Part 1: An Overview
By Ken Dinn and Gary Hodson
“This series of VGP training articles was produced by VDD Group Canada and appeared in their newsletter “Drahthaar News” in 2010-2011. It is reprinted with their permission.”
Verbandsgebrauchsprüfung – now that’s a mouthful! In English it would be the Association Utility Test, but in both Germany and North America we commonly refer to it as the VGP. This is the JGHV test that follows the two Breed Tests (VJP and HZP).
Over the next few issues of Drahthaar News we plan to present you with a series of articles about the VGP in an effort to demystify this test and generate more interest in people training for it. This first article will give an overview of the test. Later articles will address making a training plan and the actual training of the more unique aspects of the test.
WHAT IS THE VGP?
As a utility test, the goal of the VGP is to produce a fully trained versatile hunting dog ready to work in the field, forest or water on all types of wild game. The test reflects the style of hunting in Germany where they use their dogs for hunting upland game, ducks and geese, hare, wild boar, and deer, and for eliminating predators. Stand shooting and drive hunting are often employed. Hunting is frequently done in groups, so the dogs get a strong dose of obedience training so that hunting will be a safe, controlled experience.
A dog that passes the VGP with a Prize I, II or III is entered in the German Versatile Hunting Dog Registry (Deutsches-Gebrauchshundestammbuch – DGStB) and assigned a DGStB number. The prizes indicate that the dog achieved at least the minimal level of performance assigned to that prize designation for each subject of the test. Earning any of the VGP prizes is a prestigious result.
Unlike the scoring system for the breed tests (0-12 points), VGP dogs are rated on a 0 to 4 point scale: 0 = insufficient; 1 = poor; 2 = sufficient; 3 = good; and 4 = very good. For exceptional work a 4h can be awarded. This would require that the dog performed in an extraordinary manner under very demanding conditions. The reason for using a different, more restricted scale is that at the utility level the dogs are expected to perform to perfection. The breed tests involve immature dogs and the broader rating scale gives the judges more room to rate their evolving level of performance. A utility dog is judged to either have done the task or not.
The VGP is a two-day test, in part due to the number of subjects included. However, even if there are only a couple of entries and the subjects could be completed in one day, the test must be run over a two-day period. The maximum number of dogs that one judging team can evaluate in a VGP is four.
You are already familiar with many aspects of the VGP from running the HZP; the dog is simply expected to perform them at a higher level. Other subjects, particularly in the forest and obedience work, will be entirely new to you.