The Walk-Up Retrieve
by Joe Law
23 March 2011
Retrieving Ability Test for Gundogs (RATG) provide for a Walk-Up
retrieve in the Open class. What is a Walk-Up retrieve? As
the name suggests, the test simulates a situation where a hunter
walking with his dog at heel, either through fields or along river
banks, might suddenly flush game within shooting range.
situation requires an immediate response from the hunter and also
requires the dog to remain steady, alert and under control. A
well-trained gundog should never retrieve game until the game has
fallen and only then will the dog be sent to retrieve.
Retrieving Trials (RT), the handler carries a gun and is required to
discharge a primed blank cartridge in the direction of the game when it
is cast. However, in RATG trials, no gun is carried and the
exercise for this reason becomes a somewhat different experience for
both dog and handler. In fact, at the time of writing this
article, the new RATG rules are non-specific about what action or
demeanour the handler should adopt at the time when the game is
cast. Never-the-less, the essential requirements are that the dog:
a. Is under control and takes the pace of the handler.
b. Remains steady when the Game is cast.
c. Marks the fall of the Game.
d. Does not retrieve until instructed.
e. Does not need direction from the handler.
f. Returns directly to the handler with the Game.
training for this exercise, the dog needs to be conditioned to
remaining steady when game is cast. The training procedure for
steadiness is outlined here and
clearly the Walk-Up exercise raises the level of steadiness and
alertness required. Once you are satisfied that your dog is
remaining steady to the cast when it has first been placed in a stand
or sit position, you can then begin to shorten the time between
steadying your dog and having an assistant cast the game.
Eventually your dog will remain steady on any occasion when game is
cast and automatically remain steady until ordered to retrieve.
You will then be ready to introduce your dog to the Walk-Up
As mentioned earlier, the present RATG rule
is unclear as to what actions or demeanour a handler should take at the
moment when the game is cast and it would be a good thing for the
handler to be able to develop a set of verbal and body-language cues
that might alert the dog to the fact that the game has suddenly been
cast. Until such time as the National Committee issues clearer
directions, it might be a good idea to check with the judge on the day
of a trial what actions are considered appropriate or inappropriate at
the moment the game is released. Whatever directions are given by
the judge, it will be important that the essentials previously listed
are adhered to and observed.
Photo by Lara Sedgmen
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in Dogs NSW magazine.
page is provided by Working Gundog Club Inc.
(Affiliated with Dogs NSW)