Along with the other things we’re practicing, Manny is now learning that a gun shot means “whoa.” Yep, I sometimes shoot birds that fly wild, nowhere near my dogs … especially on a slow day, the first day, the last day, or any day when the adrenaline is flowing faster than the wisdom. When I actually hit something, I want my dogs to find it.
By stopping to the shot (or a flush, or a command or a whistle) Manny and Buddy might actually see the bird drop. If not, at least they are ready for the fetch command and a hand signal assist to the right general area. When a chukar tumbles among the rockfalls and scree, I like to think they appreciate the heads-up – literally.
In the NAVHDA Utility Test, there are several instances where a shot-whoa sequence will come in handy: after pointing birds in the field, sure. But also when standing at the duck blind, watching birds fly and hearing shots from several directions including from me! The duck search also includes a shot prior to sending him to the water, where he should remain calm and at my side … so you can see how this training might help.
That said, do you think there are any downsides to “whoa to shot?”
As an aside, I’ve found many uses for a long whistle as another “whoa” command, much like the retriever guys use. And last night, Manny did me proud – 150 yards from me, he locked up tight when I blew! Good boy!