First of all, your dog must understand and consistently obey the WHOA command. They should respond whether in close proximity to you or at 100 yards or more away. Remember, pointing dogs hunt beyond gun range. Many handlers who train their dogs themselves fail to remember this fact. WHOA means stop and stop right now. The dog should not cruise to a stop. Start training by converting your verbal WHOA into one long whistle blast. First, say WHOA and then give the long blast on the whistle. Eventually, you can eliminate the verbal WHOA and just give the long whistle blast. Then, correct with the e-collar, using the constant stimulation feature until dog stops. Once the dog stops, turn off the stimulation. The dog will learn to stop immediately to avoid the stimulation. Now you are ready to begin work with live birds.
We are assuming you have already done your preliminary bird work and are trying to correct the above referenced problems. Here is where an electronic bird launcher comes in handy. Lead the dog to the bird at a 90-degree angle to the scent cone. The dog will be on a long check cord, 20 foot minimum, cinched around his waist. Once the dog picks up the scent, the dog should point. If he creeps or jumps in after establishing point, release the bird and command WHOA. If he continues to try and chase, correct with the e-collar. You have already given the WHOA command, thus he will relate it to the training he received when learning the command. Repeat 3 to 4 times maximum per training session until the dog stops and holds point without any command, either verbal or whistle. Now you are ready for the next step.
Tether a bird on a line. I use old fly line as it is very durable. Attach the line to a 2 to 3-foot piece of rod. Attach a snap swivel to the other end of the line. Place a zip tie around the bird’s leg leaving enough space to attach the swivel but tight enough not to allow the bird to pull his foot through the loop. Place the bird in light cover and have the dog come in and establish point. The dog should establish point a minimum of 10 to 15 feet from the bird. He should hold the point as learned from the previous training exercise. If he creeps, command WHOA and correct with the e-collar. He will soon remember not to move. Here is where you will “up the ante”.
You will need a helper in this drill. Have your helper pick up the rod and cause the bird to flush. You will be holding the check cord to keep control of the dog. If he moves upon the flush, command WHOA and he should stop as learned from the previous drill. Repeat this until the dog consistently does not move on the flush. Next, gradually move closer to the dog with the bird, making the dog hold his point. Do this in two to three foot increments at a time. Keep repeating until you can get the bird under the dog’s legs and he does not move. Then move the bird away in a rapid fashion. Again, the dog should not move. This exercise will take a few weeks to perfect. It will be well worth it, as you will have a staunch and steady dog who will not prematurely flush birds out of gun range.
If you would like to work with me on an individual basis, you can go to my web site www.huntsmartpro.com/services to learn more about our training program. See you again next month.
CJ & Shawnee