran it in the test or move on to another dog if I could not, as our best waterfowling every year is when the weather and water are the coldest. The fact that the vast majority of Hunt Tests are run when the water is warm has always been a shortcoming in evaluating dogs' true usefulness for hunting waterfowl, but then I am in the camp you have to actually hunt them in various conditions to evaluate that anyway.
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Re: Brief Utility Test Training Plan- By Steven

Postby JONOV » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:57 am

AverageGuy wrote:I am not sure about training without a shot on duck search. I think introducing a new/different component at the test day can just as easy cause unintended consequences. I train with a shot on the first send and no shot for subsequent send. And once a dog has the basics down I always include at least two sends and retrieves in duck search training. So the dog learns both (shot and no shot) in the order/manner the test will be run.

I agree. My concern would be, based on personal experience with the dog, that the dog would leave on the shot. Not all dogs are great generalists. Even if you have it steady-all-the-way in the field, the dog might not equate that with the duck marsh experience, and even if he's steady when you hunt, the duck search sequence (objectively) isn't all that close to duck hunting (bunch of people standing around,) no real "build up" to the shot...

AverageGuy wrote:If the core problem was a dog that would not work in cold water, I would work to train the dog out of it before I ran it in the test or move on to another dog if I could not, as our best waterfowling every year is when the weather and water are the coldest. The fact that the vast majority of Hunt Tests are run when the water is warm has always been a shortcoming in evaluating dogs' true usefulness for hunting waterfowl, but then I am in the camp you have to actually hunt them in various conditions to evaluate that anyway.


You can never have a dog that's all things to all people, despite what certain corners of the V-dog world say. And, while I know many NAVHDA members that duck hunt, and plenty that duck hunt into the late season, my experience with NAVHDA members is exclusive to NC. However cold a wood duck swamp is in SE NC, you will be able to hunt with a dog that might have trouble hunting in Chesapeake Bay or Long Island Sound or Devil's Lake, ND on a late season hunt. Conversely, many dogs that have the coats to withstand that might struggle in warm weather upland hunts. And, in NAVHDA, there are some people that might not do much duck hunting at all.
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Re: Brief Utility Test Training Plan- By Steven

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:43 pm

JONOV wrote:
You can never have a dog that's all things to all people, despite what certain corners of the V-dog world say. And, while I know many NAVHDA members that duck hunt, and plenty that duck hunt into the late season, my experience with NAVHDA members is exclusive to NC. However cold a wood duck swamp is in SE NC, you will be able to hunt with a dog that might have trouble hunting in Chesapeake Bay or Long Island Sound or Devil's Lake, ND on a late season hunt. Conversely, many dogs that have the coats to withstand that might struggle in warm weather upland hunts. And, in NAVHDA, there are some people that might not do much duck hunting at all.


Yes, a coat suitable for late season brutal weather waterfowling will absolutely be restrictive on the dog's ability to hunt in high temperatures. That is a tradeoff I accept with my chosen Breed but readily admit to as well.
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Re: Brief Utility Test Training Plan- By Steven

Postby Densa44 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:39 am

Cold water? It is not that the water is "cold" it is just that the dog isn't expecting it. Just like finding and retrieving a live duck, tracking a bird etc. As others have said you need to expose the dog to all the issues that may crop up in the test.

BTW once they know that they are going to get a duck, they will hit the water with a splash!

I've seen a dog get a 190 score and still get a pz 1, so the duck search is the key to success here. You don't need birds to teach it but if you have some this is the place to use them.

I train alone, not on purpose but I have outlived all my doggy friends, so I use a mark to get the dog across the pond the first time and when she comes back with that dummy, I'll send her back for the others that I put over there. It has worked well so far.
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Re: Brief Utility Test Training Plan- By Steven

Postby jlw034 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:07 am

Not sure if folks are referencing my comment to cold water or not.

What I meant was a couple things. It's not uncommon for ice out to happen mid to late April. This has been a brutally cold year, so I'm a bit worried I'll only have one one month to water train.

