What is NAVHDA?
Our Purpose (directly friom their website): The North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association is a legally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering, improving, promoting, and protecting the versatile hunting dog in North America.
Underlying these aims is the desire to serve the interests of game conservation, prevention of cruelty to animals, and the gun dog hunter by helping the hunter to train his dog to work before and after the shot, on land and in water.
NAVHDA is an excellent complement to the activities of sporting dog breed clubs and field trial organizations. It was created to supplement the activities of those clubs by providing a proven, standard method of evaluating the performance of all versatile hunting dogs, consistent with North American hunting practices, regardless of breed.
I will be asking all puppy owners to participate in the Natural Ability test. This is a one day test taken sometime before the dog turns 16 months old and measures the dog’s natural ability . Specific and extensive training is not required as it is a NATURAL ABILITY test. However exposure to birds, water (swimming) and the hunting field is helpful. Tests are offered typically one or two times a year by your local Chapter.
This test is very important for those breeding hunting dogs. With that in mind, I offer a rebate of $75 for a Natural Ability Prize 1,2, or3 . If you know someone who hunts their dogs, perhaps you can go out with them for a training day to give your puppy some exposure to birds. Spend some time with your puppy swimming at the lake or pond. Let them retrieve an orange bumper and be so excited to do it. If you don’t have anyone to train with, let me know and I can help find someone in your area willing to spend a couple hours exposing your puppy to the wonderful world of birds.
Testing Rules The specific areas in which are judged are:
- Use of Nose – The quality of a dog’s nose, more than any other single factor, determines its usefulness as a versatile hunting dog and for this reason is assigned a higher fixed index number (6) than any other factor in the NAVHDA evaluation system. However, quality of nose is not in itself sufficient. As the dog develops, it must learn to use its nose if maximum effectiveness is to be achieved. (see page 14 of the Testing Rules for more information).
- Search – The search of the Natural Ability dog is expected to differ from that of the experienced Utility dog. A pup should show enthusiasm, sufficient independence to move away from the handler, and a willingness to investigate likely cover. He may be forgiven a slow start if bird contact generates an improved performance (see page 15 of the Testing Rules for more information).
- Pointing – The instinct to point must be clearly evident in the dog. Pointing and searching are the two major aspects of the dog’s work “before the shot.” When game is located the dog must establish point naturally. The handler is strictly prohibited from giving any commands or gestures which may induce the dog to point (see page 15 of the Testing Rules for more information).
- Desire to Work – The desire to work is the hallmark of a good versatile hunting dog, and this desire is expressed in every phase of work on land and water, from beginning to end. The dog must demonstrate that it wants to find game and is willing to work hard to that end. (see page 16 of the Testing Rules for more information).
- Cooperation – Cooperation can be defined as an inherent willingness on the part of the dog to apply its own initiative and special talents while working with the handler in pursuit of a common goal, producing game (see page 16 of the Testing Rules for more information).
- Physical Attributes – Recognizing the fact that a long useful life and ease of performance are enhanced by a sound body and protective coat, dogs should be evaluated for physical soundness. The dogs should be sound representatives of their breeds and meet standards. A dog’s physical attributes are evaluated in the context of how they will help or hinder the dog in the hunting environment. The pleasure that comes from coupling good hunting ability with functional conformation should be recognized especially since a sound animal will generally live and hunt longer (see page 16 of the Testing Rules for more information).
The Natural Ability Test is organized into four main segments, or phases, as follows:
- Field Phase – The dog is hunted in cover where the presence of game has been assured by the releasing of game birds.
- Tracking Phase – The dog is given an opportunity to track a flightless running pheasant or chukar.
- Water Phase – The dog is tested for its willingness to swim.
- Judgment of Physical Characteristics.
No game is shot, and no retrieves are required during the Natural Ability Test. There is no set sequence for conducting the four general phases. It is desirable, though not necessary, to test the young dog on tracking after it completes the field test because usually by then the dog has settled down and is better able to concentrate. Also, it is desirable to evaluate the coat immediately after the dog completes the water test.
This may seem like a lot, but it’s really very simple and the puppies from this litter should do just fine. I will be available by phone, email, and even to help with training if your location is close by. I will not expect the world of you then abandon you to figure it out yourself.
Please take some time to visit the NAVHDA website and take a look around. Let me know if you have any questions.