Field trials are designed to test the dog’s obedience of the working dog, its skills and endurance. A kennel club usually runs these trials, or a club affiliated to one and subject to official regulation. The tests vary according to the breed of dog and are held for pointers, retrievers, spaniels, hounds, beagles and sheepdogs.
All hunting dogs, like Setters, Retrievers, Pointers, Hounds, etc, have their abilities to hunt or retrieve tested and their skill levels judged. Pointers are judged on their ability to flush out and locate game. Retrievers have to locate and retrieve in various conditions, including water.
Herding dogs have an entirely different set of skills and are given sheep to herd into pens, with the owner giving commands from a distance. These sheepdog trials are fabulous to watch and the skill level of these dogs are amazing. Herding dogs include the Kelpie, Border Collie and the Collie. The working dogs used in sheepdog trials are highly valued and are not necessarily purebred dogs, but the winning dogs are priceless.
Trials are classified as amateur or open, depending on the standing of the dog’s handler and by the age of the dog. There are three age stakes: puppy, derby and all-age. A dog of any age can be in the last category.
Field trials have been held in America since 1896 and are very popular, giving owners, dogs and spectators a lot of enjoyment. If you own one of these breeds, you may want to investigate the possibility of becoming involved in field trials, as it is good training and exercise for yourself and your dog. Training your puppy early for field trials promotes excellent puppy behavior. It is also an excellent way of incorporating dog obedience into your dog training skills.