The Hide Steady & Chain Gang Drill
(plus goose and boat exposure)
Info Source: Making a Steady Retriever (Link) - by Pat Nolan
(left click on thumbnails)
Taffey, Kooly and Daisy are hunting dogs that do hunt tests. Gunny is 12 months old and will be
joining the group this fall. Each is trained regularly during the off season, and this year hunt tests
have been placed on the "back burner". The main reasons are the cost of gas and a desire to sit
back and analyze my training sequences. One area which always needs work is steadiness at the
line, in the boat, inside a field "hide" or out of a blind.
Therefore, using some of Nolan's ideas from "Making a Steady Retriever" the "chain gang & hide"
drill evolved. The entire process involves obedience in context, escalated excitement, extended
patience, calmness, focus, control and responsiveness. This not only relates to actual hunting
skills, but to hunt tests. The drill starts from the dog box on the van and ends back at the crate.
The plan is run this once a week.
note: The "some" refers to the fact that I did not use a crate or the stay command as
in Nolan's description. It is better to make a "adjustments" using familiar skills
and routines already in place.
The initial techniques are based on the Nolan article and progress to the use of a dog hide. The
2009 update includes an Avery Ruff Stand. Other modifications consist of the "chain gang" (which
promotes the pack mentality), OB out of and back to the van (in context), a holding blind (hunt
test familiarity) and the routine on and off the "gang".
Each dog is taken from the van in this manner 1) crate door opens and dog sits in the crate for
one minute, 2) dog moves to a heel/sit outside of the crate to have a collar attached, 3) dog sits
for another minute, 4) dog heels away quietly, 5) dog airs, 6) dog enters holding blind (not always)
and 7) is heeled to and placed on the "gang". The purpose of this "approach" is to enhance the
When the dogs are all "attached", I sit in a chair and occasionally blow a duck or goose call. The
2009 update will introduce a layout blind or at least a layout seat. Almost always the "chain", chair
and hide are in the shade. After several minutes, 1) the first dog is detached from the "gang" and
sits there remotely for one minute, 2) this dog is heeled to the chair and put on another sit for one
minute, 3) since the dogs have already progressed to the off lead stage, the next step is to heel to
the hide and 4) the dog is "kenneled up" and/or given the "place" command. The older dogs
are wearing a short choker collar/tab and Gunny (12 months old) wears a pinch collar and short
note: Gunny is not yet ready for the hide. 2009 update.......he used one last goose season.
The next step is......I return to the chair and practice calling again. I might stand up and throw a
bumper or a bird and then walk out and pick it up. The dog cannot come out of the hide. Once
I feel it is appropriate for a retrieve, I will walk over in front of the hide and command the dog to
heel. The hide is not a "launching pad". Only when the correct sequence is followed resulting in
a quiet, responsive movement to sit at heel is the dog allowed to retrieve. This is repeated three
times. Primer pistols are too loud that close and especially when we are doing the drill often...so
I am using a "cap gun". 2009 update will be a "bucket line" (HRC style) and a popper gun.
Cap Gun Trainer (Link)
Single & Double
and boat exposure"
Oct 21, 2006 (morning) Daisy, Kooly & Taffey ran 150 yard cold blind with a 9 pound goose (very
fresh road kill near the local golf course), the ATV sure makes planting the blind a lot easier) = all
three ran very nice initial lines and Daisy two whistled it, after the blind "roaded" 3 miles (ATV)
note: trained at BT's
note: leaving for North Dakota Oct. 23, 2006
Sept 24, 2005 trip to
Rockcut State Park to check out the duck boat & ramp design, retrieved
several marks (Dokken) off the front deck & back in via the ladder/ramp, Taffey went first and
Kooly was eager! (used tie-ups for both dogs to avoid "congestion"), Kooly was airborne into
lunging water first and then moved to deep water
note: Kooly (2 years old in November) was very good today & took all the new
"stuff" - boat, motor, water, waves and retrieving in stride
Sept 25, 2005 (morning) - threw some fun bumpers in the yard for Kooly - honoring with Taffey
note: mostly for the exercise
(afternoon) Kooly took a long boat ride on the Rock River, set out three mallard & one goose
decoys & threw Dokken singles into and past decoys, Kooly was fairly steady & did well with
the current and ramp (made some modifications from yesterday's first trial)
note: two geese swam up to within 15 yards and watched what we were doing
Sept 26, 2005 Kooly & Taffey went to Horicon Marsh, WI (1 hour 45 minute drive) for a scouting
trip, small, narrow boat ramp (one boat at a time) should be interesting with a 12:00 noon opener
note: not sure we'll go for the opener
Training Evolution: Daisy & Kate - The Long Wait Drill
"The last eight minutes"
(August 13, 2010) Training Journal (link)