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6 Month Old Brittany Spaniel Pup Questions


Wild Willie

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Fellow gun dog owners, breeders and trainers...I would like some honest opinions regarding the following.

I was first introduced to the Brittany Spaniel breed of dog about 25 years ago. I hunted Bobwhite quail down south, in Missouri, with my father-in-law's Britt's and grew to love the breed. I acquired my first Britts when I was 24 years old but had to give them away only after 16 months due to a job transfer to St. Louis.

Now, after twenty two years I have been able to pick-up where I left off down in Missouri here in Minnesota. I made the plunge and just recently acquired a beautiful five month old pup from a breeder located in southern Minnesota. The pup show's wonderful hunting drive, pointing and retrieving instinct, intelligence and will to serve. He is great in the house, quick-to-learn and wonderful in the field.

Below is a list of issues I would like some honest input/feedback. Since I have been out of the bird dog game for some twenty years now...I would like some educated and unbiased opinions regarding the following:

1) Better to train your pup steady at wing only or is it better to train your pup steady at wing and shot? (I have heard conflicting opinions...sounds like a personal preference choice. Some folks believe that with pheasants it is better to have them steady at wing only. Others suggest that you should have them steady at wing and shot right away. My breeder's philosophy is that most dogs won't reach thier peek until they are four years old anyway. Giving owners plenty of time to finish the pup during the off season! Pups working steady at wing only have a lot more fun than those who are immediately trained steady at wing and shot. His motto is keep it fun for the pup as long as you can. But of course this means sacrifice in the field for the owners/trainer.)

2) Are more good gun dogs ruined by pushing them to fast? Or, are great gun dogs made by keeping it slow?

3) Other than using electronic shock collars. What is the best method to keep a pup with a lot of drive and ability, from ranging too far. Being careful not to go over board! The long lease is a viable option...but not very practical if the owner is trying to kill two birds with one stone. Hunting and training at the same time. Which, I know now, is impossible!

4) I now understand that it is easier to train a pup poorly than too recognize one's own teaching faults. A good friend and established Brittany owner took to the field with me and my pup last Saturday. He took notes on how I was doing in the field. I thought he was taking notes on how my pup was doing. After the hunt was complete he was quick to point out that my voice commands were too frequent and without follow-thru. And that I was too loud and too rough. That is why my pup might be hesitant to obey on command in the field, but is perfect at home or in the yard.

In closing my pup's breeder has told me not to worry! Just relax and have fun! Too just make it fun for the pup! And above all...the best thing I can do is to take the pup out as much as I can. Because, after all, his strong pure bred hunting instinct combined with lots of field experince are the only real ingredients he needs to become a good gun dog!

Thanks for your input!

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1) Better to train your pup steady at wing only or is it better to train your pup steady at wing and shot? (I have heard conflicting opinions...sounds like a personal preference choice. Some folks believe that with pheasants it is better to have them steady at wing only. Others suggest that you should have them steady at wing and shot right away. My breeder's philosophy is that most dogs won't reach thier peek until they are four years old anyway. Giving owners plenty of time to finish the pup during the off season! Pups working steady at wing only have a lot more fun than those who are immediately trained steady at wing and shot. His motto is keep it fun for the pup as long as you can. But of course this means sacrifice in the field for the owners/trainer.)

< Steady to wing and shot is a personal pref.
For safety sake I like steady to both wing and shot but I own a pointing breed and I like to watch the dog mark the bird and go for a long retrieve on my command. Since you own a Brittany (pointing dog?) I'd start teaching the dog to "Whoa".>

2) Are more good gun dogs ruined by pushing them to fast? Or, are great gun dogs made by keeping it slow? < Six months is the right age to intro obedience training and field training. To much pressure will shut a dog down. I'd keep it fun with lots of praise for good things and none for bad things.

3) Other than using electronic shock collars. What is the best method to keep a pup with a lot of drive and ability, from ranging too far. Being careful not to go over board! The long lease is a viable option...but not very practical if the owner is trying to kill two birds with one stone. Hunting and training at the same time. Which, I know now, is impossible!

