Our award program has been developed for the purpose of encouraging and promoting the unique Higgins Method of dog/handler training. Training and experience for all awards follows the Higgins Method as shown in the “Higgins Method Flowchart”. Keep in mind, this is not a test for the dogs. Instead, the focus is on the relationship and communication between the dog and their respective handler. Handlers have a responsibility and are judged based on their handling abilities. The handlers’ and dogs’ scores are given equal weight. For the purposes of the awards, I have divided the training into three specific certifications. The entry level is  “Puppy Partnership”. Followed by “Novice Gundog” and  finally, “Higgins Gundog”.


Puppy Partnership Certification (HPP)

This certification is for all dogs including companion dogs that may or may not go on to be trained as gundogs. The skills shown are necessary to create a cooperative relationship between all dogs/owners. Skills required for the handlers and dogs include:

  • The “Defer Walk” & Claiming of Space       (Defer Walk Video 1)
  •  Checkcord Work
  •  Recall/Here                                                     (Recall/Here Video 1)
  •  Off Leash Handling                                       (Off Leash Handling Video 1)
  •  Cooperation
  •  Energy Management
  •  Timing





Novice Gundog Partnership Certification (HNGP)

This certification is for those that wish to evaluate a dogs’ potential in the field and on birds.  All dogs and handlers must have earned their Puppy Partnership Certification as a prerequisite for this next level. The skills required and demonstrated include:

  • Bird Introduction
  • Gunfire Association
  • Biddability
  •  Drive
  • Pace
  • Scenting Ability
  • Bird Interaction
  • Water



Higgins Gundog Certification (HGD)

The Higgins Gundog Partnership Certification is for those dogs and handlers that have demonstrated the above skills and wish to go on to earn their Higgins Gundog Certification (HGD). All dogs and handlers must have earned their Puppy Partnership Certification and their Novice Gundog Partnership Certification as prerequisites for this next level. Unlike conventionally trained dogs, a dog that has earned this title, chooses to cooperate and understands that he needs the handler (shooter) in order to be successful. He demonstrates the highest levels of trust in the handler and, using his own free will, manages his birds with care and thoughtfulness. He consistently displays all of his natural drive, focus, intensity and steadiness while hunting and managing his birds.  All dogs have been extensively tested under real hunting conditions and have earned the coveted title of Higgins Gundogs (HGD). Additional skills and abilities required to reach this level of excellence include:

  •  Bird Management (stalking, pointing, setting, etc.)
  • “Flush/Stop” Cue                          (Flush/Stop Video 1)
  •  Stop to Flush
  •  Steady to Flush
  •  Working with Bracemate           ( Working with Bracemate  Video 1)
  •  Natural Retrieve