Frequently Asked Questions

A. How do I learn about Retrieving?
You can start here. This site provides lots of information about Retrieving competitions in Australia and many related articles. Retrieving Australia also provides a useful Training Q&A Forum where you can find information and ask questions which will be answered by a very knowledgeable retrieving community. Unlike some canine sports, Retrieving has little in the way of organised training available so more emphasis on self-training is needed. Internet searches on gundog training can yield a great deal of information, also making contact with a local gundog club to seek advice might be helpful.

A. Where do I go to join a gundog club?
To find details of a gundog club that hosts Retrieving activities in your area, click here.

A. How old does a dog need to be before it can start in Retrieving Trials and Tests?

A dog is not allowed to compete in trials and tests before it reaches six months of age. However, pups are rarely experienced enough to competently compete before 12 months of age. Regardless, this should not discourage you from attending trails with your pup in tow. Conditioning pups to the surrounding environments and experiences at trials can be very advantageous later on.

A. Does my dog need to be able to swim?
All Retrieving Trials, Field Trials for Utility Gundogs, and some Ability Tests require a dog to retrieve a cast object either from, or across water. Beginners Tests can also optionally include short water retrieves. Typically, this involves the dog having to enter or traverse small dams, ponds or creeks, and always where there is sufficient depth that the dog's feet cannot touch the bottom. Read more.

A. What does my dog have to retrieve?
Ability Tests (RATG) use either canvass dummies or pigeons (not alive) for retrieving. Retrieving Trials use game (not alive) for retrieving,  mostly pigeons, but quail, duck, partridge, pheasant, rabbit and hare may also be used occasionally (some unaffiliated events use plastic ducks as a substitute). Field Trials use similar game, live where it may be legally hunted.      

A. Do I have to use a gun, and will I need a shooter licence?
Guns are not used for used in Ability Tests (RATG) and therefore no licence is required. In Retrieving Trials, shotguns are supplied by clubs and used without live ammunition for hunting simulation purposes only. In Field Trials shotguns with live ammunition may be used in real hunting situations. Firearms laws and shooter licence regulations covering these situations are different for each state and territory and tend to change from time to time. Clubs also set their own policies on what licence arrangements competitors must have in place, if any. Some clubs hold a "Club Licence" exempting the need for competitors to be licensed. The best advice to follow in this regard is to carefully examine conditions set out in club Event Notices, and where there is any doubt at all to contact the club hosting the event to find out exactly what the particular licensing requirements will be.

A. Does my dog need to be Obedience trained to do Retrieving?
Your dog will be unable to succeed in Retrieving at any level unless it is able to reliably follow basic obedience commands. Formal training through an Obedience club is not required but is recommended if you are not an experienced dog handler.

A. What do I need to take with me to a Retrieving trial?
Local Retrieving Ability Tests (RATG) usually require no more preparation than is needed for a Confirmation dog show, although you might need to bring some dummies and can leave your grooming products at home! Retrieving and Field trials require more preparation however and you can find a detailed check list here.    

A. What does a Retrieving trial cost?
Entrance fees to participate in trials are generally less than $20 per dog. Where travel is involved, petrol and accommodation
if required are usually the biggest expenses to consider.

A. Do I need a 4WD vehicle for Retrieving & Field trials?
The short answer is No, but if you have a standard road vehicle you may need to take some precautions. Four wheel drive and all wheel drive SUVs have become the vehicle of choice for most dedicated triallers theses days, and as a result, there is tendency for convoys to going to trial sites to venture slightly off the beaten track at times. If you have a standard car, advise the Trial Manager when you arrive to find out if they anticipate any difficulties.

A. What if my bitch is in season?
Vetting is performed before all trials. Bitches in season may not compete and must be removed from trial grounds. So play it safe, and check before you leave home!

A. Does my dog need to be vaccinated to participate in Retrieving trials?
Vaccination requirements are not usually imposed but you should always check event Schedules to be sure. Regardless of this, please keep in mind that competitors have a great deal of time and money invested in their dogs and would not welcome any unnecessary risk being introduced if you bring a dog that is unvaccinated or unwell.

A. Can my young son or daughter compete in Retrieving?
Retrieving trials are something the whole family (including the dog) can enjoy, so long as being out in natural environments does not poss any problems. There are no age restrictions specified in retrieving competition rules, however anyone that competes must be competent dog handler as well as financial member of their local state or territory canine registration member body. Most member bodies provide Junior memberships for ages 12 to 18.

For trials that involve the use of guns, local age, supervision and shooter licensing requirements must be observed and adhered to. If unsure about this, your local gundog club should be able to provide advice on any relevant requirements.  

A. Can I enter more than one dog at a trial?
Yes, you can enter as many dogs as you like. For Retrieving & Field trials however, keep in mind that stakes for different competing levels can be located kilometres apart and the practicalities of travelling between different sites needs to be considered.

A. Why aren't trials held all year round?
While many competitors would certainly like to compete all year round, it is simply not practical to hold events in summer months for a couple of reasons. The first is that almost all gundog breeds have European origins or come from cold climates and simply don't cope well in hot conditions with the level of exercise required for competition. The second reason is the threat of snakes present in Australian bush and grass lands. Snakes are generally dormant in colder months and become active in warmer months (a point worth keeping in mind when training as well). Both of these factors vary in intensity from north to south of the country depending on the time of year, hence the lengths of trialling seasons vary from state to state with southern states tending to be longer than northern states.