Apr 13, 2012, 4:14 PM EDT
By Jerry Sather
Now that we’ve taken you deeper into the training and concepts we’re working on to prepare Versus Country Raider’s for his campaign to earn AKC Senior Hunter title in the weeks ahead, here are some more terms of the hunt test world that will make more sense to you now. Remember, we want the dogs to run as straight a line as possible out to and back from each retrieve.
Diversion – In setting up a particular test, judges will build in elements that distract the dog from running a straight line to pick up a mark or a blind. These are called “diversions” and could be anything that distracts the dog including but not limited to a bird, a shot, a per person moving, talking, yelling, or walking. The key element in establishing a diversion in fair test is that all dog’s experience the same level of distraction. For example, if one dog hears two shots fired while it’s making a retrieve, then all the dogs need to hear two shots at the same point.
A “diversion bird” is one that’s thrown when a dog has seen a multiple mark and has been sent to retrieve at least one of the marks. As the dog is returning to the handler, another bird is thrown, and a shot is fired. The dog now has to remember the location of the diversion bird and retrieve it as well as completing the original marks.
Switching – Once a dog has gone to the area of a fall and established a hunt, it can not leave that area and go to the area of another fall in a multiple mark or a mark combined with a blind retrieve. To do so is to “switch” and earns a disqualification.
Another type of switch would be for the dog that is returning to the handler with a bird in its mouth to hear and see a diversion bird, drop the bird it is carrying and go directly to the new fall and retrieve that bird – even if it were to then return to the bird it dropped, and bring it in.
Dry Pop – A shot intentionally fired to attract the dog’s attention without a bird being thrown. Dry pops are sometimes used as a of diversion while a dog is making a retrieve to see if it will leave the line it is on to investigate the new shot. Dry pops are also used “to make sense” of a blind retrieve. When a trained dog hears a shot, it understands it’s time to go to work whether it’s seen a bird fall or not.
Flier – The vast majority of birds in hunt tests and field trials are dead ducks thrown into the air and accompanied by firing of one or more shotgun blanks or “poppers” to get the dog’s attention. However, “fliers” are often used on at least one retrieve in a series because the dogs know the difference and experience far greater excitement with birds actually shot right in front of them. Often, a flier is used as the closest bird in multiple marks to amp the dogs up even more. This tests their restraint from breaking before released. It can also be a powerful diversion when the dog becomes so fixated on the flier it forgets the location of other marks, or is pulled into the area of the fall of a flier when it’s sent for a blind close to the line to the flier.
Under the Arc – It can take a lot of temptation to pull a well-trained dog away from running a straight line, so judges sometimes set tests to maximize that pull. One such set up requires a the dog to run to a blind retrieve (the least stimulating to the dog) under the flight path of a bird it has seen thrown and fall – often a flier (the most stimulating to the dog). The proper, straight line to the blind is then said to run “under the arc” of the flier.
Diversions of all kinds are advanced stuff, but are learned on the building blocks of mastering all the basics and is accomplished by a dog and handler working as a team and trusting one another. When you see a dog run an unwavering blind retrieve under the arc of a flyer, you’ve seen a very good performance.
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