Training Philosophy

What a good breaker (trainer) does is to develop all the good qualities that are instinctive with pointers and setters and teach him good manners.
~ C. B. Whitford, Training the Bird Dog, 1908

More than 100 years later, Whitford’s words ring true for us at Northwoods Bird Dogs. The fundamental role of a good dog trainer is to develop the dog’s instinctive behavior and to teach it to become an exceptional companion.

Our ultimate goal is equally simple. We want a bird dog that completely knows its job and does that work in a confident, spirited manner with little or no direction from the handler.

Our training is based on some fundamental beliefs about dogs.

  • Dogs are intelligent animals and should be treated with respect.
  • Dogs aren’t people. They are happiest and most balanced when being treated as dogs.
  • Dogs are pack animals and function best when they understand their place in the pack.
  • Dogs communicate their thoughts and feelings using body language and energy.
  • Dogs tend to repeat behavior that has a positive outcome for them and not repeat behavior that has negative results.

To accomplish our goal, we work dogs in a manner that lets both dog and trainer remain calm and happy. We use tools and techniques that allow the dog to make choices and to learn from the consequences of those choices.

When we put our hands on the dog in a training situation, it is to praise or reward for the proper response. During our sessions, we say very little; instead we use body language and touch to communicate to the dog.

We believe birds are the best natural teacher and use them extensively. We create situations where the dog learns how to handle birds from the reaction of the birds.

Finally, dog training is an art and there is no training formula that works for every dog.  As such, no dog trainer knows it all and the next dog we train will teach us a little more.

~ Jerry Kolter, Trainer, Northwoods Bird Dogs

Jerry Kolter and Northwoods Vixen.