Simple Method for Teaching Whoa


New member
The other day I was out with my dog at the park and ran into an older gentleman with a pair of wire haired pointers. We got to talking about training etc.. and I asked him for his method for teaching whoa.

The idea is this jog at a moderate pace and get your dog to chase you, as the dog is chasing turn suddenly stick your hand out like a running back giving a stiff arm and shout whoa once in stern firm voice (this action should be extremely abrupt and over the top). The idea is to startle the dog into stopping most likely the dog will briefly pause and then continue to come towards you. The minute it starts to come toward you, walk quickly to the dog pick it up and drop it from about a foot in the air in the exact place you first said whoa. As you are dropping the dog say whoa again. By dropping the dog a short distance you are letting it know you are not happy and reinforcing the whoa command. If the dog moves repeat the same process dropping it in the exact same place. Once the dog will stay for 10 seconds or so release it with the command of your choice and praise heavily. Don't expect it to stay forever at first be happy with 10 seconds, then slowly work your way up to longer times holding the command.

I have used this method with my dog and its effectiveness has worked really well for an inexperienced dog handler. The older gentleman stressed the importance of voice tone and an overall dominant attitude from the handler. Anyways thought I would share my experience and method I learned in hopes that it might help other members of the forum.
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the breeder i got my last pup from had told me the same thing when he trained his dogs, he said they do not like to be picked up off the ground by all fours and then sit them back down, don't know why they don't like it but i guess it works have not used this technique yet. maybe someone here can explain why?
I have heard good things about those methods, maybe you could start a thread with step by step instructions on how you do them? It would be nice to incorporate some other methods in my training.
one thing i know about the woah post is that if you have a soft dog they get to scared. like i have a pup where i tried the post and she just cried and cried then was tentative coming to me or more my front yard. in cases like mine the picking up meathod just a few times a day is perfect i have almost got my girl to do it after 2 weeks of not everyday training.
Most dogs I have seen trained respond better to the simple method than the Whoa Post. I seen many a good dog ruined because the whoa post was used to young and to often.......Bob
Richard Wolters uses this method in his book Gun Dog. If some one is interested in the book and can not get it somewhere I have it and would lend it out for a period of time. I use a method Gary Ruppel taught me using a rope that takes them off their feet that has worked well for me. Gary is a trainer here in Colorado who Bill Tarrent has written about his training in one of his books. Gary was the second person Bill wrote of in his book, the first person being Garys mentor. I have this book as well but will not lend it out as it is autographed by Gary and Bill, probably one of the last books Bill autographed. If anyone wants Garys info they can PM me. This was not intented to be a plug for Gary, I just really Garys methods.
I meant to write also, I used the whoa post on my male dog and even now when I hook him up to the whoa post he tucks his tail and usually stops short of the end of the rope knowing what is going to happenbut I take him to the tree where I use the above mentioned method he is happy and I have no problem with him. I then use the training collar around his waist to reinforce the training.
This method sounds a lot better than the whoa post. I think I will try to incorporate this.
Many reenactors actually train their horses by repetition to move out when mounted when they should be training them to stand still. How many times have you seen someone mount and although they never gave their horse the signal to move out, the horse moved anyway. They were not even ready or in position to move! What is this soldier teaching his horse when he does this? He is teaching his horse that standing in one place is not important.
A horse must know what "Whoa" means. It's the most important vocal command you can teach him and it will get you and he out of a lot of hot water if he knows it well. "Whoa" means STAND STILL! It does not mean slow down or relax. If you use "Whoa" to mean "Easy" then you need to retrain yourself and your horse, and others that might ride your horse.
Wolters methods--including the one you described pretty well--are routinely derided by pros. There are quite a few others that do work without having to scare your dog, and they translate a lot better to work on actual birds too.

Copheasanthunter, I bet I used something awfully similar to Gary's method on one of my dogs once. Had a creeping problem I needed to correct and the dog was fighting through the usual corrections. Worked great!
My 17 month old Brittany is learning "Whoa" almost by accident. She knew what "Stay" meant so I started using the two terms together. She always brings me a tennis ball in the evening to toss in the house. When she was standing by me prepared to run after the ball I would have her "Stay/Whoa" then drop the ball in front of her and roll it around with my foot right in front of her nose all the time telling her to "Stay/Whoa". Once she was responding to this very well I went strictly to the Whoa command and started using it in other situations where I wanted her to stop and stay. She is really picking it up and when I ran in the NSTRA trials the past 2 weekends I was able to steady her while on point using "Whoa". She may not be 100% Whoa broke but she's getting close. This morning when I walked out to get the paper she was stalking a Robin in the yard and moving slowly towards it. I gave her the "Whao" and she stopped on a dime and never moved. So for her it was basically teaching her Whoa during playtime.
Just ran across another way of re-enforcing the "Whoa" command today while taking the dogs for a run. I take them to the local soccer complex and there are black birds all over the place. The dogs are constantly sight pointing there birds from 30-40 yards away. So when they go on point I give the Whoa command and make them stay steady until I proceed forward to make the bird fly off. Seems to work great.
sounds like a couple of great methods mine are always a little harsh i use a plastic 55 galon drum nailed to a single 2x4 and put the dog on there i is not real steady so if the move it will throw them off if they still keep jumping off i rise it about 2 feet and put a rope tied to a clevase on the barrel leaving it just short enouh they struggle when they hit the ground with their back feet the barrel gets into their comfort zone as it will move anytime they do and while they are on there i tell them whoa and pretty soon they learn what it means
Whoa posts, crates with a tennis ball under them, just saying whoa and the dog gets it, table work. Every dog is different and needs a different technique. Its kind of hard to say what works best in every situation. You need to have alot of tools in you belt.