Working Tests are events held out of the shooting season which require the dog to perform tasks similar to those found in the field. They are competitive events with awards for the best performing dogs, but they are also great for training your dog as it will be performing away from its usual environment. They are also great social occasions with a more relaxed, informal atmosphere than at Field Trials.

If you are thinking about, or are interested in working your dog, the Working Test is an ideal place to start.

Vizsla retrieve to handler

What Happens?
The working test is divided into groups which reflect the age and ability of the dog:

Puppy – For dogs up to 18 months.
Novice – Over 18 months, no Field Awards or 1st in Novice.
Graduate – Similar to Open but less stringent.
Open – Dogs with Field Trial awards, or 1st in Novice.

Vizsla water retrieve

Some working tests include a Special Beginners group designed for those who have not yet competed but who are interested in doing so and is ideal for those who are unsure of what to do, whether they or the dog will be up to it, and is a perfect opportunity to spend a day learning with an experienced trainer/ handler.

There are no limits to the number of entries so you will always get the opportunity to run your dog.

The day starts with booking in at the reception desk to get your running number. You will also be given a running order with all the dogs in your group. The organiser for the day will greet everyone, introduce the officials – Judges, Dummy Throwers – and outline the programme for the day. There is always a break for lunch which you will need to bring along with you. At the end of the day, there is an awards ceremony.

What are the tests?
The tests are basically the same for all the groups but the level of difficulty increases towards Open.
The tests are:
1. Quartering (Hunting)
2. Seen retrieve 
3. Dummy thrown left and right, dog to retrieve the designated dummy and then the other.
4. Water retrieve

Vizsla retrieving a dummy

All the work is done with dummies but in Novice and above, the retrieves may be blind and/or seen and may include cold game (usually pigeon which can be obtained all year round).

The judges will assess the performance of the dog at each task and award marks usually out of 20. All judges are approved by the Kennel Club and will be very experienced dog handlers and trainers in their own right. You will more than likely see them judging one week and competing with their own dog the next – they’ve been there and done it, and know how you feel when you appear for the first time. They will not only judge your dogs’ performance but also your own as a handler and will provide useful feedback to help you improve.

Is my dog good enough to enter?

The dog must have the basic training in place and working well – heel, sit, stay, fetch, sit to whistle, etc. Probably the best way to assess whether you and the dog are ready is to go along to a test and see for yourself. If you are a member of a gundog training group, they will be able to guide you. You don’t need to have everything perfectly in place before competing and in the end competing is really the only way to find out. At the end of the day you will know how you measured up with the other dogs and go away knowing what needs to be worked on before the next test.

Where to find Working Tests

There are many Working Tests throughout April-September, held all over the country so it is highly likely that there will be one very near you. Contact the HVS WT Secretary or click on Events button above for details of the HVS Working Test.