Skip to main content

Teaching the Remote Hup

A command that is fundamental for the effective control of flushing dogs.

Teaching the Remote Hup

A reliable “hup” is essential for any flusher's safety and control in the field. (Photo By: Chris Ingram)

Every discipline of gun dog training has its unique lessons and commands that lead to an intended behavior. The pointing dog trainer will inevitably have a specific plan to teach and reinforce “whoa,” a command that ensures a staunch point in the presence of game. The retriever trainer will drill the marking of fallen game, and/or the release on a “back” command that sends a retriever on a straight line out to fetch. Flushing dog trainers, however, do things a bit differently. The flusher doesn’t require a specific command to seek and flush game. That behavior is a natural result of good breeding and prey drive. The flushing dog trainer instead drills and reinforces an “off switch” that is known as the “hup” command. With a sustained whistle blast, a raised hand, or the spoken command of “hup,” the flushing dog should sit down immediately in place and look back at the handler. This skill is fundamental to the proper and effective handling of any flushing dog, and in this installment, we will discuss how to teach the “hup” command, how to establish a remote “hup,” as well as the utility of the behavior/command, especially in hunting applications.

Training Steps

Teaching “hup” is quite straightforward, and not dissimilar from teaching “sit.” Beginning with the dog on a short slip lead, use an upward cue to raise the dog's head. In response to the upward cue, the dog’s rear end will drop to the ground. Reward this behavior with a treat. The treat can also be used in conjunction with the cue on the slip lead to keep the dog’s attention upward, helping to move the rear end down. This further helps the handler maintain eye contact with the dog. As usual, repeat this cue and response to establish the expected behavior, then name it with the command “hup.” Soon, with the pup on a slip lead at heel or close by, the command should get a consistent response.

dog trainer with English Cocker Spaniel
The key to a successful long distance remote hup starts with your dog's compliance in close proximity to you. (Photo By: Gun Dog)

To build up a remote hup, simply lengthen the distance. The behavior itself should be clear, so let the dog range a bit further, either on a longer lead or check cord. When the dog is three or four feet away, give the “hup” command. Slowly build distance with repetition and continue to reward and reinforce correct behavior. If things break down, move back closer once more. Once you feel that the dog is “hupping” well on a long cord, let him run a bit, and hup at increasing distance. Overlay whistle commands or hand signals as you wish but be a bit cautious about employing the e-collar to enforce a remote “hup.” In my experience, if the e-collar has also been used to reinforce a remote recall command, stimulation at a distance may be hard for the dog to differentiate unless the commands of “hup” and “here” are very well differentiated. What you don’t want is a confused dog who recalls when you give the “hup” command at a distance.


Practical Applications

The “hup” command has many practical applications. In essence, it is a “stop” command, meaning that once given, the dog should sit and remain in place until released. At root, this means that the hup can be used as a simple shut-off, a command that will stop a dog that is too wound up, over-heating, or simply bird-crazy, allowing him to get his head right and cool down. With a strong “hup,” a dog can be kept from getting into trouble or tangling with approaching danger. If a busy road is looming near, or a porcupine is spotted on the ground, a dog with a solid “hup” can be stopped, approached, and be safely kenneled or put back on a lead before anything serious comes to pass. In tight cover, or in places where it might be challenging for a hunter to keep pace with a quick-moving dog, a “hup” will allow the hunter time to catch up, navigate obstacles, or re-tie a boot.

black English Cocker Spaniel
A remote hup can be used for any number of applications including avoiding danger and hunting too far ahead, or a simple stop and check in. (Photo By: Chris Ingram)

A steady and solid “hup” is also a great outward gesture of manners and etiquette. I remember some years ago working as a picker at a tower shoot hosted by an exclusive gun club in the Hudson Valley. I was behind the line of guns with my spaniel on “hup,” and I would send him when a bird fell in the circle of ground we were responsible for. Sadly, the pickers beside me did not have well-trained dogs; there were several spaniels and Labs that ran around willy-nilly stealing birds from other dogs, starting trouble, and generally disrupting what could have been a well-orchestrated shoot. Their handlers had little control and could not stop them with a remote “hup” when the prey drive took over. My dog at times let the competitive atmosphere get to him, and he too began to falter. As they say “if you walk with a man that limps long enough, you eventually start limping, too.” In the end, however, it was my dog and a select few others that could be stopped remotely and held in check that were invited back to work future shoots. Manners, or at least the manners we arrived with, paid off.


In the field, specifically in walk-up hunting behind a flusher, a solid remote “hup” is extremely helpful. First and foremost, it will enable a hunter or handler to stop a dog that is chasing game, running deer, or pursuing a flush into the line of fire. Seasonality plays a role in the effective utility of a remote “hup” as well. As the season progresses in the northeast, our cover gets thin and breaks down, making it far easier to see birds on the ground well ahead of the dog. In this case, if a flusher can’t be stopped to enable guns to catch up and get into position, flushes will occur well out of effective range, and this situation will frustrate both dogs and hunters. Also, in our neck of the woods, late season hunts around ponds, lakes, or streams can pose the threat of thin ice. I have personally known dogs to be lost when pursuing crippled or shot game onto broken ice, and I would far rather “hup” a dog and lead him off a retrieve than see him potentially be lost to cold water drowning.

The “hup” command, and the ability to use it effectively from a distance, is an essential tool in the flushing dog handler’s tool kit. It may seem a basic command and behavior to teach, but its utility is undeniable. Start close, work in distance with success, and in short order you will have a dog that you can stop on a dime even at an impressive distance.

trainer with a pheasant and english springer spaniel
The ability to reliably “hup” your dog will help ensure their safety, manners, and effective performance in the training, trial, or hunting fields. (Photo By: Chris Ingram)
To Continue Reading

Go Premium Today.

Get everything Gun Dog has to offer. What's Included

  • Receive (6) 120-page magazines filled with the best dog training advice from expert trainers

  • Exclusive bird dog training videos presented by Gun Dog experts.

  • Complete access to a library of digital back issues spanning years of Gun Dog magazine.

  • Unique editorial written exclusively for premium members.

  • Ad-free experience at GunDogMag.com.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Sign In or start your online account

Get the Newletter Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Gun Dog articles delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Gun Dog subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now
Dog jumping out of phone with Gun Dog website in the background
Make the Jump to Gun Dog Premium

Gun Dog Premium is the go-to choice for sporting dog owners and upland hunting enthusiasts. Go Premium to recieve the follwing benefits:

The Magazine

Recieve (6) 120-page magazines filled with the best dog training advice from expert trainers.

Training Videos

Exclusive bird dog training videos presented by Gun Dog experts.

Digital Back Issues

Complete access to a library of digital back issues spanning years of Gun Dog magazine.

Exclusive Online Editorial

Unique editorial written exclusively for premium members.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Sign In or Start your online account

Go Premium

and get everything Gun Dog has to offer.

The Magazine

Recieve (6) 120-page magazines filled with the best dog training advice from expert trainers.

Training Videos

Exclusive bird dog training videos presented by Gun Dog experts.

Digital Back Issues

Complete access to a library of digital back issues spanning years of Gun Dog magazine.

Exclusive Online Editorial

Unique editorial written exclusively for premium members.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Sign In or Start your online account