How far should Brittany range

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BigK75
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How far should Brittany range

Post by BigK75 » Sat Oct 03, 2020 1:14 pm

I have a Brittany puppy (8 months old) who has insane bird drive. He also loves go far away from me for some reason. I have him on a Garmin 550 Pro GPS so I know exactly where and far he is away from me. I see him often get out to 150-200 yards before I ecollar and blow the whistle. Can someone help me as a first time bird dog owner how far I should my Brittany range. We are hunting in Ontario with tons of trees and stuff. I love this forum appreciate all the advice.

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Sharon
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Re: How far should Brittany range

Post by Sharon » Sat Oct 03, 2020 1:49 pm

For me , as long as the dog was holding the bird till I got there, it didn't matter how far out he/she was.
" We are more than our gender, skin color, class, sexuality or age; we are unlimited potential, and can not be defined by one label." quote A. Bartlett

birddogger2
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Re: How far should Brittany range

Post by birddogger2 » Sat Oct 03, 2020 2:06 pm

BigK -

First bird dog eh? And it sounds like you got a good one.
Boy are you in for some interesting times. :D

A bird dog's function is to seek birds. It is driven to run and hunt, as far as it needs to to fined birds. What your dog is doing sounds pretty good to me, but then I run borderline all age pointers. and I am used to dogs that are out of my sight.

A part of "how far" is in the dog's genetics and with bird dogs, THAT "how far" is probably going to be uncomfortable for the first time bird dog owner.

The other part of the "how far" is what YOU allow and encourage. Always remember that what you allow, you do encourage. You can modify(shorten up) a dog's range, to a degree. I have never had success in increasing a dog's range though.

The ideal range for a bird dog depends on several things. First it depends on the terrain and cover. the thicker it is, the closer the dog needs to work. Then it depends on the species and type of bird. Some birds are naturally "flighty" and will not hold for most dogs for long. Pressured wild pheasants would be a prime example of this. They will often run out from under a point that does not have them locked in place. It depends also on the pace and ability of the hunter to cover ground, because most good dogs WANT to stay in contact with their hunter, so the young Turk that can cover ground will allow their dog to range wider and farther than an old fart like me that ran their last 60 yard dash a few decades ago.

Every hunter hunts differently and has different expectations, thus yielding a different definition of "how far". Often the same hunter will have a different expectation of "how far" for different dogs, because they work differently.

For the first time bird dog owner, the ideal range is also very much a matter of mutual trust. The hunter has to learn to trust the dog to find and hold the bird( even when they are(HORRORS!!!)... out of sight) and that the dog will loop back to re-establish contact... and the dog has to learn to trust that the hunter will get there and kill the bird for them.

THAT trust does not just happen...it takes time and shoeleather.

The good news is that you have a tool(Garmin 550) that allows you to develop that trust and also allows you to cue the dog to modify its range, turn and circle back, etc. When I started following bird dogs, there was no such thing, and there were plenty of anxious moments.

I suggest that you vary the terrain you hunt the dog in and be as consistent as you can in cueing the dog to turn and hunt laterally a a distance YOU find comfortable. Brittanys, as a breed, are generally pretty quick on the uptake and they are also pretty good about wanting to hang with their hunting partner and modifying their hunting pattern to accomplish that.

Have fun with your youngster.

RayG

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greg jacobs
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Re: How far should Brittany range

Post by greg jacobs » Sat Oct 03, 2020 4:21 pm

Have one that was 400yds by 4 months she wants to be an 800yd dog. Not comfortable with 800.
The other was 100yd dog by 4 months. He is a 200yd dog that hits 300 and once in a while 400.

I'd talk to the breeder, its all in the genes. If he thinks you have a 400yd dog and you want a 200yd dog I'd limit him to 150yds for a while. If you let him roll now neither of you are going to enjoy reeling him back in later.

With a young pup I change directions and don't say anything. They learn to keep an eye on you. I start this at 8 weeks old.

