It’s that time of year – questions on getting ready for the Natural Ability (NA) test are rolling in!  Here are some thoughts and tips to get you started before chapter-organized group events begin.

  • Help your pup become bold and fearless. Take puppy walks OFF LEASH or at most by dragging a check cord. Hit the local WMA’s (Be aware of DNR regs on “quiet” season-usually April 15-July 15) and let him go! Be QUIET- Don’t keep reining him in. Build confidence and let him expand his range working AWAY from you and exploring with his NOSE.
  • If you can get a bird, let him go crazy. Remember, at this stage there is no “NO!”. If he eats it, ignore the problem. If he carries it around, be a cheerleader! If he is afraid of it, go slow and don’t make it a
    big deal.
  • After you get a bold puppy, get some kind of recall. A whistle gets their attention better than yelling. Give him a treat when he comes to you!
  • You can do little tracks with pieces of hot dog dragged with a string. Start short, then stretch it out over time to where the hot dog is out of your sight. Don’t rush, make sure the pup can be successful. Later, you can drag a bird.
  • The swim isn’t really about being able to swim, it’s about being brave enough to leave the bottom. Toss bumpers to encourage a chase in the yard. If necessary, throw treats first. You don’t need a retrieve, you just need him to get excited and go for it. When you finally get to the water, you can transition. WATER is weighted more heavily on the NA test Scorecard than POINTING!
  • In the water, get the pup to run in. If you wade in and coax, it’s not going to seem very exciting to the pup. It might help to get the puppy to run with an older pup that will hit the water. Throwing in a wing-clipped bird can help get started also, but you need to get past needing one.
  • Go slow and in small increments. The puppy must always be successful. Remember- be patient. Praise any success! What you do or don’t do could have a long-term effect on your pup.

More information can be found on our website here:  Puppies & Natural Ability Exposure.