Written by: Jennifer Miller, Greystone Castle
Freckles, Fritz, Gretchen, Heidi, and Buddy are littermates bred and born at Greystone Castle. They are staked out as they wait for their turn at “school.” The stake out teaches them to be patient and to submit to pressure on their neck. This relates to good leash manners.
They also learn from observing other dogs.
Each dog starts with basic yard work to learn simple commands such as “here” and “whoa.” “Here” is equal to come, and “Whoa” is equal to stop. Whoa is quite possibly the most important command a bird dog learns. It can be used to stop a dog on point from creeping into a covey. It can stop a dog who is running and doesn’t see its partner on point. Most importantly, it can stop a dog in an emergency situation, such as a low flush or even a snake.
Formal “whoa” training starts with a flank collar and a barrel. The flank collar is used when handling a young dog, so that they do not get confused by too many corrections on the neck collar. The barrel forces them to balance and focus on keeping their feet still. The command “whoa” is repeated until. . .
. . .the trainer is able to work up to 20 feet feet away. They are also able to walk full circles around the dog without the dog moving. At this point, hand signals are also introduced. A flat palm held out is the silent command for “whoa.”
Praise is always given. Even if the dog stands for just a couple seconds at the start, the more he is praised, the more willing he is to continue to comply.
After consistent “whoa” work, this young dog is now steady to flush. The next lessons will incorporate a shot during the flush to teach them to be steady to wing and shot.
Greystone Castle is an Orvis-endorsed wingshooting lodge in Mingus, Texas.