The following are sections from the Official CKC Rule Book for Hunt Tests that describe the tests. These are intended to be used only as a general indication as to what is required in CKC Hunt Tests. To fully prepare to enter these tests you should order a copy of , "Hunt Test Rules and Regulations", from the Canadian Kennel Club, Commerce Park, 89 Skyway Avenue, Suite 100, Etobicoke, Ontario, M9W 6R4 - (416) 675-5511.
Canadian Kennel Club
Hunt Test Rules and Regulations
for Retrievers, Irish Water Spaniels and Standard Poodles
Qualifying Scores, Awarding of Titles
8.1 Qualifying Scores
8.1.1 The total number of Qualifying scores required for the issuance of the titles Junior Hunter, Senior Hunter and Master Hunter shall be established by the Board of Directors of the Canadian Kennel Club.
8.1.2 The ability categories in a series must be graded on a scale of 0-10.
8.1.3 In order to receive a Qualifying score in Junior, Senior and Master Hunting Tests, a dog must acquire a minimum average of not less than five (5) on each of the abilities listed on the Evaluation Form, with an overall average score of not less than seven (7).
8.1.4 A dog graded zero (0) for the same ability by two (2) judges cannot receive a Qualifying score and the handler must be informed that the dog cannot receive a Qualifying score.
8.2 Qualifying Performances
8.2.1 The judges certification of a qualifying score for any particular dog constitutes certification to the Canadian Kennel Club that the dog on this particular occasion has evidenced abilities at least in accordance with minimum standards and that the abilities evidenced on this occasion would justify the awarding of the title associated with the particular Test category. A Qualifying score must never be awarded to a dog which exhibits abilities that do not meet minimum requirements.
8.3 Junior Hunter Title (JH)
8.3.1 In order to be recorded as a Junior Hunter, a dog must be registered in the CKC Stud Book or possess an Event Registration Number (ERN), and must have a record of having acquired Qualifying scores in the Junior Hunt Test in three (3) CKC approved Hunt Tests.
8.3.2 Upon completion of these requirements, a CKC Junior Hunter (JH) certificate will be issued to the owner, and the dog shall be identified as a Junior Hunter in all official CKC records by the suffix title JH.
8.3.3 A dog that has been recorded as a Junior Hunter may continue to enter the Junior Hunting Test, but no further Junior Hunter certificates will be issued.
8.4 Senior Hunter Title (SH)
8.4.1 In order to be recorded as a Senior Hunter, a dog must be registered in The Canadian Kennel Club Stud Book or possess an Event Registration Number (ERN), and must have a record of having acquired Qualifying scores in the Senior Hunt Test at five (5) CKC approved Hunt Tests, or, in the case of a dog that has been recorded as a Junior Hunter, that dog will be recorded as a Senior Hunter after having acquired Qualifying scores in the Senior Hunt Test at four (4) CKC approved Hunt Tests.
8.4.2 Upon completion of these requirements, a CKC Senior Hunter (SH) certificate will be issued to the owner, and the dog shall be identified as a Senior Hunter in all official CKC records by the suffix title SH, which title shall supersede the Junior Hunter title when the Junior Hunter title has been previously awarded. A dog that has been recorded as a Senior Hunter may continue to enter the Senior Hunt Test, but no further Senior Hunter certificates will be issued.
8.4.3 Dogs that have acquired a Qualifying score in a Senior Hunt Test at a CKC licensed Hunt Test are ineligible to enter Junior Hunt Tests.
8.5 Master Hunter Title (MH)
8.5.1 In order to be recorded as a Master Hunter, a dog must be registered in the Canadian Kennel Club Stud Book or possess an Event Registration Number (ERN), and must have a record of having acquired Qualifying scores in the Owner Handler Master Hunt Test or Master Hunt Test at six (6) CKC approved Hunt Tests, or, in the case of a dog that has been recorded by the CKC as a Senior Hunter, that dog will be recorded as a Master Hunter after having acquired Qualifying scores in the Owner Handled Master Hunt Test or Master Hunt Test at five (5) CKC approved Hunt Tests.
