By Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels - Home of Drake the DU Dog
Among the most important attributes of a quality retriever is steadiness to shot and fall of game. Little else can spoil an otherwise promising wing shoot quicker than an uncontrollable, disruptive, untrained dog who associates gunfire with immediately breaking for a retrieve. An unsteady dog cannot be considered properly trained since it is disregarding the sit command.
Many individuals simply do not give equal billing and attention to conditioning steadiness in their training process compared to other skills such as marking, water work or handling. Yet, the fact is, steadiness is a fundamental element to the success of other gundog skills such as marking, honoring, flushing and sitting quietly in the blind while birds work.
Steadiness is being under control at all times despite distractions, diversions or temptations.
Steadying a dog is not achieved through a few quick lessons drilled in an enthusiastic dog as a secondary consideration. Steadiness conditioning should be interwoven into the ongoing training process beginning quite early and progressing throughout the dog's life. It is unwise to just one day decide to steady up our prospect.
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By following a logical progression in training, one can develop a naturally steady dog without interfering with retrieving desire or using unnatural force methods.