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· Registered
95 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My male Golden is a natural retriever. He enjoys nothing more than retrieving things, finding things and carrying things in his mouth. I definitely want to get him into hunt tests but I honestly have no idea what's involved.

My husband wants to get into hunting himself. I'm legally blind so the most I can get involved is to train the dogs for him to hunt with. I have zero doubt in my mind that he could take Bradley into the field with him tomorrow, shoot a duck and Bradley would happily retrieve it for him.

I just need to know what exactly a hunt test entails, so I can train Bradley specifically for it. We don't belong to a GR club in our area but we will in the near future. However, my husband's work schedule leaves him with little free time and I rely on him for transportation so I'll have to do almost all training on my own. I'm confident that I can, as long as I know what's necessary.

I'm not worried about Bradley being gun shy at all. He quickly recovers for startling loud noises, as if they didn't happen. He's got good, strong nerves and a strong drive to work.

If anyone can recommend any online resources, I'd be greatly appreciative. I plan on reading as many books on the subject as I can find at the book store and on Dogwise.

· the party's crashing us
4,948 Posts
Well your area of the country is definitely winding down (or over) the hunt test season and pretty soon all training will come to a halt as well, so my first suggestion will have to wait. That is, of course, to go watch a hunt test :)
I HIGHLY suggest you find someone you can train with, at least once a month, who is familiar with hunt tests, has run them and can tell you what to train for.
The Junior (entry) level is pretty easy but if you don't know what it is, or are unprepared, it is no cake walk.
Essentially in juinor your dog will have to retrieve two single marks (one bird down) on land, and two singles in the water. Each mark can be up to and over 100 yards. The dog will be expected to transverse heavy or light cover, hills, ditches, changes in cover, past decoys/silhouettes, and in the water, enter mud, heavy cover, lily pads, go across water then up on land to find the bird, over fallen logs and debris, past decoys, etc. He MUST deliver to hand, meaning that, he has to bring it all the way back and give you the bird, you cannot pick it up off the ground. Junior dogs are not required to be steady, you can come to the line on leash and hold the dog's collar until the judge releases him for each mark.
Many times you will get a shot flyer, usually on the land, and the dog is expected to bring back the bird whether it is totally dead or barely wounded.
Each Junior test is the four total marks, and you must pass 4 tests for a title. They usually use ducks on land and water but some clubs like upland birds for the land portion, pheasants, pigeons, chukkars, etc.
Those are the basics. If your dog has been exposed to these things and loves birds, and has appropriate training, Junior is easy. If not, well, better luck next time.
There are lots of people with goldens in your area, your best bet is to find someone experienced to train with.
Best of luck!

· They get it
4,442 Posts
I LOVE the hunt tests, and I hope you will too. I just checked on YouTube, and if you enter "hunt test" in the search bar, you will find several which you can watch since, as K-9 Design pointed out, the season for HT's are coming to an end.

I can't wait til Spring, as my boy is finally ready and I am so excited to enter. Good luck, and I am sure you will find lots of valuable information from some great trainers on this forum.

· Grumpy Old Man
4,646 Posts
I would strongly suggest you find additional people to train with. It is very difficult to train a field dog alone. Introducing the gun, marks in the field, etc are all much easier to teach with additional people in the field. However the basic yardwork, basic obedience, whistle commands etc., can all be done on your own.

In addition to what Anney has mentioned about tests I would add a caution, those four singles are the Minimum that must done (there's nothing that says a judge can't include more). You may also see quartering, hunt em ups, working from a boat, honoring on lead, or a mirriad of other combinations. Be prepared.

Most Junior dogs that fail do so because their obedience skills aren't up to par. A dog that can't sit calmly is not going to mark well.

· Registered
13,759 Posts
I am working with Frank McKane in CT for field work. He teaches the beginner skills (fetch, beginning directionals etc) from 2 training facilities that I know of. ODTCW in Oxford ( and the Canine Sports Center in Goshen ( I think the classes just started again but should be available in a few months. More advanced skills are taken outside and in a variety of places.He is wonderful and does not rely on force or e-collars.

As SwampCollie mentioned, obedience is key so the initial focus needs to be on heeling, recalls and stays - my Faelan is solid on all 3 of these unless birds or bumpers are involved and then his heeling is not quite so reliable .. the ultimate in distraction you could say ..LOL ..
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