8.5.2 Upon completion of these requirements, a CKC Master Hunter (MH) certificate will be issued to the owner and the dog will be identified as a Master Hunter in all official CKC records by the suffix title MH, which title shall supersede any CKC Hunt Test title that may have been previously earned.
8.5.3 A dog that has been recorded as a Master Hunter may continue to enter the Owner Handled Master Hunt Test or Master Hunt Test but no further Master Hunter certificates will be issued.
8.5.4 Dogs that have acquired a Qualifying score in an Owner Handled Master Hunt Test or a Master Hunt Test at a CKC approved Hunt Test are ineligible to enter Junior and Senior Hunt Tests.
8.5.5 A dog is not required to earn any title as a prerequisite for earning a higher title.
10.1 Dogs should perform equally well on land and in the water, and must be thoroughly tested on both in accordance with the testing requirements of these Regulations.
10.2 The judges must score the dogs on (a) their natural abilities including Marking (memory), Style, Perseverance/Courage/Hunting, and (b) to relatively greater degrees in Senior, Owner Handler Master and Master Hunting Tests their Trainability as evidenced in steadiness, control, response and delivery.
Decisions not to award a Qualifying score must be the consensus of the judges.
10.3 The ability to mark accurately is of primary importance. A dog which marks the fall of the bird, uses the wind, follows a strong cripple, and takes direction from its handler is of great value.
10.4 After delivering a bird to its handler, a dog should stand or sit close to its handler until given further orders.
10.5 When ordered to retrieve, a dog should proceed quickly and eagerly on land or in the water to marked falls, or on the line given it by its handler on falls it has not seen. A dog should not disturb too much ground or area and should respond quickly and obediently to any further directions its handler might give.
A dog which pays no attention to many whistles and/or directions by its handler can be assumed to be weak in response, and unless in the opinion of the judges there exists valid mitigating circumstances, the dog should be graded low or receive a grade of "0" in Trainability.
10.6 In marking situations, a handler may give the dog a line in the direction of the fall, provided that such lining is accomplished briskly and precisely. Conspicuously intense lining suggests a weak marking ability and the dog must be graded low in Marking.
The handler shall not line a dog in the direction of any fall or gun station until all falls are down.
The handlers of the working or honoring dogs should remain silent. In all marking situations, the handler's hands must remain quietly in close proximity to his body while the dog is on line prior to being sent to retrieve.
10.7 In marked retrieves, if a dog, after having been sent to retrieve, (1) returns to its handler before finding the bird, with or without having been called in, except in those cases of confusion of the dog as to whether it was really ordered to retrieve; (2) stops its hunt; or (3) fails to pick the bird up, actually leaving it after finding it, it shall be sufficient cause, unless there exist in the opinion of the judges valid mitigating circumstances, to grade the dog "0" in Marking or Perseverance.
A recast occurs when a dog makes a start toward a marked fall, but stops within a short distance of the line (the distance is usually limited to fifteen (15) feet, and should be agreed upon between the judges) and returns or is recalled to the handler. The dog is then sent to retrieve again. This is most often attributed to confusion on the part of the dog as to whether it was sent to retrieve the first time. It is not considered a recast when a dog goes to the area of the fall, fails to find the bird and returns (or is recalled) to the handler. This must be evaluated as a lack of perseverance.
10.8 A dog which fails to find a bird which, in the opinion of the judges, it should have found, shall be graded "0" in Marking.
10.9 Upon finding the game, a dog should quickly pick it up and return briskly to its handler. A dog retrieving a decoy shall be graded "0" on Trainability.
A dog should not drop its game on the ground, but distinction should be made between deliberately dropping bird, and readjusting a bad hold or losing its grip because of a struggling bird or running over uneven terrain.
Upon returning, a dog should deliver the bird promptly and tenderly to its handler. A dog that is unwilling to release a bird on delivery should be scored low in Trainability and if compelled to do so by severe methods should, unless in the opinion of the judges there exist valid mitigating circumstances, be graded "0" in Trainability.
A dog cannot receive a Qualifying score if it renders a bird unfit for human consumption. Both judges are responsible for inspecting the bird and agreeing that the dog alone was responsible for the damage.
