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Breaking after the fall

My Brit will be three soon. He's hunted the past two years. I let him get away with breaking at the shot but I've worked hard at steadying him up this spring & summer. Throughout his training I have primarily used the NAVHDA Green Book training methods.

He is thoroughly whoa trained (will stop from 50 yds at the run), stops to flush, and whoas to a gunshot.

However, he still breaks when he sees the bird fall. He's been flipped by the check cord a hundred times. All I have to do is say his name and he whoas after the break. He obviously knows that he is 'supposed' to be steady but just won't take the final step in being fully steady. I've been stuck at this point about 2 months. Any suggestions


The problem you describe is one that is probably created by the technique you use to release him from whoa. I'm not clear on how you release him from whoa each time but it seems that you may be using verbal/whistle/signals to release him from whoa which I believe causes the problem you describe.

The NAVDHA green book is good but you are trying to develop a dog that is steady to wing and shot, releases when told, and retrieves absolutely to hand. This is a finished dog and requires lots of practice. I field trialed for 10 years and believe I know the potential cure for your dog.

My recommendation:

You need to return to yard work with a six feet long lead reteaching heel and whoa.

He needs to develop the 'muscle memory' that he is not to break from whoa unless you walk to him, stand beside him, then touch him on the head to release. Do not release him from whoa anymore with verbal/whistle/or hand signals. You must go to him each time and touch him on the head, even if he is in the nastiest cover. This is very important, especially when you have to relocate the dog on a bird that is running ahead.

When he has it down on a lead, them move to a check cord. When he has this down, then no check cord. Back up a level if he fails. Never let him retrieve the bird if he fails. Use a blank gun for a while before starting back with the shotgun. He must be steady with the blank pistol off the check cord before the next step. This whole process will take a few weeks.

He will figure out that whoa means whoa forever until touched on the head. For hunters, this is not good because they want their dog to self-relocate and break at the shot. For competitors, it's a must, especially if you want a master hunter title or something similar.

The techniques I describe can be found on my training pages, complete with pics at The info is free. Feel free to write me if you have more questions.

Thanks for visiting


Dave Jones
Chief's Brittanys
Guided Upland Bird Hunts, Gundog Training, Started Gundogs, and Brittanypuppies
We GUARANTEE our Brittanys to hunt and be healthy!
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For more information on Whoa Training, try:
Woah training early?
Unsteady in the field
Woah training
Woah Training II
Whoa - how steady?
Steady to wing
Barrel training

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