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How and When to Introduce Your Dog to The Whoa Post

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May 11, 2011

How and When to Introduce Your Dog to The Whoa Post

By Chad Love

Jenny, my little English setter pup, turned a year last month. This past season I took her along on bird-hunting trips in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and South Dakota. It was great fun for Jenny and me, and good experience for a pup, but now the real work begins. So this past week Jenny got introduced to the whoa post.

The "whoa" command, most pro trainers will tell you, is the most important command in the pointing dog's repertoire, and the foundation for everything that comes after. It's perhaps a flawed analogy, but you could call it the pointing dog equivalent of force-fetch in retriever training.

Simply put, "whoa" means stop. As in right now. There are any number of ways to teach whoa, as there are any number of theories as to when to teach it. I chose to wait and let my dog run wild and have fun for her puppy season before starting the real training and use the whoa post when I did start. Some may start earlier and teach whoa with a barrel, a table or a simple check cord. Whatever works for you.

I use the whoa post simply because I grew up reading the Bill Tarrant/Delmar Smith book "Best Way to Train Your Gun Dog." But one thing I am doing new this time around is using the flank hitch technique rather than the original pinch collar technique in Tarrant's book.

If you want a very good lengthy and detailed explanation of the whoa post, here's a great article on the Rick Smith website (one of two pro trainer sons of Delmar Smith. Ronnie Smith http://www.ronniesmithkennels.com/ is the other). It's worth a read, but here's a very truncated explanation.

You'll need two 20 or 25-foot checkcords and a post to snap one checkcord into. That's it, really. The whoa post can be made out of anything; a t-post, a tie-out stake, fence post, flagpole, whatever.

I start by snapping one end of one of the checkcords into the post and laying it out straight. I then snap the dog into the other checkcord. I take the end of the checkcord that's snapped into the post, run it between the dog's back legs, up and over her back, then back under the flank so it forms a loose half-hitch. I then run the end of the checkcord between the dog's front legs and snap it into the collar.

The dog now has two points of contact and control: one on the flank and one on the neck. I walk away from the dog toward the end of the checkcord that's not snapped into the post while keeping slight tension on it. When I reach the end of the checkcord, I apply tension. The dog simply can't go anywhere because she's immobilized at the terminus of both checkcords.

It sounds confusing, I know, but if you've ever watched a rodeo, try to imagine what the steer looks like at the end of the team roping event. It's sort of the same thing: The post is the header and you're the heeler. I then release the tension and give her an opportunity to break. Every time she does I reapply the tension. At this point I'm not even saying whoa, I'm just letting her figure out on her own what to do. I keep the whoa post sessions brief and positive and give her some positive attention afterwards. After a few more sessions I'll start introducing the command.

After some initial resistance Jenny quickly picked up what it was she's supposed to be doing, and hopefully when I introduce the command she'll put everything together. Anyone else currently teaching whoa to a young dog? How are you doing it? Post? Barrel? Just a check cord?

Comments (6)

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from bbainbridge wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I had a trainers help, but we did Lexi on a whoa barrel and check cord while with the trainer, and the top of her kennel and a check cord while at home. After getting her to respond to a whistle, its the best thing I did for her.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

i taught Chaos on a check cord early in his training. i was afraid to wait to long. worked out pretty good.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I'm picking up a French Brittany pup in a few weeks after a lifetime of labradors. So I'll be learning a few new tricks myself. French Brittany is a close working pointing breed so it should be interesting. My younger lab is pointing birds that will hold for her and my older lab is very good about honoring Opal's point, so I think it will be a pretty smooth transition for them to work with the Brit. I have simply used discipline to keep the labs in range when in the field. And discipline starts at home when they're pups. They know they better not take off on that runner rooster if I holler at them to stop or they're going to really catch it when they get back. And they are very sensitive dogs so a healthy ass chewing and a whop on the butt usually goes a very long ways. Once they get in the groove they will get praise for stopping and waiting for me. Opal was pretty hard to stop if she saw the runner but by the end of last season she was really smokin! Nearly a guided missile. And she was only three.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Woody Woods wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

My Brit was well trained to whoa at 6mo. with a check cord and a Tri Tronic G3 upland training collar. She rock solid on point and will whoa on command without even a nick now.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Thanks, Woody. I may be tapping you for some tips later.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chadlove wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Robert, I'll be doing a review of the Tritronics G3EXP in the near future. It's a nice bit 'o kit...

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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from bbainbridge wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I had a trainers help, but we did Lexi on a whoa barrel and check cord while with the trainer, and the top of her kennel and a check cord while at home. After getting her to respond to a whistle, its the best thing I did for her.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

i taught Chaos on a check cord early in his training. i was afraid to wait to long. worked out pretty good.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I'm picking up a French Brittany pup in a few weeks after a lifetime of labradors. So I'll be learning a few new tricks myself. French Brittany is a close working pointing breed so it should be interesting. My younger lab is pointing birds that will hold for her and my older lab is very good about honoring Opal's point, so I think it will be a pretty smooth transition for them to work with the Brit. I have simply used discipline to keep the labs in range when in the field. And discipline starts at home when they're pups. They know they better not take off on that runner rooster if I holler at them to stop or they're going to really catch it when they get back. And they are very sensitive dogs so a healthy ass chewing and a whop on the butt usually goes a very long ways. Once they get in the groove they will get praise for stopping and waiting for me. Opal was pretty hard to stop if she saw the runner but by the end of last season she was really smokin! Nearly a guided missile. And she was only three.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Woody Woods wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

My Brit was well trained to whoa at 6mo. with a check cord and a Tri Tronic G3 upland training collar. She rock solid on point and will whoa on command without even a nick now.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Thanks, Woody. I may be tapping you for some tips later.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chadlove wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Robert, I'll be doing a review of the Tritronics G3EXP in the near future. It's a nice bit 'o kit...

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment