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Old 07-24-2007, 01:57 AM   #1
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Default Brittany Spaniel Questions!

Mya is a 7 year old liver Brittany Spaniel, she is fixed and was partially raised in my husband's parents household <before we got married>. She is a high strung, spirited dog who seems to have gotten the better of me <I'll confess to being more accustomed to herding dogs>. We are working with her, after my husband finally admitted she has issues, to help her out. I'll lay out her past and then explain what is going on.

His parents used Invisible Fencing, and did not train Recall. They had a wooden box kennel in the garage for their dogs to spend the night in and any time they were gone. This meant she never had the run of the house alone until he moved into our house almost 4 years ago.

Now, Mya is having a terrible with yard boundaries <we keep having to remind her every few months>, suffers from selective hearing, and she's afraid of thunderstorms and panics running all over the household to up and down stairs in and out of each room to find everyone <even though it's just me and hubby>. We have gotten her distracted by using raw hides to placate the nervous behavior, but that only works when we're here. When we come home she bounces and whines and whimpers. At this point we make her sit and 'Focus' before she gets any real physical contact. This is kind of working... but here's the kicker!

I took Ash for a walk without her, since both dogs tend to be yankers we are working with them separately on leash manners. When I left the house Mya shrieked and howled like someone was murdering her! I heard her all the way down to the corner <four houses down through closed windows> I have no idea how long that lasted. But we should be able to take one dog out at a time without the other dissolving into banshee mode. I'm fairly certain we can take on the issue, now that it is fully acknowledged by both of us and he is willing to try what is suggested.

Is this type of behavior common in Brittanies? We're also wondering if perhaps we should do more than just walks and the dog park to stimulate her, should we try some type of hunting dog trials? She practically points at birds! But, we are also concerned that she might be gun-shy due to her fear of thunder and lightening. She's not a big fetcher. Is there a trial of some sort that deals more with locating something through sniffing and sight? She loves to root around in the field at the park!

Anyway, just looking for feedback on her. She's a sweet high strung girl, and we'd like to get her more relaxed so she can enjoy life.
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Old 07-24-2007, 11:14 AM   #2
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For the screeching, maybe she's trying to tell you "Come back and get me! I want to go, too!" Maybe she's jealous that you take one dog out and leave her behind. My dog gets jealous like that. If I pet another dog she'll come up to me and start sucking up. If she can't get to me she'll bark at me. So, perhaps Mya is jealous?

For the hunting trials, I think it would be a good idea. I can't help you if she is gun-shy though, my dog was never scared of thunder.

Here's some stuff from the Temperament paragraph from Dogbreeinfo.com for Brittanies:

Quote:
The Brittany is intelligent, and easy to handle and train for hunting. It is a loving and gentle animal; obedient and always eager to please. Happy and alert. This breed is a very active and enthusiastic hunter. Some are nervous or hyperactive. The Brittany likes to roam. It adapts to all types of terrain: woods, plains or hills. It's resistant to cold and damp conditions. It is used especially for hunting woodcock, partridge, and hare, and is always active, enthusiastic, and untiring. It also has an outstanding instinct for retrieving from water. The Brittany has earned great popularity among millions of hunters because of its moderate size, which allows hunters to transport them easily.
source: http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/brittany.htm
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Old 07-24-2007, 11:27 AM   #3
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The best behavior & confidence builder I know is structured obedience classes. Once you've taken a few classes with success, I think switching to hunting work is a great idea or even continuing on with higher levels of obedience.

My ex had 2 Brittanys (BTW, the AKC officially dropped the word Spaniel in the breed name many years ago as they are not true spaniels). One was outstanding in obedience trials & never scored less than a 198-1/2 (out of a possible 200) and had several 200 scores. His first Brittany was a complete mess & had no obedience training. The difference in those dogs & their behavior was so drastic it was like they were entirely different breeds.
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Old 07-24-2007, 11:40 AM   #4
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Draco it sounds like you have your work cut out for you. As soon as I saw that your parents had not trained recall but had relied on invisible fencing to teach Mya the boundaries, I could see that this dog has been left to guess what was expected of her. If these habits have been ingrained for seven years you are going to have a heck of a time retraining this dog, but with love and patience a LOT is possible.
For whatever it is worth I would think that anyone who is familiar with herding dogs would have an easy time with Spaniels.
About all I can say is go back to basics as if this were a little puppy needing to learn recall and coping with separation anxiety. From what you have written that sounds like the biggest issues that this dog has.
Best of luck to you and please keep us posted.
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Old 07-24-2007, 11:46 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skunkstripe View Post
For whatever it is worth I would think that anyone who is familiar with herding dogs would have an easy time with Spaniels.
Not so sure I agree with this statement overall but, if you can handle a herding dog typical of its heritage, you can undoubtedly handle a sporting dog as long as you're willing to adapt to what motivates the individual dog.

