Going for 204!

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Going for 204!

Postby Densa44 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 12:08 pm

Once you have confidence in your duck search, and if you are an experienced trainer (read old retriever guy) I know you are thinking about acing the test. Here is one tip if you like living dangerously.
No leash!
Now, to be honest I started my no leash life because of knee surgery and was afraid that if I got tangled up and landed on my back, I might still be there on the ground in the wilds of Alberta. You'll need to buy your own stakes to heel and just s many ass they use in the test.
This has to be practiced a lot so the dog and you are both confident that you can do it.
If you have run a Derby dog (junior in Canada) in a CKC/AKC trial you'll remember the rise in heart beat when you take her leash off in front of the judges. We don't want that! Practice with no leash enough so that there is no leap in the dog's level of excitement when you enter the stakes.
The senior judge I spoke to said that every time the leash came tight in the heeling segment he took off a point. With no leash that is not nearly as easy to do.
The other parts of the test, you all know about and I'll leave them to my younger and more qualified colleagues.
You can do this, practice and confidence is the key. One thing that I have noticed about Vdogs is that they are very smart, I had very good BLFs but my PP tops them all. If she knows what I want, she'll do it. Good luck out there and enjoy your dogs.
Camridge's Sienna NA 112 UT pz 1 204
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby AverageGuy » Sun Jul 26, 2020 12:54 pm

I have many advantages living on a farm with grass fields, woods, 3 ponds, two coops of pigeons and pen full of ducks at the moment.

When I was training Spud for his UT I had a camo fabric holding blind setup beside the pond below the house and white electric fence posts set up as heeling gates, a small spread of decoys on the pond. It was easy to practice heeling and steady by the blind and we had it down perfect off leash.

Then we ran a mock test at our NAVHDA Chapter with lots of dogs around . Ole Spud smelled some dog smells as he passed through the gates, stopped and hiked his leg on one of them before catching up to me. It alerted me to the very real possibility he would do the same at the test with all the strange dogs around.

On test day I knew we still had a shot a Prize 1 because the field portion had gone well, so when we got to the heeling and steady by the blind portion of the test I walked a considerably faster pace than normal to keep him moving past the posts. The Judges correctly called me on it and we got a 3 in heeling.

I smiled and said nothing when the Head Judge accurately told me the score reflected me walking so fast and not the dog. He was right but he did not know it was on purpose to avert getting an even lower score and knocking ourselves out of Prize 1 in what should be the easiest part of the test. :)
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby SwitchGrassWPG » Mon Jul 27, 2020 5:10 pm

I've witnessed many dogs having challenges on the "easy" components after doing well on the "harder" ones. Test day is very different than training... The more you can emulate testing in your training, the higher level of success is normally achieved.
The only thing worse than a bad dog, is no dog at all...
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Jul 27, 2020 8:21 pm

I have a GWP buddy who missed UT Prize 1 due to heeling only. Another GSP buddy, same thing, missed UT Prize 1 in heeling only.

I saw a Retriever Trial Judge running her Master Level Lab at the Started Level last summer because the dog had become trial wise and developed a breaking problem. She was running Started because of the single marks then allowing her to keep the dog from breaking in an actual test situation.
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby crackerd » Tue Jul 28, 2020 4:07 am

That works until about the exact nanosecond the lead comes off the dog’s neck as it leaves the holding blind going to the line in a higher level test. True and tested axiom for retrievers: There are those that break, and those that are going to. Sounds like you’re describing HRC, which at last recall uses dead birds 99% of the time in their tests which tempers what happens with a “lively” retriever at the line. Add a hot flyer - aptly called a “breaking bird” - for AKC hunt tests (and occasionally FTs), and the remedial notion of bringing an advanced dog to the line on lead in a started HRC test collapses like a house of hummingbird feathers.

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Re: Going for 204!

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:47 am

MG,

It was a NAHRA test. What I typed is the extent of my knowledge of the situation. My thought in sharing it was it is another data point of a dog trained and capable of some very high level work (the dog has a Master Title) but failing because of something that should be simple but is not so simple under the environment of the test as SwitchGrassWPG commented. Whether what she was doing went on to fix the problem I don't know but it seemed like a logical approach to me at the time. The dog was test wise because of the rule preventing corrections during a test was what the woman conveyed to me.

Off subject but related to booger's thread on what breed of Vdog is easiest to train for handling, there is another lab in our training group which has a very significant problem with barking, whining, and dancing at the line. I made a one sentence mention of it in that thread, but I have sure seen some significant training challenges crop up with some high powered Labs with some pretty good amateur trainers at the helm. Notions you can avoid training problems via breed is contrary to my observations. Individual dogs in every breed are capable of bringing some challenges to the forefront is what I see.
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby crackerd » Tue Jul 28, 2020 7:03 am

