How to Train Your Brittany Dog to Point

Medium
4-6 Weeks
Work

Introduction

You own a Brittany, a wonderful, loyal, family-oriented spaniel dog, but you recognize that this breed needs to exercise and have a job or purpose outside of snuggling with you on the couch. If you want to track, trail, or hunt with your Brittany, you’d probably like it if your dog learned to scent or sight point while doing so. With some patience and proper training, any Brittany can learn to point.

This particular breed was designed to point at game as opposed to flushing it out of cover, one reason why the “spaniel” part of the breed’s name was eventually dropped. Bred from a combination of various pointers and setters, the Brittany has a natural inclination to point, which can make the process of training your dog to accomplish this skill somewhat easier than with another breed. 

Defining Tasks

Much of the process of training your Brittany to point will come from her instincts, with your proper and positive encouragement. Patience and a gentle voice are a must when working with this breed; the Brittany is a very sensitive dog by nature and does not respond well to loud, raised, or angry voices. The Brittany is a highly intelligent breed. Therefore any training for this dog needs to be firm and consistent but delivered with positivity. You will earn your Brittany’s trust by following this method, thereby gaining her undying loyalty.

Training the Brittany to point should be part of a larger job or form of exercise for the dog. This other job can be anything from hunting to trail walking to games like flyball. The Brittany needs daily exercise, stimulation, and enrichment to be a happy, healthy dog. Approach these training processes with patience, care, and respect for your dog, and that Brittany will be pointing in no time at all.

Getting Started

First, you want to be able to recognize a Brittany point when it happens. Your dog will go still, will shift her nose in the direction of the sight or smell she has noticed, will raise one front foot bent upwards, and her tail will be still and pointed up. 

Have some treats, a sturdy lead or harness, and a whistle on hand. Bring your dog's favorite toy, or if training your Brittany to hunt, bring a bird launcher and dummy. Be sure to dress in bright colors, especially if you are training a point in a wooded area where hunting may occur. 

Most of all, be patient with your Brittany. Your dog has a strong desire to please you, but also has instincts inherent to her breed, such as an active prey drive. Work with your Brittany, not against her, and you will soon be enjoying the beautiful sight of a Brittany dog on point!

The Chaining Method

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Step
1
Use a whistle
Over the first week of training, use a whistle to teach your dog to stop when she hears its sound.
Step
2
Test the whistle stop
Step back about 20 yards from your Brittany and give him the whistle command to stop at about 10 yards from you. Make sure that your Brittany can follow this command before proceeding to Step 3.
Step
3
Incorporate the target
Using your dog's toy or a bird launcher with dummy, throw or launch the item into the air. Then give the whistle command so that your dog stops.
Step
4
Repeat
Repeat the launch process until your Brittany stops when she sees the toy or dummy thrown in the air.
Step
5
Enjoy the point
With practice, you will begin to see your Brittany go on point when she sees the toy thrown in the air and land on the ground.
Recommend training method?

The Run and Chase Method

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Step
1
Go outside
Choose a place that will have either birds or small animals for your dog to chase.
Step
2
Let your Brittany run
It may seem counterproductive at first, but if your Brittany isn't naturally pointing, she probably needs to get acquainted or reacquainted with the scent and sight of birds. So let her run around and flush out and chase some game.
Step
3
Protect the birds
Make sure that when you let your Brittany run after birds that she does not catch them. Using a check-cord can be helpful at this point of training if your dog is fast enough to catch birds.
Step
4
Let the birds do the teaching
Eventually your Brittany will learn to stop herself from chasing birds because she will realize that it's much easier to stop still and point in the birds' direction. This step may develop more quickly if you are shooting the birds.
Step
5
Be patient and repeat
It may take a few weeks for your Brittany to develop her point. Be patient and repeat the previous steps. Let the birds train your dog to point.
Recommend training method?

