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Both in pointers and setters the bitch is lighter in frame than the dog, and she is generally more quick and active. Her nose is somewhat more sensitive; and when she can be brought out well, she is very valuable in the field. This, however, is often very difficult, either from weakness in consequence of having reared a litter of puppies, or from disordered health arising from having been “put by." Of the two evils the former is the least, as the bitch recovers her strength, and with it her flesh, in an incredibly short space of time, if she is not absolutely diseased from mismanagement. I have known a litter of puppies whelped in July and suckled up to the last week in August; yet the bitch has been in high health on the 1st of September, and has gone through the month with great credit as to all the points essential to a partridge dog. On the other hand, many a bitch "put by” in June is not in condition for work till after Christmas, when her services are no longer required. On the whole, therefore, I should always advise that a bitch intended for work should be allowed to have a litter if she is likely to whelp before the middle of July.
INTRODUCTORY REMARKS ON THE BREAKING OF POINTERS
The proper education of all animals depends upon the consistent carrying out of two principles-viz., the hope of reward and the fear of punishment. The former is required to induce the pupil to do right, while the latter prevents him from doing wrong. Compulsion alone will never succeed; and the proverb that “one man can take a horse to water, but forty cannot make him drink,” is perfectly true, and should be remembered by all those who undertake the training of any animal. By severity a dog may be kept in such subjection that he will never do wrong; but when broken in this way his spirit is altogether cowed, and he refuses to do the work for which alone he is wanted by his master. It is from the neglect of this knowledge that so many dogs are rendered useless, being "gun-shy," or "slack workers," or "blinkers;" all faults which make them quite useless in the field. Indeed, if a dog is brought up by the person who is
to break him, little or no severity will ever be required, the puppy learning from the first by experience that he must do what his master tells him, and never acquiring the habit of disobedience, which alone requires the whip. Great caution is necessary in those cases where a dog is committed to the charge of the breaker full of faults, and totally unaccustomed to control. Such an animal, if of a breed endued with high courage, may possibly become a first-rate dog ; but without this quality the constant necessity for punishment will be almost sure to break his spirit, especially if the person who undertakes bis education does not possess a good temper himself. The breaker of a pointer ought in all cases to be possessed of this quality ; but it is not nearly so necessary when he has reared the puppy, and has thus been able to obtain his affections before commencing the actual breaking to the gun. Few gentlemen like to go through the task themselves, and there are not many who have the time for it; but if they can and will take the trouble to break their own dogs, they will be rewarded by having them of double value. There are many who do not care to work them in person, and depute the task to the keepers when they are on the moors or in the stubbles, and of course in such cases the latter are the proper persons to break as well as work the dogs. But if the shooter takes a pleasure in seeing the instinct of the animal displayed, and in directly superintending its operations, he must at all events make his dogs own him as their master before the season commences. A few days' exercising will do much, but nothing short of taking them into the field, and making them beat their ground, will insure the proper execution of their duties when the 12th of August or the 1st of September arrives. In old dogs it is often a long time before they will obey a new master, and many a first-rate animal is rejected on that account. One of the best and most thoroughly broken pointers I ever knew, after his second season, was sold, and although his purchaser took him out for several days to exercise, and fed him regularly, it was a fortnight before he would work. Indeed, the dog was so utterly regardless of him that he thought deafness only could account for it; but gradually he took to the work, and when he found that game was killed to him, he became as attached to his new owner as he had previously been to his breeder, and never required the slightest encouragement afterwards.
Implicit obedience is to be instilled from the earliest period, and a habit of self-control must be encouraged at the same time. Unless the latter faculty is in existence, there will be no steadiness ; for though fear will keep down for a few seconds the desire to do wrong, yet the natural passion for the chase of game will overcome it, and a serious fault will be committed. Many sportsmen consider it unnecessary to interfere at all until the dog is taken into the field, but animals neglected in this way rarely become steady, at all events until their third or fourth seasons. It is quite true that an excessive degree of compulsion sometimes breaks the young pointer's spirit; and then, on taking him out, he cannot be induced to range at all, but slinks behind his master's or breaker's heel. This result is most unsatisfactory, and the fault is very difficult to eradicate ; but it follows upon the abuse, and not the use, of proper means for keeping the young puppy in order. When the education is begun in proper time, harshness is never required, and, as a consequence, there is no cowing of the spirit, and no shyness of any kind. The dog may easily be made obedient, and yet full of spirit; and this is every day shown among those which are merely used as companions to man. Still, it is quite true that hundreds are spoiled every year by being broken at too young an age, and therefore it is better for the inexperienced owner to err on the side of delay, rather than risk the unfortunate result to which I have alluded. Much must always depend upon the degree of courage in the individual, for some dogs will bear without injury an amount of punishment and restraint which would ruin others. The breaker should always remember that it is much easier to take the courage out of a dog than to put it into him; and that in almost all cases, by patience and perseverance, with proper means, the most unruly animal may be made subservient to man.
