I'd like to see a more involved thread about this topic. We hunt with Teal and run test, so far just JH level but we're moving into Senior in the spring. I hear a lot from people who do tests that hunting with a dog "ruins" them. We often hunt the Columbia River and it can be quite dangerous. The dog usually isn't even sent for a wounded bird because of the risk that they'll get out of sight.
I am not the only hunter on here and I really would like to hear what others have to say. I am offering an opinion(s).
Many say that dogs learn the difference between hunting and testing. IMO, the problem really occurs when you use your dog for quartering for upland birds. Then when you run a trial or test, your dog puts his nose to the ground and hunts for the bird prematurely by quartering rather than running to the AOF and establishing a hunt.
As for hunting the river, I wouldn't put my dog at risk. I would do one of the following:
1) Walk down the river bank with my gun, dispatch the cripple, then send the dog.
2) Bird gets dispatched as soon as it hits the water. Then send the dog.
3) Get in your boat, let the current carry you downstream, dispatch the bird, send the dog. Don't forget, you can't shoot from a boat under power.
Don't forget, the velocity of the river decreases along the bank. A bird at the bank is less of a problem.
I don't like to send a dog after a swimming cripple. I have seen what can happen. The bird swims, dives, pops up elsewhere. The bird will swim completely submerged except for its bill sticking out of the water to breathe. The dog can chase it and never get it. Meanwhile the dog gets tired. Ever see a dog start to go under when tired? Get ready to swim.