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NAVHDA Natural Ability Prize One

~ Our Score 112

Hi guys just wanted to drop a quick note. Me and Luna were first alternate and luckily got into the NA test yesterday. 

We surprisingly got a prize 1 – 112 score! Wow. I’m still shocked but she did it all and we trained hard. Now just getting ready for hunting season. 

Mike and Michelle


–The North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA)

NAVHDA chapters sponsor four kinds of tests:

The Natural Ability Test is designed to evaluate the inherent natural abilities of young dogs and gain insight into their possible usefulness as versatile gun dogs. It rates seven important inherited abilities: nose, search, tracking, pointing, water, desire and cooperation. Dogs are eligible for a Natural Ability Test up until, and including, the day they reach 16 months of age. Dogs over 16 months may be run for evaluation only. Dogs over 16 months may only be run if space is available. No prize classification can be awarded the dog run for evaluation.

The Utility Preparatory Test measures the dogs’ development midway through their training toward the Utility Test. No previous testing required.The Utility Test evaluates trained dogs in water and field, before and after the shot, as finished versatile hunting companions as well as many other specific tasks. No previous testing required. The Invitational Test is our highest level of testing. Only those dogs that have achieved a Prize I in Utility are eligible. This limits the entry to exceptional animals who have demonstrated a high level of training and tests their skills in the advanced work.                 

Breeder Comment on Points Earned

The maximum possible score for a dog running in the NAVHDA Natural Ability Test is 112 Points. You must earn a minimum of 99 points to net a Prize One. Luna got a perfect score–we cannot tell you how difficult it is to achieve this goal. Honestly, it is even more remarkable with the Weimaraner–who can potential flake out at the wrong moment.

To Learn More about competing your Weimaraner with NAVHDA click here!

Natural Ability

~What I Imagined

~The Reality

I remember when I first heard about the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA) Natural Ability Test, I imagined you didn’t prepare. You took your young Weimaraner (or whatever Versatile Hunting Dog you had) to this event–and the experts discovered if you had a natural hunter or not.

This approach would be like flushing time and money down the toilet. These guys who participate work hard to prepare their hunting companions. There are several elements (or disciplines) involved in the process–you have to have them ready for each (and all). There are seven critical inherited abilities: nose, search, tracking, pointing, water, desire, and cooperation.

It might seem wrong to work at developing these abilities, but it is the opposite. It is a bit like exercising a muscle–it gets stronger when worked. This preparation works.

Our Discovery and Placement Test

We test pups at six-weeks realizing that we are pushing the envelope at that age–at seven or eight weeks would be apt to test more easily. Nevertheless, we have had success at six-weeks when the pups are prepared and mature enough to engage in the activities. Below are some photos from a recent litter of Longhairs who were visiting the Three Cliff’s Sanctuary in preparation of the Discovery and Placement Test.

As with the NAVHDA Natural Ability Test process, preparation is essential. I am sure people wonder we are doing. We are exposing the pups to different locations, and expanding their world. We are showing them toys, and interacting with them in small groups and sometimes on a one-on-one basis. This preparation is an essential part–and all the while we are not gathering information or sizing up the pups. That might be hard to believe but one thing we have learned–don’t come (to the test) with preconceived ideas. Don’t allow yourself to be influenced by anything–not clients, not what we seen before, etc. We are taking a fresh look–trying to get pure information or findings. At six-weeks these pups don’t do all that much– we hope to have them ready to engage with us as well as the exercises as they are presented.

Wilma and others at the Treasure Valley NAVHDA Hunt Test

Sometimes the stars align…

Wilma Field Training(1)It was a long shot that Wilma would do anything at the hunt test. Nonetheless, a last-minute change was in order. We scrambled to make the necessary changes, and Cliff took her. This trip will prepare her for the fall hunt tests. We hope to gain entry into that test. Wilma was phenomenal, and she aced the swim. Other sections of the test were not so stellar, but consider that she had not seen the field, a bird, or the pond before Monday. We had been planning to go another direction when it became apparent this girl had a pocket of ability, and the temperament we like so much.

Note about the Video: The following video is not edited. Wilma’s run is quite a way down the line. This is a GoPro video taken by Cliff of the Treasure Valley NAVHDA Hunt test. As you can see, no one is noticing he is filming. He has the camera strapped to his chest. He doesn’t always get the exact shot he hopes for, but this will give you a feeling for what is happening. Keep watching, and you will catch a glimpse of Wilma’s smooth-sailing swim. Friday was her first “true-swim”, and it was more dog-paddle splashy. At the Hunt Test, she looked like a pro, and swam with ease almost on command earning her 4 of 4 possible points.

 You can achieve the swim too….

Wilma Learning to Swim (1)

Wilma with Stackhouse soaking wet from time in the pond…..

Getting the Weimaraner to swim can take patience. A little knack, and good fortune can help along the process. We hope you enjoyed this two-day adventure. Yesterday’s blog showed the beginning. Thanks for your interest, and joining us on Wilma’s lesson in how to swim.