Strong off-topic observations there, AG - real strong. "Challenges" is a good euphemism for a number of FT Lab woes - you can add sticking (refusal to give up a bird) and even blinking a flyer, both by FCs I've run against. That's the upshot of running dogs that are trained incessantly on innumerable concepts and bred to be "on edge" with their control and TNT on four legs. And the quick fixes for these challenges are also innumerable and will work as a Band-Aid in many cases. But to more your more trenchant observation on "avoiding training problems via breed," cannot agree more and further to the point that's why my favorite dogs to train over the long haul are the less shall we say supercharged models, topping the list a British Lab trained for US FTs to at least a competitive level, not FC by any means but always arming me with peace of mind going to the line with her. She in turn reminded me and to this day still does of my old spinone that I ran in NAHRA senior or as you called it "master level." I've mentioned before but in different context one test where while airing (and on lead!) she encountered a groundhog sow and dispatched it with maximum efficiency but with a fairly gutteral growl in so doing that it got the judges' attention to rush over and try to break up what they presumed was a dog fight. Having got through the land series and the land blind at that same test, we went to water and alas it was a sordid time for NAHRA when no flyers were shot or dead birds available because of some H1N1 avian virus, with Dokkens used instead. She picked the first two "birds" but upon recall with the second caught a glimpse of real action if you will in the far corner of a farm pond - Muscovies. I sent her for the last faux bird and she went on a line right past it and directly toward the domestic ducks a couple hundred yards away. Proud to say, reverting to crucial NAVHDA training, I was able to call her off the ducks just as I had in several UT duck searches - as you know, failure to have your dog under control when the judges say "time" dings your cooperation score and can quash your hopes not just for Prize 1 but for a qualifying score altogether. That satisfaction overrode the fact that I had in the parlance "picked up" my dog from completing the test and was summarily put out of it.

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Re: Going for 204!

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Jul 28, 2020 9:25 am

Great story MG.

(That Lab is an AKC Master, just happened I met up with it running in NAHRA Started trying to fix that breaking problem.)
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby ryanr » Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:09 am

MG, interesting comment. This is a little bit of a tangent from the original conversation but I would hope most judges would not ding a dog for cooperation after they called "Time" if the dog is on a duck or actively trailing one. More than once I've seen this scenario play out and the dog & handler given some leeway since trying to call a dog off a duck or hot scent of one goes against every ounce of desire a handler has worked on with the dog in duck search training. I remember a dog emerge from the reeds a couple hundred yards across the marsh just after the judges had called time and the handler had just given a recall. The dog was in hot pursuit of a duck swimming out in front of it. The dog was vocalizing and everything. The experirnced handler turned to the judges and basically said "hey, this isn't going to be easy here toget that dog off the duck." And it wasn't, it took some convincing (and the duck diving and disappearing) before the dog came in but he did come right back to the handler once he finally turned off of the pursuit. The dog didn't get dinged at all. If I recall, the judges were about to have someone go out and shoot the duck before it disappeared.
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby crackerd » Tue Aug 04, 2020 10:30 am

Ryan, a little sidebar to the "time" angle - re control and cooperation, rather than judges' discretion, which as you probably know can vary widely in NAVHDA. Where I ran the duck search for the first time after training heavily for it, the dog could get out of sight and at distance in a hurry, especially with a lively duck. When the judges called time after about 12 minutes or so, I hadn't seen the dog in at least half that time, much less the duck. But I did as bidden by the judges and whistled in the dog. After maybe two minutes there was a speck on the horizon swimming toward the line where the search originated - "line" is the operative word here because that return was essentially the Rosetta Stone for my future interest in retrievers and the competitive games involving them, though I didn't know it at the time.

As the dog got closer, another handler who happened to be a friend of one of the judges leaned in and said something I overheard, but that had zero significance to me at the time. The comment was "Now there's something you don't see every day - unless you're at a retriever trial." I sought him out and asked what he was talking about - he said, "A dog returning 400 yards on a straight line through water and going over rather than around the obstacles in its way" - tussocks, fallen dead trees and the opportunity to run around the bank to cut about 150 yards from the swim. He was a retriever trialer who also ran NAVHDA, one of few I'm pretty sure, and in my early years of training and working gundogs, I would glom on to even the most meager compliment beyond "Nice first step at heel - now get the other 999 in sync." Maybe even that one, too. But I had no frame of reference for retrievers and made it a point afterward to find out if somebody was blowing smoke, or if my versatile breed really had done something unexpected and unusual - in demonstrating her cooperation and maybe a smidgeon of the control we had worked on up through the UT when the judges called time that day.

ryanr wrote:MG, interesting comment. This is a little bit of a tangent from the original conversation but I would hope most judges would not ding a dog for cooperation after they called "Time" if the dog is on a duck or actively trailing one. More than once I've seen this scenario play out and the dog & handler given some leeway since trying to call a dog off a duck or hot scent of one goes against every ounce of desire a handler has worked on with the dog in duck search training. I remember a dog emerge from the reeds a couple hundred yards across the marsh just after the judges had called time and the handler had just given a recall. The dog was in hot pursuit of a duck swimming out in front of it. The dog was vocalizing and everything. The experirnced handler turned to the judges and basically said "hey, this isn't going to be easy here toget that dog off the duck." And it wasn't, it took some convincing (and the duck diving and disappearing) before the dog came in but he did come right back to the handler once he finally turned off of the pursuit. The dog didn't get dinged at all. If I recall, the judges were about to have someone go out and shoot the duck before it disappeared.
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Re: Going for 204!

Postby ryanr » Tue Aug 04, 2020 1:00 pm

Wow, that is something (btw, did the dog have a duck?)
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