IVRC could be called a "Hunt Test" club as well as a retriever training club. We conduct two nationally sanctioned hunt tests each year. One under the rules of the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the other under the rules of the North American Hunting Retriever Association (NAHRA).
Hunt tests evolved from "Field Trials". Field Trials are events where dogs and handlers compete for top spots. The standards became so high that it became very difficult for the average amateur dog handler to compete.
Hunt Tests are not competitions. In Hunt Tests dogs are tested to a standard. Training for a Hunt Test is the same as training your dog for actual hunting.
There are some differences between AKC and NAHRA but there are strong similarities. Each has three* main progressive levels so there is something for everybody.
Level 1: Junior/Started. Whether you have a new puppy or an inexperienced dog, the Junior level channels your dog's natural abilities and instincts. Your dog learns to mark falls on land and in water and retrieve the bird to you. By the time your dog earns a Junior title it is ready to gain field experience and train for Senior.
Level 2: Senior/Intermediate. At the Senior level your dog's memory is trained. It learns to mark double falls on land and in water. It learns to respond to hand signals from you in order to pick up birds it might not have seen fall. It learns to be steady in a duck blind or sit and mark to the flush of a pheasant. This is a dog that is ready to take to the field with confidence.
Level 3: Master/Senior. This is a truly finished dog. This dog can easily handle any possible bird hunting situation on land or in water. Not easily achieved but worth striving for.
*NAHRA adds an additional "Hunter" level between Started and Intermediate to smooth out the transition.
Our members are a diverse group. Many of us are hunters but we do have members who do not hunt. The process of training a dog to bring out its natural talents is very satisfying and extremely addictive. Once you see your dog responding to training you find yourself looking to do more. This is what all of the IVRC members have in common and this is what brings us together as a Retriever Training Club.
Is it possible to train your dog on your own by reading some books and watching some videos? Well, sort of but you would still need to find people to assist you. It really takes more than a couple of people to set up training scenarios. It is much better to join a club where you might find a mentor and where you will find like-minded experienced people that will welcome you into a training group at the level you are working with your dog.
We invite you to make the Inland Valley Retriever Club your club.