The Whoa Barrel
The reason why I feel the "whoa barrel" should be a part of every versatile
dogs training is that it helps the dog feel comfortable standing still with
and/or without distractions on their own. The barrel also gives the dog an
instant self-correction if they move and fall off. It is very black and
white. Dogs work and learn very quickly when there is a clear structure and
it is consistent throughout their life. After attending many "pointing dog"
obedience classes, most of the class time was spent on having the dog stand
still on command. Most of the time it took a tremendous amount of effort and
time to get the dogs just to stand still. When they did, many of the dogs
felt pressure and would tuck their tails, drop their heads, sit down and
even urinate on the floor. They were not having fun.
you look at most high drive hunting dogs, the stationary position is very
difficult for them handle. Without training they will never master this
position. They want to be on the move searching, tracking in and out of the
water and locating game. The internal instincts in these dogs do not lend
themselves well to standing and watching things happen. They are usually
directly involved in creating the action.
similar to the Training Table, the Whoa Barrel lifts the dog off of the
ground. In this position the dog is much more attentive because the dog does
not feel secure and pays attention to the trainer and what is going on
around them. This is very important in all training techniques. Without the
complete attention of the dog, parts of the lesson will be missed and
training time wasted.
Typical Whoa Barrel
Barrel (30-55 gallon size)
The barrel should be a fun place to be placed on. The dog should not feel
threatened while standing on it. You shall always lift the dog onto and off
of the barrel. Do not lift the dog by its collar; lift by placing your arms
under the dogs belly. By lifting with the collar the dog might feel
additional pressure. When using the barrel the dog should not be restrained
in any way. No leashes allowed. We want NO MENTAL or PHYSICAL PRESSURE
1. Place the dog on the barrel. Stand next to the dog and praise the dog
for standing still. Stroke the dog
and "style" or "bold" him/her up. Lift its tail and
stroke the underside. Always use a calm tone of voice.
You want the dog to feel comfortable while standing in
a calm manner.
2. Repeat this daily,
several times each day. You cannot over do this if no pressure or harsh
3. Start moving away from the dog. Circle the dog and increase the time
the dog is on the barrel. Leave
the room for short periods of time.
4. Introduce human distractions. Involve the family members. You want the
dog to feel very comfortable
while everyone is going about his or her daily
activities. Start moving the barrel to different locations
of your home (kitchen, living room, bedroom, where ever
your spouse will allow)
5. Introduce object distractions. Throw/roll balls in front of the dog.
Drag fur toys on the floor. Always
praise the dog and keep the dogs' "dauber" up.
Bring the barrel outside and start at Step #1 and work your way to #4.
Always move the barrel to
different locations. Field Steadiness Work - this is
the procedure I use to steady my dogs
- Come to call and sit in front of me
- Force Break the dog
- Steady to the sight of flushing and falling objects
Throw birds and dummies
- Steady to sound of gun shot with and without birds
- Steady during and after the point
7. Bird launchers can be introduced. Some dogs are startled at the sound
of a trap. The dog is in a
comfortable position (on the barrel) and should feel
comfortable when the trap goes off. Start ejecting
a dummy at a greater distance and then work to bird's
closer to the dog.
8. Gunfire can be brought in. Start with a starting pistol in a carpetbag
gradually increasing the sound
level without any falling or flying objects.
9. Introduce the sight of flying birds (with and without gunfire).
10. Introduce birds falling from the sky with and without gunshots.
11. Flush and shoot birds while the dog is on the barrel.
12. Use the barrel anywhere where you need the dog to stand (field/water).
NEVER ALLOW THE DOG TO JUMP ON OR OFF THE BARREL