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Hat Trick

hattrickThe title for this story originated from Ed Carney, VDD-GNA vice-Chairman, at the Fayetteville, NC HZP/VGP on the last weekend of October, 2008. Noting that he knew of no other handler in the history of Group North America that had trained, handled, and passed three dogs in the VGP in one year, yet accomplish it on back to back weekends, Ed claimed it was a “hat trick” on my part. Ed asked me to share some VGP training tips in an article for the VDD-GNA newsletter.

Training, testing and passing a VGP is not just a learning experience but also a very humbling experience. I am extremely fortunate to have personally passed the VGP on nine out of nine attempts. I consider the VGP, which shows the immense versatility of the breed, as “my test” and all of my dogs are raised, not trained for the VGP from birth. I merely consider the VJP and HZP as stepping stones that happen along the way to the difficult and demanding VGP level. My experiences and accomplishments as a trainer, handler and breeder in the VDD for the past 13 years and a JGHV judge for 9 years, including Blood Tracking Specialty Judge have allowed me to share my knowledge and help others prepare their dogs. To date, Fuchsfluesschen kennel has produced 16 successful VGP dogs with 10 different handlers, 8 of which were 1st time VGP handlers.

hattrick2I look forward to someday writing out complete theories on the VJP, HZP, VGP and VSwP. Until then, here are just a few of the many elements that I perceive to be not only essential for a successful VGP but also for maintaining a well mannered and dependable hunting partner. They include: beginning with a mentally stable dog that can handle the rigorous training, utilizing 100% consistency in training, maintaining a balance in training, knowing your dog better than the back of your own hand, encompassing the ability to read and interpret the dog’s actions, and understanding that each dog is unique and custom tailoring the training program to fit the dog’s personality.

As a handler in the VGP, be relaxed and enjoy the test weekend as it is too late to focus on any training issues that caused struggles in the past. Do not let the dog be inconsistent with how you have trained. If you need to make a correction or reinforce your dominance over the dog, do so immediately. Disaster is imminent if the dog perceives and senses any apprehension, stress or fear from the handler. Never focus on scores; the only objective is to complete the VGP successfully. A positive attitude and calm demeanor spell success.

The 3 dogs I trained and handled this year were all produced by my kennel. They are: Greta vom Fuchsfluesschen (294 TF preis II), Harras vom Fuchsfluesschen (290 TF preis I), and Josch vom Fuchsfluesschen (314 ÜF preis I).

hattrick3As a breeder, I try to produce dogs that are mentally sound, naturally versatile and can handle all of the demanding requirements of the VGP. Being successful in the VGP requires complete support from the breeder and helping handlers learn and understand what is expected in the test. I encourage all GNA members to pursue the VGP level of testing with their dog(s). Regardless if you pass or fail, you will have a much better hunting dog and companion because of your efforts. Your dog is the tool for the job you want to perform. If you use your tools correctly, they will work correctly for you. Special thanks to the individuals who have contributed countless hours training with me. Without them, this would not be possible.

Note: Since writing this article in 2008, I have sucessfully handled another dog through the VGP (10 total) and now have 21 VGP prized dogs produced by the Fuchsfluesschen Deutsch-Drahthaar kennel.

Fred Turjan, Fuchsfluesschen DD

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