10.10 In Junior, Senior, Owner Handler Master and Master Hunt Tests, a dog should come to the line tractably at heel and sit promptly at the point designated by its handler and remain quietly where placed until given further orders. Retrievers that bark or whine on line, in a blind or while retrieving should be scored low in Trainability. Loud and prolonged barking or whining is sufficient cause to justify a dog to be graded "0" in Trainability.
10.11 In Senior, Owner Handler Master and Master Hunt Tests, a handler may or may not hold or touch a dog to keep it steady, or noisily or frequently restrain a dog on line, except in extraordinary circumstances, from the time the first bird is being thrown until the dog's number is called. Violation of any of the provisions of this paragraph is sufficient cause to justify a grade of "0" in Trainability.
10.12 In Senior, Owner Handler Master and Master Hunt Tests a dog that goes to the area of the fall, hunts, fails to find, and then leaves the area to hunt for another fall, or that drops a bird it is retrieving and goes for another, shall be considered to have switched. Unless in the opinion of the judges there exist valid mitigating circumstances, a dog that switches shall be scored "0" in Perseverance in Senior and Master Hunt Tests.
10.13 In Senior, Owner Handled Master and Master Hunt Test, failure to enter either rough cover, water, ice, mud, or any other situation involving unpleasant or difficult going for the dog, after having been ordered to do so several times, is sufficient cause to grade the dog "0" in Perseverance.
11.1 Junior Hunt Tests
11.1.1 Dogs shall be tested on four (4) single marks, two (2) on land and two (2) on water.
11.1.2 Test distances shall be established by the judges but only in keeping with the simulation of realistic but relatively simple hunting situations. No retrieve shall exceed Seventy-five (75) yards.
(1) Dogs may be sent to retrieve more than once, but judges must take a second cast into consideration in evaluating a dog's Marking and Perseverance. Normally a second cast calls for a lower grade.
(2) Junior Hunting dogs should not be handled on more than one (1) mark, and if handling is required, it must be accomplished crisply and cleanly.
(3) Dogs need not be steady and may be brought to the line on leash. Dogs may be restrained gently with a slipcord, or held gently by a collar until sent to retrieve. If a collar is used to restrain, the collar must be removed before the dog is sent to retrieve. Prong, choke and pinch-type collars are prohibited. Leashes, including short tabs, shall be removed before dogs are run.
(4) A dog must retrieve to hand. Failure to do so merits a grade of "0" in Trainability.
(5) A dog may be encouraged to hunt, but excessive noise in encouraging a dog suggests a lack of hunting desire and a low grade in perseverance is required.
11.2 Senior Hunt Test
11.2.1 Dogs shall be tested in a minimum of four (4) hunting situations which shall include one (1) land blind, one (1) water blind (which may be run as a double blind, one (1) placed on land and one (1) placed on water, one (1) double land mark, and one (1) double water mark. At least one (1) of these situations should include a walk-up.
11.2.2 Blinds shall not be run between the marks in Senior Hunter. Where possible blinds should be placed on grounds away from where marks are thrown.
(1) Distances on land and water shall be established by the judges but no retrieve should normally exceed one hundred (100) yards and under no circumstance shall exceed one hundred and twenty-five (125) yards. Hunting situations should, to the extent that it is practical and realistic, make use of the natural hazards, hunting equipment and obstacles that are encountered in true hunting.
(2) Dogs shall be steady on the line but a controlled break or creeping should result in a relatively lower scoring in Trainability than a controlled break or creeping would in Junior Hunt Tests.
(3) A Senior Hunt dog must retrieve to hand. Failure to do so merits a grade of "0" in Trainability.
(4) Dogs may be sent to retrieve more than once, but judges must take a second cast into consideration in evaluating the dogs Marking and Perseverance. Normally, a second cast calls for a lower grade.
(5) Perseverence should be encouraged on marked retrieves, however dogs may be handled on marks and excessive handling requires a lower score in Perseverance. A dog that goes to the area of the fall and finds the bird unaided should be scored appreciably higher than a dog that must be handled to a bird.
