Is there value in running AKC Junior then Senior before trying Master?
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Thread: Is there value in running AKC Junior then Senior before trying Master?

  1. #1
    Senior Member John Robinson's Avatar
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    Apr 2009
    Bigfork, Montana

    Default Is there value in running AKC Junior then Senior before trying Master?

    The same question would apply to any of the other hunt test venues. I ask because I read post all the time where a newbie is told he should just train for Master. Perhaps the poster is recommending a newbie train to a higher standard then running the lower level, I would agree with that. My answer to my own question is that it depends. For more advanced trainers and handlers, folks who have titled dogs at the higher level, it probably makes sence to just train for Master and run that, but for newbies, I feel there is great value in working your way up the ladder.

    I totally lucked out with my first dog, he was very birdy, a better than average marker and quite tractable, all without being so high powered he was prone to break. I went to my first hunt test without any idea what was involved, but I had trained with a local guy and hunted my dog quite a bit, so my dog Kimo knew to sit steady, mark a single, retrieve it and return to hand. Anyway the wife and I drove over to Spokane looking for some Polo field or open stadium where this "hunt test" would be held. Following the Eukenuba hunt test signs we ended up way out of town out in the boonies. As I parked my pick-up and walked up to a guy to see if we were in the right spot, they asked my name, found out I was dog #1 and told me to air my dog and get in the holding blind, yikes!

    I guess the good news is I didn't have any time to get nervous, was totally nieve to all the pitfalls that could sink us and had a smart, steady dog who loved birds. We ran back to back singles and I remember Gary Erickson, the judge showing me my score card with a smile, two tens. We went on to earn two ribbons that first weekend and drove home on cloud nine. After that I was more dedicated to training and now knew what to expect. As I worked my way through NAHRA Started and AKC Senior, I gained "line time", watched a lot of dogs and between those dogs and my own, became more experienced in what can go wrong and what to do about it. I continued to advance my dog in training, so by the time I had titled in Junior I was ready for Senior. One huge advantage I had was training with Jim Mitchell who was a very good dog guy who knew what was involved at the higher levels.

    We breezed through Senior in four straight, but hit a road block at Master. The step up to Master was a way-way bigger step than going from Junior to Senior. It took another year of training before we were consitant enough to pass Master test and Kimo earned that MH. My point is that for me the work-your-way-up-the-ladder approach was perfect. It allowed Kimo and I to experience success, earn ribbons and titles, believe me, a NAHRA Started or AKC Junior title and certificate is a big deal to the newbie, all in a step by step process.

    Since Kimo I have switched over to field trails and have become a much better trainer. Now I probably would just jump to Master with a two year old dog fresh out of transition, but I would recommend the step by step process for the newbie dog guy.


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  3. #2
    Senior Member gdgnyc's Avatar
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    May 2009


    Very nice post. I also think going up the ladder is training for dog AND handler. Also, there is a lot one learns about his dog in a Hunting Test situation. A terrific hunting dog needs to be trained for the test situation and JH is a good place to start.
    "I love the rod and gun and where they take me."

    "Do not judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins."

  4. #3
    Senior Member hughest's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    Greenhill, AL


    I think JH is a good place to start, too. No matter how hard you try, it's really impossible to TRULY duplicate a HT atmosphere in training - especially for for the one or two dog owner. If a dog is 2 years old before he is placed in that atmosphere, it can be a little overwhelming for them, no matter how good they are. We have two litter mates from a nice FC AFC X MH breeding. The female ran Junior, the male did not. She went 4/4 in Junior and Senior. Her first HT weekend she was a little excited, but Junior is a little slower pace, you can hold on to her, so it's easier to control everything. He failed his first two Senior tests. His first HT weekend he was a little crazy. Just not the same dog. He went 4/4 after that. I think it makes a bigger difference to some dogs. In the grand scheme of how much we spend to play these games on a regular basis, I don't think the entry fees for Junior are a deciding factor of whether or not to run Junior.
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  6. #4
    Senior Member Brad B's Avatar
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    Apr 2004
    Winnie, TX


    If it's your first dog, yes. Working your way through the levels is great fun and a learning experience at every turn. After a few dogs and you've been at the line several years, I see little benefit other than enjoying the friends you'll make in the game. I've run several just because I like the game and the people it attracts.

  7. #5
    Senior Member road kill's Avatar
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    Feb 2009
    New Berlin, WI


    Before my pup was a year old some old friends cajoled us into running NAHRA started.
    We had run a dog in NAHRA & AKC some time ago.

    So, we packed up and went to 4 Points RC and ran our first HT befoe Elvis had ever even swam.
    Harry Williams was one of the judges, I forget the other, may have been Travis lund.
    They let him run and were incredibly patient and kind.
    The second day, he actually went into the water and drug the duck out!!!!!!

    We went home, did our homework and worked our butts off.

