When hunters shot waterfowl, Britanny spaniels had to go into the water and retrieve the fowl; it wasn’t easy. But, while the Brittany was almost exclusively a working dog in the past, they can still accompany their owners today on hunts, which brings them a lot of enjoyment.
Most Brittany spaniels are good duck dogs, and they are big enough to retrieve larger ducks. These dogs are often called bird dogs because that is their main prey. They have the necessary skills for duck hunting as they are agile, quick, great listeners, and highly intelligent.
Training a Brittany to hunt duck is as easy as bringing them to a few hunts and guiding them through the routine of what they need to do.
This article will explain the best way to train your Brittany Spaniel to duck hunt to give you a better picture of what to expect on your first hunting excursion.
The modern-day Brittany Spaniel is a much-loved companion dog who truly is your best buddy. However, it was a bit of a different story for their ancestors.
This breed developed from pointers and spaniels in Brittany, France, and was mainly used for their skills in tracking and retrieving game, mainly small animals and birds.
Can Brittany Dogs Duck Hunt?
Brittanys can certainly duck hunt; they are known as bird dogs as this is their main prey. Dogs need a specific skill set to be successful duck hunters, and Brittanys possess all of them. Consider the following Brittany characteristics to understand what makes them such adept hunters:
1. Athletic Build
Brittanys are medium-sized dogs; this is the perfect size for most master bird hunters. They are lean with brawny shoulders, long legs, and a muscular build.
Hunting dogs often have to run for many miles to track prey, so it’s crucial that your dog is healthy and fit with an athletic build to be able to endure long hunting trips
Brittanys are highly intelligent, thus being receptive to training. Brittany spaniels can obey your commands and remember them over time.
Many sports dogs can excel at one particular task, be it tracking, locating, retrieving, pointing, or flushing game to be either shot or brought to their masters; Brittanys, on the other hand, can do it all.
Brittanys are loyal to their masters and eager to please, which is an essential trait in a hunting dog. Brittanys are unlikely to run off and devour prey on their own or bark loudly, scaring off prey.
These dogs are obedient, and they listen to commands, making them perfect hunting companions. If your Brittany is well disciplined, he is more likely to enjoy the sport and be compliant to hard work.
4. Smelling And Tracking Capability
Hunting dogs need to possess an excellent nose to track and locate prey, possibly for long distances, in all weathers. Brittanys have exceptional scent-tracking abilities; they can smell birds from far-off distances.
Good hunting dogs enjoy swimming, and most Brittanys are excellent at swimming. The ability to retrieve prey in the eater is essential for duck hunting and other waterfowl.
6. Retrieving And Soft Mouth
Great hunting dogs need to be able to retrieve prey for their masters like waterfowl. Retrieving dogs need a gentle touch and a soft mouth to keep the prey intact and undamaged when returned to their master.
If your Britt likes to play fetch with a ball, this will help you train him to retrieve with a soft mouth for hunting purposes.
Training A Brittany Spaniel To Hunt Duck
Training your Brittany to hunt ducks can involve concentrating on one task you want him to help you with during a hunt. However, since Brittanys have various skills, they can perform a range of bird hunting tasks.
Brittanys can plow through dense underbrush to sniff out and find game. They are trainable and have excellent hunting skills. Hunters that hunt with Brittanys work closely with them, familiarizing them with and motivating them to hunt particular birds.
It’s not difficult as these dogs have a natural prey drive. With that said, Brittanys must learn when to stop after finding their prey so they do not flush prematurely before hunters are set to harvest game.
You must teach your Brittany they release command; this is where they rush at the birds to startle them to take flight so that the hunters can aim.
Sometimes these dogs are used to harvest game in their mouths and bring them to their owners. For all of these hunting tasks, your Britt works closely with you so that you can help him stay focused and take either verbal or gestural directions.
Brittanys learn to hunt duck faster when trained alongside older, more experienced dogs who can be an example to them and school them.
It helps to begin training your inexperienced Brittany in an enclosed wooded area to ensure he doesn’t get lost, as he will need to be off the leash. Some owners use tracking collars to locate their dogs should they go missing during a hunt.
Experienced hunters usually keep game birds for training purposes, as this exposes dogs to their sights, sounds, and scents.
Before you initiate hunting training, you must ensure that your Brittany has a good grasp on obedience commands and that he has an excellent off-leash recall.
There are a few hunting methods you could try using to teach your Brittany to hunt; let’s look at what they are in detail:
1. The Using Tame Birds Method
Firstly, you need to introduce a pen-raised bird like a chicken or quail to your Brittany while the bird is safely in the cage. This gets your companion eager to investigating the bird.
After some time, you can release the bird in an enclosed wooded area. Most hunting clubs have secure and well-fenced facilities for training bird dogs.
Allow your Brittany to explore and track the bird on a lengthy leash to stop him from harming the bird. You must keep the line loose while encouraging your dog to stay close to you. You must recall your Brittany regularly.
When your Brittany locates the bird command him ‘freeze.’ If he stops, reward him and offer up lots of praise. However, if your Brittany rushes at the bird, restrain and correct him.
Another alternative way to reward your dog is to continue hunting if he obeys while ending the hunt if he’s disobedient.
Once you are certain that your Britt has the hang of things on the long lead, you can practice off-leash. Practice over several weeks until your dog performs the right behaviors and obeying commands off-lead in a contained location with tame birds. Once you get used to his responses, you can initiate live open bird hunting.
2. Learning As You Go
Bring your Brittany out to fields and wooded areas regularly to get him acquainted with wild terrain. Encourage your dog to scent and let him look for prey.
You need to practice off-leash hunting and ensure that he has an excellent off-leash recall. Practice by calling your Brittany back to you and encouraging him to explore the area and hunt near you.
Teach your Britt the ‘freeze’ and ‘flush’ command and pair them with a hand signal to be able to use them in different situations. It helps to bring you Brittany hunting with other experienced sport dogs.
It helps to keep your inexperienced dog on a leash at the start as this allows him to observe other dogs working. You can gradually begin letting him hunt off-leash.
When you are sure your Britt is experienced in the wilderness and hunting with other skilled hunting dogs, you can bring him on solo trips to help him practice behaviors and commands for hunting dogs.
3. The Check Rope Method
You can purchase a check rope at any gun dog supply store or outdoor sports store and attach it to your dog’s collar.
The rope tightens on your dog’s flank when you pull on the tail end. You need to practice walking with your companion and say ‘whoa’ while stepping at the end of the check rope so that your dog stops. Eventually, your Brittany will stop when he hears the word whoa.
Bring your Britt to a wooded location with lots of game birds; when your dog sees ducks, say “whoa” and step on the rope’s tail so that your dog stops. You can begin making your dog stop only for a short period and gradually increase the time.
Introduce flushing behaviors by asking your dog to stay in one place while somebody else flushes the duck, or you can allow your dog to flush the bird by letting him go with a verbal command and letting go of the check rope.
When your Brittany responds appropriately to commands to set and flush, you can begin hunting off the lead.
Brittany Spaniels are known as bird dogs because they are skilled at hunting this prey, so it makes sense that they are excellent duck dogs.
Brittany spaniels possess all the right skills to hunt duck and other game successfully; duck hunting is an exercise that can be appreciated by both hunter and dog alike, and it provides an excellent bonding opportunity.
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