While the NAVHDA Natural Ability Test (NA) is exactly that-a gauge of a dog’s inherent “natural ability”, a puppy should be properly exposed to birds and situations in a manner that helps bring out that natural ability prior to running the test (Searching, Pointing, Tracking, Swimming). An important NAVHDA concept to be aware of is that Retrieving, Obedience and Steadiness are NOT evaluated during the NA test, and owners should be cautious in not getting too far ahead of themselves or pushing dogs too fast at this stage. Improper bird exposure or putting too much pressure on a young dog can sometimes diminish their natural abilities like pointing and searching. Keep scrolling down for more info.
Basic Obedience & Natural Ability Exposure
Tips & Tales-On Training your Bird Dog by George DeCosta Jr.-If you want to buy ONE book on versatile dog training, this is a great one. Buy here on Amazon.
- House Dogs/Hunting Dogs-They all learn the same way. The Hunting Dog Podcast Nov 27, 2022 with Trainer John Wade. If you want to be a better dog trainer, you must listen to this one.
- Project Upland Podcast Episode #151 with Justin McGrail-Great discussion on young dogs, their first hunting season, and the importance of wild birds in your dog’s development instead of pen raised birds, and MORE! Justin is always a great listen.
- The Dog “NOSE” Best. How a dog’s nose works. Gun Dog it Yourself episode 85 March 15th, 2021.
- Puppy 101 with NAVHDA Sr. Judge Al Harmeyer-The Hunting Dog Podcast May 8th, 2017
- Natural Ability Test Breakdown with NAVHDA Sr. Judge Phil Swain-The Hunting Dog Podcast November 21st, 2018
- Training Etiquette-Gun Dog It Yourself Podcast Episode 31
- Planting Seeds With Everyday Training-Gun Dog it Yourself Episode 34
- Behavior Theory-How Dogs Learn-Gun Dog it Yourself Episode 43-**THIS IS A GOOD ONE!
- The NAVHDA Natural Ability Test with Angie Coenen and Lisa Pehur-The Bird Dog Babe Episode 54
- **MUST LISTEN**Pointing. Steadiness and WHOA Training- Hunting Dog Podcast with Justin McGrail August 12, 2020
NAVHDA’s Versatile Hunting Dog Magazine Articles
Reprinted with permission from NAVHDA International. Articles may not be reprinted or transmitted in any way without the express written permission of NAVHDA International.
- Preparing a Puppy for the Natural Ability Test-by John Kegel-Volume L No. 6 June 2019
- Puppy Bird Exposure-by Kevin Billy -Volume XLVIII NO. 5 May 2017
- Swimming-Getting Puppies Past the Drop-Off-by Tracy Harmeyer-Volume L no. 5 May 2019
- Bird Management & Flagging– by Mark Whalen-Volume XLVIII NO. 8 Aug 2017
- Handling in the field during a NAVHDA Test-by Tim Otto Volume XLVIII NO. 11 Nov 2017
Tips from Trainers/Chapter Members/Judges
- Natural Ability VS Obedience-A look at some key NAVHDA principles (by NAVHDA Judge Pete Aplikowski)
- The Mystery of Natural Ability Tracking (by retired NAVHDA Judge Bill Jensen)
- Natural Ability Tracking -The Release (by NAVHDA Senior Judge Terry Petro)
- Puppy Water Introduction-(by George DeCosta)
You Tube Videos
Alternative to Launchers and Bird Planting Tips:
Below is part 1, follow Youtube links in this video for parts 2 & 3