Activities For A French Brittany

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Introduction

The French Brittany Spaniel is a medium-sized hunting Spaniel that was originally developed in France at some point prior to 1850, although they were not recognized as a distinct breed until much later. They were developed to be all around hunting dogs, with hunting skills that included tracking, pointing, and retrieving. They have a friendly and happy disposition and make excellent family pets as well as exceptional close range trackers and hunters for gamebirds of all sorts. 

Swimming

Popular
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Any Day
Cheap
Normal
15 - 45 min
Items needed
Life Vest
Leash
Activity description

French Brittany Spaniels were developed from pointers and spaniels in the Brittany region of France to track and retrieve various game birds and waterfowl for hunters, a job for which they are well-suited. In order to retrieve the waterfowl that was shot down by the hunters, these little dogs needed to be both willing to go into the water and they needed to be strong swimmers. Even if your particular canine companion is not destined to be a gun dog, they are likely to enjoy the water and swimming provides a great way to improve strength, stamina, and cardiovascular health without stressing their joints. 

Step
1
Find a place
If you are planning to hunt with your dog, they will need to get used to swimming in natural bodies of water. When choosing a natural body of water to swim in for the novice swimmer, you should pick a pond that is not bogged down with excessive algae or that has very few strong currents that can pull your dog off course and excessively tire them. There are also a few training areas specifically for waterfowl retrieval that are set with several different kinds of ponds that can help introduce your dog to as many controlled circumstances as possible. Those that are not planning on hunting with their dog may find swimming at an indoor canine dog pool safer as these facilities are free of potentially dangerous wildlife, bacteria, and strong unexpected currents.
Step
2
Getting the gear
Canines that are new to swimming, elderly, or arthritic are safer if they are fitted with a life vest in most situations, and when swimming in water with strong currents, all dogs should have one on. In the early spring and late fall hunting dogs are sometimes exposed to colder water and should also wear a neoprene vest in order to protect their chest area from the chill.
Step
3
Entering the water
One of the best ways to ruin the experience of swimming for even the most water-loving of dogs is to force them into the water. Even breeds that are specifically developed for their love of water can become fearful if they are pushed off of a dock or dropped into the water. It is better to coax your pup into the water gently the first few times, allowing them to get used to the feel of the water on their own time.
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Hunting Games

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Any Day
Cheap
Normal
5 - 45 min
Items needed
Duck Decoy
Boat
Bird wing
Activity description

While this breed makes an excellent family companion, they are often used as working dogs too. They are an excellent all-around hunting spaniel who can track, point, flush and retrieve. There are several games you can play with your French Brittany Spaniel to help prepare them for the art of retrieving waterfowl from ponds and lakes. These games and activities can provide your dog with mental stimulation and entertainment as well as being utilized to improve your dog’s hunting and retrieving skills. These games are generally enjoyable for canines of any ages and are frequently employed to help prepare pups that may still be too young to hunt.

Step
1
Duck and decoy
It is important that your hunting dog learn to recognize the difference between a decoy and a dead duck, and that they are not lead to believe that the decoy is a toy that is meant to be picked up and chewed on. While some hunters may throw an actual dead duck among the decoys to train their dogs, others find it simpler and less messy to anoint a training duck dummy or stuffed animal with duck scent.
Step
2
Feather retrieval
Many hunters will use duck or pigeon wings to play fetch in the house or yard to increase their pup's desire to retrieve feathered things. It is important to keep fetch games fairly short and uncomplicated, around two or three sessions a day of five to ten minutes each. In order to teach your dog some impulse control, you can have them wait to start running until you give the command to retrieve, but remember not to wait too long, generally giving the command just as the feathers hit the ground for younger pups.
Step
3
Boat buddy
Many hunters that specialize in hunting waterfowl such as ducks and geese will hunt from a boat rather than from the shore. For those hunters, it is essential that their canine hunting partner is calm and confident in the boat. Taking your dog out on the water in a boat on a frequent basis helps to ensure the confidence that is needed. When they are confident riding in the boat, you can help them get used to the feeling of the way the boat moves when they jump out by having them fetch a training dummy that is thrown from the boat.
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Scent Work

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
20 - 60 min
Items needed
Scent
Activity description

Our dogs have a much better sense of smell than we do, the olfactory senses of the average dog are typically around forty times more sensitive than that of the average human being, and dogs that were developed with the goal to be able to track their prey tend to have even more sensitive noses than average. The French Brittany Spaniel was developed with this goal in mind, and they are known for their air tracking, making them excellent candidates for scent work, both in controlled, competitive environments and when taking your dog hunting. This activity is not only useful as a means to provide mental stimulation, exercise, and training for hunting season, in some cases it can be used during search and rescue efforts as well.

Step
1
Pick a place
While scent work is an activity that can easily be practiced at home or in your backyard the French Brittany Spaniel may enjoy the challenge of a new environment to hunt in. If you are planning on hunting with your dog, practicing scent work in the field may even help acclimate your dog to that environment. Local dog sports academies and gun dog trainers may be able to help guide you as well, and will generally have a specific locale at which to meet.
Step
2
Choose a scent
The scent you choose to work with is likely to depend somewhat on the purpose of the scent training. In many cases, introductory scent work kits will come with specific scent markers such as birch and anise. Those that are training their canines to help them with hunting may prefer to start with the scent of the bird they intend to hunt, while dogs that are being trained for search and rescue are likely to be taught to search for the human scent.
Step
3
Search
Initially, the item that your pet is searching for should be hidden somewhere fairly easy to locate, but as your dog gains a greater mastery of the tracking skill you can increase the challenge by hiding the scent in more challenging locations or by adding time limits to the searches.
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More Fun Ideas...

Agility Training

These dogs are typically quite easy to train and are likely to enjoy and possibly even excel at the active and dynamic dog sport known as agility training.  

Dock Diving

Active dogs like the French Brittany Spaniel that enjoy swimming may also enjoy the sport of dock diving, in which dogs compete to make the longest jump into a long straight pool of water.  

Conclusion

The French Brittany breed is a friendly and energetic breed of dog that loves to work closely with their chosen humans and needs an outlet for their considerable energy. They are well-suited to both tracking exercises and water sports as well as being excellent pointers and retrievers in the field when hunting game birds of all sorts.