Whoa training

20 Dec

One of our top goals for 2012 is to compete in our first hunt test (and possibly field trial) with both Ilsa and Gumbo. This fall, we were able to get past the huge hurdle of properly introducing them both to the gun. Having a bird shot for our vizslas is one of the most exciting experiences we’ve had since adding our canine companions to our family. Our desire to continue with bird training stems from the dogs’ intense desire to hunt. Neither Susan nor I grew up hunting and felt VERY out of place at first but watching our dogs come alive when they enter the bird field is an awesome experience. Our next goal is to make Gumbo and Ilsa “steady to wing and shot”. This means that when they find a bird and point it, they maintain their position until told to do otherwise. They must hold their position through the bird flushing (steady to wing) and through the gun firing (steady to shot). This is incredibly unnatural for most gun dogs because their strong desire for the birds makes them want to chase the bird when it takes flight. In fact, this desire for birds is actually how we were able to help Ilsa overcome any hesitations she had about the gun. Now that Ilsa is far more comfortable, we are removing the chase through “whoa” training. Whoa is a command used to tell the dog to hold position. (think of whoa means whoa the way many people say “sit means sit”)

Our whoa training actually started far away from the bird field – in our house with as few distractions as possible. After working on this with both dogs for a few weeks and feeling confident they had a strong understanding of the command, we moved it to more distracting environments like the park with squirrels running around. Last Saturday was our first attempt to try it in the bird field. I’ll just say we still have plenty of training ahead of us. 🙂 Both dogs gave clear signs of recognizing the command, but their desire for the birds made them look like we were back to day 1 training in our living room. We still have lots of work to do but making sure our dogs excel at these foundation skills will be critical to their future success. Have you introduced your vizsla to birds? Do you have any big goals with your dogs in 2012? We’ll be compiling our list to share in the next couple of weeks.


One Response to “Whoa training”


  1. Expanding the recall with whistle training « A Tail of Two Vizslas - January 18, 2012

    […] we give a hand signal as to which direction to work. Go hunt is a command to send the dogs out. And whoa is to make the dogs stop and stand dead in their tracks and not move a muscle. The first decision […]

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