First question.. Marking.. [Archive] - RetrieverTraining.Net - the RTF

: First question.. Marking..



MooseGooser
03-16-2020, 08:47 AM
So, I will start the questions off..:)

I have asked this question at many, many training days,at Judges and handlers seminars,, at 3 different venues.. I usually get the same response.. “My question will become more clear as I gain experience.” I hope there is a better answer.. Based on the Rule book..
Most of the venues have a comment in there rule book, along the lines of ” Marking is of Primary importance”..
Here is AKC Hunt Test rule..

Section 3. The ability to mark accurately is of primary importance. A dog which marks the fall of a bird, uses the wind, follows a strong cripple, and takes direction from its handler is of great value.

There is also the requirement that dogs proceed directly to area of fall.. The rule book spends considerable time talking about AOF.. Here is an extended passage: AKC Hut Test rule book..


"What precisely constitutes the area of the fall defies accurate definition; yet, at the outset of every marking situation, each Judge must arbitrarily define its hypothetical boundaries for himself, and for each bird, so that he can determine whether dogs have remained within his own concept of the area of the fall, as well as how far they have wandered and how much cover they have disturbed unnecessarily. In determining these arbitrary and hypothetical boundaries, due consideration should be given to various factors: (1) the type, the height and the uniformity of the cover, (2) light conditions, (3) direction of the prevailing wind and its
intensity, (4) length of the various falls, (5) whether there is a change in cover (as from stubble to plowed ground, or 44
to ripe alfalfa, or to machine-picked corn, etc.) or whether the fall is beyond a hedge, across a road, or over a ditch, etc., and, finally, and most important, (6) whether one is establishing the area of the fall for a single, or for the first bird a dog goes for in multiple retrieves, or for the second or the third bird; since each of these should differ from the others. Since there are so many conditions and variables to be taken into consideration, it is obvious that each Judge must attempt to define for himself a hypothetical area of the fall for each bird, and then numerically evaluate the dog’s Marking ability according to that definition. Individual evaluations shall take into consideration the distance a dog wanders out of the area, the frequency of such wandering, the number of birds mismarked and the amount of cover disturbed in these wanderings. A dog that disturbs cover unnecessarily, clearly well out of the area of a fall, either by not going directly to the area, or by leaving it, even though it eventually finds the bird without being handled, must be scored low in Perseverance or receive no credit in Marking on that particular bird. No credit in Marking shall be given if the dog fails to go to the area, establish a hunt and find the bird; a low score in Perseverance shall be given if the dog goes to the area, establishes a hunt then leaves to hunt elsewhere. If it becomes necessary in either situation to handle a dog, handling must be done crisply and cleanly with full control being demonstrated by handling the dog to the bird.

So,,finally my question:

Since Marking is of primary importance, and a dog must proceed directly to AOF and hunt there.. and since the tests AOF’s are based on the JUDGES Arbitrary ,and Hypothetical boundaries, How does a Handler work through unknown JUDGES arbitrary and Hypothetical boundries, when making decisions on when to handle or not?? Marking and AOF is primarily important.. Handles, most assuredly cost me..

Thanks in advance..
Gooser

paul young
03-16-2020, 01:12 PM
So, I will start the questions off..:)

I have asked this question at many, many training days,at Judges and handlers seminars,, at 3 different venues.. I usually get the same response.. “My question will become more clear as I gain experience.” I hope there is a better answer.. Based on the Rule book..
Most of the venues have a comment in there rule book, along the lines of ” Marking is of Primary importance”..
Here is AKC Hunt Test rule..

Section 3. The ability to mark accurately is of primary importance. A dog which marks the fall of a bird, uses the wind, follows a strong cripple, and takes direction from its handler is of great value.

There is also the requirement that dogs proceed directly to area of fall.. The rule book spends considerable time talking about AOF.. Here is an extended passage: AKC Hut Test rule book..


"What precisely constitutes the area of the fall defies accurate definition; yet, at the outset of every marking situation, each Judge must arbitrarily define its hypothetical boundaries for himself, and for each bird, so that he can determine whether dogs have remained within his own concept of the area of the fall, as well as how far they have wandered and how much cover they have disturbed unnecessarily. In determining these arbitrary and hypothetical boundaries, due consideration should be given to various factors: (1) the type, the height and the uniformity of the cover, (2) light conditions, (3) direction of the prevailing wind and its
intensity, (4) length of the various falls, (5) whether there is a change in cover (as from stubble to plowed ground, or 44
to ripe alfalfa, or to machine-picked corn, etc.) or whether the fall is beyond a hedge, across a road, or over a ditch, etc., and, finally, and most important, (6) whether one is establishing the area of the fall for a single, or for the first bird a dog goes for in multiple retrieves, or for the second or the third bird; since each of these should differ from the others. Since there are so many conditions and variables to be taken into consideration, it is obvious that each Judge must attempt to define for himself a hypothetical area of the fall for each bird, and then numerically evaluate the dog’s Marking ability according to that definition. Individual evaluations shall take into consideration the distance a dog wanders out of the area, the frequency of such wandering, the number of birds mismarked and the amount of cover disturbed in these wanderings. A dog that disturbs cover unnecessarily, clearly well out of the area of a fall, either by not going directly to the area, or by leaving it, even though it eventually finds the bird without being handled, must be scored low in Perseverance or receive no credit in Marking on that particular bird. No credit in Marking shall be given if the dog fails to go to the area, establish a hunt and find the bird; a low score in Perseverance shall be given if the dog goes to the area, establishes a hunt then leaves to hunt elsewhere. If it becomes necessary in either situation to handle a dog, handling must be done crisply and cleanly with full control being demonstrated by handling the dog to the bird.

