The JGHV Testing Program
The nicest thing about a standardized testing program is the data that it provides the breeders and buyers. As each dog bred in the VDD has passed one or more of these tests, and all the tests are judged from a similar standard, a person can get some idea of the dog's inherent traits and tendencies by looking at the test scores. Also, a stud dog can be evaluated on the traits in the pups that he's sired- a person can research a dog easily, and see if the dog is throwing good pointers or trackers, based on the natural ability test scores of his pups.
Here in the United States, we don't run only some of the tests that are made available to the DD owners in Germany. This is primarily due to the lack of judging experience in some of the specialty tests- a judge must not only be trained in a type of test before he can judge one, he must also train and run a dog in that type of test before he can start the training to become a judge. It's kind of a chicken-and-egg problem- until there are tests that people don't have to fly to Germany to run in, we will have a difficult time training judges, and we can't have tests until we have judges. A few people are working hard to get some people ready to judge these tests, so in the future it's hoped that we here in the US can host all the JGHV tests.
One last note- the translations that I use for the test names and performance marks are the names I hear most commonly applied to them here in the USA. I have no doubt that I'll hear from someone who thinks that the VJP should be called the 'Association Youngster Test', or the 'Association Youth Test', rather than the 'Spring Natural Ability Test'. Personally, word-by-word translation quibbles don't concern me, so long as I'm getting the point across and not confusing people... Thanks.
This test, usually referred to in the USA by it's letters- "VJP", is a test run in the spring of each year, specifically to test early natural ability tendencies of the dogs. There is an age limitation on this test, that the dogs must have been born in the previous calendar year, or in the October, November, or December of the year prior to that. In other words, the dogs that are 15 months old or younger on January 1 of the year of the test are eligible. This test is intended to be a puppy test.
The VJP is the simplest of the JGHV tests. In it, five abilities of the dog are judged- tracking, nose, search, pointing, and cooperation with the handler. Also, the dogs are checked for disqualifying conformation problems, and may receive marks for 'loud hunting styles', like barking while tracking, or barking while sight-chasing.
Articles about the VJP
A Beginner's View of the VJP - an informal, yet very detailed description of a Spring Natural Ability Test. Includes several photos of the test. - by Todd Hedenstrom
Preparing for the VJP Test - a great training article for first-time handlers to get that pup ready for his or her first test. - by Tom Moore
Perfect Puppy Prep: Coaching your pup through its first test (VJP) - one of a great series of training articles by Stephan Kohlmann
This test is usually called the "HZP". It's run in the fall of the year, with the same age restrictions found in the VJP. The intent is to evaluate the dog's natural abilities once more, but with the addition of some obedience and field training. A dog passing the HZP is considered to be ready to take his place as a hunting companion.
The HZP is considerably more complex than the VJP. The predicates are divided into two sections- natural abilities, and trained subjects.
The natural ability subjects are: tracking, nose, search, pointing, cooperation, desire (or 'joy of work'), and water work. Water work includes two subjects- an independent search of a pond with dense cover, and a blind retrieve. The tracking subject involves a hare track. In the USA, this particular item is optional, and usually isn't done. We just don't have the hares like they do in Germany- it would take us all week to test a few dogs. Some test directors have found areas with lots of rabbits, so I'm seeing more tests lately that include the optional tracking phase.
The trained subjects are: retrieve of feathered game, retrieve of furred game, manner of retrieves, and obedience. The feathered and furred retrieves are done in the form of 'drags', where the dog tracks the game a good distance from the handler, and retrieves it to hand. There are no 'marked retrieves' where the dog sees a fall of game, and then does the retrieve- they're all either blinds or drags. The retrieve on feathered game is described in the rules as having three options for it's implementation, but I've never seen nor heard of VDD/GNA doing it in any manner other than the drag.
Obedience plays a large part in tests beginning at the HZP, and continuing in further tests. The dog is expected to walk at heel (not pull the lead), obey with only a single command, and so on. A personal observation I've made is that our judges here in the USA are much harsher on matters of obedience than are their counterparts in Germany. The German dogs are obedient, that's not what I mean- it's in the minor details. For example, on a retrieve, if the dog doesn't come smartly to heel (and I do mean smartly), the judges will drop points on you. In Germany, the dogs came to heel, and so long as they did it without really goofing off, then the work was considered as being fine. It appears (at least to me) that the American judges are real sticklers for style, whereas the Germans seem to concentrate on results.
