Training puppies on a stakeout chain

The best way to train a pup or dog is to let another pup or dog do it.
~ Bill Tarrant, Best Way To Train Your Gundog – The Delmar Smith Method

One of the tools we use in the education of our puppies is a stakeout chain. Sometimes called a chain gang, the stakeout chain is a long chain with huge eye bolts at each end through which stakes are pounded into the ground. Shorter chains are attached along its length to fasten individual dogs.

When first clipped to a stakeout chain, puppies are uneasy and often bark or howl.


The stakeout chain is also a great tool when traveling. It’s an easy way to care for multiple dogs…plus it keeps the dogs secure and out of trouble. We put them on the chain to relieve themselves, feed and water them and to allow them to simply relax and be outside.

Stakeout chains can be made various ways. For many years I have made my own and now know exactly what works best. My stakeout chains hold six dogs and are 32’ long. Six drop chains are evenly spaced about 65” apart along the chain and are 18” long. (You don’t want them too long or the dogs can get into trouble with their neighbors along the chain.)

We begin putting puppies on the stakeout chain when they’re about eight weeks old. They get accustomed to physical restraint in general and learn, specifically, to give to pressure on their neck. We attach each puppy to their own drop chain and then leave them alone.

The chain gives enough so that when one puppy tugs, those next to it get a tug, also. Most puppies are uncomfortable at first and bark, pull or sometimes, just freeze. In time, though, they give in to the tugs without thinking and that’s the response we want. The transition to the leash or checkcord is now fairly easy.

Within a bit of time, puppies are completely relaxed on the stakeout chain.


By leaving the puppies to figure it out on their own, we’re not perceived as causing the restraint. In fact, after they settle down and we bring fresh water, they think we’re the good guys!

Meet our employees: Zac and Jeff

Most businesses are nothing without the dedication and reliability of hard-working employees. Northwoods Bird Dogs is no different.

Three years ago, Jerry and I took a big step when we decided that we couldn’t do it all ourselves anymore. The business had grown, thankfully, and to serve our clients in the way we wanted to, Jerry needed help with training and kennel chores.

Through the grapevine we heard about Zac Colton, who was 15 years old at the time. After meeting and talking to Zac and his parents (and his parents checking us out, too!), we hired him. Zac lives about 15 miles away on a hobby farm with four horses and a couple of dogs. Now a high school senior, he is involved with basketball and golf.

We feel extremely fortunate that Zac has returned each summer to work for us.

Our neighbor, Jeff Hintz, comes over three days a week to help.  He’ll do anything but his main job is as shooter. He works for free access to our wireless home network so after work each day he stops by the house and downloads whatever he needs to his iPad. 

Jeff is retired from a successful career in the Twin Cities and who, along with his friend, Ron Watson, has owned a chunk of Pine County land for 25 years. The two are avid grouse and woodcock hunters and spend a good share of their summers and falls as our neighbors at their hunting lodge.

Thank you, Zac and Jeff!

Happy puppies and puppy buyers

Ron Nielsen Family.

The puppies from our Blue Riptide x Blue Ghost litter were eight weeks old last weekend and Jerry and I had a steady stream of families here to pick out their puppy.

This was the second Northwoods Bird Dog puppy for two of the buyers. As we all know, it’s a small world. In 2006, Kevin Sipple first bought a wonderful tri-color female that is a littermate to this litter’s dam, Blue Ghost. This year he picked a matching, even-marked, tri-color female. Dwayne Splan is also back. His first puppy was a male out of Magic’s Rocky Belleboa x Old Glory Bluebelle in 2008 and, again, he was on the list for another male.


Splan clan

Other buyers included Chris Bye and Roberta Scherf from Wisconsin and the Nielsen and Head families from Minnesota.

It’s a sad day for me when the puppies go…but we’re grateful to the new owners and happy for the puppies.

Northwoods Birds Dogs    53370 Duxbury Road, Sandstone, Minnesota 55072
Jerry: 651-492-7312     |      Betsy: 651-769-3159     |           |      Directions
Follow us:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed
©2018 Northwoods Bird Dogs  |  Website: The Sportsman’s Cabinet