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Getting butterflies


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Well, in less than three weeks, Remy and I will be taking out first Utility Test.

It's the first test I've ever been at aside from his Natural Ability test last spring. We've trained hard for two summers, plus he's had two full falls of hunting. I'm pretty confident in his abilities, but I'm still nervous as heck.

Anyone have some tips or advice for a first-time dog tester? I realize not everyone tests in NAVHDA, but I reckon there's good insight to be found from folks who have experienced the test/trial scene in general.

I'll take all the help I can get grin

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don't be nervous... dogs pick up on that. Keep it fun. If it isn't fun, why do it? No matter how well he does or does not do at the test, you will always be proud of his hunting ability, and that is what really matters. Dog's always find a way to make us look like fools! It's part of the package!

Train as if you are at a test so the dog has an understanding of what he will face. ie: lots of people and other dogs around when you train. Then you will not have issues of distraction the first time you go to a test. We'd go so far to get a group together, dummy judges, dummy holding blind, honor dogs, throwers and gunners in the field blah blah blah... judges talking to you when you are walking up, guys moving in the field while you set your dog, etc.etc. The dog cannot differentiate that training from the real thing... except we get to do corrections in training!

In the end, all your hard work and training generally pays off. I'm sur eit will in your case as well. Let us know how he does.

Good Luck!


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I remember taking my Echo to her first hunt test. I had been to many but, this was the first time participating. I was nervous as all get out about her just punching straight down the course flushing birds left and right and people laughing me all the way back home. We to had trained quite a bit for this. Good news is that didn't happen.

The only thing I can say is trust the work you have put in and have fun no matter what happens. Also remember that everyone there has been in your shoes at some point. Everyone that I have encountered at these events(Hunt tests for me) has always been supportive of any and all new comers. The butterflies will be there no matter what, at least until you get going in the test.

Good Luck,

PS. Getting a little nervous myself as I have a new young dog starting his Hunt Test adventures here in a couple of weeks.

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Let the judges know right off that you are in your first UT test. Most all NAVHDA judges will help you as much as they can. They want to see your dog succeed. Remember less is more. Less commands, less talking to your dog. They will remind you of his and walk like you normally do. Your dog will key off of your body language the day of the test. Loose and relaxed is the key to it. IN the field portion treat it like you would your hunt. ON the Duck Search just keep looking and facing the direction you want him to go and he will. ON the drag the same thing just look out to where you think they took it and have faith. I think the drag is the most stressful thing of the whole test. Most of all have some cold ones in the cooler for after the scores are read. My new little girl will be running her NA next summer and my big guy his UT. I love the NAVHDA system. We have put lots of prize 1s on and even a few VCs. Please let us know how it went

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If it went good then stop give you and the dog s brake so you don't of him so just relaxstress the dog. He knows what is expected just give both of you a brake

I thought about that...but what if the test was in three weeks instead of two? I think having him train up until a couple days before the test is OK.

That said, I'm keeping pressure to a minimum. At this point, we're just going through the motions.

Last night, for example, we did the marked retrieve and steadiness by blind. It was his second time doing it. Went flawless. Heeled him through the stakes, woahed him at the blind, then walked off in the cattails a ways and did my two shots. Besides a bit of excited whining, Remy didn't budge. Came back to the blind, went through the shooting sequence, launched the bird, and sent him. It wound up being about a 75-yard marked retrieve. Went straight to the mark, grabbed it, then fetched it to hand. I praised him and heeled him back to the truck. If he does that on test day, we'll be golden.

Couple more field days and maybe one more duck search day and I'm calling it a summer. No matter what the outcome at the test, I'm just looking forward to hunting him hard through January! Time to reap the rewards of a lot of sweat, stress and toil...on both our parts.

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I can't remember if it was this last weekend or the upcoming weekend that you have your test. If it is upcoming then, Good Luck and report how it went. If it was last weekend then report how it went and a belated good luck.

Thanks for the luck! I'm actually running him this Saturday. Getting a bit more confident as time goes by, but I'm as nervous as ever.

We did a full mock test last Saturday with a couple other guys. I felt good through almost all of Remy's work...except field. He still has a tendency to get darn close to chukars. He's a staunch pointer, however, and absolutely will not budge (knock on wood) through flush, shot and fall. But it's actually getting him to stop that I'm worried about. If the wind is good and he nails his first bird, I'm pretty sure we can work through the full 30 minutes without issue. He might get close, but he shouldn't bump any birds. But if the wind is wrong or he's amped up for some reason...oh Lord help me.

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