RyanDoolittle
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Re: How far should Brittany range

Post by RyanDoolittle » Sun Oct 04, 2020 3:31 pm

Noone can answer how far your dog needs to range. Cover, terrain, training, individual dog. These are all factors that you take into consideration.

Example, right now I have a 4 month old puppy thatI just let roll. She is just starting to get some legs and hasn't seen alot of birds. At this point I just want her finding birds to the front so I keep her moving forward. Once she is finding and pointing birds I will reel her in and not let her past the point I can get to her before she breaks. Once she is standing reliably, letting me infront to flush, and doing things right I will give her some of that range and freedom back.

The longer and more reliable a dog is, the farther I let them run.

During training I keep the dog close regardless.

At this point during hunting season I encourage people not to train. Not many of us have the self control to not shoot birds we shouldn't, not many of us can focus on shooting birds and making sure the dog is doing what it needs to do. You either do it right or dont do it at all. In this case I would encourage you to keep your dog infront of you at 10 & 2, keep them moving forward, dont give a command the dog wont follow and just let the dog hunt. Once season is done, you can dedicate your time and focus entirely on the dog, that is when you start refining the dog for next season.

BigK75
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Re: How far should Brittany range

Post by BigK75 » Wed Oct 07, 2020 8:02 pm

These are all awesome replies and I have read them many times over. The replies actually makes me feel pretty good that he is ranging well but....

Today I had a set back that made me feel pretty down. I took my dog into a forest and let him run. This was a thick forest. Usually I try for grasses with maybe some forest on the outskirts. At first he kept to about 30 yards. It was incredibly thick with very high winds (gusts to 60kph). Anyway next thing I now he is 250 yards away. I tried blowing the whistle...nothing....I tried ecollar....nothing....he would get to 90 yards of me and then take off again in a all sorts of different directions. The cover was raspberry type where walking through it was near impossible to get through. After 20 minutes of calling he finally found me and for the first ever he ran straight to me and started whimpering. I never seen him whimper like that before. He shook for 15 minutes in the car. I think he was truly lost but I have no idea as a newbie dog owner. I have never encountered anything like this before so I have no idea what happened.

What really confuses me as a new dog own is how does he know where I am. If I change direction will he know, will he find me. How do I know if he is truly lost. I noticed he often circles behind me....is this normal?

I know you guys know but I am first time dog owner and I have never loved an animal like this before. When he hurt himself a few months ago I balled my eyes out because I thought he might have tore his ACL and I felt it was my fault. WTH is wrong with me :) I am asking all these question because I cannot lose him and I have no Brittany mentors to help me out with this.

IDHunter
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Re: How far should Brittany range

Post by IDHunter » Wed Oct 07, 2020 8:37 pm

I'm new to this as well, so take this with a grain of salt. Maybe if he truly felt lost today and he didn't like that feeling it will reinforce that he needs to keep better tabs on you, which it sounds like you want. Some of the stuff I've read about letting a dog range suggests that one of the best things you can do for a pup is let him get "lost", without actually losing him or having him be in danger. I have hidden from my pup several times while we are out working (I can see him but he can't see me clearly) and I can tell you that once he realizes he has lost track of me he goes into overdrive trying to find me. I feel like it has worked well for me, as my pup will seldom get more than 200 yards in front of me without at least glancing back to check in. Normally he does it well before he hits the 200 yard mark, and as a first time dog owner who is getting used to having a dog that ranges out I can tell you that I like this fact.

Anyways, just something to consider as a possible upside to your recent experience. I'd be interested to hear how things go on your next outing.

