Have you ever been out hunting in the blind with your buddies and just before shooting time a group of mallards come lighting into the decoys? You know if your dog breaks on them, the hunt is over. Well I’m gonna give you a training tip that will help make sure that doesn’t happen. I have been teaching steadiness for the past couple of years using the following method and it’s worked wonders for myself and my dogs. Your dog should be familiar with the commands “place”, “sit” and “stay” for this training. You will need a platform for this training. You can buy one, or build your own about 2′ x 2′ wide and about 6″ off the ground.
To begin the training, put a leash with a training chain on your dog. Give the command “place” and direct your dog to the platform. Once he/she is on, tell your dog to “sit” and “stay”. Start walking a few feet back and make a circle around your dog. If he or she comes off the platform the next step you make is critical to this training. Quickly make the correction with a firm tug on the leash and command “place”, “sit” and “stay”. After your dog has corrected, start all over again. Once you have mastered this with the leash and check cord, you can move to an e-collar for easier handling and longer distance between you and your dog.
After a few sessions your dog will get the idea that he or she needs to stay on the platform until called. When you see that your dog is staying without any trouble, it is time to start the steadiness drill. Grab you a bumper and try to get the dog excited. If he or she comes off make that fast correction and start the drill over. Soon things will start to click in your dogs mind that he or she needs to stay no matter how tempting it is to move. You can try different things to test your dog. You can also move this training to the water as well. Just use the same method as stated and try to get your dog to break in the water. Make splashes with bumpers gun fire anything to get your dog excited.
After a few of these sessions with your dog you will be able to take him or her out again and enjoy the hunt. And when a signal mallard comes in with a big group behind it… the reward is well worth the effort.