Ask Rowdy E-Collar & Whoa Training

Ask Rowdy one asks One question for you, if you don’t mind giving advice. My brother always says that you should never stimulate the dog with the eCollar when she’s on a bird, for fear that you will accidentally punish her for finding birds. From viewing the video that came with my collar, and some of the resources that you’ve pointed me towards, however, I don’t think that is necessarily true. I have worked really hard to keep Gracey from thinking of the collar as punishment, and when she starts to creep when we’re just working on “woah” at the backyard or in the field, if I give her a really light stimulation and repeat the “woah” command, she locks back up again. So I guess my question is – if she has a bird pointed, and I see that she’s getting ready to creep, do you think it’s okay to lightly bump her with the collar, or is that a no-no?



I’ll give you a short synapsis of how I train my dogs and give you the “why” then I’ ll answer your question in a more general sense. I train my dogs by giving them plenty of pen bird exposure as young dogs. By “young”, I mean roughly four to six monhts of age, depending on the dog. Pen raised birds are great, but they should only be offered in certain settings. After my dog is of a certain age I take away the pen raised birds until we’re starting the breaking process and I go exclusively with wild birds. I go to GREAT lengths to get a dog on ample wild birds. If I can just get him on two or three bird contacts the entire time I have him still keep him off pen raised birds.

Then the breaking. I teach a dog to Stand. Standing is much like Whoaing, but there is no command. You start it by pulling up on a lead and walking away then transfer it over to the eCollar so you can be a hundred yards away, stimulate them around the neck with the collar and they stop dead in their tracks. Then we start birds work. There are several steps, but essentially you let the dog establish point and when he takes his first step – or if you can read him to tell before he takes his first step – you launch the bird and stimulate him to stand. No words are spoken. There are only a few things different about this method and most other methods, but the differences are suttle, though huge. First, you don’t talk AT ALL. The dog goes on point, you don’t say a word. The dog creeps, you don’t say a word. The dog stands up and does the Waltz, you don’t say a word to him. Nothing. This keeps it between the dog and the bird. This is huge. Think about if your dog knows the stimulation is coming form you because you yell Whoa to coincide with the stimulation.

Now, when you’re hunting the dog breaks a hill and slams on point two hundred yards out. He wants to creep and he will because you’re not there and he’s not moved in the past because he’s been on Whoa, not because he’s actually been pointing. Next, launching the bird the minute he moves any part of his body makes the training session not a standoff betwen the dog wanting to get closer to the bird, but having to face the shock from the collar. Think of it. Everything in this dog’s genetic makeup for hundreds of years has made him want to get the bird. Period, end of story. But, we’re laying this out to say, “Okay, if you go after the bird you’re going to be shocked. Go ahead and try it.” That doesn’t make sense. What happens when he takes the first step and is stimulated? He realizes the bird didn’t move so he can take another step. He just has to get the gumption up to get past the shock. He takes another step, gets shocked and the bird still hasn’t moved. Let’s take my method (LARGELY taken from the West method). He takes a steps and BOOM! The bird is up and gone and he gets a queue with the collar saying to stay put. The queue isn’t enough for a correction, just enough to convince him not to move.

Next time he goes on point he’ll think twice about moving because he doesn’t want the bird to be gone. Pretty soon he’ll get the idea and he’ll stay put. If you just want him to be steady to the flush you can let him break IF he can hold and let you flush the bird. If he flushes the bird, you make him stand after. See, we humans tend to make a mountain of a difference between pen raised birds and wild bird. The dog comes into wild birds and they often time flush before the dog gets to them. On the other hand we leave a pen raised bird on the ground until the paint dries. It takes the excitement out of it for the dogs. I often time don’t let the dogs point, often times I wait until the dog gets close enough to get a really great view of the bird then launch it. He thinks, “Goodness, these birds are spooky!”

Your brother is right… and he’s wrong. I had stimulated dogs on point once upon a time, but never could have made it work. I don’t know why, but it must have been the way I was doing it. I’ve seen some people be able to train dogs this way and do wonderfully at it. It is all very, very subjective. The only “law” I consider to be truth in birddogs is to not hurt a dog. I don’t force break my dogs because I don’t like to put undue pressure on them. There is a joke that Ronnie Smith told me once. It went, “The only thing two dog trainers can agree on is what the third is doing wrong, but still can’t agree on how he’s doing it wrong.” I don’t mean to be vague or elusive with my reply, but I have seen this very much in dogs.

There are SO many different methods and such and there are so many who think they have the absolute best way to train a dog that it is insane. I talk to people online who tell me about how they’re training their dog. In my head I think, “Oh, no. You don’t want to do that!” But, I just smile and tell them how great that is because it is great. Don’t hurt your dog and never, ever stop learning, reading, etc. Don’t listen to someone who says he’s got the best method and there are no others who equal it. Follow these few rules and you and your dog should have a very many great days afield. I’m sorry for any typos. I had surgery not too long ago and it affected my ability to read, so proo reading is rough.

You can alter the grammar, etc.

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