NAVHDA field search cooperation

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association Tests

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NAVHDA field search cooperation

Postby ForestDump » Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:11 am

I am coming from the field trial world but have a gwp i'm interested in putting a utility title on this summer. I have a question about big running dogs in NAVHDA and how that affects their cooperation score. When released my dogs will make large casts and run forward hunting objectives unless I give a command to make a turn. I attended a NAVHDA training day this past weekend and from what I understand this is not acceptable. I was even reprimanded by the president of the club for giving my dog a turn command because he stated it wasn't a cooperative hunting dog and he should stay close and check in to see where I'm turning.

Is this just one judges opinion and should I plan to run this dog or should I just scrap it? I don't wish to cut my dog down just for a test I just thought it would be interesting to teach thim a water/duck search and see how well he would do. But if him running big basically puts him behind idk if its worth the money in testing.
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Re: NAVHDA field search cooperation

Postby blue04 » Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:55 am

Ahhh yes. You've run into one of the things that frustrates me most with testing. Depending on who the judges are, you get their personal version of what the rules state and how they'd score it. We can debate the wording of the rules on this site, but I'm afraid this is down to luck of the draw. Depending on which judges you happen to get on test day, you may get fabulous scores or you may get dinged.

I generally think NAVHDA is looking for dogs that work at "an appropriate distance" (which is of course open to interpretation). The dog should work for the gun and not run wild of course. The dog should expand the size of the search when in a big open field, and work closer in heavier cover. A dog that never checks in should (I think rightly) be dinged, but how that is judged is likely to be up to the judge's eyes.

Best of luck.
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Re: NAVHDA field search cooperation

Postby JONOV » Mon Apr 02, 2018 9:57 am

I think you're dealing with one guy's opinion...I haven't run a dog in a utility test but I've worked enough of them, and heard a lot of whistle blowing during field portions, and seen the dog walk away with a Prize 1, that I'm not sure its a huge deal, provided you can control your dog and your dog is judged to be working with you.

The "Hard Part" is that you won't be hunting a FT course, which at least around here, are sort of like race tracks in that there's sort of a route. Instead, its a field.

A dog doesn't have to be obedient to be cooperative. And, in theory, an obedient dog might not be cooperative. In the real world, I think its really hard for anyone to say that a dog that listens and handles isn't cooperative.
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Re: NAVHDA field search cooperation

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Apr 02, 2018 1:33 pm

Test grounds vary and some will be more favorable to a bigger running dog. Judging varies as well. Your dog can be scored a 3 in Cooperation and still pass Prize 1, and a 2 in Cooperation is all that is needed for Prize 2. I find alot of value in training my dogs for all portions of the test and it sounds like you do as well. Like yourself I would never modify a key area of how I wanted my dog to work in the field for the sake of a hunt test, but I think your venerability in this test element is low. If your dog's score is impacted by running too big with less attention paid to you as it hunts, I predict it is more likely to affect Prize 1 vs Prize 2 (assuming all other areas are Prize 1 minimums), vs not passing at all. If you are ok with that, I would run the test and have fun doing it.

Take a read of the AIMS document provided on NAVHDA's website. I think it will further your understanding of how Search and Cooperation are supposed to be evaluated in the UT. It specifically says that the dog's Search should adjust to cover but also says it does not matter if it does so on its own or in response to a Handler Command to do so. Which suggests to me that your dog turning to your command should not have a negative effect on it's score in Search. The Cooperation is described to be a silent thing where the dog works in tune with the handler, so that is where I could see a possible down grade. But Cooperation is scored throughout the test so your dog showing excellent Cooperation in other areas of the test can help balance out its overall score in this area.

FWIW my 17 month old GWP ran out of sight almost immediately in the first test we ran years ago. Which was easily done as there was a lot of cover nearby. The head judge told me to call him in. I said I would prefer to walk past the nearest cover obstructing our view to see what he was doing, as he might be on point. Judge again told me to call him so I did. He showed up and we went on, but the dog continued to rip it up as we went. Dog was scored a 4 in Search and a 3 in Cooperation, so one data point on the subject. The test grounds where I tested my current dog last summer is open such that it would be hard for any dog to get out of sight. And it is most likely a big running dog will hit scent of a bird before it gets too far away, particularly if commanded to swing around.
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Re: NAVHDA field search cooperation

Postby ryanr » Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:32 pm

ForestDump wrote:I am coming from the field trial world but have a gwp i'm interested in putting a utility title on this summer. I have a question about big running dogs in NAVHDA and how that affects their cooperation score. When released my dogs will make large casts and run forward hunting objectives unless I give a command to make a turn. I attended a NAVHDA training day this past weekend and from what I understand this is not acceptable. I was even reprimanded by the president of the club for giving my dog a turn command because he stated it wasn't a cooperative hunting dog and he should stay close and check in to see where I'm turning.