(6) A dog shall be required to honour a working dog once, but judges should allow greater leeway in scoring the Senior Hunting dog on its Trainability than would be allowed in a Master Hunt dog.
(7) A diversion shot(s) shall be used. Diversion mark(s) may be used. Such diversions may also consist of, or be incorporated with the use of one (1) or more hidden duck or goose calls.
For the purposes of these Regulations, a diversion shot is a shot for which no bird is thrown.
A diversion bird always appears when a dog is returning from the retrieve. The diversion bird constitutes a marking situation, and is always retrieved by the working dog.
(8) Dogs that switch shall be scored "0" in Perseverance and cannot receive a Qualifying score.
11.3 Owner Handled Master and Master Hunt Test
11.3.1 Dogs hall be tested in a minimum of five (5) hunting situations as follows: multiple land marks, multiple water marks, an upland hunting test, a land blind(s) and a water blind(s). There shall be at least three (3) series. Diversion birds and/or diversion shots must be used at least once. NOTE: The word multiple means more than one (1), although triple marks are encouraged.
(1) Natural hazards, obstacles, hunting equipment and implements should be utilized to a somewhat greater degree than in the Senior Hunt Test.
(2) A Master Hunt dog must honour and at least one (1) opportunity to honour must be provided. Trainability must be evaluated more stringently than in the Senior Hunt Test.
(3) Dogs that switch shall be scored "0" in Perseverance and cannot receive a Qualifying score.
(4) Test distances shall be established by the judges. No retrieve should normally exceed one hundred (100) yards and under no circumstances shall exceed one hundred and twenty-five (125) yards.
(5) As in Junior and Senior, situations must simulate natural and realistic hunting situations. While distance is not crucial, Master Hunt situations are more severe and difficult than Senior Hunt situations.
(6) A Master Hunt dog must be steady and must deliver to hand. Failure to do so must be graded "0" in Trainability.
(7) A Master dog that creeps must be scored relatively lower than creeping in Senior. A controlled break in Master must be scored "0" in Trainability, except in an upland test.
(8) Dogs may be sent to retrieve only once. A dog that displays unwillingness must be scored relatively lower on Marking and Perseverance than in the Senior Hunt Test.
(9) Perseverence should be encouraged on marked retrieves, however dogs may be handled on marks but must be scored with greater stringency than Senior Hunt dogs in Marking and Perseverance.
A dog that goes to the area of the fall and finds the bird unaided should be scored appreciably higher than a dog that must be handled to a bird.
(10) Master Hunt dogs that require excessive handling on marks and blinds, that refuse voice or whistle commands, or appear unwilling to perform their work must be viewed in a different light from Senior Hunt Dogs where a degree of tolerance is necessary for those not-so-seasoned Senior dogs. Master Hunt dogs must exhibit those qualities expected in a truly finished and experienced hunting companion.
(11) In all Master Hunt tests, an upland hunting test with flush shall be used. The dog shall be required to locate birds as in typical upland hunting and within gun range of the handler. The dog may be urged to hunt or handled to maintain his range and position. The flush may be set up by dizzying a bird and placing it in cover, released live from a mechanical trap, or hand thrown. If a bird is retrieved as part of the test it shall not be scored as a mark, but must be completed. The dog must be steady to shot and shall be disqualified if it is not. The handler must have a dog under control at the time the first shot is fired or, in the judges opinion, should have been fired. The dog may be sitting or standing with limited movement. If a dog is steady to shot but then breaks at the all and demonstrates an intent to retrieve without being sent, it must be stopped. If brought under immediate control, it shall be considered a controlled break and charged with a minor fault. (All use of live and dead birds must comply with the provisions of the Criminal Code relating to Cruelty to Animals - Causing unnecessary suffering, S446).
Guidelines for the Hunt Test
12.1.1 The purpose of the Hunt Test for Retrieves is to test the merits of, and evaluate the abilities of Retrievers in the field in order to determine their suitability and ability as hunting companions. Hunt Tests must, therefore, simulate as nearly as possible the conditions met in a true hunting situation.
