To check his dogs’ steadiness, Tavares takes them on a preseason test run. He hides a dummy laced with pheasant scent in high grass, then lets his dog work the field on a 30-foot check cord. “When the dog hits the bird, hold him tight and give him the whoa command until he’s steady,” he says. “If he breaks point, grab him by the collar, put him back in the same spot, and keep on the whoa command until he’s steady.” Five seconds is long enough for a puppy. Older dogs last a minute.