Is this just one judges opinion and should I plan to run this dog or should I just scrap it? I don't wish to cut my dog down just for a test I just thought it would be interesting to teach thim a water/duck search and see how well he would do. But if him running big basically puts him behind idk if its worth the money in testing.


I wasn't there obviously but by what you describe neither you or your dog did anything that would be penalized or suggest it wasn't cooperative. One opinion is simply one opinion.
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Re: NAVHDA field search cooperation

Postby SwitchGrassWPG » Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:11 am

How big the dog runs is not relevant, as long as the dog is hunting WITH you. If you turn and the dog doesn't come around to the direction you turned, the cooperation score will likely suffer. If the dog comes around with being called, then probably not as bad. As was previously pointed out, the dog only needs to be cooperative 51% of the time to receive a 3 and earn a Prize 1. Also keep in mind, cooperation is judged throughout the test. The duck drag is primarily obedience and cooperation, so much could be made up there, if all goes well.
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Re: NAVHDA field search cooperation

Postby JONOV » Tue Apr 03, 2018 2:37 pm

SwitchGrassWPG wrote:How big the dog runs is not relevant, as long as the dog is hunting WITH you. If you turn and the dog doesn't come around to the direction you turned, the cooperation score will likely suffer. If the dog comes around with being called, then probably not as bad. As was previously pointed out, the dog only needs to be cooperative 51% of the time to receive a 3 and earn a Prize 1. Also keep in mind, cooperation is judged throughout the test. The duck drag is primarily obedience and cooperation, so much could be made up there, if all goes well.


For those of you that have run a few UT tests, do they do the same thing they do in the NA test, where the judges ask/direct you to make a turn and see if the dog checks in and adjusts accordingly? I'm training for the UT test now and don't get the idea that they do, that its more of a NA thing where there is very little actual obedience expected of the dog compared to a UT test.
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Re: NAVHDA field search cooperation

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:48 pm

JONOV wrote:For those of you that have run a few UT tests, do they do the same thing they do in the NA test, where the judges ask/direct you to make a turn and see if the dog checks in and adjusts accordingly? I'm training for the UT test now and don't get the idea that they do, that its more of a NA thing where there is very little actual obedience expected of the dog compared to a UT test.


Each time I ran my own dogs or gunned, the head judge indicated which way they wanted us to hunt initially and then indicated when they wanted to make a change in direction. Generally it was pretty low key and seemed like a dual purpose of directing us towards where the dog would find birds to work, and an opportunity to judge the dogs natural inclination to handle to the handler without prompting, or not. If you give a command for the dog to handle without giving it an opportunity to do so in silence I believe you will lower your score in cooperation for that specific observation. As I mentioned and Switchgrass echo'ed, there are other areas of the test where Cooperation is evaluated.
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Re: NAVHDA field search cooperation

Postby ForestDump » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:50 pm

JONOV wrote:
SwitchGrassWPG wrote:How big the dog runs is not relevant, as long as the dog is hunting WITH you. If you turn and the dog doesn't come around to the direction you turned, the cooperation score will likely suffer. If the dog comes around with being called, then probably not as bad. As was previously pointed out, the dog only needs to be cooperative 51% of the time to receive a 3 and earn a Prize 1. Also keep in mind, cooperation is judged throughout the test. The duck drag is primarily obedience and cooperation, so much could be made up there, if all goes well.


For those of you that have run a few UT tests, do they do the same thing they do in the NA test, where the judges ask/direct you to make a turn and see if the dog checks in and adjusts accordingly? I'm training for the UT test now and don't get the idea that they do, that its more of a NA thing where there is very little actual obedience expected of the dog compared to a UT test.


I have the same question. Thanks for everyone’s responses I’m going to be honest I was a little fed up with the experience and the constant “MY dogs hunt” attitude I got from some of the members there. ( actually hunted my dogs 84 days this past season) but I will give it a shot and aim for a Prize 1 or 2.

