Utility Test Steadiness

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association Tests

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Utility Test Steadiness

Postby bhulisa » Wed Mar 27, 2019 4:55 am

Hi All, I'm wondering how the scoring would be affected if you use whoa with your dog when the bird is shot? Let's say that the dog is steady all the way through flush, but at the shot, or fall of the bird, the handler Whoa's the dog. Not in a harsh manner, but fairly quietly. How would the score be affected in such a situation?

Thanks in advance for replies :)
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Re: Utility Test Steadiness

Postby SwitchGrassWPG » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:25 am

Depends on how many times you had to do it. Depends on when in the run you had to do it, if not given on every bird contact. If you had to whoa your dog on every bird, it will definitely affect the dog's score. If you give one on an early bird and none later, there's a good chance your dog will score better. Remember, a dog only requires a 3 in steadiness to earn a prize 1. To earn a 3, each bird contact doesn't need to be flawless, but the majority do.
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Re: Utility Test Steadiness

Postby jlw034 » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:07 am

It's my understanding that a command is a command. If you need to whoa, make damn sure your dog hears it.

I gave my dog a single, extremely loud whoa after she bumped and chased a bird. Everything else went great, received full points in the field.
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Re: Utility Test Steadiness

Postby Duckdon » Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:33 pm

I had one judge with 30 years experience tell me that if you use a command, we have to judge it. Better off not saying anything was his opinion. Another said if you need to use a command, make it count, because you likely have already lost the point anyway. Scoring works for the most part on averages so even if you lose a bit it may be the deal that saved the entire score.
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Re: Utility Test Steadiness

Postby JONOV » Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:34 pm

Duckdon wrote:I had one judge with 30 years experience tell me that if you use a command, we have to judge it. Better off not saying anything was his opinion. Another said if you need to use a command, make it count, because you likely have already lost the point anyway. Scoring works for the most part on averages so even if you lose a bit it may be the deal that saved the entire score.
Don and Crew

Giving the command, or not giving the command, at that point, is probably a matter of handler skill. Knowing if the dog is getting a bit sloppy or if its about to really do something wrong...
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Re: Utility Test Steadiness

Postby ryanr » Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:32 pm

Duckdon wrote:I had one judge with 30 years experience tell me that if you use a command, we have to judge it. Better off not saying anything was his opinion. Another said if you need to use a command, make it count, because you likely have already lost the point anyway. Scoring works for the most part on averages so even if you lose a bit it may be the deal that saved the entire score.
Don and Crew


We're blessed to have several senior judges in our chapter and they have all basically said this: "A command is a command but if at some point you think you need to use one, don't be afraid to but make it count."

As far as the OPs specific question, I have seen dogs that broke on a bird but later recovered to have several other wholly successful contact sequences in the field and was not knocked for the single bad one and achieved a Prize 1 because it was able to demonstrate over multiple birds that it was indeed steady, and without needing additional commands. I've been told that with the field work, if the dog is going to make a mistake like that you don't want it to be the last bird.

I know a dog that was ripping off a max score in UT but on the retrieve at the end of the remain by blind sequence upon exiting the water the dog put the duck down near the handler. Sad thing was the dog clearly telegraphed it was going to do that but the handler remained silent hoping it wouldn't happen. Meanwhile several of us were all saying to ourselves "give the command" as soon as the dog started to look down. In talking with the judges they said they were quietly thinking the same thing. And of course once he dropped it then the handler gave the command and so the dog was judged for the drop AND the extra command, resulting in a still very good Prize 2. Had just the command been given before the drop, the dog would have earned a Prize 1.
Schwarzwald's Hazel, NA 105 Prize 2
Quade vom Buffeltaler, NA 112 Prize 1
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Re: Utility Test Steadiness

Postby flitecontrol » Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:15 pm

ryanr wrote:I know a dog that was ripping off a max score in UT but on the retrieve at the end of the remain by blind sequence upon exiting the water the dog put the duck down near the handler. Sad thing was the dog clearly telegraphed it was going to do that but the handler remained silent hoping it wouldn't happen. Meanwhile several of us were all saying to ourselves "give the command" as soon as the dog started to look down. In talking with the judges they said they were quietly thinking the same thing. And of course once he dropped it then the handler gave the command and so the dog was judged for the drop AND the extra command, resulting in a still very good Prize 2. Had just the command been given before the drop, the dog would have earned a Prize 1.


