Field Test / Trial Etiquette

  • Air your dog a couple of times before running the test.
  • STOP IT – Stop on the way to the holding blind.  Stop a few times to make sure the dog is working with you.  Stop right outside of the holding blind.
  • Walk to the line giving your dog the best advantage to see the marks.
  • Say only good things about your dog to the judge.
  • Keep your eyes on your dog at all times.  Don’t turn around to talk to the judge.
  • Clothing – try and wear a contrasting color from the background.  If allowed: step out into the sun if you are in the shadows.  Be aware of your clothing color while in the gallery.  White or light colored clothing may draw the working dog’s attention away from his handler.
  • Check in with the marshal and give him/her your CATALOG number.  Remember your number.  Ask who you follow by two or three dogs.  Plan how much time you will need to adequately air and walk to the holding blind and keep track of where the running order is.  It is your responsibility to be ready, not the marshal’s to get you ready.
  • Park so your dog cannot see the marks or where lots of dogs will be passing by.  If your dog barks, park farther away from the test.
  • WATCH THE TEST DOG and stand in line behind the handler as much as possible – get on the line after the test dog leaves and rehearse your strategy.
  • Look at the things that will throw your dog off – hills, wind, cover, paths will be potential obstacles.  BE READY FOR THEM.  Watch the dogs run before you.  If nine out of ten go left on the blind – your dog will probably go left, too!  Be ready.
  • “Challenge the blind” means don’t avoid the obstacles – run at the line.
  • Judges are volunteering their time and expertise.  This is supposed to be fun!  Take it easy on your dog, the judges and everyone else at the test.
  • If you are only running one stake, be prepared to be bumped; mainly occurs in hunt tests.
  • Offer to help out if you are able.  Pick up your trash and any other you come across.
A ribbon is earned by HOW you picked up the birds.  The straighter the lines and the fewer the whistles, the better.
Reprinted with permission from Carol F. Cassity ~ Building A Retriever: Drills & More.