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The Checkcord

It was a beautiful day as I clipped the checkcord on my beloved Gunner.

We had just arrived at our "training ground," a 3 acre goose opening in the State Forest.

We worked on turning and recall at the third and final spot (remember the rule of three with dogs).

I couldn't afford a nice new $400 e-collar at the time, so he ran with the only connection between he and I dragging along behind him.

But the connection was the key...when he wore it he surmised that I could grab a hold of it no matter where he was.

So come that first hunting season, off he went wearing a $50 ATS Sonic Beeper (God, I wish they made those...even though his still works) and dragging a 30 foot piece of rope.

You see, back then there were no shortcuts via electronics, GPS collars, etc...just a 30 foot piece of 3/8" rope.

We practiced and practiced with the same repetition you would find on a D1 wrestling team.

There were mistakes made, but they were forgiven by the dog as a gentle hand replaced firm...and the connection became a form of art.

Whe he off was off the check cord, he acted it "cord-wise" to today's "collar-wise."

But when he was on it, he knew there were rules...even when I was out of reach, that cord was the reminder of those drills.

That repetition and attention to detail was the key to taking our time and making sure the training went along as slow as it needed.

Little did I know that it was teaching me to be patient with dogs.

Too often, we see electronics as a shortcut to speed things up. When you go too fast you confuse the dog, and also risk taking too much natural style out of them.

A wise trainer who helped me early on always said "you can take it out of them, but you can't put it back once you do."

He was right.

Don't get me wrong, electronics are great tools that I use in my training program, however, there is no substitute for repetition with a soft hand, physically connected to the dog, and most importantly, taking your time.

Gunner is long gone, but I still have that twenty-plus year old check cord.

I hope you consider using one too...


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John Ghazi
John Ghazi
27 ago 2023

I think my Shannon dragged a check cord around for her first 2 seasons. It did not slow her down.

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