I’ve got a 6 year-old retriever who began training for the hunt test game when he was 5. Prior to that, he was never expected to be steady to the shot or to live birds. He has made great progress given the unsteadiness engrained in his behavior over previous years, but he still has steadiness issues on hunt test day.
We train for the mechanics of the HT with everything that he sees at the line (including a few minutes of anticipation behind a holding blind) - completely “game like” scenarios. He is steady during training for every element of the seasoned HRC test. I feel like I’m doing everything I can to condition and desensitize him to the distractions of the hunt test experience, but when he comes to the line on test day he is not steady. Anyone had a similar issue with a dog? Does anyone have any ideas for calming him down in the hours or minutes before heading to the line?