I was lucky my first Brittany dog named Rosie came from strong hunting lines, so my husband and I were able to just hunt with her without a lot of training. Just as well. We knew nothing about training anyway.
Our Sassy came from Brittany breeders who were into hunting and training, and they recommended several books for us to read. We joined a Brittany breed club where we sought advice from seasoned trainers. We read the books, watched training demonstrations and took part in some training exercises. So many different opinions on training made the whole thing feel quite daunting.
What I eventually figured out is that training — though it has basic, common tenets for every bird dog — is as individual as fingerprints and is an ongoing process. Dogs have different levels of natural instinct and abilities to listen and learn. They have distinct personalities that can affect what training methods are used and how long training takes.
The basic goals are clear. Dogs should have hunting patterns that are methodical and thorough. Pointing dogs, such as Brittanys, should stand still facing “on point” where the bird is hiding once a bird has been located. Dogs should “honor” or stop behind another dog on point when encountered. Pointing dogs should not move while the hunter flushes the bird out of its hiding spot and shoots it. Flushing dogs should work within gun range of the hunter as they rush in on bird scent and flush the birds out for the hunter. Dogs also should retrieve the bird to hand on command.
Classic and simple expectations — not so easy to achieve.
As a longtime employee of Bangor Daily News, I have served many roles over the years, but I now have a dream job as Community Editor. I live in Hermon with my four Brittany dogs: Sassy, Bullet, Thistle...
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