How to Train Your Brittany Dog to Fetch

How to Train Your Brittany Dog to Fetch
Easy difficulty iconEasy
Time icon2-4 Weeks
Fun training category iconFun

Introduction

Brittany Spaniels were bred to be hunting dogs; they are excellent as fowl hunters and can not only point out the birds but can also be trained to retrieve your quarry. These dogs are incredibly active and fun-loving. They have exceptional energy levels that they need to run down from time to time. One great way to help your pup burn off a large amount of this energy is to teach him how to play a rousing game of fetch.

Keep in mind that Brittany dogs tend to be very sensitive and, as such, do not respond well to punishment or negative training methods. By far, the best methods of training your pup to fetch are those that involve positive reinforcement. This is a fun game for your pup to learn to play-- the more enjoyable you make training sessions, the faster your pup is likely to learn. 

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Defining Tasks

The idea behind fetch is that you train your dog to retrieve one item in multiple locations indoors and out using his senses of smell and sight. Since Brits are exceptional hunting dogs, they have an extremely well-developed sense of smell. Tracking comes naturally to the breed, which in turn makes it easy for you to take advantage of this natural ability and put it to good use.

Fetch actually comes naturally to many dogs, including Brits, which will also make training your pup to perform this trick easier. While you will be using treats during the training process, once your pup has mastered this simple skill, he will be more than happy to play fetch just for the fun of it. With a little hard work and patience, your dog will soon add another skill to his bag of tricks. 

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Getting Started

Before you start trying to train your Brit to fetch, he should have already mastered the four basic commands. These include, 'come', 'sit', 'stay', and 'down'. By teaching him these first, you are establishing control over his behavior, which will make teaching him to fetch much easier. You will also need a few training supplies along the way. These include:

  • Treats 
  • A rubber ball or toys
  • Leash
  • An assistant

You will also need plenty of space indoors and out to train in, a quiet time to train each day, and plenty of patience while you work with your pup to teach him how to play fetch. 

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The Assistant Method

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1

Starting positions

Starting in your backyard with a friend to help, have your dog come over to you and sit. Attach his leash to keep him from running after the ball when you throw it.

2

Throw the ball

Go ahead and throw the ball a few feet out in the yard while telling your assistant to go fetch it. Use a simple command like "Fetch, Joe".

3

Show the ball

When your friend gets to the ball, have him pick it up and hold it above his head. This lets your pup see it.

4

Fetch to me

Now have your assistant bring you the ball and when he hands it to you, be sure to heap tons of praise on him. You want your pup to get excited about what is going on. The more excited he gets about it, the more likely he will be to want to repeat what he has seen.

5

His turn

Repeat the training steps above, only this time let your dog play. Each time he brings the ball back to you be sure to give him lots of praise and, of course, a treat or two. Keep extending the distance you throw the ball until your pup will fetch the ball anytime you throw it.

The Toys Method

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Lots of toys

Gather up a basket of your pup's favorite toys to use during the training.

2

The toy toss

Take one of the toys and toss it on the ground a few feet in front of you where your pup can see it.

3

When he goes for it

Let your pup go and if he goes after it and brings it back to you, praise him and give him a treat. If not, then you might try walking or running in the opposite direction as this should encourage your dog to chase you down and give you the toy. When he does, give him a treat and praise him.

4

Add the command

Each time you toss out a toy for you Brit to fetch, give him the cue word, "fetch". After a few tries, your pup will soon learn to associate the cue word with what you expect him to do.

5

Use the rest of the toys

Now using each of the toys you gathered up, keep practicing at increasing distances. It should only take a couple of weeks for your pup to master this fun skill. It's not only fun but lets you pup get plenty of good healthy exercise.

The Start at the End Method

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Drop it comes first

In order to properly train your Brit to play fetch, he first needs to learn how to drop the ball in your hand when he gets back with it. Be sure to master 'drop it' before moving on.

2

On the leash

Put your pup on his leash and drop the ball on the ground a few feet in front of your pup. When your pup reaches out and picks the ball up, reach out your hand and have him 'drop it.' Give him a treat and praise him when he obeys.

3

Repetition builds success

Repeat the 'drop' step over the course of several days until your Brit will drop the ball every time.

4

Off his leash

Let your dog off his leash and start working with him to increase the distance of your throws' introducing the 'fetch' command as you do.

5

Work it puppy, work it

Keep practicing this trick until your pup will fetch the toy no matter where you throw it. Keep play sessions short to avoid burnout or heat exhaustion in the summer. It should only take a few weeks to teach your dog this nifty little trick and then the two of you can start having a lot of fun together.

By PB Getz

Published: 12/21/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Zara

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Brittany (Spaniel)

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2 Years

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Question

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Zara is not interested in retrieving dummies or balls. She has retrieved shot game but of coarse I can’t always have shot game every day. Sometimes when I throw a dummy she’ll just walk away. Occasionally she’ll run to it but then will just walk away.

Oct. 20, 2020

Zara's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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257 Dog owners recommended

Hello! The process to train a dog how to hunt is a very long one. There is no one easy step or piece of advice to give. So I am going to provide you with an article packed with great information. It's more involved than training fetch. If you have questions after reading the article. Please feel free to message again. https://wagwalking.com/training/hunt

Oct. 20, 2020

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Lucky

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Labrador Retriever

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11 Months

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Question

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I throw a ball, and tell my dog to drop it. After he does,I pick up the ball,and throw it. Is this the proper way to train my dog to play fetch? I didn't need to use treats, but I don't see him pant or sweat, but he looks like he doesn't want to play. Is he mentally tired, or is he associating "drop it" with not actually chasing the ball, but instead, leaving it alone at all times?

Feb. 15, 2019

Lucky's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kien, Some dogs, like Retrievers, naturally will bring you a ball and all you have to teach is the "Drop It" command. Other dogs have to be taught interest in balls, to come back to you with the ball, and to drop the ball. If your dog already does those other things on his own, you can simply keep playing like you are. Keep your energy fun and happy so that he looks forward to the game. If he thinks you are in a good mood, he is more likely to relax and have fun. If you feel like he needs extra motivation to enjoy the game, check out the video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-uUQE32FuU Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Feb. 15, 2019


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