We have come to the fifth and last lesson of the five lesson program featured in Paul Long’s book, “Training Pointing Dogs”. If you have been diligent in following this program you now have a fairly well trained dog. This last lesson “puts icing on top of the cake”.
Your dog is now HEELING and WHOAING anywhere you command it to stop. The dog comes to you consistently when you command it to do so. You have been working the dog on the check cord and you will continue to do so. The time has come to teach your dog to stay without moving where WHOAED as you pick up or kick objects in front of him. Now is the time to teach this, not when the dog is pointing live game.
As always, start by review all four of the previous lessons. Then after HEELING for about thirty feet, command WHOA. Look for some small object on the ground and reach down for it. The dog will lean forward, or step forward, to help you. Command WHOA! If the dog disobeys give him the benefit of the doubt. HEEL him about thirty feet and command WHOA and STAY and reach down for another object. If the dog moves to help you, command WHOA harshly, and set him back in his original position. Then finish by picking up the object. Repeat the procedure by HEELING 30 feet, commanding WHOA, and picking up the object. Do this until the dog consistently WHOAS and does not move when you lean down and pick up an object.
Most dogs, whether introvert or extrovert, pick up on this readily because they have previously thoroughly drilled in what WHOA means. The only thing you have to overcome here is your dog’s interest in your movement.
Now we will make the training a little more difficult and your dog’s obedience more certain when live game is introduced. How? By introducing a dog treat as a distraction. I like to cut up beef sticks into small bites as the scent of the beef will be the distraction. HEEL your dog about 30 feet, Command WHOA and STAY. Walk out in front of the dog a few feet, toss the dog treat. The scent of the treat will entice him to move. If he does, command WHOA, and pick up the treat. Repeat the process. If he insists on moving, set the dog back to his original position. As in previous lessons, use the bop tube to correct him. You probably will not have to use it. Do not try and walk the dog past the treat and have him ignore it. This does not accomplish your goal, which is for the dog to point and remain steady while you move in to flush a bird. In your dog WHOAING and you moving forward and picking up the treat is a step in that direction.
When the dog responds well, occasionally pick up the treat and give it to him as a reward for good work. When you have completed these five lessons, your dog has completed his yard training. In fact, your dog is now 80% completely trained.
You have your dog under control. He has thoroughly learned the essential commands. He also has thoroughly learned that failure to obey your commands results in unpleasantness. He has learned that this unpleasantness is caused by his disobedience and not by anything else. A dog so trained will not become a blinker, that is a dog that avoids birds when scented to avoid unpleasant consequences. Later, when your dog breaks commands while on a bird, he will not associate his punishment with the bird. Rather, he will associate it with his act of disobedience.
You are now ready to move onto field training and serious bird work. You will find that the diligence and time spent on these five lessons will make your field training go much smoother and quicker.
Stop by again next month for we will begin our field training series for pointing dogs. See you then.
CJ, Shawnee & Duchess