The following comprise the points in which the dog should be made obedient to the word of command before he is taken into the field to show him
game: 1st. To come to heel; the word being “Heel.” 2nd. To run forward; “ Hie on," or "Hold up." 3rd. To crouch on the ground; “ Down." 4th. To drop at the sound of the gun; “Down charge.” 5th. To avoid passing through a fence; "Ware fence." 6th. To refrain from chasing poultry, &c.; “Ware chase.” 7th. To stop still; “Toho."
All these may readily be taught in the course of exercise, but they require some time to make the pupil perfect, and no one should expect to obtain success without an outlay of time and temper. The 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 6th are all most essential to the ordinary management of dogs at exercise; and without obedience in such matters, a lot of dogs would become totally unmanageable. But the master must remember that a half-obedience is of little use; the dog must be so taught that if once he is ordered to “heel,” he will remain there until ordered forward by “ hie on.” Indeed, it is only by firmness in carrying out orders of this kind, which are easily obeyed, that subsequent commands of a more difficult kind are rendered capable of being enforced. The 3rd order, in its simplest form, is of nearly as easy a kind to carry out as the two first; for the dog may be forced down mechanically by the hand or foot, if he is at all inclined to rebel; but it is necessary to make the pointer crouch at the word “ down,” or at the raising of the hand, whatever the distance may be at which he is from his master at the moment; and this is one of the most important and difficult elementary arts in his education. By first making the dog crouch readily at his master's feet when ordered so to do, the habit is engendered; and then, if he refuses to do so at a few yards off, walk to him, make him drop and remain down while you move to your original position. If he is obedient, reward him with a piece of any favourite food; while, on the contrary, if necessary, he must be punished by a blow or pulling his ear. It is astonishing, however, to see the degree of implicit obedience that may be instilled with
out any severe thrashings, the amount of which is generally in proportion to the ignorance of the breaker. I am now alluding to those cases in which the latter has had the management of the puppy from the earliest period; for it cannot be denied that if a high-couraged dog is sent to the breaker at twelve months old, and without any preparatory education, he must use the whip pretty severely at times. When the pupil is steady in dropping to the voice or the hand, make him do the same at the sound of a pistol, discharging it, and at the same moment raising the hand, or, if that is not enough, crying " Down." Great care is necessary at this stage to avoid severity, for many a dog is made“ gunshy” by being thrashed for neglecting to drop at the report of the pistol. When he first hears it let him be rewarded by a piece of food, and do not attempt to make him drop until he has quite got over the fear which naturally attends upon an explosion. By firing off the pistol, however, with a small charge at first, or with a cap only, puppies soon become regardless of the noise, and then they may be made to drop whenever they hear it. This part of the education should be made very complete before the puppy has game killed to him, or there will be great trouble in preventing him from running in" and mouthing it.
The 5th and 6th words of command hardly require any comment, since they are only used when the dog is about to do wrong, and the tone of voice in which they are uttered is of that scolding or "rating" nature, that he readily understands that he must stop, or that he will be punished. An expressive voice is an essential to success in dog management, and the breaker of pointers and setters will hardly be likely to succeed well unless he has it to some considerable extent. It is wonderful what power this has over the dog, and how soon some men thereby obtain the affection and implicit obedience of animals which have refused altogether to become attached to others.
Lastly mes the 7th command, which is hardly necessary in a dog of high breeding, inasmuch as it is only intended to render more easy that which comes without effort to him as an instinct derived from his parentage. Nevertheless, it is just as easy to enforce as the first six; and as even the