Training for NA test

Pointing, retrieving, flushing, tracking, behavioral issues, puppy training, etc.

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Training for NA test

Postby SERE Nate » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:36 pm

I have a 16 week old WPG pup and I am planning on running him in the NA test this summer.

I am in Whitefish MT, and we have one of the largest snowpacks in the US right now. Great for skiing, not so great for training.

Is there a recommended training program to start following?

So far I have been working on HERE and WHOA. He does very well when on leash or in the house with treats. Off leash is a different story. I have a Garman collar, but figure that it's still way too early to use it. He wears it when we go out of the house.

SO far our outdoor exploring has been snowshoeing and cross country skiing. He is very comfortable exploring and naturally quarters.

He is a retrieving machine. Very willing to retrieve as long as I will throw for him. I try to limit to no more than 10 throws to keep him interested.

I have access to live birds, but have not tried top get him on birds yet due to the snow.

Water is not an option as everything is frozen or freezing cold. Hopefully this wont be an issue as he will get plenty of exposure once things warm up.

For tracking I use a small chunk of hot dog on a string and drag it all over the yard and he does excellent with this. Its really amazing how good his nose is. I am not too worried about him finding a live pheasant at this point.

What else should I be working on? Should I get some quail and plant them along the brush on the logging roads that we snow shoe / ski along?
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby orhunter » Sat Feb 10, 2018 3:21 pm

16 weeks is awfully early to start thinking about training and NA really isn't a test for trained dogs. That's why it's called NA. If your pup will track, point, go in the water with enthusiasm, you'll get a top score. Everything else will take care of its self by giving the pup tons of off leash time in open country where it can develop a good search, range and independence.

Did you get your pup from Tom?
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby SERE Nate » Sat Feb 10, 2018 3:36 pm

I got my pup from Sean at broken bow Kennels in Idaho
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:29 pm

Tracking is the part they all seem to have trouble with. Make sure you lay some tracks with live pheasant before the test.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby blue04 » Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:52 pm

4 things you need (IMO) for NA:
- Bird exposure

- Some command that the dog knows that indicates you're hunting (vs. just going for a walk).

- A handful of tracking practices

- Swim your dog in a least 5 different locations

I've seen multiple people fail the water portion because they either didn't bother to swim their dogs, or only did it in one location and the pup was unsure about strange water. The water portion should be the easiest part.
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby 3drahthaars » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:03 pm

blue04 wrote:4 things you need (IMO) for NA:
- Bird exposure

- Some command that the dog knows that indicates you're hunting (vs. just going for a walk).

- A handful of tracking practices

- Swim your dog in a least 5 different locations

I've seen multiple people fail the water portion because they either didn't bother to swim their dogs, or only did it in one location and the pup was unsure about strange water. The water portion should be the easiest part.


It's usually the entry and the bottom that messes them up... sandy, loamy, clay, sticky... exposure to them all.

As for tracking, ditch the drags (they learn to follow the human scent)... spend the money and use pheasants just like the test.

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Re: Training for NA test

Postby Densa44 » Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:15 pm

There is no rush. Bond with the dog and enjoy him being a puppy.

One tip, for water work (teaching him to swim) don't use a pool that you heat.
Pine Ridges Ginnieve NA 112 UT pz 1 200
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:21 pm

I agree with what's been said. In addition I think you should have a command that tells the dog it's to do a track rather than a search for birds out in the field. Say "TRACK" at beginning of the hot dog trail and that will get you on the curve faster. If you have access to pheasants then drag them dead or put them in an open bottom crate alive and drag the crate and then have a live or dead one at the end of the drag.

For the hunting part I would go to any field that's not full of deep snow and command "hunt 'em up" and start walking across the field and change directions often so the dog gets the idea to quarter. There doesn't have to be a prize at the end of the field but the dog needs to know that it's fun to search fields (that's what you'll be doing in the test anyway). Shoot off a starter pistol here and there as they'll be testing for gun shyness. If the dog isn't much interested in searching then teach "dead bird" and hide a dummy or bird here and there and tell the dog to hunt. Dogs love this drill because it involves their instinct to search.

Use the birds you have access to for pointing. Homing pigeons work best as they can be released and re-used. Have them in a release trap or in a cage but dog needs to be on a check cord (so its can't get to the bird) and you and dog walk along CROSSWIND and watch the reaction when the dog enters the scent cone. I think all you need is a flash point in the test but you'd better have done that a bunch ahead of time.

For the water work your dog needs to be comfortable, so better wait until warm weather or use a heated pool. Cheetos are impossible to refuse, but the dog ultimately needs to retrieve a dummy from the water so better be working on land retrieves a bunch! Then he'll have no problem. I like the idea of different types of pond bottoms - I never considered that before.

Anyway, these are some things to think about and that you can do them all this spring. BTW my GWP that just died got a 112, Pz I when she was age 4 months, so with some training and a griffon you shouldn't have any trouble.
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby SERE Nate » Sun Feb 11, 2018 12:21 am

We'll be doing a ton of fly fishing between now and test time. I plan on bring a bumper and working with him each time we're out
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:01 am

SERE Nate wrote:We'll be doing a ton of fly fishing between now and test time. I plan on bring a bumper and working with him each time we're out


I think I just wasted my time
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby Meridiandave » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:53 am

I saw your post on the hunting wirehaired pointing griffons page. I will answer here. First, I believe Rex is the father of your pup. I watched Rex run Utility and he is a great dog. Your pup's mom and my female are also closely related. I think you got good genetics.

Second, I spent last spring and summer working with my friend on pups. He tested his female pp and got a prize 1, 112. I also watched a lot of pups run NA and attended all the training sessions. My friend has a great mentor.

A second what everyone else is saying. Take your dog out and let it run. This is where it will learn to search.

Swim your dog a lot. As others have said, swim it in different water types, temperature, etc. If yoy have problems getting it to swim early let some of us know and we can help.

Finally, do the pheasant track. You can use the track to steady up the point.

Most people spend their time running dogs on launchers. I would say once you know your dog points, do the rest.

That is my advice.
Last edited by Meridiandave on Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby orhunter » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:06 am

One thing you need to do is take your pup completely off birds two weeks to a month before the test, this includes tracking. You'll want a dog that's hungry for bird contact and will go the extra mile to get it on test day.

When it comes to pointing, it's all about what the judges want to see, this is not about steadiness. When guys start dragging out launchers and strapping on check cords, they're teaching steadiness. Completely unnecessary for NA and has nothing to do with pointing. Pointing is developed through opportunity, not training.
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby SERE Nate » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:13 am

We'll be doing a ton of fly fishing between now and test time. I plan on bring a bumper and working with him each time we're out
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby SERE Nate » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:31 am

Bruce Schwartz wrote:
SERE Nate wrote:We'll be doing a ton of fly fishing between now and test time. I plan on bring a bumper and working with him each time we're out


I think I just wasted my time


Why? I really appreciate your post and will incorporate your points into my training
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby SERE Nate » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:33 am

Meridiandave wrote:I saw your post on the hunting wirehaired pointing griffons page. I will answer here. First, I believe Rex is the father of your pup. I watched Rex run Utility and he is a great dig. Your pup's mom and my female are also closely related. I think you got good genetics.



Correct. Rex is the sire
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