Each year the VDD organization holds a very large HZP in conjunction with a breed show, called the 'Hegewald'. This is somewhat like a 'world meet' for Drahthaars. Sometimes you'll see scores that say 'Hegewald' near them, this means that the dog achieved that score at the Hegewald test.
Articles about the HZP
The Hows and Whys of the Forced Retrieve - by Stephan Kohlmann
Training the Perfect Retriever: Drags, Marks and Blinds - by Stephan Kohlmann
This test may be run by a dog of any age- there are no restrictions as in the VJP and HZP. This test is intended to prove a dog's total ability to be the complete versatile hunting companion. A dog that can pass this test is quite a dog- nowhere in any American field trial, field test, or obedience test organization is there a test whose requirements are near the level required for this test. This may sound like a lot of hot air, but it ain't. You've got to see one of these tests to believe it.
This test is so complex, and covers so many aspects of training and ability that I haven't the space to describe it in detail here. I'll try to get a page up about it at some future date. For now, I'll try to give a 'wide view' description.
This test takes two full days to complete. It totals 32 predicates of testing, in five sections. These sections are: forest work (blood tracks, fox retrieve, rabbit retrieve, independent search of forest, dense brush search), water work (independet search of water, tracking on the water, blind retrieve), field work (nose, point, search, manner behind game, feathered game retrieve, cooperation), obedience (while in the forest, while in the water, while in the field, heeling both on and off lead, steady to wing and shot, down-stay out of sight while guns are being fired), and retrieving (manner of retrieve on all above retrieves and a retrieve of a fox over a barrier 70-80cm high).
This test is also where the performance marks for off-lead blood tracking are judged. The first possible off-lead work is called 'totverbeller', or 'dead game bayer'. To be marked totverbeller, the dog must follow the blood track away from the handler, off lead, and bark for at least 10 minutes when he has found the game at the end of the blood trail. This is to allow the handler to come to him, and recover the game. The second type of off-lead work is called 'totverweiser', or 'dead game guide'. In this work, the dog is fitted with a small leather strap attached to his collar, hanging below his neck. The dog is to follow the blood track off-lead, and if game is found at the end of the track, the dog should flip the strap (called a 'bringtsel') into his mouth, and return to the handler. The dog then leads the handler to the downed game. Several dogs have achieved the 'totverweiser' mark in the USA, but none has been marked 'totverbeller'.
Articles about the VGP
Blood Tracking - a comprehensive article on blood track training. - by Tom Moore
Training for the Totverweiser - a great article on how to train for advanced off-lead blood work. - by Tom Moore
THE RIGHT TRACK - Training Tips for Blood Tracking - by Stephan Kohlmann
These are tests that have never been run in the USA. The tests are extentions of the VGP blood tracks, only much more difficult- the blood tracks are laid 20 or 40 hours before the dog is allowed to do the work, and are much longer. A dog that can pass the VSwP is truly a tracking expert.
These tests will be run in the USA if more interest can be garnered in it- we have one certified judge so far, and more will be flown in if enough people show interest (and a willingness to enter a test). Once we begin to run tests here, we will build a pool of judges, and not have to shoulder the expense of bringing German judges. However, until more interest is shown, the process cannot go forward.
The VDD/GNA holds a special test to allow dogs to achieve this mark. The mark is described as given to a dog which "finds, picks up, and brings to his handler cold dead game which he finds by chance, without any influence from his handler."
The tests are run using foxes, which are placed into a wooded area at least two hours ahead of the time that the dogs are released into the area. The handler is allowed only to release his dog, not to command a retrieve. The dog must find and retrieve a fox within 20 minutes of the time he is released. A dog which finds a fox, yet does not immediately pick it up and return it to his handler is failed from the test, and does not receive the mark.
This mark is given to a dog who follows the track of wounded game, and retrieves the wounded animal (fox or rabbit). This test must be conducted in a true hunt, such as the driven hunts popular in Europe. This test isn't conducted in the USA, as these types of hunts just don't exist here.
This award is given to a dog that demonstrates complete obedience in the presence of furred game- specifically rabbits. The dog must stop (independently or with a command) on every rabbit it sees during the test. It must also work a track on one rabbit, and get at least a 'good' determination on that track.
This mark is usually given at the HZP level, and because we don't do rabbit work in the USA at HZPs, the A.H. award has never been awarded in the USA. One handler has trained for and achieved the mark on his dog, but the award was received at the Hegewald test in Germany.
Last modified April 16, 1997. Copyright (c) 1997, Todd Hedenstrom
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