I've seen my dog retreive ducks in iced up potholes. I'm just worried about repetitive training in frigid water. I'd like to keep training fun for her. Eh, I'm sure we'll be fun.
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Re: Brief Utility Test Training Plan- By Steven

Postby mastercaster » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:12 am

jlw034 wrote:Not sure if folks are referencing my comment to cold water or not.

What I meant was a couple things. It's not uncommon for ice out to happen mid to late April. This has been a brutally cold year, so I'm a bit worried I'll only have one one month to water train.

I've seen my dog retreive ducks in iced up potholes. I'm just worried about repetitive training in frigid water. I'd like to keep training fun for her. Eh, I'm sure we'll be fun.


Wouldn't a fitted 5mm neoprene vest take care of that?
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Re: Brief Utility Test Training Plan- By Steven

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:26 am

jlw034 wrote:Not sure if folks are referencing my comment to cold water or not.

What I meant was a couple things. It's not uncommon for ice out to happen mid to late April. This has been a brutally cold year, so I'm a bit worried I'll only have one one month to water train.

I've seen my dog retreive ducks in iced up potholes. I'm just worried about repetitive training in frigid water. I'd like to keep training fun for her. Eh, I'm sure we'll be fun.


Lena has had alot of waterfowl hunting experiences. And I recall her leap into the water when she was a puppy that you posted. With the right dogs and methods a month is easily sufficient time to train a dog of her age and experience to do 4 level duck search. No worries.
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Re: Brief Utility Test Training Plan- By Steven

Postby Densa44 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:48 pm

Its not the water that makes a dog cold it is the wind when they get out. Train them in the water as much as you can then into the truck. You can towel her off if you like, she will love it. A very positive way to end your day.

Water only gets to + 4 C then it quickly turns to ice. That is cold for the pool but not for the pond. I've never seen a dog used to cold water shy from it, quite the opposite. They love it.

Plan your water work as others have said, know what you are trying to teach; carry the distance, find the duck, keeping at it, going 2 xs, holding the bird, quick delivery, etc. when she gets it quit!
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Re: Brief Utility Test Training Plan- By Steven

Postby Fun Dog » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:12 pm

There is such a difference between training and hunting when it comes to temperature. Even the lab folks curtail their training when the water temps reach a certain level. I do agree that the air temps and conditions are equally important. In cold conditions after a water retrieve I quickly release the dog and let them run to warm up. Both my dogs will retrieve ducks in cold water with no problem while hunting, but asking them to swim around for 10 to 30 minutes while training for a duck search in 40 degree water is apt to make them not really want to do it anymore.

I don’t disagree that it’s good to add the shot on occasion when training duck search, but I surely wouldn’t do it every training session.
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Re: Brief Utility Test Training Plan- By Steven

Postby Densa44 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:55 pm

If you are a hunting dog and live on the prairies, the water is usually cold most of the time. It doesn't seem to bother them at all, in fact they will play in it.

I guess it is what they are used to. BTW all my dogs have been females and I do think that they have an advantage in the water. They have a layer of fat on their bellies that the males don't have . I hunt every day until the ducks leave and they stay as long as there is open water. The dogs are in the water as soon as the ice goes out.

The problem working the dog when there is thin ice, is what has been said before, it is not the cold water, just that the dog has never seen ice. In the fall I'll try to get out there on those rare days when there is just a thin coating of ice near the shore (it is a small stream with beaver ponds) and throw a dead duck for the dog. The last time I did it, the duck stuck in the ice on the far side about 50 feet. She hit the water/thin ice with a splash and broke up the thin ice, when she picked up the duck she ended up on the far bank. I wondered what was going to happen because I sure didn't want to get in the water to get her back. She surveyed the the area, found her track that she made swimming across the pond and then jumped as far as she could (the ice in the middle was very thin) and brought back the duck. The problem was unfamiliarity not cold.

That's life here in Alberta, you can drive your pick up truck across where I threw that duck to-day.
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