After a dog has run in their Natural Ability test and ideally had a hunting season on wild birds, it may be time to take it to the next level, and work towards towards being a “finished” gun dog.

According to the NAVHDA AIMS book: “The Utility Preparatory Test (UPT) is designed to evaluate a dog midway in its training towards becoming a reliable versatile gun dog.  The Utility Test (UT) is designed for more experienced dogs in an advanced state of training.  It evaluates their ability to perform as reliable versatile gun dogs and demonstrate their physical and mental capability to take training.”

The UPT & UT test standards expand in scope to evaluate a dog’s Obedience, Steadiness and Retrieving on land & water, in addition to the other core NAVHDA areas of Search, Nose, Pointing, Desire and Cooperation that are evaluated at the Natural Ability level of testing.   While every dog is different, there are some basic concepts that have evolved in NAVHDA over the years that will help handlers in their pursuit of a finished UT dog.  Keep scrolling down for more info.




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.

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. 

Other tips and articles:

Project Upland Article on Positive Reinforcement and the 4 Quadrants of operative Conditioning

“Testing?- No Thanks, I just want a Hunting Dog”-by NAVHDA Judge Pete Aplikowski

Introducing Dog’s to E-Collars-Project Upland article by NAVHDA Judge Jason Carter

GO! before WHOA!-thoughts on training steps for the NAVHDA UPT & UT tests (by NAVHDA Judge Pete Aplikowski)

Fixing Flagging In A Bird Dog-Project Upland article by NAVHDA Judge Jason Carter March 11, 2020


Force Breaking Made Simple-Scott Kossan

Retrieve/Force Fetch Training Videos by George DeCosta