Elsa’s formal training started in June 2008 with assistance from Pine Hill Kennel & Sportsman’s Club. Elsa and I would visit their training facility every few weeks during the early morning hours on Saturdays, and worked at home in between typically around dusk.
The training caught on very quickly, especially the “whoa” command, which can be difficult. In Elsa’s case, she was whoaing in the house on her own before we made it a training exercise. Often times when feeding her, the bowl would be placed on the floor and she would look back and forth at me and the bowl as if asking if it’s okay to eat. This was reinforced using a combination of a tie-out stake and second, shorter lead. While on the check cord, Elsa would be attached to a shorter cable tied to a in-ground stake. We would proceed to slowly walk…the moment she hit the end of the short lead, I’d give the whoa command. I would hold her still and over time begin moving around while she was still holding steady. She began to be conditioned to stop with the command. This was repeated in different locations on our property. If she didn’t listen, I would calmly start the process over. These sessions were mixed with simple quartering exercises to reduce any potential for repetition.
In addition to our yard work, I also used empty football and soccer fields at a local high school as they were large, fenced-in, and not in use during the summer months. We also spent time running around a county wildlife preserve that borders our property (and has its share of pheasants.) This gave Elsa a greater variety situations to experience. Here’s a couple of shots of us during our 2008 training: