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Steady or Not?

PointerThere is a long history of good arguments within all upland hunting breeds whether or not training to steadiness is important to their wild bird hunting situations. Some will argue the importance of being right behind the bird, as the natural survival instinct takes flight and success of one sharp shooter’s skill meet together. Others will argue the safety of their well-trained hunting companion is far more important than the risks of hunting with others in excitable moments during the hunt.

First of all, let’s have a better understanding of what “steady” really means as a training level.

Having a steady dog simply means a dog that will stand still, or sit at the flush, or shot of the game pursued. To pointing breeds, this is usually an inherited trait selected in breeding programs of importance and natural to the breed.

To the retrievers and flushers, steady simply means to sit still on command or cue developed in a training program. This trait is a training command, which is not inherited or natural as their instincts tell them to move the game from its next position.

Steadiness in hunting breeds can be developed with combining natural instincts and artificial situations of birds in launchers or planted birds used to create associations of distractions with commands already in place.

We first must teach a dog to stand still or sit and not move until we invite them to do so. Adding distraction of birds to this training will entice the movement from this command and allow us to train or re-enforce the commands used to steady them back up.

As we build an understanding of each command, we can further our levels of steadiness like a foundation on a building. First, you want a solid foundation to build from and cannot move forward with the rest of the training until we complete each level to support the next.

Steady to flush means a dog will stand still or sit until the bird is moved from its nesting position. The point or sit is released at the flush if this is the level or cue built into your training program and will give chase immediately with the flush.

More hunters are steadying their dogs through the flush until the shot to avoid any risk placed in their hunting companions. These versatile breeds will stay focused on the flight of the bird and released at the shot to narrow the distance from the harvested game and make a complete retrieve.

Regardless of your side of these beliefs, we all enjoy a well-trained hunting companion that will create a safe situation during an intense moment of the hunt.

Be safe and enjoy the great outdoors.

To learn more about Steve Ries and his training methods, visit

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