This section is from the book "The Dogs Of Great Britain, America, And Other Countries. Their Breeding, Training, and Management in Health and Disease", by John Henry Walsh (Stonehenge). Also available from Amazon: The Dogs Of Great Britain, America And Other Countries.
There is a wonderful faculty in some breeds of discovering a body-scent at long distances, while they have no perception of the foot-scent, and this is the quality which ought to be most highly prized in the pointer or setter, unless he is also wanted to retrieve in which latter case, such a nose will be found to be defective. But of this also we shall come to a closer understanding in a fu ture part of this volume. In addition to the use of the "puzzlepeg" - which should only be resorted to in extreme cases, and even then, as I before remarked, it is of doubtful utility, - the voice should be used to cheer the dog when he dwells on the scent too long, or carries his nose too low. "Hold up!" may be cried in a cheering way, and the dog encouraged with the hand waved forward as well. Colonel Hutchinson recommends the previous inculcation of the perception of night, - in fact, to make the dog understand that you mean, when you use the word "Up," that he should raise his head. But this is a refinement in dog-breaking which possibly may be carried out, yet which, I confess, I think practically inoperative. Few of us would like to teach our hacks to lift their knees, by giving them to understand the nature of night, and then telling them to lift them.
We should certainly find it much more simple to select hacks with good action, or to breed them even, rather than to convert our colt-breakers into circus-men. If there is no other method of attaining the object, by all means adopt it; but, when a far easier one is at hand, I should certainly select it in preference. Nevertheless, it may serve to prove the teachableness of the dog; and, knowing the extent to which his education may be carried by patience and preseverance, I have no doubt that Colonel Hutchinson's plan is capable of execution, if the time and trouble necessary for it are properly remunerated. But we must now proceed to the second fault, which consists in ranging too far from the breaker. This may readily be cured, either by compelling attention to the hand and voice, with the aid of the whip in bad cases; or by attaching to the dog's collar a long cord, which is then suffered to trail on the ground, or is held in the hand of the breaker, when the dog is very wild. Twenty, thirty, or at most forty, yards of a small box-cord will suffice for this purpose, and will soon tire down the strongest and most unruly dog.
Indeed, an application of it for a short time will make many dogs give in entirely; but some high-couraged ones, and setters especially, will persevere with it on until they are fairly exhausted. This "check-cord," as it is called, is also necessary in some dogs, to perfect their education in other respects, and, indeed, is chiefly wanted at a later period of breaking, not being often required at this stage. Having described the mode of teaching pointers and setters to beat their ground, I have now to consider the best modes of teach-ing them (1) to point, set, or stand (which are different names for the same act), (2) to back, (3) to down charge, (4) to retrieve, if considered desirable, and (5) how to remedy certain faults, such as blinking, etc.
Fig. 41 - "puzzle peg."
Pointing, setting, or standing can be readily taught It will, of course, be discovered in practice that, in teaching the range, most dogs begin to point, and nineteen out of twenty, if well-bred, become steady enough without the gun, before they are perfect in the proper mode of beating their ground. For these, then, it is unnecessary to describe any other means of teaching their trade; but there are some few exceptions, in which, even after a fortnight's work, the dog is still deficient in this essential, and, though he beats his ground in ever so perfect a manner and finds his birds well enough, yet he invariably runs them up, sometimes with great zest and impudent disregard of his breaker, and at others with evident fear of the consequences. Here, then, something more must be done, and it is effected by taking the young dog out with a steady companion and hunting thorn together; then, keeping the old dog within forty yards, let him, if possible, be the one to find, and take care to walk up to him before the young one comes up, which he is sure to do as soon as he catches his eye on the point.
Now use your voice in a severe bat low tone to stop him; and, as he has been accustomed to halt with the word "Toho!" he will at once do so, generally standing in a cautious attitude, at a distance varying with his fear of his breaker and the amount of courage which he possesses. If the birds lie close, let him draw up and get the scent. The excitement will then be so great, that, if the dog is under sufficient command to be held in check by the "Toho!" he will be sure to assume the rigid condition, characteristic of bis breed Now go quietly up to him, pat him, and encourage him, but in such a tone as to prevent his running in, - still using the "Toho! good dog, toho! " - and keeping him for a few minutes where he is, so long as he can scent his birds, which he shows by champing ana frothing at the mouth. After the lapse of this time, walk quietly forward, keeping your eye on him, and still restrain' ing Lim with the "Toho," put up the birds, and then, if possible, make him drop with the words "Down charge!" the meaning of which he has already been taught. But, if he is very wild and of high courage, do not attempt this at first, as it is better to proceed step by step, and to teach each lesson thoroughly before another is commenced.
In this way, by perseverance and hard work (which last is the keystone of the breaker's arch), any dog, whether of the special breeds used for the purpose or not, may be made to point when he finds game; but none but the pointer and setter become rigid or cataleptic, a peculiarity which is confined to them. In very high-couraged dogs, a check-cord, thirty or forty yards in length, is sometimes suffered to trail on the ground, or is held by the breaker, so as to assist the voice in stopping the dog when he is wanted to make his stand; but the cases where this is wanted are so rare as scarcely to require any allusion to it, if the breaker is sufficiently industrious to give work enough to his charge. This part of the education is generally accomplished in a couple of lessons, without trouble, and, indeed, the young dog often points steadily enough at the first or second scenting of game.