Soft PointingDear Sirs,
I have a five year old Brittany. I rescued him from the local humane society at age three. This dog has an excellent temperment and just wants to please. I have no idea want his blood line is. When we are in the field he appears to be hunting but so far all I have seen is a soft point for just a second and then he continues to hunt leaving the birds he just pointed behind. After a few hours he seems to get bored with the whole thing and begins to follow me. Is this a lost cause? Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated. First I'd like to thank you on behalf of the many people who take the time to rescue dogs. Your adoption of a rescue Brittany shows that you care and will take the necessary steps to have a wonderful relationship.
A five year old Brittany is entering into his prime as an adult. In most Brittany circles, the Brittany is considered a juvenile until age 2. It's certainly not too late.
Your description that the Brittany wants to please you is typical of the breed. The Brittany seems to thrive on affection more so than other pointing breeds and it seems to translate to the field.
Now to the "point", pardoning the pun. Finding the previous owners to see if the dog was ever trained on birds would be most helpful. But, let's just assume you can't find out anything.
The "soft" point you describe may just be a juvenile response to birds and it simply hasn't learned what game birds are all about. If so, then starting from the very beginning with yard work is appropriate. Proper sound conditioning is a must. If you have shot birds around the dog and you know it isn't gun-shy then move on.
It is very helpful for this late starter to work into a planted bird on a check cord (the bird being in a remote control launcher if possible). As soon as the dog "soft points", immediately put the bird up into the air and kill it. Don't miss and dont' be slow to let the dog break point before you put it up! Let the dog run to the downed bird and mouth it. Praise like crazy and reward! Now move on to the basics of yard work.
If however, this dog belonged to a someone who wasn't the best trainer and he ruined the dog causing it to blink, then you have another problem. Seek professional help to correct this unless you are very proficient at correcting this man-made fault.
The key right now is to get this dog crazy about game birds and the only way to do that is to put him on birds often. Don't rush, keep lessons to 10 minutes, end positive, and have some quality play time after training.
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