    We returned, we conquered.
    Got his SR and got a Regional All-American pass as well.

    The friends we made, the wonderful times we had and the memories will never be duplicated.

    If you are a beginner, or even a fogey like me and just want to have some great fun, I say run those entry level events and enjoy every moment!

    Watch your pup grow and mature and have some fun along the way.

    JMO--and experience!
    Last edited by road kill; 03-27-2013 at 10:15 AM.
    Stan b & Elvis

  8. #6
    Senior Member HarryWilliams's Avatar
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    Jan 2005


    Good post, nice read John. In the beginning I started at the bottom and tried to work my way up. I struggled when I got to the master level. I gained training experience and handling experience as I went (took awhile). Now I usually enter a dog in Started (NAHRA) to give 'em a real test. But not until they can run it as they should. My 11 year old Hope ran/qual'd her first NAHRA test a double Senior (master level) after placing 4th in the Derby the previous weekend. I had ran her only as test dog at a Started the year before.

    Working your way up the ranks is a good way to gain experjience, knowledge and have a bunch of fun. I've seen folks run puppies in Started at a young age. It can work but often ends up "cute in started out in Master". Establishing an obedience standard at a young age is paramount. Early lapses can grow into a lifetime of problem solving. HPW

    Edit: appears Stan and I were posting at the same time. I had a great time and really enjoyed meeting you and Elvis. Four Points is an excellent club. My co-judge that day was Darin Westphal.
    Last edited by HarryWilliams; 03-27-2013 at 10:54 AM.
    "Sometimes we just gotta do what is right". Jerry 2006

    See ya in the field. HPW

  9. #7
    Senior Member Eric Fryer's Avatar
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    May 2006


    The problem is, is that the lower venues is the heart and soul of the Hunt Test program. It is where we bring the new lifeblood to the sport, and quite frankly speaking for our club, we would not stay afloat without them.

    I do understand what you are saying though. I doubt I would ever go back and run a Jr dog all the way to a Jr title at this point. However, I think all my dogs will go to the line at least once to get line time. I think in the future my kids will handle the dogs at the Jr level though, and they will get a kick out of it.
    God, Family, Country & LSU Football.

  10. #8
    Senior Member Arnie's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    S. California


    For this novice it's not about the titles, it's about the journey.

    This past weekend we ran our first NAHRA Senior test. We were not ready. We were signed up to run Intermediate Saturday and Sunday but Saturday Gage earned his Intermediate title and the folks at CCHRC were kind enough to let us try a run at Senior. Surprisingly, Gage did a really good job in the land triples, the blind, the quartering and steady to flush and shot. We were both overwhelmed in the water series. At least I learned what I now have to concentrate on to go forward.

    We are relatively new to the Hunt test game. We started out entering every available local test. It took more than a couple to relax into the game. In His first year he passed 4 AKC Junior, 2 NAHRA Started and 2 HRC Started. We then jumped to the next level where he has earned his HRC Seasoned and his NAHRA Intermediate and has three legs of his AKC Senior.

    With the help and mentoring of some pretty terrific people we were able to grow into this game together. He has never been away from me to train with a pro. I know there are holes in his training and I am still a novice trainer but the experience of working and learning together has been terrific.

    Gage is a little past two years old so we have a lot of time to grow and learn together.

  11. #9
    Senior Member Jennifer Henion's Avatar
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    Jan 2012
    Far Northern California


    Agreed - the journey is too fun and packed with learning, to skip.

    No offense to people who recommend skipping a Jr or Sr or Derby. But I think it's a disservice to new trainers to say "train for Master and skip Senior" or "train for Qual and skip Derby". Those statements may have some deeper wisdom, but they also unintentionally encourage the new trainer to rush to get to the Master level so they can compete.

    Like others said: working up through ranks creates so many opportunities to meet great people and watch lots of dogs run tests. OH yeah, and see lots of different test set-ups that different judges create.
    ​"Power is of two kinds. One is obtained through the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment." Mahatma Gandhi

  12. #10
    Senior Member Hunt'EmUp's Avatar
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    Sep 2010


    1st dog work your way up, 2nd and beyond AKC financially better to just run 6 MHs when the dog is ready than any lower stake tests. There's no benefit to running AKC lower tests in the since of points, you have to run 4 JH (4x $60) then 4 SH (4x$65) to make, only 1 MH ($70)test go away. While I will run my dog to gauge where they are in a SH etc. every once in awhile, before putting them in MH, I'm not going to run them 4-5 times in it. HRC on the other Hand there is an advantage to running lower stakes, whether you run 1 or 4 seasoned test you keep the points, for your HR & HRCH title. I believe NAHRA is based on the same point system, although I never ran any stake but Senior in it, so I'm not sure.
    "They's Just DAWGS"; "I train dogs, Not papers"
    "Hunting is a skill to be learned whether you do it early or late it still needs to be learned"

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