How to Train Your Brittany Dog to Hunt

Hard
1-6 Months
Work

Introduction

Despite often being referred to as a Spaniel, the Brittany breed shares more characteristics with a Pointer or a Setter. Over the years, you have come to love your Brittany's adaptable, attentive and energetic attributes. He’s a firm family favorite and crowd pleaser when you have guests over. However, you also welcomed him into your home because you had other plans for him. You want him to join you on your hunting adventures. He’s got a fantastic sense of smell and is more than intelligent enough to excel in training.

Training him to hunt will also bring with it a number of benefits. Firstly, you’ll have some company when you head out with your rifle slung over your shoulder. Secondly, it’s a fantastic way to bond with your canine pal. Finally, it’s a great way to channel his energy into something productive.

Defining Tasks

Despite your Brittany dog being sharp and eager to please, training will not be easy. You will need to consistently encourage hunting behavior from an early age as possible. You will also need to get him familiar with his prey. Brittany dogs learn best when they think they are playing a game. So, you will need to motivate him through play and using mouthwatering rewards.

If he’s a puppy he should be receptive and keen to please. This means you could see results in just a month or two. If he’s older and not quite the avid student he was in his youth, then you may need up to six months. Succeed and you’ll hopefully improve your current hunting record. Not to mention, you have an effective way to exercise him. Finally, this type of obedience training will make it easier to teach him a range of other commands too.

Getting Started

Before you get to work, you will need to get your hands on a few bits. A short training leash, some decoy toys, and scent spray will be needed. You will also need to stock up on tasty treats or break your dog's favorite food into small pieces. 

You will need to set aside 15 minutes each day for training. You can practice in your yard and then in local fields.

Once you have all that, you just need patience and a proactive attitude, then work can begin!

The Start Early Method

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Step
1
Day one
The earlier you can start training your Brittany dog, the faster he will respond to training. So, take him to obedience classes as soon as you can. ‘Sit’, ‘down’ and ‘wait’ will all come in useful later when he’s out hunting.
Step
2
Encouragement
Verbally praise him and hand over mouth watering treats whenever he displays any encouraging behavior. This could be barking, chasing, or aggression towards his future prey.
Step
3
Get him gun friendly
You don’t want him running away scared at the sound of a gun shot. So take him out and practice stealthily walking through fields. In addition, get him used to all the sounds and sights he will see later on. You want him to be able to concentrate and focus when he’s out hunting for real.
Step
4
Reward
Make sure he always gets a reward when he catches something. If he doesn’t get the praise he was expecting, he will quickly give up. This is particularly important at the beginning of training.
Step
5
Never punish him
It is important you never punish your Brittany dog. You do not want to make him aggressive towards humans. Positive reinforcement is always the most effective learning technique.
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The Lead the Way Method

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Get excited
Brittany dogs mirror their owner's behavior. So if he sees you getting excited by his future prey, he will quickly get worked up. This means you need to point and talk in an animated voice whenever you see them.
Step
2
Give chase
Once you have captured his attention, you then need to start running towards your prey. Wave your hands in the air and shout as you go. Don’t worry, your Brittany dog will quickly catch on.
Step
3
Consistency
You need to do this every time. You may look like a crazy person, but consistency is key. If you do this every time you see his prey, he will soon naturally get worked up whenever he sees one.
Step
4
Reward
It’s important he always gets a reward when he gives chase. In fact, to start with he should get a tasty reward even if he doesn’t actually succeed. You don’t want to discourage him from trying again.
Step
5
Click
You can use a clicker to further reinforce the training. Simply click whenever he follows your instruction or behaves correctly. This is fantastic way of signalling to him when he is on the right and track and it may speed up the learning process.
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The Scent Trail Method

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Step
1
Decoy play
Spray your decoy toy with scent spray, which you can get online, and then spend a few minutes each day playing around with them. Play fetch and tug of war. Both will get your dog used to the sight and smell of his future prey. Not to mention it will get him worked up whenever he sees them.
Step
2
Setting up
Now create a scent trail from your back door around your yard. It should lead to a hidden decoy. Secure him to a leash and then take him to the beginning of the trail. Point and talk in an animated voice to get him focused and following the trail.
Step
3
Reward
Make sure he follows the trail and pull him back towards it if he loses interest. It’s essential he gets to the end so he knows there is always something waiting for him if he persists. Then spend a minute or so playing around with a toy as a reward. Practice this several times each week.
Step
4
Make it harder
Once he gets the hang of it, you can start making scent trails in local fields. Here there will be more distractions and it will be harder. However, it will get him used to hunting in real life conditions.
Step
5
Let loose
Practice in fields a few times each week. As he improves you can let him off the leash. By this point he will be keen to play and follow the trail. He knows it will please you and more importantly, that he will get a decent reward at the end.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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