A few guys were very impressed with the dog on track and he water retrieves. I mainly just have to figure out how to teach him that I want him to search a pond as hard as a bird field.
Last edited by ForestDump on Tue Apr 03, 2018 4:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NAVHDA field search cooperation

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Apr 03, 2018 4:09 pm

Retriever Trials, FTs, AKC Tests, NAVHDA, VDD, NSTRA, UKC - every dog venue I have attended had some wonderful folks and some less so. I walk away from the latter when the occasion calls for it, and sometimes they were officers. Good luck with your training and your test, expect you and your dog will enjoy it.
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Re: NAVHDA field search cooperation

Postby KJ » Tue Apr 03, 2018 4:25 pm

ForestDump,

This topic has long been a personal annoyance of mine, but I guess it is what it is. Even though I don't agree with it, I still choose to play the game. I like a dog that hunts with the range, speed, and application of a field trial dog, and this is not always judged favorably in NAVHDA. Cooperation score aside, we have had a handful of dogs receive 3's in Search over the years and it certainly was not because they LACKED search. Search is just viewed differently in NAVHDA. They will not knock a dog's score for having too much nose, too good of tracking, or hitting the water too hard - but they will ding a dog for too much search.

You can get by in NAVHDA with a big running dog, but here are a few tips. First, just handle them a bit more to keep them a little closer. Big running dogs can usually score max if they handle great, but anything on the edge is high risk for getting dinged in cooperation and/or search. Also know that most NAVHDA judges HATE IT if they cannot see the dog and will judge it accordingly. Sometimes in NAVHDA, math prevails over common sense (keep in mind that this is even coming from an engineer :wink: ). If a dog spends 5 of its 20 minutes (in an NA test) hunting out of bounds, chasing a bird, or is seen as "self hunting" (in the eyes of the judge, which is quite different than how a field trial judge may describe "self hunting") etc., they are already looking at a 0 during those 5 minutes, and at that point, and maximum possible score of a 3 in search. Now some of this behavior isn't acceptable in a UT test and isn't directly applicable, but it does give you an idea of the scoring philosophy.

Keep in mind that you can take a 3 in cooperation in any test and still pull a prize I. You can't get a 3 in search, though.

Good luck and I suspect that you will come of the process with a better dog because of it.
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Re: NAVHDA field search cooperation

Postby Don » Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:42 pm

Don't forget you are hunting birds not hunting for the dog. As previously stated the distance of the casts are irrelevant, the working relationship between the dog and handler will be reflected in both search and co-operation scores. The utility test is designed to show this relationship. A dog running with no consideration for it's handler will probably be penalized.
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Re: NAVHDA field search cooperation

Postby fuzznut » Sat Apr 28, 2018 8:33 am

Many many years ago I took my DC GWP to NAVHDA and did the UT test just to prove we could do it. I just decided the dog would run as big as he was going to run and I would trust that he would stand broke till we got there. He did. He messed up his retrieve of the duck, and ended up with a Prize III.

Everyone at the training days scoffed because he ran "too big" and for sure because he was a FT dog, there was no way he could do the work. I just listened and let them talk. I knew what he was capable of.

Up until recently, there were only a couple of GWPs with FCs or DC with NAVHDA UT titles- so go for it!
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Re: NAVHDA field search cooperation

Postby Addicted2fowl » Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:59 pm

The way it’s weighed is how your dog responds to you. If it is running out of the county and it won’t respond to you, your coop score will suffer. Now if your dog wants to run big and you blow the whistle and it responds, well then you are fine. Always look in terms of hunting, if you have a big running dog that could care less where you are, the less likely you are to have a good hunt. If you have a big running dog who responds when you call or handle it, stays honest on birds For the shooter, then you have a pleasurable big ranging hunting partner. Range is irrelevant, it’s response to you is the priority.
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Re: NAVHDA field search cooperation

Postby ryanr » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:25 am

Addicted2fowl wrote:The way it’s weighed is how your dog responds to you. If it is running out of the county and it won’t respond to you, your coop score will suffer. Now if your dog wants to run big and you blow the whistle and it responds, well then you are fine. Always look in terms of hunting, if you have a big running dog that could care less where you are, the less likely you are to have a good hunt. If you have a big running dog who responds when you call or handle it, stays honest on birds For the shooter, then you have a pleasurable big ranging hunting partner. Range is irrelevant, it’s response to you is the priority.


Big +1.
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