Field Factors Part I

| January 24, 2014 | 0 Comments
Share Button
BISS BIS GCH Rush Hill’s Drama’Geddon JH WC – (“Willis”)

BISS BIS GCH Rush Hill’s Drama’Geddon JH WC – (“Willis”)

Editor’s Note: Glenda provides guidelines for the Golden Retriever Club Of America WC/WCX rules. Specific rules will vary by retriever breed.

In order to have success when running a WC, WCX, and hunting tests, there are certain factors with which your dog will have to cope.  These should be included in your training schedule.

The WC is the least sophisticated of the field events (although you do have a land double), and in order to pass, it generally requires a lesser level of training.  A WCX can vary in the degree of difficulty.  On occasion, some can be more difficult than a qualifying triple (although no guns are retired).  At one Golden Specialty only two dogs passed out of more than thirty entered and both of those dogs were currently competing in field trials. This is unusual, but it does show that the more training your dog has, the better your chances are of passing. Most WCX tests are straight forward land triples combined with a water double. Obviously, your dog will need to be steady as well as be trained enough not to go back to an old fall or switch. It will have to honor.

Hunting tests can vary in the amount of training and talent demanded.  In order to increase your dog’s chances of successfully handling any tests the judges may require, the more training you can do on a variety of marking concepts, and the more factors in the field your dog knows how to navigate, the more confidence you and your dog will have when you go to the line.

Marking concepts aren’t going to be discussed here, but factors the dog may encounter will be.

One very important lesson is to train your dog to not avoid cover and/or how to re-orient itself if the cover is too thick to penetrate.  Cover can run the gamut from dense heavy brush to an area where the grass is higher than that surrounding it.  For many dogs, cover acts like a brick wall, and the dog will run around it or hunt in front of it, but will not cross through it or even penetrate it if a bird is thrown back into the cover.  In trying to avoid the cover, the dog can become completely disoriented as to where a mark has landed.  Many tests are set up so that if the dog does not take the cover, there is no way he can easily come up with the bird, if he can come up with it at all.

Changes of cover often throw a dog off its line as he will square off or stop short.  An example of this would be running through grass, then plow, then alfalfa, and then into plow again.  It is amazing how going from low cover to higher (say knee high or above) cover will cause a dog to pull up and hunt short or veer on its path to avoid that cover completely.  Corn stalks can really deter a dog as can changes in the consistency of the land such as running from solid to marshy or into a different texture of grass.

Another wall for many dogs is hidden water.  This is water a dog must cross but which the dog cannot see from the line.  A lot of dogs, unless trained otherwise, will stop when they hit the water and never try to cross it.  This is particularly true if the guns are sitting on the near side of the water and the bird lands across on the far side.  If there is cover such as cat tails or heavy grass on the near side of the water, it contributes an added barrier.

Roads can prove to be another impediment to many dogs, and again, training may be needed to teach them to cross over the road and hunt beyond it.  Roads can also work as a judas trail, and if a dog runs the road as the line of least resistance, in many cases, the dog will never be able to find the mark.  Dogs need to be balanced so they will feel comfortable enough to take a little bit of road without running the whole way down the road.

Ditches lead a dog to square and they have to be taught how to angle a ditch successfully.  The same goes with rows such as you sometimes encounter in harvested fields.  Many times the dog will keep running down a row instead of angling across them to a mark even if the cover on both sides of the row isn’t particularly tall.  Often if they do angle across, they square with each row and put themselves out of position to easily find their bird.  The more exposure a dog has to this the better so they can learn how to maintain their position with regard to the mark and not allow the factors to interfere.

Now, if you train alone and don’t have much in the way of grounds, you can use what I call my “bits and pieces”. I will find bushes which are safe for a dog to go through and do bush drills.  Find where smooth, low grass encounters higher cover or low bushes and work on drills through those.  Find a log and have the dog work over it at different angles.  There are some excellent drills out there that can be used on small pieces of ground to train your dog how to handle some of the factors mentioned above.

Carol Cassity has a very good book of drills and Retrievers Online discusses training for factors on a regular basis.  By taking almost any drill, varying the terrain or factors, being creative, you can teach your dog many new skills that will carry over into the actual field.  In urban areas, I have used some ground in industrial parks, around schools, vacant pieces of ground, a soccer field, anywhere that catches my eye and where the dog could not get hurt.  Puddles after heavy rains are great.  Some you might have to use either early on a Sunday morning or in the evening when persons aren’t around.  Always remember to pick up after your dog so no one can complain about your being there.  I am always on a PR alert when out training in public.  We have enough anti-dog persons around my area as it is, so I want them to be impressed with what good citizens mine are.

Field Factors will be continued in Part II.

Carol Cassity has compiled two books on drills.  The first is “Drills For The Retriever Hunt Test Enthusiast” and her newer soft-cover book, “Building A Retriever, Drills & More”.  The newer book contains many of the drills written about in the earlier one.

In order to acquire one, contact:  Carol F. Cassity, 6141 Bud Moulton Road, Crestview, FL  32536 or e-mail

Retrievers Online is published in Canada.  It is an extremely popular training magazine and I wouldn’t be without it.  Go to for more information.  E-mail address is

The above article was originally published in .  Some editing has been done from the original version.

Category : Hunt Training, Hunting

About the Author ()

Glenda Brown owns both Goldens and Labradors. She is on the Board of the LRC and is the field liaison to the Golden Retriever News. She is a Founding Member of the CRTA, has judged a Master National Hunt Test and the National Amateur. She has competed in conformation, obedience, tracking and hunt tests but her primary venue is field trials. Her husband competed in agility---with some of the field dogs. She has and has had Field Champions with both her Goldens and her Labs.

Leave a Reply