Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

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Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GWPtyler » Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:39 pm

Heard this from a very good friend, but wanted to get your inputs.

I've been training with this guy all summer. His pup has made huge strides, and we were very confident in her going into this weekend's UT test. Had trained every aspect of the test in different locations and ramped up training above and beyond the scope of the test.

Fast forward to Saturday. It was triple digit temps by the time he ran, but despite not finding birds until the end of his run, the girl managed 5 contacts and held steady WSF. 4s across the board. Everything about the test is going well...until the duck search.

His first words to the judges was, "This landing is ****." And they agreed. They said he could walk out as far as he wanted to send the dog, but even with water at the top of his hip boots there was still 20 feet of cattails for the dog to pass through before reaching open water. She obviously got hung up and started searching the cattails near shore, as did nearly every other UT dog.

Six UT dogs ran and the only dog to successfully handle the cattails and make it to open water was the first dog, which saw a training duck in the water and chased after it.

Not a single dog got a PI...and both he and at least one other guy were in the running for a PI up until that point.

The judges were sympathetic but had to score based on what they saw. My question is, why was this approved in the first place??

I told him not to worry about it, that he was still planning to test this weekend again and we could work with the dog prior to the test. But he took it really hard. To him, his dog failed. True, the dog didn't go across the water...but we never trained in such difficult conditions. I mean, at the Invitational level they don't expect that much out of the dog (the Invite I VC'd my dog at, the blind was like sending to a mowed lawn).

Anyway, am I way off? Or is this more common than I think and we need to start specifically finding the gnarliest cover to do duck search?
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GPBLITZ » Mon Aug 17, 2015 2:40 pm

The judges score on what they see as you know. The test is what is put in front of you that day. There's nothing to approve, by who? The judges make the decision . Not uncommon to see a dog lose it in one area and have all 4's across the board at the UT level or at the invitational.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GWPtyler » Mon Aug 17, 2015 3:11 pm

GPBLITZ wrote:The judges score on what they see as you know. The test is what is put in front of you that day. There's nothing to approve, by who? The judges make the decision . Not uncommon to see a dog lose it in one area and have all 4's across the board at the UT level or at the invitational.


I always thought the senior judges did a thorough inspection of the grounds before running a test to make sure things were set up in accordance with the NAVHDA guidelines. Otherwise what happens if the duck search area is too small, or the fields don't have enough cover?
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GWPtyler » Mon Aug 17, 2015 3:17 pm

I reread what I wrote and I fear it's coming off as if the handler believes he should have been given a UT PI even though his dog didn't perform in the duck search. He's not. In fact, he admits that his dog just didn't do the task.

I'm just wondering if I haven't fully realized how variable the duck search testing can be. I might need to rethink how we set our training runs to up the difficulty level even higher.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby gwp4me2 » Mon Aug 17, 2015 5:42 pm

Here is my guess as to what the judges based the score on: the dog didn't expand its search because of the cover. It is not required for a dog to cross open water although normally that is the setup. If the dog were to do a good search and expand at some point it would be on the other side of the cover or way down the bank right? Could it be that the cover was so tall and big the dog didn't have the confidence to lose contact with the handler? If the dog is used to checking in even with just a look and can't? I've tested in some pretty tough cover but with that particular dog it just didn't matter. He would plow through anything and wasn't coming back unless he had a duck. That is what the judges want to see. I tested a dog once that didn't have as much drive. After crossing a short portion of open water and searching for a minute it stopped and looked back at me just for a couple seconds. I did nothing and the dog kept searching but I did see the judge making notes when the dog looked back to me. "independent duck search" that continues to expand is the goal.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby SwitchGrassWPG » Mon Aug 17, 2015 6:11 pm

In many instances, judges don't see the testing grounds until the evening before the test. Its at that point they make most decisions on how to set up the individual components based on what they see or are shown. Depending on distance from airport to testing grounds and arrival times, there may not be much time to look at the locations. I'd venture a guess most chapters would be happy to share pictures of their testing locations to handlers prior to test day, if asked.

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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby Duckdon » Mon Aug 17, 2015 7:13 pm

gwp4me2 wrote:Here is my guess as to what the judges based the score on: the dog didn't expand its search because of the cover. It is not required for a dog to cross open water although normally that is the setup. If the dog were to do a good search and expand at some point it would be on the other side of the cover or way down the bank right? Could it be that the cover was so tall and big the dog didn't have the confidence to lose contact with the handler? If the dog is used to checking in even with just a look and can't? I've tested in some pretty tough cover but with that particular dog it just didn't matter. He would plow through anything and wasn't coming back unless he had a duck. That is what the judges want to see. I tested a dog once that didn't have as much drive. After crossing a short portion of open water and searching for a minute it stopped and looked back at me just for a couple seconds. I did nothing and the dog kept searching but I did see the judge making notes when the dog looked back to me. "independent duck search" that continues to expand is the goal.


