Sequential Training Order

by Jim and Phyllis Dobbs

We are constantly being asked, "What should I train next?" and " Where do I start?" With the New Year right around the corner, we thought we would put together an outline of the training steps we follow when training a pointing dog.

The sequential order of the training needs to be followed to make it easier for a dog to learn and remember his lessons. It's like building a house, you can either put it up in a logical order- foundation, walls then roof, or you can try putting it up in some unorthodox manner and expect to spend a lot of time making repairs as it keeps falling apart.

We have written many articles for PDJ that address the different aspects of putting together a great bird dog. Now we'd like to put them into a sequential order starting with the foundation and ending with the roof. The following is the sequential order of training we use. We have also referenced our most recent PDJ article that pertains to each topic.

Step Topic Article Title PDJ Issue Date
1 Puppy training "Indirect 'Whoa' Breaking" Sept/Oct 1996
2 "Here" "Using the New E-collar in Collar Conditioning, Part I" Nov/Dec 1998
3 Bending in the field "Using the New E-Collar in Collar Conditioning, Part I" Nov/Dec 1998
4 "Whoa" and steadying in the yard "Using the New E-Collar to Enforce 'Whoa', Part II" Jan/Feb 1999
5 Stop to flush "Using the New E-collar in the Field, Part III" March/April 1999
6 Retrieving --"Hold"-- "A New Technique to Prevent Mouthing Problems" Sept/Oct 1999
7 "Fetch"- "Part IV" May/June 1994
8 "Retrieving In the Field"
July/Aug 1994
9 Preventing Blinking "Blinking" May/June 1998
10 Crosswind finds "Using the New E-Collar in the Field, Part III" March/April 1999
11 Downwind finds "Using the New E-Collar in the Field, Part III" March/April 1999
12 Honoring "Enhancing Intensity in the Backing Dog" Jan/Feb 1996
13 Gunfire during the flush "Gunfire and Gunshyness" Coming in the year 2000

What Each Step Includes:

Follow these steps to a great bird dog and you won't waste your training time patching holes. The rational is simple enough. Step 1 starts your pup off "learning to learn", so that he develops the habits and skills you want. Steps 2 and 3 enable you to handle the dog in the field, keeping him in range and hunting in front of you. Steps 4 & 5 teach the dog to stop, not only when given a verbal command, but also at the sight of the bird flushing. Step 6 teaches the dog to retrieve on command. This step is for those that want their pointing dog to retrieve the bird.

Step 7 is for you, the handler, so that you are aware of what you are doing and how improper corrections in the field can create problems. It is important that you understand how dogs chain events together before you continue with fieldwork.

Steps 8 & 9 are the training steps needed to prevent crowding the birds and causing them to flush. Step 10 teaches the dog to honor another dog's point. Step 11 is for those that want their dog to be steady to gunfire.

We realize that not every hunter will need his dog to honor nor will every field trialer require his dog to retrieve but it is important not to jump ahead or skip steps that you do need. And, for those of you who have wondered about where to begin or what went wrong, we are sure this sequence of learning steps will help you.

Past articles are available in our web site library ( and recent articles are available through the back issues of PDJ.

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Dobbs Training Center
9627 Spring Valley Road
Marysville, CA 95901
(530) 741-0375 - FAX (530) 741-0242