12.1.2 Dogs are expected to retrieve any type of game bird under all conditions, and the judges and the Hunt Test Committee have complete control over the mechanics and requirements of each Test.
12.1.3 The final phrase in the first paragraph above, "a true hunting situation", must be interpreted for application to Hunt Tests as natural hunting conditions.
12.1.4 While natural hunting conditions are subject to great variations in different parts of the country, Retrievers are expected to possess a defined set of abilities which enable them to serve as hunting companions, although the proportion of these abilities and their relationship to one another will vary accordingly to breed specific differences. In most instances there should be little doubt in a judge's mind as to the abilities expected of dogs in a given hunting situation. However, there is unlimited opportunity for an honest difference of opinion on abilities that range from just above average to just below average.
12.1.5 Hunt Tests provide a mechanism for identifying, thought the evaluation of the abilities of Retrievers, those dogs which possess abilities that set them apart as accomplished hunting companions.
12.1.6 The information provided here is intended as a guide, not only for judges, but for all concerned with the welfare and development of Retrievers as superb hunting companions.
12.1.7 All Provincial and Federal laws must be adhered to regarding the handling of and use of birds; and the handling and use of firearms.
12.3 Evaluation and Scoring of a Dog's Abilities
12.3.1 The evaluation of a dog's abilities can never be precise; it is not an exact science. However, the primary purpose of a Retriever is to get the birds to hand as quickly as possible in a pleasing, obedient manner; whether a dog accomplishes its primary purpose is determined by its possession of a unique set of both natural abilities, and abilities acquired through training.
12.3.2 From the standpoint of a breeder or a person considering a breeding, natural abilities are of great importance while abilities acquired through training are of relatively less importance.
12.3.3 A judge must keep in mind the fact that he is evaluating numerically, a defined set of abilities and not judging a dog in relation to the performances or merits of the other dogs entered. A dog's abilities are scored against an established standard.
12.3.4 In scoring a dog's abilities in a Test, the judges must assign a numerical score from "0" to "10" that reflects their estimation of each ability that they have seen demonstrated.
12.3.5 To qualify, a dog must receive an overall average of seven (7.0) for the entire test and must not have an average score in any one ability category below five (5.0). For example, a dog could score 7's, 8's or even 9's in some ability categories and fail to qualify if the average score in another category was below five.
12.3.6 A frequently asked question is how to determine what score - from 0 - 10 - you should give in any one ability category. There are many ways, but one method is to determine whether the dog should qualify in that ability category, which might mean a minimum score of five. Knowing the dog must have an overall average of seven, the judge considers whether other abilities deserve a seven or higher. With a five or less (but not with a zero by both judges), the dog would have to score higher in that ability and other abilities to acquire the 7.0 overall average. A score of 5.0 or less on a given ability during a series does not necessarily mean that the dog cannot receive a qualifying score, unless both judges score that ability as a zero.
12.3.7 A judge might want to compare the scores to grades received in school. For example a five, six or seven might be comparable to a passing grade of "C". An eight would be a "B" a nine would be an "A" and a ten would be an "A+".
12.3.8 Another scoring method could begin with a perfect score of 10 and progress downward. If not exactly 10, how close did the dog come to what you expect in a hunting companion?
12.3.9 If a particular ability did not merit a five, it should be scored lower, and possibly the dog will fail to qualify. The judges might determine that the dog showed promise in some ability categories, but just barely, and score accordingly. How much lower depends on individual judgement.
12.3.10 A zero means that the dog did not perform minimally. For example, it would be difficult to assign a score other than zero in Perseverance when a Senior or Master dog failed to enter water after having been ordered to do so several times.
12.3.11 A zero score is very different from a "non-score". A zero is computed into the dog's average for that ability while a non-score is not. A zero indicates that the dog had an opportunity to exhibit an ability, but failed to do so. The non-score says that such an opportunity did not present itself. An "X" should be entered on the scoresheet for non-scores.
12.3.12 When both judges grade a dog zero on the same ability, the dog can no longer receive a Qualifying score. Keep in mind that moderate to serious faults in an ability will become more apparent through the series of tests. In questionable instances, give the dog the benefit of the doubt.
