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Establishing Distance Control
by Martin Deeley

photos provided by Loretta Baughan

In my mind, the two most important commands to teach a gundog are the command to stop at a distance and to return when called. These not only give you the basis of control while handling, but are the ‘safety’ commands. They can keep your dog safe from being shot, safe from running into a road, and safe from getting into deep trouble.

Control of your dog relies upon your dog understanding your commands and obeying them instinctively. When an owner can get his or her dog’s attention and call it back from among live game, or a group of other dogs - with an immediate response - then there has to be a pride not only in this, but in the relationship and training involved. So many times dog owners feel that because their dog is under control when it is close to them, it should obey just the same when it is a distance away. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The foundation of distance control is basic obedience. Initially, this must be effectively taught up close so that it become a habitual pattern of behavior upon which distance control can be based.

"The foundation of distance control is basic obedience."

To teach the ‘sit’ whistle, start close. Your dog should have learned to sit to the verbal ‘sit’ command and to a raised hand by now, so precede these commands with one toot on your whistle. Very quickly, your dog will learn that when it hears this - the ‘sit’ whistle, the sit command is coming. Eventually, in this way, the whistle alone will become an additional sit command. Now hunt your dog in front of you as mentioned in a previous article, blow the ‘sit’ whistle when he comes close to you, and simultaneously move towards him as you reinforce the whistle command with the word ‘sit’ if necessary. By doing this, he will begin to realize that he should sit and stop in that place where he hears the whistle. Because you have taught him to sit by your side or close to you initially, one of the problems that can arise is that he will want to come to your side at the sound of the whistle and sit there. The sit

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