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I wonder if folks would like to discuss how they test a litter for field ability, what they look for, and how they start pups on their field "careers" for want of a better term. Do you test every litter? Do you assume "it" is there?

Here's a bit of what I do. I have a lovely friend with Weimaraners named Shirley Nillson. Shirley has been excetionally successful with her dogs in basically every venue one could choose to compete in with a dog. She has bred and trained a triple champion Weim - Show Ch, Field Ch and Obed Ch! she has a wonderful combination of Volhard testing and other tests that she does and I hire her to test my pups for basic temperament as well as aptitude for learning and learning style. It is best to have a stranger do this testing anyway and she is VERY experienced at it, so I pay her to test mine.

Then we have a bird in a harness on a string and show it to the pups and see if we have tendency to sight point, if they wish to play (possibly indicating immaturity still - retest in a few days) high prey drive, fear and so on. The ones who are showing strong desire to point are further tested on hidden birds, and also taken for walks to see their level of independence and such.

For hunting exposere for young dogs I try to take a pup to an area I know has wild birds and with an older experienced dog. Recently 13 week old Mary went with Raisin and Ken and I to an area where there are always wild quail. Raisin pointed a covey of quail which wild flushed in front of Mary as she ran up - she stopped to the flush. WOW! GREAT! Mary ran forward and froze into a lovely point - there was some of the covey left and so she had her first point! The covey wild flushed as we walked up and MAry watched then moved on. Raisin stopped on point and Mary showed a tendency to back, but then ran forward and stopped to point in front of poor patient Raisin! I flushed the covey and we went on - what an incredibly perfect first exposure to wild birds - one could not have written a better script.

So what do you do with your pups?

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I do test my puppies, but not as far as hunting goes (I dont hunt).
Neither do I sell to hunters.
This is not due to me not liking them as a group, but rather I feel that if you want a dog for a specific purpose, you should get the one most suited. (From someone breeding field-trial-setters) My dogs are all bred from show-lines so i have no idea to their hunting ability. But I did once have a hunter who just insisted to get a puppy from me...
He told me he would test the puppies and would be able to tell which one would be suitable. Now I have tested puppies regarding sound and confronting different new situations etc and was very curious as to how he would test.
Well he turned up with his hunter-friend and started off by dragging a meatball along the floor to a specific point. We then let the puppies enter (I knew beforehand the puppy that would go for this...easy!!!! The greediest one!!!!!!)
And I turned out to be right.
She just stuck her nose down and followed that wonderful scent of FOOD!!!!!!!
I can not say that I even at the time thought this test was anything to recommend.
I still dont!
But according to the hunter, this show setter was the best dog he ever had! And she was with him practically around the clock. He hunted everything from the traditional game to moose with that dog. And he would phone and tell me of her days in the mountain and how she just never gave up...and how she tried to retrieve wild geese of the boat (dressed in an old overcoat due to the below-freezing temperature...nearly drowning as she refused to let go of HER game) and it was one amazing story after the other.
She lived to be 14 and hunted right until the bitter end.
So, all said and done, perhaps you dont need charts and elaborate tests?

At times a swedish meatball may be good enough.
I remember reading about similar thing in a magazine for dogs and hunters we have here.
Although slightly different – piece of meat was placed on a chair or something similar (but tall above puppies’ heads and out of their sight) and then the pups were introduced in the room. Allegedly the pup with the best nose will sense the meat first.
I was trying to find that article right now and to quote it exactly but I couldn’t find it at the moment – sorry.
(btw i really loved the picture of pup pointing above)
I still think the food-test must be pretty useless...unless you want the greediest puppy!
A good nose is only part of a good hunting-dog.
I would have thought the natural pointing was something far more important to test for.

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