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Woah training II

I have a 16 month old GSP that I am attempting to train. When working with pigeons on a checkcord, she will point scent and attempt to creep until she can see the bird. As long as she knows I have the cord in my hand she will stay quite steady until the bird flushes. The one time I have attempted not holding the cord, she flash pointed the scent, ignored whoa, and pounced on the bird and caught it before it flushed. My question is, should the pointing instinct overcome the pouncing/hunting instinct or is it likely that whoa is not instilled well enough? And, can the damage done be corrected? She is absolutely frantic around birds and I just don't know if she will ever be a solid pointer. Thanks.

Whoa means WHOA!!

It sounds like your dog is plenty birdy, and has decided it might as well grab the bird since she knows she can. In your question, I think you have the answer.
  1. Lay off the birds
  2. Go back to whoa training until dog is absolutely obedient.
  3. If possible, restrict her access to wild birds (ie- mo chasing songbirds while loose in the yard.
  4. Repeat 1-3 (ABSOLUTELY OBEDIENT NO MATTER WHAT) may take 3+ months depending on dog
  5. The damage can almost always be corrected, it just takes longer.
A short story to illustrate my point-
I have a female GSP named "Liz" who while being trained/"broke" would every 5th or 6th time grab the training pigeon out of the sky if it flew back over her. She could tell the difference between the dummy shock collar and the real one! This dog of mine is now one of the best all around gundogs you ever saw. Well she was broke at 2-1/2 yrs, but I have her shock collar on her anytime we are training or hunting unless she is in a competition where such correction is forbidden. Now this is not so much an illustration of the necessity of shock collars (most of my dogs have never even worn one), but rather an illustration of how dogs learn. You build up learned behaviors in a dog by repetition and consistency. Such behaviors in a dog are "unlearned" if they find a loophole which meets their fancy. The more exciting the loophole, the more repetition and consistency needed to overide the behavior. One of my friends who knows how well "Liz" is trained asked why she always wears her shock collar when we go hunting together, especially since he has only seen me zap her once or twice over about a 6 month period. My reply to him was, why wouldn't I be prepared to discipline my dog consistently at any time, even if those times are few and far between. That consistency is precisely why discipline is needed only rarely with truly "finished/broke" dogs.
  1. When you are sure you have been consistent for a sufficient length of time, reintroduce birds with the same discipline as 2-4, and steady, consistent control.
  2. Maintain control and consistency as appropriate as much as possible. The degree to which you accomplish this will directly correlate to the amount your dog complies.
-Final Thoughts,
You did not mention whether or not your pup would point before you got her. If she won't point and never has, all bets are off. Next time make sure both parents are rock steady pointers (preferably with field titles/hunt test titles-grandparents too if possible), and don't take a pup home until you have personally witnessed it's pointing instinct. Conversely, if you have seen the pointing instict in your dog when she was younger, don't frett, it's still there. But you are going to have to spend plenty of time training to get that instinct working for you, rather than her.

Good Luck And Happy Hunting!

Grover Swick
Grove's/Von Swick's GSP's
For more information on Whoa Training, try:
Woah training early?
Unsteady in the field
Woah training
Breaking after the fall
Whoa - how steady?
Steady to wing
Barrel training

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