Honoring a Dog on Point

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

Honoring a Dog on Point

by Dave Walker

Dave Walker is also the author of The Bird Dog Training Manual - How to Make Your Dog a Great Hunter or Field Trial Champion.
At the same time you're training your dog to be steady-to-wing-shot-and-kill, begin teaching him to respect other dogs by honoring (backing) them when they're on point.

Auto-Backer Silhouette
When one dog sees another dog or dogs on point, he must stop and look like he's on point, but actually he is recognizing the dog on point. This situation is called backing or honoring. The term backing suggests the second dog is confirming the first dog's point. However, some people are misled by this term, thinking backing occurs in back of the first dog.

The term honoring is less confusing and more descriptive of the act. A dog can honor another dog from any position, not just in back of the pointing dog. Honoring is important in both hunting and field trialing because dogs should not interfere with other dogs on point.

If you're hunting and your dog steals point (goes past dog on point and then goes on point between first dog and the bird), your hunting partners will not be happy with you, and you may find yourself hunting alone. Furthermore, some dogs simply will not tolerate another dog stealing point and will fight with any dog that tries to do so. If they get into a fight, the dog who steals point is at fault.

If you're field trialing your dog in a broke dog stake and he steals point, he'll be disqualified, if the judge sees him.

Teaching your dog to honor is one of the easiest parts of your training. Your dog should at least be steady-to-wing when you start teaching him to honor and steady-to-wing- and-shot when you start using the electronic dog collar by itself.

When another dog is on point and your dog approaches and sees the other dog, immediately stop him, using the same method you used when you were teaching him to stand-up-stand-still-flip the check-cord to make a noise at the training collar buckle. If your dog doesn't stop on the nonverbal command in response to the flip of the check cord and training collar, reinforce the command with stimulation of the electronic dog collar.

Do not use verbal commands. If you use a verbal command at this point, your dog may become confused, not knowing what you want him to do, and start blinking dogs on point (that is, leaving the area or running off). Continue to use the check cord, training collar, and electronic dog collar. After your training has advanced to shot, and your dog has more training, you may then use only the electronic collar.

Do not remove the training collar and the check cord. Keep them on him, but don't use them. Your dog must continue to stand while the bird is being flushed in front of the pointing dog. When he moves, stop him with the electronic dog collar, go to him, and spin him. Continue to stop him with the electronic collar and spin him until he is reliable-that is, when he consistently stops when he sees another dog on point and stands until the bird is flushed. Then you no longer have to use the electronic dog collar.

Honoring a Silhouette
If you don't have a broke dog to help teach your dog to honor, use a silhouette or Auto Backer of a dog. Sometimes using a silhouette works better than using another dog because you can place it closer to the bird before your dog sees it. You may put the Auto Backer behind a bush, behind a mound, in a ditch, and so forth. In this way you can work your dog at your desired range before he sees the artificial dog on point.

You can buy a silhouette of a dog from a sporting goods store, or if you're handy with a saw you may make your own and paint it to look like a dog.

Before you take your dog out to train, put the silhouette in a place that will not allow your dog to see it until he gets within a normal range. Some dogs will honor at a greater range, but the normal range for a dog to honor is about 15 to 40 feet. Next, put a bird in front of the silhouette. Take your dog out of his crate or kennel. Be sure he is wearing full dress (training collar, check-cord, and e-collar). Use the same techniques discussed above.

The silhouette never takes the place of a real dog on point. Eventually, you'll need to teach your dog to honor another dog. Try to get a friend who has a broke dog to train with you or borrow a broke dog.

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