The biggest reason dogs struggle in hunt tests is because some aspect(s) of their early training is weak or missing. Temptation to run dogs that are very young and/or rushing to run a dog without adequate training also limits their success in the future. These dogs often fail to reach their full potential and the lack of proper training can result in frustration for the dog and handler throughout the dog’s life. Good habits are a result of proper training conducted over a long enough period of time and in a variety of places.
The best way to train a hunt test dog is to train it for field trials! Although we do not require hunt test dogs to complete some of the longer retrieves, their training is initially the same as field trials dogs. This is the best way to teach proper marking and blind running skills. These dogs transition very easily to running hunt tests with only a week or two of hunt test exposure. A hunt test dog’s training should largely resemble field trial training, without extreme distances, for their entire career!
Lauren runs a few hunt tests in Texas and then typically has a more intense hunt test running schedule while in Minnesota during the spring and summer. Lauren handles dogs in the junior, senior, and master stakes. Tim is very supportive of the hunt test program but no longer runs dogs in hunt tests. We strongly encourage our clients to run their own dog(s), it’s a lot of fun!
For owners who want their dog ran in the master national events, a great option is to have basics, transition, and early advanced work done on their young dog at Dynamic Retrievers. The solid foundation work will serve the dog well throughout their career.