Laura Johnson wrote: Is honoring something that *has* to be trained, or is it something that most dogs will do naturally to some extent (with a bit of training to refine it)?
Both. Some dogs honor naturally and then you have some that need to be trained to honor the standing dog and not the scent. Many dogs want to get in there a smell that wonderful scent before believing the other dog knows what he's talking about. (stealing point)
Teaching a dog to honor comes in to play with the other field training.
One training techique is using a dog that is Steady and experienced to help train a dog that is not to honor/back. You bring the steady dog in on point, then you bring the inexperienced dog in on a check cord (to control the situation). You stop him when he sees the other dog standing. You want the dog to realize he's stopping for the dog standing and not the scent of the bird.(You need two people for this type of training.) These steps are done over and over and over, in different situations, until you're sure the dog has the idea.
The dog must understand the word "WHOA". So while the 'picture' is
going on in front of the dog, you use the commands to enforce it. Later
Delmar Smith has a very good book out "Training your own Gun Dog". It's got some unusual, but effective techiques that work. GO to Field Trials, ride the braces and watch the Dogs and the Handlers. Talk to them, ask advice. People love to talk about themselves and their successes. Listen to what they say and don't assume you know what they're talking about - repeat what they said, so you're sure they explained it the way that you thought. They talk in slang, and refer to things with a word that means the total opposite of what you thought. i.e. like when they say in their advise "when he breaks" they don't mean stop, they mean "when he takes off without permission." Obedience training in your back yard is a must! Throw and retrieve, let him run on a check cord and Whoa him. Put him on Stay. Simple easy back yard training is where you begin first. Find books and read.
Have FUN! Make it FUN!