Since the 2 brown dawgs have been training for Senior and Seasoned Hunt Tests, I thought I would write an overview of just what is required as part of these tests. I am not an expert or a judge, so part of this is based on what I have learned working at tests, part is what I have been told by those with more experience, and part is straight out of the rule book. The AKC Hunt Test Rule Book is 68 pages long, so obviously I have summarized…a lot. In this post I have included Basic information and the required Elements of the AKC Senior Hunt Test. The next post will cover Scoring, UKC Seasoned Hunt Tests (how they are similar to, and different from, their AKC counterpart), and Costs to Enter these tests.
In order to earn a Senior Hunter title, a dog must earn a qualifying (or passing) score on each of 5 tests (each test is called a “leg”). However, if the dog has earned a Junior Hunter title, then only four legs are needed. The 2 brown dawgs have each earned their Junior Hunter titles so they only need to pass 4 legs to earn their Senior titles.
Each test consists of a land and a water portion (also called “series”). Dogs must perform equally well on both land and water. Two judges set up the test and grade the dog’s performance. In a Senior test, the Judges grade the dogs after the land series and only those dogs who have performed adequately are “called back” for the water series.
Dogs must come to the “line” off lead, with no collar and at heel. The “line” is the area designated by the judges where the dog will commence a retrieve and return after the retrieve. Dogs must be “steady” and remain ”steady” while their handler indicates that he is ready, the Judge signals for the marks, all of the marks are thrown, the Judge releases the dog, and he is sent by his handler.
Storm Going To The Line Off Lead At Heel
In Senior Hunt Tests, one controlled “break” is allowed. A “break” is when the dog leaves the line before being sent. Once a dog “breaks” the handler must recall and re-heel the dog before re-sending it. If the dog gets too far out, or does not immediately return when recalled, that break would not be considered “controlled” and the dog would not pass.
I have a couple of old videos to help show parts of tests. This is a video from 2009 showing Thunder being steady as he earned his Working Dog Excellent (WDX) Certification which was offered by the American Chesapeake Club. Many of the requirements of the WDX are similar to the AKC Senior Hunt Test requirements (however, the distances are much shorter for WDX). In the WDX, dogs are brought to the line on lead (Senior Test would be off lead). This is a water double. The first (“memory”) mark was clear across the pond out of view of the camera, but the second “go” mark can be seen falling on the left side of the pond after the Judge signals by raising a white card. You can also see the dog that ran before Thunder returning from the “line” and the dog running after him coming to what is called a “holding blind” to wait for his turn. I took this video with my small pocket camera and the “Gallery” was quite a distance away so make it full screen to see it better.
We have been working all winter to improve the 2 brown dawgs’ heeling and steadiness. The difficult part of this is that at a test you have the excitement of duck calls, gun fire and the Holy Grail to a dog….ducks! Sometimes the temptation is just too much, and both can tend forget their obedience when heading toward the line. Hopefully the training kicks in and they remember heel and sit.
Thunder Returning With His Bird
Good Boy Thunder
Once the dog has made a retrieve, it must return to the handler’s side and deliver the bird to the hand of its handler. The dog must hold the bird gently and release it on command. If the dog refuses to release the bird or renders it unfit for human consumption, then the dog will not be given a passing score.
- One set of land double marks
- One set of water double marks
- A blind retrieve on land
- A blind retrieve on water
- The blinds may be run as a double blind on land and water (but blinds should not be run between marks )
- A diversion shot (can include throwing a diversion bird)
- A walk up (the mark is thrown while the dog is just coming to the line)
- An honor
A “mark” is a visible fall. A “blind” is where the dog has not seen the bird fall. For a “blind”, one of the test workers places the bird in the field, out of sight of the dog, just before the dog is sent to retrieve it. The handler knows where it is, but the dog does not. The handler directs the dog to the bird using whistles and hand signals. The distances on land and on water should not normally exceed 100 yards. There should be at least one shot flyer. Decoys are usually set out and the use of natural hazards is encouraged, (for example requiring the dog to run through tall grass, or mud or enter an icy pond).
This is a video of the WDX land double from 2009. The “memory” mark is thrown first and is sort of behind a building from where I was allowed to stand. The second mark is the “go” mark and is a shot flyer. This test was held at a gun club so you can hear multiple shots (from people shooting skeet across the road) and from the pond behind us where they were running the water portion of the test. You can also hear that the wind was howling. In addition, there were multiple whistles from behind us at the pond where someone was handling a dog. Handling and blind retrieves are not a part of this test, but they needed a dog to get the mark off the water due to a dog who did not pick it up. They didn’t use decoys in this test, but you can see a clump of grass (a natural hazard) that the dogs had to drive through for that memory mark. Due to so much “stuff” going on, Thunder did not always have his eye on where he was supposed to go, (you can hear the comment from the peanut gallery about whether or not to send him ). Of course he knew just where to go, but needed a second whistle to locate his handler after picking up the bird. He was so excited he did a huge Chessie parade before coming to heel. Besides coming right to heel, we have also been training to line him to marks more cleanly. Again, tiny camera, make it full screen to see it better.