The Stop and it's Golden Rules
one of the two most Important things all dog owners should teach their dog
A lovely Lady asked me how I got such a good stop with my girls, it is quite easy really, I just stuck by some Golden rules that I found worked for me and with some added Golden rules taught to me by some excellent trainers, two of which being the best trainers (as far as I am concerned) in the UK if not the world, and one isn't a Gundog trainer :)
The stop can and should be taught with positive training methods, to do otherwise would just lead to more complications later, and you want the dog to think and not to shut down. If done positively the dog will stop fast and think "Wow, she is stopping me, something good is about to happen" leading to a dog, alert and looking,. you do not want your dog on hearing the whistle to think "Oh no, I've done something wrong, what have I done wrong", as this will lead to a dog shutting down and therefore not open or ready for the next command or event.
The Golden Rules of the stop
Never recall from a sit
One must remember that the SIT is the STOP.
As soon as one starts training a pup or adult dog that hasn't been trained, or when recapping with an adult dog that has been trained, one should never recall from a sit but to always go back to the dog before releasing, this will mean that the dog will expect that, that will become the habit, creating a solid Sit. If one trains a dog to recall from a sit, then one has a dog that is always waiting for the recall and therefore the habit you have created in the dog will be to expect at some point to run in to you, therefore creating an unsteady dog through anticipation of the recall, and one never wants to create a bad habit that one will later have to change for habits are by nature hard to break and we never want to break a dog.
Some Gundog people worry that teaching the sit
from an early age in any form will supress a dog, this is not the case if taught with kindness/treats/vocal praise. I teach my girls the obedience side of Gundog training with all three of the above for one wants the dog to have a reward for the correct actions, it encourages the dog to do what otherwise would/could seem boring work. The dog gets a reward for the retrieving work and that is the retrieve, so why should it not get a reward for other work.
Sit while balls are thrown
When teaching a dog to retrieve I will hold the pup and throw the ball out and then release the pup, and as time goes on the pup/dog will be on lead while the ball is thrown out and then off the lead while the ball is thrown so that the dog never expects to run in after the ball until released by command or action, which sets the ground work up for the next step in the Stop. I would have also incorporated the whistle during this time.
Once the sit is good and steady and the training is coming along, I will start to ask the dog to sit and then put myself in a place in-between the dog and the ball I am about to gently throw and once that ball is thrown I will go and pick the ball up and go back to the dog and praise, and that praise can be voice action or even treats as you are praising for the sit as the retrieve has not yet happened, and whatever reward one uses you must make it clear in whatever way suits you and your dog that the dog has done exactly what you asked. Do not bore the dog with this in anyway, do it two or three times and then do something else, I stand
by the dog and throw the ball in and then allow the dog to go and get the ball.
If the dog goes wrong, just use your voice to let the dog know it has gone wrong, but not to aggressively for you do not want to put the dog of retrieving and because you don't want to use your really annoyed voice until the dog is older and possibly on live game.
I did use to run after the dog as well, the action of the running lets the dog know it has obviously done wrong (as you know I do not physically correct my dog as some would do once they had caught up with the dog) but even the action of myself just gently running in I have stopped. I stopped that under instruction of one of the wise ones, for even the running in can put a dog off and/or confuse the dog, and the voice has let the dog know it has done wrong. If the dog goes wrong it is your job to make sure the dog doesn't go wrong again by setting the exercise up better and making it more clear to the dog what you want, so that this time the dog may get the praise and therefore can see the difference from when the dog got it wrong and when the dog got it right. Make sure that reward, whatever it may be, is a clear reward, no mumbling 'well done' or even saying 'Good boy' in a boring flat tone, that dog wants and has earned your praise and therefore you should reward it with a happy and pleased verbal praise/treat/cuddle or all three.
The Throw Past
This is next step in the stop, and to begin with you will need your dog on the lead for you will be throwing balls past your dogs nose and asking for the sit by verbal and or whistle command. The aim that you are walking with the dog on lead by your side when without your dog knowing you throw a ball low to the ground past your dog, whereupon you ask for the sit, and you do this until the dog automatically sit without a command. Now again ,as for the rest of the steps, you do not want to bore your dog and you want to make sure your dog gets plenty of praise for doing what you ask it to do. You progress to walking with the dog on a loose lead and throwing the ball as you and the dog are moving, again aiming for the dog to start automatically stopping when the ball goes past. Then one progress to moving around with the dog off lead, trying to get a little distance between you and the dog before throwing the ball low and past the dog on the ground. Your goal is to have the dog hunting in front of you whereupon you throw the ball low and past the dog and the dog stops automatically without any command.
Throughout you have never let the dog retrieve that ball.
You have praised for the sit, and then picking that ball up walked to the side of the dog where you thrown another ball out for the dogs reward and release. This action also becomes clear in the dogs mind that when it hunts and something shoots past it the dog sits, and when the dog is by your side and something falls out of the sky it goes and retrieves it, which is exactly what you want it to do on shoot in both examples.
Praise, Do not Bore, Do not use correction, and make you requests clear.