I think they are very different personalities & I know that I've had to adjust my training style significantly to make the switch from training working/herding dogs to my goofy Golden. Once I let go of my tried & true methods, I started having immediate results.
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Old 07-24-2007, 12:14 PM   #6
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Yeah the pointing breeds are quite a bit different than the herding breeds.

Like the herding breeds though, they're a lot happier if they have a job to do.
They're bred to work in partnership with a hunter and therefore aren't quite as independent as a herding dog might be.

You can't go wrong with obedience training for a Brittany.

You also might want to look into the hunting tests for pointing breeds as an outlet for her energy. Here is a list of regional Brittany clubs, hopefully there's one in your area. http://clubs.akc.org/brit/secretary.htm Most clubs have regular training sessions where the members get together and train their dogs for hunting and the hunt tests and help each other out with all things regarding training.

And here's a link to list of hunting dog clubs. Depending on the area, sometimes the hunting dog clubs are more member-involved than the breed clubs. http://www.akc.org/clubs/search/inde...uestTimeout=45

Here is the link to AKC information on the hunt tests for pointing breeds. http://www.akc.org/events/hunting_te...eeds/index.cfm

Whatever you decide to do with her as far as an outlet for her energy; it should begin with basic obedience training.

As far as recognizing boundaries; she's a hunting dog and her first instinct is to follow her nose. You've really got your work cut out for you on that one! It isn't going to happen overnight and it may never happen!
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Old 07-24-2007, 01:26 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the great suggestions! I was just about to go back to square one in training with her. I had always previously trained from puppyhood where problems are easier to correct. My in-laws had very different ways of raising and keeping their dogs, unfortunately, those methods created a nasty transition. And my husband didn't think there was a problem.

Mya and I will start doing some basic recall work in the backyard, just as if she was a pup and see if we can't get that 'selective hearing' corrected. Once we have her minding her manners a bit, I'll see if we can connect to a local club for pointing and give her a go at that.

All in all, we should be able to take one dog with us without the other two going bonkers. Afterall, she wasn't completely alone, she had Calypso with her.

I have to laugh, we have a house with a small yard within city limits and own a Border Collie who is well adjusted and non-destructive for a indoor dog of that breed. Our boy turned out fantastic, trained like a dream... and Mya's the one giving us the run around. Jealousy was mentioned above, the most amusing thing is that Ashenpaw is the jealous attention seeker that displaces the other two from our laps. We have taken one dog without the other before <sometimes Mya gets a ride, sometimes Ash, occasionally Calypso> and it never became so apparent as the other day how deep seated Mya's issue had become.

We'll see how things go. A bit of good positive reinforcement training and applying her natural instinct should help in time.
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Old 07-24-2007, 02:12 PM   #8
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Draco, does Mya have her own crate? After re-reading your first post I see that she was crated in her former home. (Dog box, crate--same principle)

If she hasn't been crated since she's been with you, the answer to two of your problems could be as simple as providing her with a crate.
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Old 07-24-2007, 02:21 PM   #9
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We have one that we have used before, but if you close her in it and go upstairs she screams just as loud as when I left the house without her. The wooden box in the in-laws garage held her, Spencer and Jake all together. So, she wasn't alone. Granted, the crates big enough to hold both her and Ash, but if I'm TAKING Ash with me, that doesn't work. And closing Calypso inside will not work! She's an old girl and if Mya's enthusiastic pouncing happened to well... pounce on her, we could end up with a bit of a fight or a very smushed Calypso!

Mya seems to do better outside of the crate on normal occasions when all three dogs are around, she's just bouncy before we leave, and mildly vocal <high pitched whining in spurts>. When we return home, she is often looking over the back of the couch out the window quietly waiting for us. Then we'll find her at the side door bouncing and whining again. It's kind of like she's saying "You're home! You're home!!!" We've taken to making her sit and be quiet for a moment before she gets petted. This is helping lessen the jumping fits on return, and we've only been working on that for about two weeks now.
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Old 07-24-2007, 02:31 PM   #10
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Well darn! I thought I might be able to help, but it won't work if she hates being crated. Back to the drawing board!
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