This month we will start a five (5) lesson program on teaching the WHOA command. This program follows the one developed by Paul Long in “Training Pointing Dogs” first published in 1974. This is an excellent training manual and I recommend it highly for all pointing dog owners. Paul’s 5 lesson program eliminates the need for barrels and place boards used by many trainers in teaching a dog to be steady on point. These are good methods. However, Paul’s system has your dog WHOAING on the ground immediately, where you want it to, and not going through the series of steps required in barrel and place board training. So let’s get started!
The WHOA command is the most important command for pointing dogs to learn. It is the absolute foundation for having a solid field performer. Mastering this command will help you solve many issues such as creeping, “roading” and teaching your dog to point on scent vs sight.
We start with the HEEL command. Your dog must HEEL at your side consistently before embarking on WHOA training. Please see attached photo of combination slip lead (neck) and cinch with snap lead (flank) hookup. I recommend heeling on left side for right handed shooters and right side for left handed shooters.
This system gives you control both on front and rear of dog and will teach it to not pull ahead or lag behind. Give the command HEEL and walk forward with the dog. Make outside and inside turns keeping the dog in the above shown position. I like to use a figure 8 drill to teach the dog to remain in proper heeling position. Once the dog HEELS consistently when walking forward or turning, you can proceed with the WHOA command.
Lesson # 1
Command HEEL, take 5 steps and command WHOA stopping immediately. Remain stationary a few seconds, then command HEEL and move forward and stop again after 5 steps. Repeat this HEEL/WHOA drill and vary the amount of steps between the HEEL/WHOAS once the dog gets the ”hang” of it. We do this so the dog does not anticipate when to stop but remains attentive to you during the drill. Incorporate the inside and outside turns into the drill. You will repeat HEEL/WHOAS 100 times per training session. Sounds like a lot but it really does not take that long. I recommend you do this drill every day until the dog responds consistently. The dog MUST perform this drill “off lead” before going to Lesson # 2. Be patient and remember that dog training is one of the most extreme examples of “delayed gratification”.
See you next month!
CJ , Shawnee, & Duchess