I am in agreement. Sounds like the pup did not expand and that is the problem. If the dog expands it really does not matter what the cover is as long as the judges can see the expansion. The dog needs to cover objectives and move on to other objectives. Crossing back over what they have already hit is Ok as long as the dog goes to new cover and moves out farther and farther. I see no problem with 20 feet or 20 yards of cattails at the start. They should push through. Next time. Can I ask if this dog was taught to run straight line blinds in cover and water? I suspect not.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GWPtyler » Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:06 am

Interesting observations.

The handler said a judge specifically told him the dog was given a zero because it wouldn't cross the water. Subsequently, none of the dogs, save for the first that chased the duck it saw swimming, crossed the water and were given zeros. From my understanding it did a pretty fair search of the nearside shore and expanded well to either side, but because of the narrow corridor to open water (he said it was about 4 feet wide of knocked down cattails) and the depth of the cattails (again, 20 yards past the point of send before open water) the dog didn't break the cover.

You're right, Don and Crew, the dogs weren't taught to run straight line blinds in cover to water. I didn't do that with my VC until we were training for invitational. Didn't realize that was a requirement of duck search, but I may need to tweak my training regimen now if this is standard.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby gwp4me2 » Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:06 am

GWPtyler wrote:The handler said a judge specifically told him the dog was given a zero because it wouldn't cross the water.

There is a big difference between 'didn't' and 'wouldn't'. My experience has always been that judges give the dog the benefit of the doubt. A zero is quite surprising though if the dog spent 10 minutes searching and expanding that search. The fact is that nobody who wasn't there can really know the whole story.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GWPtyler » Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:48 am

I thought it was odd, too. Another one of the handlers was so upset after the duck search, he left immediately after his dog was done. Got the same score as my buddy (P-III) with the exact same deductions.

To put this in perspective, the send was abnormal even from a hunting standpoint. If I'm going to send my dog to find a cripple on the other side of a pond and it has to go through 20 yards of cattails first, I'd expect him to search the cattails and never really enter the water. Heck, I'd hope he did that. I'm going to make it as obvious to the dog as possible because, for all he knows, there is a duck right there and I want him to find it. On the other hand, if this was an actual hunt and he needed to cross water, I would walk through the cattails until reaching open water and then send the dog.

Or, if I was running my VC, I'd send him on a back then, once reaching the edge of the cattails, stop him and send him on another back to cross the water. But this is a VC, not a UT dog. We haven't worked on hand signals yet, nor are they permissible during the test.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby gwp4me2 » Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:32 am

If the dog got a pz 3 it got at least a 2 in the search and not 0.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby Lurker » Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:40 pm

GWPtyler wrote: My question is, why was this approved in the first place??



Not all judges / judging teams are created equal and I would like to think that another team would have relocated the sending spot if it was possible. Maybe it was all they had?? It is too bad it was laid out as you described. Those situations push people away from involvement and testing.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GWPtyler » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:02 pm

gwp4me2 wrote:If the dog got a pz 3 it got at least a 2 in the search and not 0.


Hmm interesting. He must have recollected incorrectly. If I talk to him again, I'll get more details. He and I are running this weekend at our chapter test, so we're all hoping for good results.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GWPtyler » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:08 pm

Lurker wrote:Not all judges / judging teams are created equal and I would like to think that another team would have relocated the sending spot if it was possible. Maybe it was all they had?? It is too bad it was laid out as you described. Those situations push people away from involvement and testing.


This was my thought, too. I know in tests past, judging teams have had us relocate where dogs were sent from. Just depends on what they see or want to see. I don't ask questions, I just do what I'm told and start hacking a new landing.

But they very well could have been limited. Even so, what a tough break for the handlers. As I said, it's a situation I wouldn't have fathomed at the UT level if I hadn't heard about it. That seems fairly advanced.
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Re: Weird Duck Search Scenario at Test

Postby GPBLITZ » Tue Aug 18, 2015 2:23 pm

GWPtyler wrote: As I said, it's a situation I wouldn't have fathomed at the UT level if I hadn't heard about it. That seems fairly advanced.


The longer your around , the more you'll see. A true UT-1 dog will handle what's put in front of him IMO.
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