Swimming past a point is unnatural act for a dog.  Why should I swim past that perfectly dry warm inviting point and keep on swimming?  Again we are doing advanced work that separates the dogs in their experience and ability.  The handler is a very important component of this concept because his timing has to be perfect.  A mere second can make the difference between success and going home early.

Let’s examine a photo of a typical point and discuss what a dog will do and how you can get them to do what you want.

In this case we have a piece of land that juts out into big open water and the point with the tree at the end of land is calling out like a siren.  We send the dog to the blind {B} and all is going well until the dog common sense dictates that he can  just swim over a few feet off the line he is taking and get up on that point.

Again we are dealing with very advanced dogs who have learned that it is easier to work with the handler than succumb to natural desires or common sense.  So if the dog deviates from the line he had been taking and starts to go to the point you are justified in giving a whistle and a nick, (once you’re sure he’s made his decision!) Now timing is important, don’t allow the dog to get too far off line. Give that whistle immediately.  When the dog turns to you, repeat the command but add another element to assist him.  Don’t give him a right 45 back, give him an “Over” and take 2 or 3 steps to your right.  He probably will not take a true over but he should yield and take the 45 degree right back you desired in the first place. As we all know, we live and train in an imperfect world.  Let’s say that on this day he does not want to take the cast and despite the nick you gave him he climbs up on to the point.  Here is another difference between a pro and an amateur.  The pro reacts immediately, the amateur may let the dog explore the point before acting.  So now the dog is on the point, what do you do?

As shown in the photo below you have already given the whistle and nick to no effect.  He is now on the point. Many people will give a verbal “Back” with a hand signal.  Wrong.  The dog will hear the verbal “Back” and do just that.  He will go back into the woods behind him. The correct command is NOT to use a verbal command but give him a silent “Over” while moving your body a few steps to the right.  This will get him back in the water and then on his own may go back on the line where he was before and continue to the blind.  Remember the old and true saying  “Over to the next series, back to the truck”.

We have taught the dog to stay off points but there will be many times when the dog will be required to get on a point.  The correct method is to first teach him to stay off the point but when he gets to that level, we now have to teach him it is OK to get on land on our command.  The easiest way to teach this concept is to run a channel blind right straight down the middle.  Before he goes too far, give him an “Over”.  Be patient if he starts to go down the channel again.  After all that is what we have been demanding he do.  Keep repeating your “Overs” until he gets the idea.  After you have perfected those concepts, graduate to running shoreline blinds.  Shoreline blinds are the ultimate challenge when it comes to spits and points because the temptation is to go to land which is only a few feet away is like a magnet. To complicate the situation even more he has to cross a spit or go by a point but you insist he stay in the water until you give him permission to go to land.

Happy Training
John Schulte