Training for the Stop-to-Flush by Mark Powell

Before we get started, there are some basic concepts that need to be established about the stop-to-flush.

The first is that a stop-to-flush is a sight point on a flying bird. This is critical. If your dog does not sight point, you will have difficulty in training for the stop-to-flush. If you do not realize this, your stop-to-flush training may confuse your dog.

Second, to train for a stop to flush, your dog must be whoa-broke (trained to stop in its tracks when you give the "whoa" command).

Tip #1: Train your dog to sight point birds on the ground (no scent).

You can do this initially in your backyard, working up to actual field situations. Hobble or otherwise restrain a pigeon or other good flying bird where your dog will see it before he smells it (while your dog is in the garage for example, you can hobble a bird downwind of where your dog will first see it when you bring it around). Bring your dog into sight of the bird and whoa it. While on the whoa, release the bird from the hobble, flush the bird, and fire the starter pistol as it flies away. Should your dog break, correct for the breaking of the whoa command. Otherwise, go to the heel position by your dog and heel it the opposite from the flush.

Tip #2: Use a remote releaser or assistant to put a bird into the air when your dog does not smell it.

When your dog is downwind but can see the bird flush, release the bird or have your assistant put it into the air. Whoa your dog immediately. Fire your starter pistol and go to the heel position by your dog. Go to the heel position by your dog and heel it the opposite direction from the flush. If your training on sight pointing has been thorough, your dog will probably stop before you get the command out. Give the whoa anyway. If your dog should break the whoa and chase, correct for the breaking of the whoa.

Tip #3: It is very important that your dog not scent the bird that flushes in your stop-to-flush training.

Should your dog smell the stop-to-flush training birds, you can very quickly train your dog to blink birds.

Tip #4: Use stop-to-flush training sparingly.

Stop-to-flushes are not very common in field trials or hunting tests, so your investment in stop-to-flush training should be proportioned appropriately. Further, if your dog gets really well trained in the stop-to-flush, it may stop on any bird flying across its field of view. Meadowlarks in flight look a lot like a quail in flight. You will not want to waste time with your dog stopping for every bird that is flying in its sight.

Have fun and good luck at your next trial!

Reprinted with permission from the Pointing Breed Sports in the Field Internet World Wide Web pages (, sponsored by Attwater Publishing. Attwater Publishing is the proud publisher of QUALIFY! A Guide to Successful Handling in AKC Pointing Breed Hunting Tests by Mark Powell, available for $21.90 including first class shipping and handling (Texas orders must include $1.70 state sales tax), 1-800-513-3772.

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