Using the Stop whistle
Sporting Shooter|December 2020
Now you’ve instilled the basics, it’s time to up the ante with some more tricky distance work. Howard Kirby explains how to take the core Stop whistle command to the next level
Howard Kirby

Over the past couple of months, we have focused on the Stop whistle, its importance, and some ideas and techniques to use when training our dogs.

In this article, I’m going to stay with the Stop whistle and move on to consider its use as we continue with our training. We are going to base this article on the assumption that your dog has been thoroughly trained to understand the basics of the Stop whistle. Here’s a little checklist to tick off:

BASIC STOP WHISTLE CHECKLIST

1 Walk at heel. Blow Stop whistle quietly. Dog should sit immediately to whistle.

2 Sit the dog in front of you about 20 big paces. Throw a dummy behind it. Recall on whistle. Blow Stop whistle. Dog should stop immediately. Reward by sending it back to make the retrieve.

3 Sit the dog 50m in front of you. Recall. Stop on the whistle when it’s halfway to you. Immediately throw a dummy out to the dog’s right and left and then send for either dummy.

4 Railway track exercise (see last month’s Sporting Shooter).

5 While hunting just a few metres out in front of you, blow the Stop whistle and simultaneously throw out a dummy. Once dog has sat, throw out a second distraction and send dog for the first dummy down.

If you can happily tick off this list with confidence, we are ready to move on to the next level.

‘Grown up’ sitting to the whistle

Now we’ve taught the dog to stop on the whistle at close range, it’s essential we keep him on side as we move into more complex exchanges with the dog.

The relationship has been built on trust: “if you listen to me I’ll help you to get prey in your mouth”. In most situations, the Stop whistle will be used to stop the dog and catch his attention. Now we can offer direction to assist the dog to locate the bird or dummy.

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