Q. When do you start training them?
A. The day you bring them home. You start with baby steps. Teaching them
Here, how to keep track of you while out on daily walks, house training, playing
fetch, house rules, to kennel, etc. Formal training begins when they seem ready
for it, usually around 10 months to a year. We don't teach our setters to
sit. We train by repetition and consistency, and we don't push them beyond
what they are ready for....Please read below.
we do that is somewhat different than each of
the books above:
6-8 weeks we start taking the pup out for short walks just to let them
explore and investigate. We are with the pup, so he gets used to the
idea that you are there near him.
aren't trying to teach him anything other than to keep track of us and
stay to the front of us.
This happens naturally. I always say ALRIGHT as I start
out for a walk. As the puppy gets older, we go for longer walks and I
start to holler HUP every time I want to turn. The puppy's legs
are getting longer, he is getting braver and starting to get farther
away from me in his exploring. I will walk into the wind with the pup
out front, after a few minutes I will holler HUP long and loud
and turn in at least a 90 degree angle and start walking in that
new direction. I only
holler once, the pup will see me going a new direction and eventually
turn and come to the front. I will do this no more than 3 times an
outing. Repeat: Say ALRIGHT. Start walking into to the wind, go
for at least 5 minutes, holler HUP and turn to the right, pup
looks and turns with you to the front, walk another 3-5 minutes, holler HUP and turn again, pup looks and turns, another 3-5 minutes turn back
towards the origin of your walk. Do this for several weeks. After the
pup understands the Hup word, introduce the whistle.
I use a large Acme Thunderer. I holler HUP and give one long
blast on the whistle and turn as I did
with the HUP alone. A whistle will carry farther into the wind than a
voice. You are training by association, don't expect your pup to always
listen at that moment, but he will usually get to it and swing to the
front on his own. Two important things are being learned, for the pup to
stay to the front of you and to learn to look to you and turn when there
is a whistle or HUP.
your puppy seems to just take off and run ahead and won't turn or look
back to you, DON'T keep chasing him. It will cause him to keep
pressing forward. Stop,
whistle and then either go back the way you came, or stay where you are
and wait for him. Usually if you start the pup at a real young age, he
will always look back to you, and you won't have the problem of him
running away on you.
thing we permit is to let our pups chase birds to their hearts content
as puppies. If they can
catch a few birds, that is fine. It builds intensity and
them learn to run through brush, creeks, whatever while they are having
fun, instead of having to take them to water and try to introduce it as
fun. It is more natural for the pup to get used to things, if he
encounters them while he is having fun.
We introduce the blank gun during this time.
When the pup is at least 50 yards away running and playing, I
will point the blank gun to the ground behind my back and shoot. I will
keep walking and act like nothing has bothered me. The pup may look and
stop, and then continue on with his fun. If he comes back to you, do not
shoot again this day; try again in a few days at a greater distance. You
were probably too close, or the wind was too strong in his direction. If
the pup continues on, you can shoot again one more time during this
outing. Do this several outings a week. No need to do it every day. You can gradually shoot closer to
watch the dog to see his reaction.
I just can't
express enough how important it is to walk with your
pup while he is still really young. WE FEEL THAT WALKING WITH YOUR
PUP IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR PUP BEFORE SERIOUS
TRAINING BEGINS. A lot of things are happening. The Delmar Smith book
has really good ideas as to working with a puppy.
thing we do with real young pups is to teach HERE. To do this we
bake a bunch of liver, heart, & tongue into jerky hard texture.
Then we cut this meat into little ½ ” X ½” chunks. Freeze it
in little zipper baggies. About 3 times a day, in the yard when you have
his complete attention, we whistle 3 short blasts and call HERE Spot or whatever his name. When he comes you give him 1 piece of liver
(dropped to the ground) and pet him and give him lots of praise. Later on you can do this
again. The first time you do this, make sure the pup is really close and
you whistle real gently not to startle him. Maybe just use your natural
whistle the first times. They learn quick and come running to you. Do
not call him if you do not have a treat that he loves. Do not do this
out in the field while he is having fun or what you will teach him is
to come. This is also a
good time to start associating the word “Dead Bird”.
I drop the liver treat to the ground and say “Dead Bird”.
The pup will learn real quick that “Dead Bird” means liver
treat on the ground. This
will be an easy association for him to transfer to a real dead bird in
later training. Another plus is if you drop the liver the pup won’ t
nipping at your hand for a treat.
When you are associating the
word HERE and three toots on the whistle, just do it in the yard at
first, and on very rare occasion in the field and only when it appears
that he is already coming to you.
Do not catch him and lock him up every time he comes in to you
because if he' s still having fun and you keep locking him up, he will
just not come in to you either. Liver seems to be the tried and true
Long has some good ideas on this. His book is really good on teaching
HERE, and has real good solutions on problems.
thing we do in puppy work at about 6 months of age is to introduce the
word WHOA. To do this we go into the kennel early in the morning,
hold the dog still by the collar and say WHOA. When he stands still
just a moment, (don’t make him stand too long), then we release him by
the word ALL RIGHT, which means he can move forward.
