The Value of Steadiness - Page 2

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

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Unsteadied dogs risk injury in other ways as well. Say a bird gets up and is dropped in front of a group of hunters with unsteadied dogs. The pursuing dogs arrive at the bird together. At best there will be multiple retrieves, with each dog proudly carrying its share of the prize. At worst there may be a serious dog fight.

If you have ever hunted ducks from a canoe, you know the benefits of a well-mannered retriever that remains sitting at the shot. It was one cold November morning that I received my indoctrination into the Polar Bear Club by a dog that wasn't. Bruce was a large black Lab that sat nobly still-until the first shot was fired. It is mind-boggling how a 90-pound Lab can cause havoc when taking off from a 16-foot canoe. Bruce's owner and I can laugh about it now, but at the time it was a dangerous situation and spelled the end to a promising day of hunting.

Often circumstances in a waterfowl hunting blind dictate that it would be preferable not to send a dog for a retrieve as soon as a bird hits the water. Perhaps another flock of ducks is coming into your decoys and any motion would flare them. Again, a steady dog may earn you more shooting opportunities.

And one last argument in favor of steadying your dog: It may help you keep your friends. Let's say you and Joe and each of your dogs (his dog is steady, by the way) are
A dog that stops to the shot is a gentleman' s dog. Such a dog makes the statement that "My owner is proud of me, he took the time to train me, and he is a courteous shooting gentleman-one to value your time afield with. My owner is a sportsman.

So what are the disadvantages to having a dog that's steady to wing and shot? There are none. Whether your dog is a pointing, flushing or retrieving breed, steadiness can only be beneficial. Your dog's abilities will give you more shooting opportunities, put more birds in your game bag and more prized memories in your shooting log.

Of course training for such an attribute requires extra commitment of time and money. A dog cannot be steadied to flush simply by using
dog training bumpers. A supply of birds is required. Repetition is also required. Teaching steadiness necessitates drills, birds and more drills with birds. Investing in tools such as electronic bird launchers will make the job that much easier.

Not only will such training be rewarding, but also it will give you another reason to go afield with your dog. The result will be a dog in control that will be more productive and look better doing its job - a dog you will be proud of.
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