Refining Your Dog – Sit, Steadying & Honoring – Teaching Patience
Sitting, steadying, and honoring are three basic commands that are necessary when bringing multiple dogs into the field. Here, the importance of the sit command will be discussed, as well as how to train your dog to honor and steady when hunting with a buddy and his or her dog.
The sit command is the basic foundation for many obedience skills, especially steadying and honoring. A dog must be disciplined enough to sit and stay by your side while another dog gets a bird. Without these vital skills, dogs can become unruly, out of control, and steal another hunter’s game. Since retrievers love nothing more than to bring back a bird, steadying and honoring requires practice. Before your dog can begin to learn these commands, he or she must be well-acquainted with “sit,” so you should proof your dog of this skill in multiple settings.
Once your dog is well acquainted to sit, take your dog, a buddy, his or her dog, and a bag of bumpers to a yard or field. Take turns tossing a bumper and sending your dogs separately after the mark.
There are a couple components that are crucial to this drill’s success. One is good timing. If your dog makes a move out of turn, correction must be immediate. A heeling stick or electronic collar can be used to keep your dog in check. Additionally, reward must be given in a timely manner to acknowledge that your dog did the right thing in remaining calm and steady.
Practice and repetition are also important. Do not send your dog immediately after you have thrown the bumper, as this can reinforce bad habits. Instead, make your dog sit and wait before sending him or her. Be mindful of the commands you use. For instance, if you put your hand down and then send your dog, put your hand down and leave it there for a short duration before giving the verbal command. Otherwise, your dog will spring forward after any small movement that you make with your hand, hindering his or her ability to stay steady. Do not rush this process.
After your dog becomes really good at this drill, increase the difficulty. Go to a pond with blanks and dead birds. Simulate a real hunt, including your own excitement when a bird goes down. When your dog is honoring and steadying in this environment, you know that he or she is ready for the real thing.
Joe Scarpy – Bull Valley Retrievers / HuntEmUp.com