Go Ahead, I Dare You. HIT Me!

A couple of years ago, I was curious about my dogs' instincts on livestock, so I went to an AHBA instinct test and both dogs passed the first leg of the test. I was told by the tester that instinct is only part of what makes a good herding dog. Another big part was the 'trainability' of the dog. But now I've read (from an instinct test judge) that an instinct test does not show anything (my interpretation), but rather a much higher level of herding competition is needed to prove capability. My confusion is...why do the instinct tests exist if they don't truly indicate instinct? Are they just a money-making effort for clubs and a way to get novices like me hooked?

That's exactly why. A dog with a HIT is not much different than any other dog. There aren't many Border Collies out there that couldn't pass it. Adding that title after a dog's name is like adding the title H.S. after a person's name (John Q. Public, H.S.) meaning they graduated from high school. It doesn't mean a whole lot when you're talking about herding dogs, no more than would a H.S. mean much when you're talking about medical doctors. The only difference is that most good herding dogs never even bother to get them. They're for the owner more than anything else.

Instinct tests are a great way to raise money and get people involved in herding. Everyone has to start somewhere. There's absolutely nothing wrong with them and they're a great thing to do to get dog owners together on the weekend. But I still wouldn't put much stock into them (pun intended). :-)

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