Competing and Comparing for Breeding
The very first field trials were developed to see how dogs would stack up against each other in realistic hunting situations. There are many competitions today created for the hunting dog breeds from agility to akc hunt tests, from conformation shows to horseback field trials. The whole concept exists so you can see how your dog performs based on others. Whether comparing bird dogs to others in their own breed or competing against several pointing breeds, the events can be extremely helpful. It gives you a measuring stick for gauging your training and your dogs natural instincts.
I am a father helping to raise seven children with my wife, so leaving for days at a time to field trial across the midwest is not really an option. But, I have found something that has proven to be almost as valuable. I get together every week with a few guys who each have several bird dogs. These are usually half day training sessions or hunts where we can run anywhere from 12-20 dogs through a quail field or hunt chukar or pheasant. With enough dogs you start to get an idea of where your dogs are in comparison with the others. There are no judges or awards, but we are learning to recognize the better performing dogs and thereby make better selections for breeding or buying.
If your not able to go out and compete with a bird dog club or field trial, get together with some friends and hunt several dogs together. It won’t take long to see who the top performers are. Likely you will be able to identify and focus on some areas of dog training where you can improve. You don’t need 3 horses and six figure outfits to compete in this style. Just get together with others and run some bird dogs on live birds. The more the better. It works nearly as well and you will save a bundle in gas and perhaps even save your marriage. Some bird dog clubs even sponsor fun hunts on a Saturday where ribbons are awarded to the top dogs. Another great way to compete on a smaller scale.