A Session of the Hide/Steady Drill
Here’s a training drill from March 3, 2009. The focus was on routines near the line using familiar hunting gear to set the mood for being steady. Variations of this drill are incorporated weekly. The established standards are worked on daily.
Getting off the van, airing, dealing with holding blinds, heeling on & off leash require standards that must be maintained. In addition, “heel”, “here”, ”sit”, “place”, “kennel up”, “watch” and their name on release are specific commands. The e-collar or heeling stick may be used for corrections, but neither were necessary during this session. Repetition is cool!
This routine is a variation of
the drill suggested in the link below. There are earlier steps in Nolan's
sequence which my dogs have completed. The basic principle is to teach a
dog…..…the line (wherever it's at) is not always a “launching pad”.
I’ll take a short break here to state that if any of 1-10a do NOT happen precisely, the dog starts over…..in their latched box.
To continue, 11) dog exits the last holding blind to sit, the leash is removed and the dog walks to the hide off lead at heel (no forging), 11a) the dog is sat closely to the line or hide and then asked to come to the "line" and sit, place or down (I get there first), 12) dog enters hide, sits beside bucket or is on “place” and given the “down” command (when appropriate), 13) in this drill the dog in the remote down position remains there for a few minutes while I sit on the bucket blowing a duck call, 14) one bumper and an Avery ATB teal were thrown (two singles and a double) with a cap gun report, 15) dog stays in hide as I walk slowly over, 16) dog exits to the command of “heel” and lines up facing the first mark, 17) dog is told to “get your mark” (not necessary, but we are working on being responsive....not "jumpy"), 18) the hand cue is completed and held for at least a count of ten, 19) dog is released on name, 20) dog retrieves to whichever side I indicate, 21) dog sits quietly with no mouthing which is acknowledged with "good sit", 21) dog is expected to make eye contact on “drop” (note: this is only for the dog that has a tendency to drift off into a non-responsive "funk") and 22) the drop is straight down out of their mouth as I hang on to the rope (or part of a bird). Each dog did two singles and a double.
Any “errors” made by the dog before picking up the mark resulted in no mark and starting over in the hide. Kooly (one bark) and Daisy (short break) had to start over which is a "correction".
To finish, the dog is left on sit
while I put the bumper/teal away and "retrieve" the leash hanging on the holding
blind. With the dog on leash, we walk loose leash back to the van.
The rationale: A
focused, comfortable dog at the line will perform better in the field. There
is a certain comfort acquired when thorough, correct repetitions form good
habits. A dog needs to have a "This is what I do attitude." If they don't do
it often enough, how would they know?
"Steadiness is a skill requiring maintenance."