12.3.13 It is important to score a dog as accurately and consistently as possible in all test series. This provides handlers with information that can be used to plan future training.
12.3.14 Remember, judges need not fear rating a dog's abilities very high in early series if they have exhibited excellent abilities. They do not have to leave "room" to score another dog relatively higher in a later series. The only thing they are scoring is a dog's abilities against the standard. THEY ARE NOT PLACING THE DOGS.
12.3.15 An important note- judges should take time to review and check their scores with each other before the scores become "final". It is easy to unknowingly fail a dog that they might have intended to qualify..
12.3.16 A key element to successful judging is good ongoing communication between judges. This should not include discussion of the dog's work and scoring within hearing of handlers while a test is underway.
12.3.17 There will always be occasions when some aspect of an ability is viewed differently and when judges might not agree on a specific numerical value, it is perfectly acceptable to compromise or average their scores. At the conclusion of their evaluation, however, judge's must agree on those dogs which will receive a qualifying score.
12.3.18 A judge's responsibility is to determine through the evaluation of abilities, whether or not a dog possesses sufficient abilities to be entitled to official CKC recognition of those abilities in the form of Junior Hunter, Senior Hunter or Master Hunter titles.
12.3.19 Much can be achieved in attaining greater uniformity in evaluating the ability of Retrievers through uniformity in defining and cataloguing those abilities.
12.4 The Abilities of Retrievers
12.4.1 Marking, or memory of falls, is of paramount importance. However, this does not imply that dogs which excel in Marking shall not be scored lower, even to the extend of not receiving a Qualifying score, for deficiencies in, or lack of the other required abilities.
Ability to mark does not necessarily imply pin-pointing the fall. A dog that misses the fall on the first cast, but recognizes the depth of the area of he fall, stays in it, then quickly and systematically hunts it out, has done both a creditable and an intelligent job of marking.
Even with marked birds, a handler may be able to render great assistance to the dog by giving it a line in the direction of the fall; however, there is nothing he or she can do, short of handling, to aid the dog in recognizing the depth of the fall.
Often a dog gives definite indication of Marking ability at or after delivery of a first bird, by aligning itself toward, or by looking eagerly in the exact direction of an untetrieved fall; at times, even leaving at once or leaving on command, but without benefit of a precise line to the fall given to it by the handler. There is no invariable method by which Marking can be evaluated.
What precisely constitutes the area of the fall defies accurate definition; yet, at the outset of each marking situation, each judge must arbitrarily define its hypothetical boundaries for himself, and for each bird, so that he can determine whether dogs have remained within his own concept of the area of the fall, as well as how far they have wandered and how much cover they have disturbed unnecessarily. In determining these arbitrary and hypothetical boundaries, due consideration should be given to various factors: (1) the type, the height and the uniformity of the cover, (2) light conditions, (3) direction of the prevailing wind and its intensity, (4) length of the various falls, (5) whether there is a change in cover (as from stubble to plowed ground, or to ripe alfalfa, or to machine- picked corn, etc.) Or whether the fall is beyond a hedge, across a road, or over a ditch, etc., and , finally, and most important, (6) whether one is establishing the area of the fall for a single, or for the first bird a dog goes for in multiple retrieves, or for the second or the third bird; since each of these should differ from the others.
Since there are so many conditions to be taken into consideration, it is obvious that each judge must attempt to define for himself a hypothetical area of the fall for each bird, and then numerically evaluate the dog's Marking ability according to that definition. Individual evaluations should take into consideration the distance which a dog wanders out of the area. The frequency of such wandering, the number of birds mismarked and the amount of cover disturbed in these wanderings.
A dog which disturbs cover unnecessarily, clearly well out of the area of the fall, either by not going directly to that area, or by leaving it, even though it eventually finds the bird without being handled, should be scored lower on its Marking than if it was handled quickly and obediently to the bird.