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deseeker
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Re: How far should Brittany range

Post by deseeker » Wed Oct 07, 2020 9:09 pm

If the wind is over 30mph, I won't hunt my dog in tall heavy cover without an Astro -- it's too hard for both you and the dog to keep track of each other
in high wind. When the wind is high, I hunt shorter cover, so we both know where we are. The way you said the dog acted when he came back, he probably did lose you. As he gets older he will do a better job of keeping track of you.
If a field trialer loses a dog in the last brace (& he doesn't have an astro), once it gets dark he'll leave a jacket at the break away spot or the pick up spot -- the dog is usually by the jacket the next morning. They are pretty good back tracking where they came from. :D

BigK75
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Re: How far should Brittany range

Post by BigK75 » Wed Oct 07, 2020 9:25 pm

Deseeker: This was a big mistake on my part. I had the Garmin Pro 550 so I had GPS on him today but I should not have gone where I went today. Rookie mistake.

IDHunter: That is the hope. We live in Ontario so 200 yards or even 30 yards often means I have no idea where he is. I called the breeder today and he said to keep him under 60 yards until 2 years old. Ontario has really think cover so its often impossible to see them past 30-40yds often. i started playing the hide and seek games lately as well.

Makintrax73
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Re: How far should Brittany range

Post by Makintrax73 » Mon Oct 12, 2020 2:48 pm

I usually disagree with a lot of posts on this forum about range. I don't find 200+ yards useful in almost all cases because I don't find that an average dog has what it takes to "stick" most birds long enough for me to walk that far - especially pheasants and grouse in the thick stuff. Perhaps because of the nature of the forum we have enthusiasts who are more likely to have well above average dogs, and they do get it done at those ranges. I don't think the average guy with 1 or 2 dogs does, or perhaps I am a below average dog picker.

Either way it's a heck of a lot easier to bring a dog in, than it is to push a dog with no drive out. And as much of a pain in the butt a high drive dog can be for a new trainer it has a big benefit too: A high drive dog will brush off YOUR screw ups (I know I still screw up plenty after 25 years and 5 dogs) and keep on hunting. A wilting lilly on the other hand will fall apart on you and might require a professional with a real delicate touch. So most likely your dog getting scared of being lost will be a lesson and not hurt the dog at all.

So if YOU prefer YOUR dog to work a little closer then put together a plan to reinforce a turn and/or come command and work on it. When your dog gets further away than your comfort allows enforce the command. It will take time in the field, and frustration, but you can do it.

Enjoy it, both the frustrating times and the successes, because the day comes when you'll wish you could have one more of those "bad" days with your buddy.

birddogger2
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Re: How far should Brittany range

Post by birddogger2 » Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:43 pm

BigK75 wrote:
Wed Oct 07, 2020 9:25 pm
Deseeker: This was a big mistake on my part. I had the Garmin Pro 550 so I had GPS on him today but I should not have gone where I went today. Rookie mistake.

IDHunter: That is the hope. We live in Ontario so 200 yards or even 30 yards often means I have no idea where he is. I called the breeder today and he said to keep him under 60 yards until 2 years old. Ontario has really think cover so its often impossible to see them past 30-40yds often. i started playing the hide and seek games lately as well.
BigK -

NOT a big mistake on your part. A miscalculation, but it presented your dog with an opportunity to learn. I believe, from your description, that the dog DID in fact learn that getting too far away in those circumstances was not a good idea. He did come back and was relieved to be back with you and...that is awesome. Lesson learned, on both ends. Time and shoeleather will "git 'er done". Interesting times.

BTW, make sure your 550 transmitter and collar are fully charged each time you strap it on the dog. I plug my electronics in immediately after every run... even a short one. My astro takes 2 AA Lithium batteries and I have a spare pair in my pocket...every time.
You really don't want to see the "no signal" message or the "battery low" message when you are a long way from your vehicle and your dog is "out there".

RayG

BigK75
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Re: How far should Brittany range

Post by BigK75 » Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:57 am

Thanks Ray. Ya I try to charge it every single time before we go out. I noticed he is not ranging nearly as far as before. Most of the time he stays in the 60 yard zone which is fine with me. Once in a while he gets out to 100 yards but that is rare so I am making progress.

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