The whoa post is a common ingredient in many bird dog training systems. Ronnie Smith, of Huntsmith, told us our first day that really, our dogs only need to do three things for us; stand or sit still, go with you, and come to you. We covered lead training, or “heeling” our dogs on day one, along with the introduction to check cords and birds. A bit more detail is in order for check cord use, and I will add that now. The check cord is usually 20-30′ long (mine is 25′), made of relatively stiff, 1/2″ or so diameter braided nylon rope, with a strong spring clip in one end for attachment to the dog’s collar, and a knot in the other end. For this training, use a quality leather collar with a D ring for attaching the check cord clip. This collar should be tight enough not to slip over the dog’s head, but loose enough to rotate around the neck when the check cord is pulled from side to side. Here is the type of collar we use:
It is a double thickness, sewn leather collar with brass hardware, including buckle, D ring, and an o ring. The attachment point for leads is the D ring, NOT the O ring. (the O ring is a safety feature that helps the collar roll over and release a dog if he gets it hung on something). It is a Mendota brand collar from Gun Dog Supply; the O ring is not necessary, but kind of traditional and I like it. Regular nylon will not spin around the neck well; I suppose that a plastic coated nylon collar would work, but leather is best. Besides, don’t you think a fine gun dog deserves a nice leather collar? If you disagree, then return your Orvis hunting vest, and your Guerini o/u for an orange/camo vest and a Mossberg pump at Walmart so you and your dog will match. I’m really one of the least snobby people you would ever meet, but we are trying to preserve a tradition here, a legacy handed down to us by our fathers and grandfathers, that of the upland hunting gentleman; ain’t that hard to look the part!
Take your dog out into the field on the check cord by proceeding at a brisk pace, cord in hands (gloved, mind you; rope burns hurt!). Take a zig-zag path across a real or imagined bird’s scent cone, turning the dog with ques (tugs) on the appropriate side of the neck to turn him, more using your body than your arms. You should feel a bit like you have had a workout when done. This is where the rotating leather collar comes in; it rotates, so the que can be applied to the appropriate side of the neck. Stay sharp, mind you, and don’t get your dog all tangled up and, if you do, untangle him. Check cord work is hard both physically and mentally, so pay attention!
The Whoa Post
This piece of equipment is instrumental in teaching your dog to remain in place and still under certain circumstances, such as on point, backing a point, or whenever you may require it. They can be purchased or made: I made mine from about $17 worth of parts purchased at Tractor Supply. Here is how I did it:
1) acquire the parts: a 36″x3/4″ diam. galvanized steel rod; 2, 3/4″ shaft collars; a double ended brass spring clip; a brass ring 1 1/4″ inside diameter.
shaft collars w/ set screws: spring clip and ring
I calculated where the collars needed to be, and drilled a shallow depression, with a 1/4″ bit chucked into my drill press , to receive the set screws from the collars. Assemble parts in the order shown below:
And there you have it! The whoa post may be as simple as a piece of 3/4″ rebar sledged into the ground, or as fancy as you like. Oh, yes, I also tapered the lower end of the post by chucking a grinding disk in my drill press, adjusting the table up just under the disc, and holding the bar against the spinning disc until I achieved the taper I wanted.
The last piece of equipment needed is a soft rope about 20 feet long with a spring clip attached to one end and either a clip, or just a loop,at the other end. I bought 5/8″ black,soft braided poly rope at Home Depot. I formed a loop at the “dog” end and attached a brass spring hook, securing the loop with 1/2″ rope clamps (the kind you hammer shut). The post end is simply a double figure 8 knot forming a 4″ loop, with ends secured with rope clamps. Like this:
Oh, yeah, a sledge hammer will be needed to install the post in the field. That’s it!
Next time, the proper use of the whoa post. Until then, get those parts and put together your whoa post….JB