The Hide Steady & Chain Gang Drill
                                                               
 (plus goose and boat exposure)
                                  info Source:
 Making a Steady Retriever (Link)  - by Pat Nolan

                                                                                     
(left click on thumbnails)

                                     
                                        "chain gang"
    
      Daisy "steady"
       
      Taffey "steady"
   
      Kooly "steady"
                    
                       Taffey, Kooly and Daisy are hunting dogs that do hunt tests. Gunny is 12 months old and will be
                       joining the group this fall. Each is trained regularly during the off season, and this year hunt tests
                       have been placed on the "back burner". The main reasons are the cost of gas and a desire to sit
                       back and analyze my training sequences. One area which always needs work is steadiness at the
                       line, in the boat, inside a field "hide" or out of a blind.  

                       Therefore, using some of Nolan's ideas from "Making a Steady Retriever" the "chain gang & hide"
                       drill evolved. The entire process involves obedience in context, escalated excitement, extended
                       patience, calmness, focus, control and responsiveness.  This not only relates to actual hunting
                       skills, but to hunt tests. The drill starts from the dog box on the van and ends back at the crate.
                       The plan is run this once a week.
                                          note: The "some" refers to the fact that I did not use a crate or the stay command as
                                                   in Nolan's description. It is better to make a "adjustments" using familiar skills
                                                   and routines already in place.
                       The initial techniques are based on the Nolan article and progress to the use of a dog hide. The
                       2009 update includes an Avery Ruff Stand. Other modifications consist of the "chain gang" (which
                       promotes the pack mentality), OB out of and back to the van (in context), a holding blind (hunt
                       test familiarity) and the routine on and off the "gang". 
                   
                       Each dog is taken from the van in this manner 1) crate door opens and dog sits in the crate for
                       one minute, 2) dog moves to a heel/sit outside of the crate to have a collar attached, 3) dog sits
                       for another minute, 4) dog heels away quietly, 5) dog airs, 6) dog enters holding blind (not always)
                       and 7) is heeled to and placed on the "gang". The purpose of this "approach" is to enhance the
                       dog's responsiveness.

                       When the dogs are all "attached", I sit in a chair and occasionally blow a duck or goose call. The
                       2009 update will introduce a layout blind or at least a layout seat. Almost always the "chain", chair
                       and hide are in the shade. After several minutes, 1) the first dog is detached from the "gang" and
                       sits there remotely for one minute, 2) this dog is heeled to the chair and put on another sit for one
                       minute, 3) since the dogs have already progressed to the off lead stage, the next step is to heel to
                       the hide and 4) the dog is "kenneled up" and/or given the "place" command. The older dogs
                       are wearing a short choker collar/tab and Gunny (12 months old) wears a pinch collar and short
                       tab.
                                   note: Gunny is not yet ready for the hide. 2009 update.......he used one last goose season.  
                   
                       The next step is......I return to the chair and practice calling again. I might stand up and throw a
                       bumper or a bird and then walk out and pick it up. The dog cannot come out of the hide. Once
                       I feel it is appropriate for a retrieve, I will walk over in front of the hide and command the dog to
                       heel. The hide is not a "launching pad". Only when the correct sequence is followed resulting in
                       a quiet, responsive movement to sit at heel is the dog allowed to retrieve.
This is repeated three
                       times. Primer pistols are too loud that close and especially when we are doing the drill often...so
                       I am using a "cap gun". 2009 update will be a "bucket line" (HRC style) and a popper gun.

                                                                            Cap Gun Trainer (Link)

                       The dog is then taken back to the "gang" and the next dog takes its turn.  The pace is slow with
                       quiet commands. The routine is precise.  What's impressive is the intensity of each dog's focus
                       and how it is balanced off with a strong feeling of responsiveness.  Desensitization is taking
                       place....excitement does not feed anxiety because it becomes normal......in theory.
 

