STEADY ON LINE – LAND – At the start the dog should sit or stay unleashed beside the handler for a short time, until the judge instructs the handler to proceed. To receive a Satisfactory score the dog should make no more than minor movements. Excellent: stays in place quietly with a minimum of commands until released by the handler. Poor: fails to stay and can’t be immediately brought back under control, and/or whines and barks excessively.
DOG UNDER HANDLER’S CONTROL – At the judge’s instruction the handler “sends” his dog, and walks behind directing the dog on the course as necessary.
Satisfactory: the dog shows fairly reasonable, not necessarily immediate, response to whistle and/or command. Excellent: demonstrates superlative responsiveness to his handler with a minimum of direction. Poor: the dog is out of control, for example continually runs out of gun range or constantly ignores commands.
COVERS GROUND IN A WORKMANLIKE MANNER – For a Satisfactory score the dog should demonstrate a reasonable quartering of his ground, use of wind, and sufficient hunting desire to search in cover and seek game in a workmanlike manner. Excellent: performs this with enthusiasm and in a superlative manner. Poor: shows evidence of “pottering” or requires undue urging to hunt. Barking while quartering is objectionable.
FINDS AND FLUSHES BIRDS – Satisfactory: the dog should have sufficient hunting and scenting ability (nose) to independently find and put up game without undue urging. Excellent performs this with enthusiasm and in a superlative manner. Poor: displays lack of nose, requires excessive urging to flush or shows fear or avoidance of the bird.
MARKS AND RETRIEVES BIRDS – Dogs are not required to be steady to flush or shot. For a Satisfactory score the dog should mark the fall of game and retrieve it to within close proximity of the handler (approximately a couple steps). The handler may direct the dog to the fall if the dog has not marked it due to a reasonable circumstance. Excellent: marks well, retrieves enthusiastically and delivers the bird to hand. Poor: refuses to retrieve, or requires excessive urging.
STEADY ON LINE – WATER – Dogs should not go in to the water to retrieve until sent by the handler. For a Satisfactory score the dog may be held on leash or by the collar until the judge directs the handler to send the dog. To receive an Excellent the dog must be line steady (sit and stay unleashed beside the handler). Poor: struggles against being gently restrained by leash or collar, or if unleashed fails to stay until commanded to retrieve.
RETRIEVES BIRD FROM WATER – For a Satisfactory the dog should mark the fall of the bird, enter the water and swim without undue urging, and retrieve the bird out of the water and to within close proximity of the handler (approximately a couple steps). Excellent: marks well, retrieves enthusiastically and delivers the bird to hand. Poor: refuses to swim, refuses to retrieve, or requires excessive urging.
DOES NOT DISPLAY GUNSHYNESS – Satisfactory: the dog should have sufficient hunting desire that he shows little reaction to the gun. Excellent: has such intense desire that he takes no notice of the gun, or it even increases his willingness and enthusiasm to retrieve and hunt. Poor: displays a shy or fearful reaction to the gun.
NOTE – “Hardmouth” is a serious fault. When a dog delivers a damaged bird – meaning chewed or crushed by the dog (not damaged by gunshot) such that it is not suitable for the table or cannot be used in a training session for another dog – he will not qualify, even if he has fulfilled all other test requirements.
Revised and Approved by ESSFTA July 1998