12.4.2 Style is apparent in every movement of the dog by the gaiety of its manner, by its alertness, by its eagerness and speed on retrieves, by its water entry, by its pick up of birds, and by its return of them. Style and Marking constitute the most important abilities of Retrievers, but this does not imply that a dog which excels in Marking and Style should not be scored lower on other abilities, even to the extent of not receiving a Qualifying score for lack of or serious deficiencies in those required abilities.
In any hunting situation Style includes: (a) an alert and obedient attitude, (b) a fast determined departure, both on land and into the water, (c) an aggressive search for the fall, (d) a prompt pick-up, and (e) a reasonably fast return. The absence of these components of Style should be reflected in a dog's score, even to the point of scoring a dog zero (0) on Style.
12.4.3 Perseverance/courage/hunting is shown by a dog's determination to stick at it and complete the task at hand - i.e. systematically, aggressively and without faltering, to search for and find the bird it has been sent to retrieve.
It is also displayed by a willingness to face without hesitation, and repeatedly, rough cover, cold or rough water, ice, mud, or similar conditions which make the going tough.
A lack of Perseverance may become apparent whenever: (1) a dog returns to the handler, voluntarily, and before funding the bird; (2) a dog either stops its hunt, or continues it in a slow, lackadaisical, disinterested manner; (3) the dog pops-up or looks back to its handler for directions on a marked fall and before it has hunted for a considerable time; (4) it switches birds; and (5) it "blinks" a bird, i.e. fails to pick it up, and leaves it after marking the find.
Switching birds implies that the dog gives up its hunt after a search, leaves the area, and goes for another bird, or when it drops a bird it is retrieving and goes for another. Except in the latter case, a dog should not be scored for lack of Perseverance unless it goes to the area of a fall, hunts, fails to find, and then leaves the area to hunt for another fall. It should not be considered as a lack of Perseverance, if, while on the way to one fall, the dog sees or funds another bird and retrieves it first; or, if on the way to one fall but long before it reaches the area of the fall, it changes it direction and goes for another bird.
On being sent for a marked fall, a dog may be confused as to whether it was really ordered to retrieve and may then return after a few steps, thus requiring a recast or direction to continue. In such cases the dog may not have displayed a lack of Perseverance or Marking ability.
12.4.4 The final attribute to be evaluated by Judges is Trainability, which includes those abilities that dogs acquire through training (steadiness, control, response and delivery). While not to be underestimated, acquired abilities must be viewed in a different perspective being of somewhat lesser importance than natural abilities even though a Master Hunter must exhibit all that is desirable by a finished Retriever. The level to which acquired abilities are developed will vary in different Test categories; for example: a reasonable degree of steadiness and general obedience are the requirements in the Junior Hunting Test. A greater degree of steadiness and some degree of the other qualities are expected in the Senior Hunt Test. There should be expectation of full refinement in acquired attributes in Master Hunt Tests.
Trainability, or the abilities acquired through training, is generally understood to be composed of four (4) components - steadiness, control, response and delivery. A discussion of each of the elements which characterize Trainability follows.
(1) Steadiness. Dogs on line sometimes make various types of movements when game is in the air (and/or when it is shot). These movements may be interpreted as efforts by the dogs to improve their view of the fall, and some occur through sheer excitement. Except for an occasional change in position in order to better see a fall, all such movements could be viewed as unsteadiness - with Trainability scored depending on the Test being judged and the extent and the frequency of the unsteadiness. The requirement of steadiness is a very important factor in evaluating the Trainability of a Retriever.
(2) Control. Control is closely allied to the dog's response to direction, but it also includes obedience and line manners. Control in the Senior and Master Tests also includes walking tractably at heel, off lead, assuming and staying in any designated position on line, as well as remaining quietly on line beside the handler after delivery of the bird. When called, a dog should return promptly to its handler particularly in those instances where Judges decide that it shall be tested again, at a later time, either because another dog broke or due to any one of the variety of other circumstances.
Except for extraordinary circumstances noisy or frequent restraining of dog on line by its handler is sufficient cause not to award a Qualifying score in the Senior and Master Hunting Tests. In less flagrant instances, the Trainability score should correspond to the extend that the dog might be deemed to be out of control. Although not required, it is a considerate gesture by Judges, if they are in agreement, to notify handlers when their methods of restraint are being reflected in their dog's Trainability score.