The "Whoa" Method

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Step
1
Find the right location
Locate a place to train your Brittany that has no distractions, especially no other dogs or birds.
Step
2
Use the lead and walk
Place your dog on a sturdy lead. Let her walk a step or two in front of you.
Step
3
Give the "whoa" command
Once your Brittany is a step or two ahead, give the command "whoa" and simultaneously give the lead a sturdy tug.
Step
4
Walk around your dog
Once your Brittany has halted, keep her in place while you walk all the way around her. If she turns toward you at any point, simply repeat "whoa" and set her back where she was before. She needs to learn that "whoa" means 'stop' no matter what you are doing.
Step
5
Move the training outside
When your Brittany has mastered the 'whoa' command, bring her outside and give the process a try in the presence of birds or other small animals. She should respond to the command and her natural instinct to point will kick in.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Wren
Brittany (Spaniel)
14 Months
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Question
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Wren
Brittany (Spaniel)
14 Months

Dog doesn't seem to want to hunt.stays right at my side or heels

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
416 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brian, I suggest working on real bird introductions if you have not already done so. Practice training with live birds that have their wings pinned so they can run or are caged, or practice with real dead birds, either frozen with head, wings, and feathers still attached and then thawed out, or freshly shot birds. If the movement of the birds scares him start with birds wings first, then move onto real dead birds, and finally live pinned/moving birds. Also, work on distance commands, including distance stays and moving downs, where your dog will down mid-walk while you keep walking. You want to reward things that involve the dog obediently staying further away from you during training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Scout
Brittany (Spaniel)
2 Years
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Question
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Scout
Brittany (Spaniel)
2 Years

Hi
When I am walking scout I am using an e-collar. I let him run and try to keep him 20-30 yards around me. He has been getting further and further and I am having to use tone and vibrate to get his attention to come back. Any suggestions on training to keep him closer.
Thanks
Jason

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
416 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jason, You can teach an e-collar heel for when you want him right beside you. You can also encourage him to generally check back in and follow you more closely automatically. It would probably be good to do both. The automatic checking in for most of the time and a structured e-collar heel for when you need him really close, like when you pass someone on a trail. For the automatic check-ins, put a thirty or fifty-foot leash on him. Walk around a large open field type area and randomly change directions. Whenever he changes directions with you without being tugged by the leash first or comes close to you, praise him and give him a treat. Practice this until he doesn't get as many tugs with the leash because he is paying better attention and turning with you or checking in more by coming over to you, or do this until he will not leave your side in hopes of getting a treat. When he gets to one of those points, then practice this without the leash and just the e-collar, and reward him whenever he checks in with you on his own. Carry treats on walks for a while but keep them out of sight so that you keep him guessing when you will have one for him. For the e-collar training. If you are already proficient in e-collar use, then attach a ten-to-thirty-foot leash to him, give him about six-feet of length and practice regular heeling. Whenever he starts to move in front of you, turn in front of him at a ninety-degree angle. If he lags behind, then jog a little to get his attention. Change your direction and speed to keep him interested in you. Check out the article that I have linked below and follow the "Turns" method. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel When he is doing well on the ten-foot-leash with a general leashed-heel, then give him eight-to-ten-feet of length (so that there is more slack in the leash) and whenever you make a sudden turn, tell him "Heel", hit the stimulate button on the e-collar (on the lowest working level that he can feel), and as soon as he makes the turn with you stop pressing the button. Guide him into place with the leash quickly if he does not catch up on his own, so that you can stop pressing the stimulation button quickly...You are teaching him that being beside you will stop the stimulation...You do not want him to be stimulated for long. Once he is beside you again, then offer a treat. Practice the heel on the ten-foot leash until he will turn with you right away when you say "Heel", and when he will turn with you just when you make a turn without saying anything. If he makes the turn with you and there is no delay, then don't stimulate him at that point. Tell him "Heel" when you first want him to start walking with you in the heel position or if he needs reminding. When he can consistently do the command on the ten-foot leash, then you can let more of the leash drag (be careful he does not trip on it), so that he feels like he is off-leash. Once he can follow you with the leash dragging, then take the leash off again. Practice random "come" commands with treats and the e-collar during walks. Practice off-leash "Heels" sporadically, and rewarding his automatically checking in with you during walks. You want him to stay in training mode during the walk and to stay attentive, even while exploring. He should learn to keep an eye out for where you are. Also, changing your route and direction on him sporadically and giving a whistle or some type of noise (not a specific command) to get his attention should keep him guessing enough that he learns to pay better attention (because you might go somewhere different than where he thought you were headed so he better follow better). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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