Makes me wonder if there shouldn't be two scores, one for the dog and one for the handler. A prize one dog doesn't get to that level without good training, but some dogs don't score well due to the handler.

When I ran Utility in the WPGCA, before the field work, the head judge asked if I was going to command my dog to whoa at flush or not. My dog was trained to be steady until released, but there's alway a possibility the dog will be out of character on test day. So I pondered it for a while and told the judge that I expected him to be steady, but wanted to exercise the option of whoaing him if he broke. The judge smiled and said I couldn't have it both ways. If I chose giving the whoa command option and the dog was steady, he wouldn't receive top score in that part of the test. Similarly, If I chose to say he would be steady and the dog broke and had to be stopped with a command, that would also result in a score reduction. So I told him the dog should be steady, and he was. He was still as a statue to flush, shot and fall. After the bird fell, the judge wouldn't let me release the dog to fetch for a pretty long time. Later, he told me that was the steadiest dog he'd ever seen. But we washed out at the water because I didn't get onto him hard enough after he didn't fetch the blind retrieve duck after the first failed attempt.
I've had several really good dogs, but none were perfect. Neither am I, so keep that in mind!
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Re: Utility Test Steadiness

Postby hunter94 » Thu Apr 04, 2019 10:43 am

so NAVHDA may be a little lax on their standards, depending on the judge??? seems to me, subjective judging not good? do we see this too often?
maybe attending a handlers seminar would clear things up for many?
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Re: Utility Test Steadiness

Postby ryanr » Thu Apr 04, 2019 12:50 pm

hunter94 wrote:so NAVHDA may be a little lax on their standards, depending on the judge??? seems to me, subjective judging not good? do we see this too often?
maybe attending a handlers seminar would clear things up for many?


I don't think they're lax on their standards. There are 3 judges and the score you and your dog get is exactly what was earned. Also, I think any judge will tell you that attending a Handler's Clinic is an invaluable resource in learning exactly how a dog's performance is evaluated by a judge.
Schwarzwald's Hazel, NA 105 Prize 2
Quade vom Buffeltaler, NA 112 Prize 1
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Re: Utility Test Steadiness

Postby JONOV » Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:05 pm

flitecontrol wrote:
ryanr wrote:I know a dog that was ripping off a max score in UT but on the retrieve at the end of the remain by blind sequence upon exiting the water the dog put the duck down near the handler. Sad thing was the dog clearly telegraphed it was going to do that but the handler remained silent hoping it wouldn't happen. Meanwhile several of us were all saying to ourselves "give the command" as soon as the dog started to look down. In talking with the judges they said they were quietly thinking the same thing. And of course once he dropped it then the handler gave the command and so the dog was judged for the drop AND the extra command, resulting in a still very good Prize 2. Had just the command been given before the drop, the dog would have earned a Prize 1.


Makes me wonder if there shouldn't be two scores, one for the dog and one for the handler. A prize one dog doesn't get to that level without good training, but some dogs don't score well due to the handler.

Nah, mostly since the dog doesn't seem to care what the three strangers in orange are saying to the gathered crowd at the end of the day. They're too busy licking themselves. And they taste the same at the end of the day no matter what.

The same thing can be said of the ACT/SAT, a basketball game or a dog event. Its no different than knowing when to skip a question or how to pick an answer if you're not sure, take a timeout, fouling your opponent, or give a command. Do you want to give your opponent what's likely a guaranteed point by fouling them? No, but sometimes its best. Do you want to concede a point by giving your dog a command? No, but you have to look at the whole picture.
hunter94 wrote:so NAVHDA may be a little lax on their standards, depending on the judge??? seems to me, subjective judging not good? do we see this too often?
maybe attending a handlers seminar would clear things up for many?

Judging is always subjective to one degree or another. Some things more than others. Its no different than a football game. Some things are extremely clear cut penalties (like a false start or a dog that spits the duck out four feet in front of the handler) other things aren't as clear but not at all ambiguous (like the spot of the ball or judging "pointing" in NAVHDA) and others are more subjective still (like Taunting in Football or maybe search in NAVHDA.)

From what I've seen judging in NAVHDA is extremely consistent.
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