(3) Response. Is all-important in handling tests, and in situations where a dog must be brought back to the area of the fall when it has mismarked. A dog that responds to direction should take the original direction given to it by its handler and continue on it until it either makes the find, or until stopped by the handler and given a new direction. The dog should then continue in this new direction until it finds, or is given further directions.
Lower scores, even to the extent of grading a dog zero (0) on Trainability, based on a lack of response, may be the result of the following: (a) not taking the direction originally given by the handler, (b) not continuing in that direction for a considerable distance, (c) failure to stop promptly and popping up and looking back for directions, (d) failure to stop promptly and looking to the handler, when signaled, (e) failure to take a new direction, i.e. a new cast, when given and (f) failure to continue in that new direction for a considerable distance.
The Trainability score for any or all of the foregoing will vary with both the Test being scored and the extent to which a dog might be unresponsive. Before scoring a dog lower on Trainability for its failure to stop promptly at a whistle, Judges should determine whether the wind, the cover, or the distance seriously interfered with the dog's ability to hear its handler. In general, the response displayed should be considered in it entirety; an occasional failure to take and hold a direction may affect a Trainability score only slightly, if offset by several other very good responses. To the extent that a dog might not receive a Qualifying score, a Trainability score must reflect repeated and willful disobedience of the handler's orders. In addition, but to a lesser extent, a Trainability score must show that, after taking the proper direction, the dog did not continue on it as far as the handler desired. Stopping voluntarily, to look back for directions, in an isolated instance, may warrant a moderate or slight lowering of a Trainability score, but frequent stopping can result in a zero (0) score.
(4) Delivery of the bird in each level of Hunt Tests must be made to the handler directly, upon return from the retrieve; in any Test it should be given up willingly. A dog should not drop the bird before delivering it, and should not freeze, or be unwilling to give it up. It should not jump after the bird once the handler has taken it. A faulty delivery may, depending on the Test, range from a slight lowering of the Trainability score for an isolated offense, to the withholding of a Qualifying score for a severe freeze or "hard mouth." (See Chapter 10, Section 9)
"Hard-mouth" is one of hte most undesirable traits in a Retriever. Once a dog has been charged with this trait, it carries that stigma for life. Hard-mouth should only become the judges' verdict when there is incontrovertible proof ot it. Torn skin or flesh, alone, is not sufficient evidence, in almost all cases, to constitute proof of hard-mouth. Damage of that type may be caused in a variety of ways, such as by sharp sticks and stones, etc. in the cover. Dogs can unintentionally damage birds when making retrieves from heavy cover, as well as by their fast, positive, pick-up. Furthermore, at certain times of the year, birds are particularly susceptible to such damage. Crushed bone structure usually can be accepted as trustworthy and sufficient evidence of hard-mouth. This is the only evidence offering such proof, in the absence of a particularly obvious, flagrant, and unjustified tearing of flesh.
Other undesirable traits are frequently confused with hard-mouth, although, in reality, they are entirely separate and distinct from it, even though the dog may actually be hard- mouthed. Freezing, in particular, falls into this category. A hard-mouthed dog may have a gentle delivery and, certainly, a reluctant or sticky delivery does not imply hard-mouth. Rolling a bird or mouthing it, while making the retrieve, may be erroneously associated with hard-mouthing even though the bird may not be damaged. Such mouthing may not necessarily call for lowering a Trainability score.
Judges should remember that a dog either does or does not have a hard-mouth, and, if it does, the dog cannot receive a Qualifying score.
While not required, it is a considerate gesture on the part of the Judges to keep separately any bird which formed the basis for their decision that the dog could not receive a Qualifying score in order that it might be inspected by the handler at a later time.
12.5 Considerations for Judges
12.5.1 The most important element of judging is to have a thorough understaning of the Regulations and Guidelines and to apply them fairly and consistently. Consider, also, the purposes of the three (3) test levels:
A. Master tests maintain the quality of the program.
B. Senior tests encourage owners to train for advanced work.
C. The Junior test encourages people to continue in the program.
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