You may think sit meas sit, but my guess is that it really doesn?t to your dog.
I can discuss this subject because in many respects, I am an expert. By expert, I mean that my dogs are known offenders (one having broken in two different trials in the fourth series where we were on the leader board) and that I am, in no small measure, to blame.
First, some background. My dogs are professionally trained by Cherylon Loveland. She does not run trials, I do. In the off-season, I train every weekend. In season, I train Thursday, then jump in my dog truck.
Second, it doesn?t matter what you do, the dogs know a field trial (or hunt test). I don?t care what you do, you cannot replicate battle conditions, only approximate. At a FT, there is no collar. There are lots more people, dogs, and truck. The dogs sit around longer. There are more guns at the flyer station. They get a shot duck or pheasant - not a pigeon. So, if you have a high powered dog, he is going to be jacked up. That is a given.
Third, if you have a young, jacked up dog, your obedience problems can be exacerbated. One partial solution is to wear the dogs out. When my dogs were 3 and I was running in the AA stakes, I would run blinds in the morning before the set up dog ran, run blinds after the setup dog ran, run blinds after the marks, run blinds after the blinds, etc., etc. etc. I found that when I was able to do this (not always possible because of grounds near FT, running numbers, etc.) I found that I MIGHT have a chance of keeping the dogs RELATIVELY mellow. You may think I am exagerating. Let me assure you, I am not.
When I ran the dogs' legs off on blinds, they would still race out after the birds, but be more considered about it. If I didn?t run the blinds, I was doomed. The dogs were just too pumped to be a FT. If they had to sit in the truck and wait, they would be running all over God?s country in the first series. Things got somewhat better last year at age 4, but they still needed the blinds to blow some of the steam out of them.
Last Spring, my two 4 year old littermates each had a win and each needed two points to qualify for the National. So, I pushed hard ... I ran too many trials in a row ... and got nothing. What?s worse, the dogs line manners got worse. One moral - be careful not to run too many trials in a row!
So, Cherylon and I dissected what was going wrong. There were some things that we could not address or did not want to address. Neither Cherylon nor I wanted to take the drive out of the dogs. It is too big a part of what we enjoy about the game. We thought (and this year may tell us so) that age would probably take care of some of the problem.
Then we started to work on me. And we discovered sit did not mean sit to the dogs when I was running them. They knew that the standard was different for me than for Cherylon.
Ok, so what do I mean when I say sit means sit.
It means in training (and of course at a FT) to the dog that:
You don?t get out of the dog box until I say so.
You don?t move after you get out of the dog box until I say so.
When I am walking to the holding blind (and I use a very short lead - a 6" climbing rope with no loop attached to a choke chain, which makes it easy for me to identify surging by the dog - and which can remain on the dog for land marks), you must sit when I stop.
It means that when I call for the birds, ANY movement calls for correction (either 6" lead or stick).
It means when you return with the bird, reposition, and sit, ANY movement without my direction calls for correction.
It means that after you gives me the bird, ANY movement without my direction calls for correction.
The standard is ANY (and I do mean ANY) movement.
When a handler can say that he or she truly honors that standard (in training - there are always some allowances that need to be made at a FT), then Sit means Sit.
My guess is that if you videotape yourself, you will find that sit really does not mean to the dog what you think it means.