                       The new expectations are 1) the line, hide (wherever the dog is positioned) is not a launching
                       pad, 2) the dog must first be responsive and move to you before being sent, 3) patience is a
                       expected, 4) the initial timing of momentum is in the handler's control and 5) the dog's mindset
                       becomes "I am available whenever you call on me."

                   
                                   
"Don't feed the beast!"  Rody Best - "Trainin' in the Timber" - 2007 
   

                       An extension of this is to take the inexperienced, young dog out in a boat, set out some decoys,
                       call, sit quietly, throw marks, shoot and retrieve. However, for the first time the boat should be on
                       shore.  Expose the dog to hunting blinds before hunting using the same "steadying rules".        
                     
                       Reaching back for alternatives....training journal (edited slightly for space and clarity):

                       
Sept 16, 2006 (afternoon) trained all three dogs at the Square Pond - Daisy 1st from the Kwick
                       Hide, a single and a double with remote wingers were thrown, used the cap gun at the line (from
                       a bucket) & each dog spent about fifteen minutes in the hide listening to the duck call (or nothing)
                       with quite a bit of time waiting to be sent for the single and then the double.......the wait on the
                       double got to Daisy and she broke, stopped her before the water and made her wait for awhile
                       back in the hide (good lesson)
                               note: the reason for using white bumpers was to establish a distinct difference between
                                        the "things to retrieve" and the decoys (the older dogs didn't need this, but thought
                                        it would be best for Daisy) = tomorrow real ducks
                              note: found out 15 minutes of "nothing" is a very, very loooong time when training
 

                        
Sept 17, 2006 (morning) trained at the Square Pond over decoys using remote wingers & ducks
                        (double) out of the Kwick Hide, spent at least fifteen minutes calling and sitting before the double
                        with lots of time between each "launch", ran two cold blinds afterwards
                              note: Daisy (15 months old) was steady, ran some nice blinds & handled ducks really well.
 

                                                                 
                                                                            Hunting "Prep"
                                                                  Single & Double
                                                                     (Sept. 16th)
       
          Double Ducks
            (Sept. 17th)

                                                          "goose and boat exposure"

                          Oct 21, 2006 (morning) Daisy, Kooly & Taffey ran 150 yard cold blind with a 9 pound goose (very
                          fresh road kill near the local golf course), the ATV sure makes planting the blind a lot easier) = all
                          three ran very nice initial lines and Daisy two whistled it, after the blind "roaded" 3 miles (ATV)     
                                 note: trained at BT's
                                 note: leaving for North Dakota Oct. 23, 2006

                                                                                    Daisy                         Kooly    
          Taffey
      
          goose blind

                          Sept  24, 2005 trip to Rockcut State Park to check out the duck boat & ramp design, retrieved
                          several marks (Dokken) off the front deck & back in via the ladder/ramp, Taffey went first and
                          Kooly was eager! (used tie-ups for both dogs to avoid "congestion"), Kooly was airborne into
                          lunging water first and then moved to deep water
                                 note: Kooly (2 years old in November) was very good today & took all the new
                                         "stuff" - boat, motor, water, waves and retrieving in stride

                          Sept  25, 2005 (morning) - threw some fun bumpers in the yard for Kooly - honoring with Taffey
                                
note: mostly for the exercise
                          (afternoon) Kooly took a long boat ride on the Rock River, set out three mallard & one goose
                          decoys & threw Dokken singles into and past decoys, Kooly was fairly steady & did well with
                          the current and ramp (made some modifications from yesterday's first trial)
                                 note: two geese swam up to within 15 yards and watched what we were doing

                          Sept  26, 2005 Kooly & Taffey went to Horicon Marsh, WI (1 hour 45 minute drive) for a scouting
                          trip, small, narrow boat ramp (one boat at a time) should be interesting with a 12:00 noon opener
                                 note: not sure we'll go for the opener 

                                                 Training Evolution: 
Daisy & Kate - The Long Wait Drill 
                                                                             "The last eight minutes"
                                                                  (August 13, 2010) Training Journal (link)