A Training Tip on Honoring
By Jim & Phyllis Dobbs
While reviewing our past Pointing Dog Journal articles, we noticed that there was a training tip that needs to be added on training a dog to back another dog that is on point.
From the Dog's View
Think of the dog's vision as what you would see when watching a black and white TV. Dogs see in black and white so many objects are various shades of gray. Therefore, it is important to use both light and dark colored dogs as the "pointing dog silhouette" when training a dog to honor.
Recently we were training a dog to honor and, as usual, we used a white silhouette dog to begin the dog's lesson. Then we braced the dog with a predominately white pointer to continue the lesson. (For more on honoring see Pointing Dog Journal articles "Stopping to Flush and Honoring" July/August 1993 and "Increasing Intensity in the Backing Dog" January/February 1996. If you do not have these past articles you can find them on our web page by clicking on "Library" and "Pointing Dog" at www.dobbsdogs.com)
The dog made a nice transition from backing the white silhouette dog to backing a white pointer. All was going fine until we tried to have the dog honor a dark colored German Shorthair, then it appeared as if the dog had forgotten his previous lessons.
The dog we were teaching to honor learned to back the white pointer very easily, even when he was on point in front of a background of heavy cover. However, when the dark German Shorthair was on point in the same location, the "honoring dog" didn't seem to see it.
Dogs depend greatly on consistent pictures when learning to honor. Even if the dog will honor a white dog, it doesn't mean that he will honor a dark colored dog unless trained to do so.
When a dog has a problem we try to analyze the situation from the dog's viewpoint. Just visualize how difficult it would be for you to recognize a dark dog standing still against tall dark cover if your vision only allowed you to see in shades of black and white. Then, to compound the problem, a mature pointing dog is thinking about finding birds with his nose not with his eyes.
Teaching a Dog to Honor a Dark Colored Dog
When using a dark dog as the dog to be honored, begin by placing it out in the open where it is easy to see. A barren hill is a good place to set up your honoring lessons. Place the pointing dog on one side of the hill and start the honoring dog from the other side. When the honoring dog goes over the hill it is easy for him to see another dog standing on point.
Start Teaching the Pup Early
A pup will learn to back a silhouette dog very quickly if he associates it with finding birds. When we first take a pup to the field we often plant a bird next to a silhouette dog. It is amazing how quickly a pup will learn to associate a dog silhouette with finding birds. Later, after "Whoa" training is completed, it is an easy transition to "honoring" because the pup has been brought up knowing birds are present when he sees a dog standing still in the field.
Dobbs Training Center