< Use a check cord to keep the dog from ranging to far. After a while combine with a shock collar and then eventually drop the check cord. I wouldn't combine hunting a training sessions keep them seperate. If the dog is getting to much pressure and associates it with hunting she won't want to hunt. This is why people teach the "whoa" commnand away from birds until the dog understands it well enough that even the smell of bird won't cause the dog to break on "whoa".>

4) I now understand that it is easier to train a pup poorly than too recognize one's own teaching faults. A good friend and established Brittany owner took to the field with me and my pup last Saturday. He took notes on how I was doing in the field. I thought he was taking notes on how my pup was doing. After the hunt was complete he was quick to point out that my voice commands were too frequent and without follow-thru. And that I was too loud and too rough. That is why my pup might be hesitant to obey on command in the field, but is perfect at home or in the yard.

<Never give a command that you can't enforce.
A dogs brain is like a score board with the dog getting a point everytime she doesn't have to obey a command. You want to keep that score board empty. This will keep you from having to hack on the dog in the field and keep you from alerting those birds from a half mile off yelling at your dog. From a
gentlemans perspective I'd hate to hunt with someone who is constantly having to yell at their dog. One whistle command should be enough if not I get on the e-collar as a reminder.>

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First before a real die hard Brittany owner get on you about this, the dogs are Brittany’s not Brittany Spaniels, Spaniels are flushing dogs, Brits are pointers.
1. Better to train your pup steady at wing only or is it better to train your pup steady at wing and shot? ==== I have field trailed, trained and bred Springers for several years and I tell my clients if you are 100% of the time going to shoot the birds dead, train them to be steady to wing & shot. If they are going to trial it is a must. If you are going to hunt and you wing a few like everyone I hunt with does, then let that dog fly! The closer he is to a winged bird when it hits the ground the better the chances are you will get that rooster. As far as safety goes you will never shoot a dog if you don’t shoot birds not in the air, it’s your job to make safe shooting decisions. My dogs will jump 6 ft + into the air after a flushing bird and I have not shot a dog yet.
2. Are more good gun dogs ruined by pushing them to fast? Or, are great gun dogs made by keeping it slow? ==== Ask anyone with a dog that has the letters AFC or FC before its registered name, they will tell you great dogs are born and the skills they already have are honed to a sharper edge than the others. That’s why they stand out. To get a great edge on your hunting knife do you run it across a grinder or do you work it by hand on sharpening stones and a leather strap?
3) Other than using electronic shock collars. What is the best method to keep a pup with a lot of drive and ability, from ranging too far. ==== I made a gadget by using 2 tennis balls, a length of rope and a quick clip. Run the rope through the clip and put a hole in each tennis ball top & bottom, tie a knot on each end of the rope after threading it through the balls, adjust this to bounce off of and between their front legs, this will slow the dog down and more times than not you will have more control. A check cord is the best tool, that’s why it has been used for hundreds of years.
3. To kill two birds with one stone. Hunting and training at the same time. Which, I know now, is impossible! ==== DON’T DO IT! You already know it’s a bad idea.
4) I now understand that it is easier to train a pup poorly than too recognize one's own teaching faults. A good friend and established Brittany owner took to the field with me and my pup last Saturday. He took notes on how I was doing in the field. I thought he was taking notes on how my pup was doing. After the hunt was complete he was quick to point out that my voice commands were too frequent and without follow-thru. ==== I was asked by a Gentleman when I first started to field trial if I was able to smell a pheasant, to which I said of course not. To that he replied than quit yelling at your **** dog and let him do what he was born to do!
As the owner of a good Gun Dog don’t forget you place, remember you may think your training your dog but at some point you will realize who is really the trained and whom is the trainee.
Keep it short, keep it fun and always try to end a session on a positive.

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Good...great...wonderful! Thanks for your input! What are your thoughts regarding getting the pup nuetered. I believe it won't effect his drive in the field. All I have heard is positives - more mellow personality, less territorial, no problems with finding females in heat and most of all longer life due to less risk of cancers and other disease.

One friend of mine has suggested that I do not get it done. Especially if he turns out to be a great dog. He also suggest that the dog will gain weight and get fat. My response is, first I am not a breeder. If anyone in field likes how my dog performs than I can refer them to the real breeder. Secondly, if he starts to look like he is getting over weight, I will simply cut his food back and exercise him more. What are your thoughts? Am I making any sense?

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

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