So,,finally my question:

Since Marking is of primary importance, and a dog must proceed directly to AOF and hunt there.. and since the tests AOF’s are based on the JUDGES Arbitrary ,and Hypothetical boundaries, How does a Handler work through unknown JUDGES arbitrary and Hypothetical boundries, when making decisions on when to handle or not?? Marking and AOF is primarily important.. Handles, most assuredly cost me..

Thanks in advance..
Gooser


Gooser,

When handling on a mark, the handler has conceded that the dog does not know where the bird is, and that it will be unable to recover it without help. In my experience, by this time the dog IS NOWHERE NEAR THE AOF OR THE BIRD. Crisp, clean handling is likely to be difficult at this point. Note the passage in BOLD print below. (my emphasis)

Page 45- "Since there are so many conditions and variables to be taken into consideration, it is obvious that each Judge must attempt to define for himself a hypothetical area of the fall for each bird, and then numerically evaluate the dog’s Marking ability according to that definition. Individual evaluations shall take into consideration the distance a dog wanders out of the area, the frequency of such wandering, the number of birds mismarked and the amount of cover disturbed in these wanderings.A dog that disturbs cover unnecessarily, clearly well out of the area of a fall, either by not going directly to the area, or by leaving it, even though it eventually finds the bird without being handled, must be scored low in Perseverance or receive no credit in Marking on that particular bird. No credit in Marking shall be given if the dog fails to go to the area, establish a hunt and find the bird; a low score in Perseverance shall be given if the dog goes to the area, establishes a hunt then leaves to hunt elsewhere. If it becomes necessary in either situation to handle a dog, handling must be done crisply and cleanly with full control being demonstrated by handling the dog to the bird."

Now, what constitutes the area of the fall?

At HT distances, as I interpret the regulations, the AOF for dead birds is usually quite small- Probably a radius of < 25 feet for most dead birds. However, distance matters. A dead bird at 125 yards is going to have an area larger than one at 75. The AOF for flyers is much more variable, Based on where the bird fell, primarily, but modified by where it fell in relation to those shot for the dogs before it. Dogs at the beginning of the test get less leeway compared to dogs later in the running order due to this variability of falls. I don't want to penalize a dog's sense of smell. Dogs late in the running order have a lot of scent to sort through. Another big factor is whether it is shot as a single, double or other multiple. In the case of a multiple mark, is it the go bird or is it shot 'out of order'? Is the distance medium or long? (not a fan of short fliers) A long flier shot second in a triple marking test is going to be difficult. On that, you can bank.

Here's what I think it boils down to:

1. Don't let the dog hunt all over the place and burn memory, physical stamina, or risk injury or heatstroke. The judges can see that the dog doesn't know where the bird is. Bite the bullet. Your score for that mark is already extremely low, maybe even zero. Try to mitigate the damage with good teamwork.

2. Be decisive in your handling. Strive for a display of handling that is pleasing to the eye. Handle to the bird! Don't give up on your dog as long as the dog is working with you. If it isn't, please pick the dog up.

3.You must recover the bird to receive a score. Give me (us) something to judge. Don't worry if you have already handled on a mark in a previous series. This is a different test. And, if it's the first series, don't be the guy or gal who lets the dog fail because you wanted to save the handle for a later series. Deal with the problem in front of you.

4. A dog that goes to the area, puts up an intelligent hunt and recovers the bird is going to get VERY GOOD marking scores from judges. From Page 44 of the regulations - "Ability to mark does not necessarily imply pinpointing the fall. A dog that misses the fall on the first cast, but recognizes the depth of the area of the fall, stays in it, then quickly and systematically hunts-it-out, has done both a creditable and an intelligent job of marking."

We like to give good scores, as long as they are earned. We are not evil people looking to eliminate your dog. But, really read what the book has to say about marking ability and how it tells us we are to judge it.

I know I used the pronoun 'you' many times here, but I'm not singling you out, Gooser. It is meant to be taken collectively, by anyone interested enough to be reading this. Good luck to all in future tests! -Paul

Steve Thornton
03-21-2020, 01:57 PM
A very good question. I have failed dogs because they left the area of the fall, hunted all over for the field and finally went back to the AOF and stumbled on the bird on 3 of 4 marks. I would say when you know your dog has given up on the AOF and is not likely to quickly return to it. I have seen dogs briefly leave the AOF, pick their head and realize they are going in the wrong direction and go back and find the bird. Hope that helps.