We then move our right arm forward as if in a bowling motion. It
is called a send off. The pup dashes out of the kennel and you take your
walk or do your daily routine. This can be done in the house at the door
before he leaves to go out. What you are doing is familiarizing him with
commands in a natural way. It is all positive repetition that he is
you want your pup to retrieve, it would be a good idea to play fetch
when he is still in the puppy stage, starting the day you get him.
You can do this with a tennis ball, old rolled up sock, a glove,
a hat or whatever. Just play with him and reward him for bringing it
back. I usually do this in the garage, in the kennel, or a fenced in lot
and do it alone with no distractions. A hallway works well, because he
can't run off to the side. I t ’ s just you and him having fun. Being in
an enclosure takes away the urge to run off with the ball. Only do this
a few times a day, or he will get bored. Don't get into a tug of war
with the dog as you play fetch. When the pup brings the ball to you, let
him hold it for a while and enjoy the moment.
After a little while, say, "Give". If he won't give the
ball, say "Give" again, and gently blow in his ear. He will
drop the ball. Don't walk toward a pup as he retrieves to you as this
might cause the pup to turn away. Instead, as the pup comes to you, take
a few steps backwards, and then catch him as he comes by. Make it fun,
and do not reprimand him if he does not retrieve.
Just keep trying to get him to chase an object and pick it up.
You should quit before he does.
One or two retrieves is good enough at first.
that we have done so far will be reinforced when the pup is in serious
training at 1 year of age or when he comes around. Coming around happens
when the pup starts to seek your companionship rather than running all
over. He likes it when you do a little work with him.
He shows he wants to please you and isn't just playing around.
Usually this coming around happens at about 10 months to a year of age.
We say the word KENNEL whenever we put
the dog in the kennel. We start this as a puppy. If you want to keep the
new pup in the house, put the pup in a crate,
KENNEL) with a wind up clock near by (at night), or possibly put him near a
running appliance, but not where he can chew the cord or clock. A dog crate is
really the best thing to use when trying to house break your dog.
Get a crate the size the dog will be when he is full grown. Then
you will always have a safe place to keep your dog whenever you take him
anywhere with you in a vehicle.
You can visit, go in to eat, or just put him up for the drive,
and not worry about him jumping off the back of a pickup, tearing the
interior out of your car while you are eating, or breaking his neck
should you decide to tie him in the back of the pickup and he has enough
rope to hang himself. We have seen or heard of all these things
happening to dogs in our vicinity. A crate is very useful, and I doubt
you will ever regret owning one. A large crate 36 ”L x 24”W x 26”H
will be as big as you need. Keep your eyes open for a new crate on sale,
or a used one. A Large crate on sale runs for about $80.00.
really like to let our dogs have a full year of puppy hood, before we do
any serious training. The pup has learned to stay to the front, turn,
hunt cover and run terrain, come to the HERE command, KENNEL, WHOA and
ALL RIGHT. These will all be reinforced during training.
for tying your pup up and getting him used to a rope, chain, and check
cord, we use the Delmar Smith method. All three books are very similar
on this. We usually don't chain our pups till they are 4-6 months.
We do collar them as little pups and sometimes have to use a
leash or check cord. We use the tug and release method for this. At 6-8
months we will start taking the pup out on a check cord occasionally. He
should know to stay to the front from your previous walks. We just want
him to get used to the check cord. Absolutely never teach your dog to
SIT or HEEL the first year of his life. This sets you up for troubles
during serious training. These are easy commands for a dog to learn, and
he can learn them later. The reasons being, the sit command is so easy
to learn and sticks in a dog’s head like glue. Later when you want to
teach Whoa, Every time you say Whoa, your dog will probably sit.
You will have to stand him up each time you say whoa. After 100
or more times you will regret the day you taught SIT. If you let him sit
when he Whoas, one day when he is in the field on point and wants to
break, you holler Whoa, your dog sits and you have a dog that sits on
point. Not a good thing. As for HEEL, once he has learned to heel, any
time you may discipline him, he will feel badly and may follow you in
the Heel position.
He knows that makes you happy. Except now you want him to the
front and hunting, not making up to you by heeling. The proper time to
teach heel is after a good successful year of hunting. He knows how much
fun it is out there. Sometimes he gets disciplined, but he tears off
again to the front. He
has never learned to go to your back or heels; he has only learned to
stay to the front.
20 ft. 3/4 inch tight weave nylon rope. 3" Brass swivel snap. Rope clamp. You can
melt the ends with a match or the hardware dept should use a melt knife to
cut the correct length for you when you buy it. Wrap a tight wrap around the
end of the rope with electrical tape. See photos. (5/8 rope inch will
work, but not as good).
teach WHOA differently than any of the books suggest and have been
successful. We use the barrel or table method. We do not teach HEEL, at
this point in training. This can cause a dog to heel and never leave
your side when hunting.
