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Unsteady Dog

Hi, My GSP is now 10mo. old and coming along quite nicely. He is now on live bird's ( Pigeons ). My question is, while giving the "whoa" command, in the past when he has busted the bird I have spilled him with the check cord. Now while off of the cord he will cower if my voice is raised,I'm sure expecting to get dumped. He does better if I lower my voice but then he doesn't always come to a complete stop. Also I have taught him "easy" to follow a running bird, but sometimes he get's excited and runs right over it. He knows this is not ok because he gives me that "oops,I screwed-up"look, but how do I fix it. I have put him back on the cord and followed a bird around with him, keeping a decent distance, re-inforcing the "easy" command but as soon as I take him off the cord he moves in to close again.Thanks for your time.

We never have trained dogs with the "easy" command, it is something they have learned while wild bird hunting. They learn upon relocating (either by themself or by us) that if they "push" a bird that it will flush and they never can catch it. The whoa command is an aid to reinforce a pointing dog's natrual instinct to pause before the pounce. The best thing for a 10 month old dog is to hunt him in areas with lots of wild birds, let him bust them out. Remember this is still a puppy learning new things, if you push in training the pup can become confused. I don't know what you do for whoa training all together, but when we start we use the hands on approach. On a training table we start by making them stand for long periods (5-15 minutes) reinforcing the command. Then we put a regular collar on them and with a check cord or lead we pull & tug on the dog's collar trying to get the dog make a mistake so we can correct them. Say different words other than your release command to make the dog break. We use the dog's name and touch their ear to release our dogs from the whoa command. Three things to remember:
  1. Never let the dog win (i.e. dog rolls over, cries, cowers and you stop training or correcting)
  2. Don't get too hard on a young dog (he is learning first, then when you know he understands the command fully and disobeys you can get a little harder later)
  3. Always finish on a positive note no matter how small the success seems. After success at the training table, you can move it to the ground and then add the whistle command for whoa after that. If you skip these steps you will have problems later. After the dog understands whoa, you can use the check cord and pinch collar in the field on live birds. Keep the sessions short (under 30 minutes) and do it every day until you are confident the dog understands the command fully. Be patient and persistand and never train your pup when you feel angry or bad because you may lose your temper and make a mistake, and mistakes are harder to fix.

If it were my pup, I would have fun hunting and let him learn that he can't catch birds along with your whoa training.

Good luck!!
Krystal Creek Kennels

For more information on Woah training, try:
Woah training early?
Woah training
Woah Training II
Breaking after the fall
Whoa - how steady?
Steady to wing
Barrel training

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