I have seen it happen. In fact we do not teach our dogs to heel
till they have one good season of hunting under their belts. We also do
not teach them to SIT, since field trials do not allow sitting, and the
dog may want to sit when in training during the WHOA command. Or he may
sit when on point also.
Sit can be taught at a later date after the dog has a good season
of hunting. Most
dogs easily learn sit and Heel, so there's no rush.
This can save alot of headaches in training.
teach WHOA at one year of age. This is serious training. We no longer
let the dog run free. When we take him out, he is on a check cord. This
is school. Time to learn.
is accomplished with a 55-gallon barrel on a stand. We place the dog on
the barrel and say WHOA.
He will scramble and scratch and dig his toenails into the barrel
trying to keep his balance. He will try to lean on you; he may try to
lie down. He will eventually learn to stand still. We say WHOA several
times as he stands still. When he does, you press your knee against the
barrel to hold it steady. This is his reward for standing still. Pet him
and then lift him down. You can do this several times a day. Always walk
around with him and play a little with him each time you take him off
the barrel. So it has all been fun for him.
he stands still on the barrel (you may repeat " whoa ”
reassuringly) and you can take your hands off him, you then can start
moving around slowly to the front of him. After he stands totally still
and you can move around him, you can introduce the bird. We use pigeons
that we raise. We put the dog on the barrel. Another person has a
plainly visible bird in front of the dog. The dog may be overeager and
fall off the barrel; the person working him must say WHOA and keep him
still while the bird is being moved in the front of the dog. When the
dog stands still staring at the bird, have the helper let the bird fly
free, and let the dog watch. If the dog lunges at the bird or tries to
chase, steady him up to Whoa again. Then have the helper walk to him at
your nod and give him praise and say all right and tap his head or
shoulder to release him from the Whoa position.
Lift him down and go for a little walk. Have fun. You do this for
at least 2 weeks several times a day. After he has it all down well, you
can move him to the ground. Repeat everything on the ground.
of using pigeons, you may also use wild birds. Find an area in the fall
that has some young pheasant broods that come out on the edge of the
country roads in the morning and evening. Take your dog for a ride. When
you see some of the birds in the ditch, take the dog out with your 20
ft. check cord, and let him sight point or get
scent, and then make him stand on point and say "whoa”.
not let him creep forward to get a better look or better scent. He
should stop at first sight or first scent. You should have a helper for
you are holding the cord to make sure your dog doesn't chase the birds,
have your helper run out and flush the birds. Your helper needs to be
fast to get around the birds before they run off.
He should flush them coming towards the dog from the front. As the birds’ flush, have your helper clap his
hands to simulate a gun. After a few times, the helper can use a blank gun,
your dog should not mind it because you have already introduced it
during your walks.
Make your dog stand as the birds fly away. Then, at your nod,
have the helper come in to the dog and say "good boy", and
release him with a pat on the head or shoulder and say
"alright". What you are teaching your dog is that you don't
want him busting into a brush patch when the first bird flies. Pup is to
stay and watch. There may be more birds in the brush patch, and you want
to be close enough for the shot! This is called "steady to
wing." You are also reinforcing the release from the point, to move
the same period you are training your dog on the barrel you can also
have a session on turning to the whistle. This time you have the dog on
a 20-30 foot check cord. He should be at the end of his rope going
forward as you are walking behind.
You whistle one long blast and do a 90 degree turn. Give a short
tug and keep moving in that direction. The dog should be turning and
staying to the front during this session. You can do this 5 -7 times in
a 15-minute session. You can also call the HERE command during this
session. Call HERE Spot, and tug him to you. Reward him with the liver
dropped to the ground. If he is coming in on his own to the HERE and
three short toots on the whistle, do not tug or pull on the rope. Once
the dog is listening to the turn and here command (whistle) you can let
him drag his check cord and get a little farther out and you still have
control because you should be able to get to the rope and step on it or
reach down and grab it. Delmar Smith's book is real good on all of this
stuff. His Whoa post may be a little too harsh for a beginner to
understand how to use it. A beginner can be too harsh from inexperience
and cause his dog to drop to his belly on the Whoa command, where on the
barrel it seems to make the dog stand tall. The whoa post is very
effective and can be used should the barrel not be effective or should
you have a really hardheaded dog. Setters are usually a long way from
hardheaded. They are usually very easily trained just by repetition.
will have to decide what method you want to use and then go about
understanding what it is you really want your dog to learn. Some methods
are easier to teach than others.
The more you read,
the more you will be able to decide how you want your dog to work for
follow the Delmar Smith method very closely in our training, except the
whoa post. We
use the electronic collar during training the way Delmar suggests. We
use the Paul Long book alot for solving problems, and for teaching HERE.
ABSOLUTELY NEVER GIVE YOUR DOG CHOCOLATE! It can cause seizures
or too much can kill your dog.
click on a picture below for a larger image!