Page 1 of 2

Hello

Posted: Sun Mar 06, 2016 9:56 am
by gagesbarb
I have been lurking on this forum for many years and learned a tremendous amount. I started when we adopted a brittany mix 10 years ago.
We adopted Gage through ABR is 2011 and just added JJ, about a week ago...I have been meaning to join the forum,
to, if nothing else, thank everyone for how much I have learned. I also wish there were more "traffic," but still check most everyday, and will continue to do so,
now adding something, if I have something to say...thanks again!

Re: Hello

Posted: Sun Mar 06, 2016 2:36 pm
by Cindy
YAHHH!! I love it when someone new joins ... even if you have been lurking for years :D :D . I check almost every day too and just wish people would get active again. We'd love to see pictures of your dogs if you can post them.

Re: Hello

Posted: Sun Mar 06, 2016 5:38 pm
by kat
Welcome aboard and congratulations on your second adoption! Definitely would love pics like Cindy said. And looking forward to chatting with you here now.

Re: Hello

Posted: Sun Mar 06, 2016 6:56 pm
by gagesbarb
glad to be here...
I'm not sure how to do pictures...
I'll ask my son when he has time and try to share pics

Re: Hello

Posted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 8:29 am
by janet909
Welcome. I use Imgur which is a new site for posting pics. I did a photo test post recently which has a link (I think). It's relatively easy.

Re: Hello

Posted: Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:51 pm
by LucyK
Hi,

I've just joined too, as we've just got our first Brittany, and we live in Brittany! She's called Elfie, and is perhaps about 6 years old, she came from a refuge (shelter) near to Rennes. There are a lot of ├ępagneuls bretons ( I know they're a bit different from American Brittanies) in the refuges, because there are a lot of them anyway, many of them working dogs, and frankly a lot of the hunting lot here don't really take much care of them (some do). And of course they have a habit of running off, as everyone who has a Brittany knows, it seems.

Elfie is just fabulous, I can't believe how well she's doing after a short time and a difficult life before (she was in the pound then in the refuge for six weeks or so), and she's such a sweetie, but a very different character from our old cocker we lost 20 months ago, and we're having to adjust to each other, so though I know there's not too much traffic here, I'm looking for all the support and information I can find!

Here's a photo of her:

Image

Re: Hello

Posted: Sun Mar 27, 2016 4:42 pm
by Cindy
Welcome!!! And nice to have someone from France on the board. John and I went to the south of France about 8 years ago and we saw several Brittanys in the shelter near where we stayed for a few nights. We were so tempted to adopt one but not a good plan when you're on vacation :oops: I was surprised at how many Brittanys we saw in our travels around as we rarely see them where we live in Virginia. Every time I saw one I had to go up to say "hi" but they were all terrified and backed away from me. Then I realized I needed to speak French to them and everything changed!! Pretty funny. Anyway, Elfie is beautiful and I hope to hear more about here as you get to know each other.

Re: Hello

Posted: Sun Mar 27, 2016 8:28 pm
by gagesbarb
Welcome!
Glad to have a new friend...
I have learned a tremendous amount from this forum...lots of people who have lots of experience
in lots of different areas...
our newest britt, JJ, seems to be a mix of French Brittany and Amer Brittany...
we also don't see many Brittanies around here, so whenever we see one, we have to stop and chat...
one thing I've found is that Britts are "soft" when it comes to training...eager to please and very
responsive to positive reinforcement...also easily shut down with loud voice...maybe that's just the ones I've known...

Re: Hello

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 12:54 pm
by LucyK
Thanks for the welcome! :D

In fact a lot of the Brittanies used for hunting, or just as general country people's mutts, are pretty feral and perhaps not all that approachable. I rather feel Elfie is putting me in touch with a kind of wild harshness of life here which, although we've lived here for 19 years (we're British expats), I've kind of avoided. She's a darling, but rather a wild child, her name suits her! I imagine she's a hunting dog that ran off; she's got an ear tattoo but no one bothered to claim her (she was in the pound before being sent to the refuge).The first morning we had her, straight from the refuge, I let her out into our garden - which we thought was fairly well fenced - and one minute she was sniffing about mildly, the next she was up and over the fence and chasing round the village, quite deaf to me running after her in dressing gown and wellington boots! I caught up with her at last and she allowed me to carry her home quite cheerfully. I was gasping and my heart thumping, I know I need to get fitter! :oops:

It seems quite likely she's not going to be able to run free off the lead very much, because the running off impulse is really too strong to train her out of, especially as she's an adult dog now. I don't shoot or hunt, so she's going to need other things kinds of stimulus and occupation, if we want her to focus on us and stay with us and to have a good life together. I need lots of tips and ideas for training and constructive play with her. Happily, she seems to quite like being on the extending lead, and responds very well on it, she's not just a puller.

Just now she found one of my husband's gardening gloves and gave it to me very gently, and so I took it from her and gave her a game of 'let's tug' and 'drop' with a rope toy (and rewards!), which seemed to go well. Yesterday she found a dead bird in the garden (if it wasn't quite dead when she found it it was afterwards :( ) and we had a bad moment not knowing how to deal with the situation. I got it off her with a gloved hand and there was no snapping or growling about it, but she wouldn't give it up willingly, and I certainly didn't want her eating it! :x

A very odd thing about her is she seems to have no voice at all. The refuge said she was quiet and not a barker, but we've really heard nothing from her at all, except some tiny dream barks in her sleep and a tiny happy grunt when she's about to do something she likes. It's nice to have a quiet dog, but the disadvantage is she can't always easily tell us what she needs.

I appreciate the advice about 'soft' training. She is of course having to learn a new language, as mostly I prefer to give her command words in English, and if she's had any before they'll have been French. She seems to appreciate hand signals, and a discouraging 'uh-uh!' seems to be better than 'no!'

At the moment I feel quite trepidatious about her; on the one hand it's exciting, she's got so much character and potential, on the other I'm slightly apprehensive about what I've taken on. This is all quite new to me, our previous cocker was a rather lazy, clingy, happy-to-please lapdog who didn't need much, especially as she got older (though of course we loved her and miss her still). But I have got the time, interest and patience for it, so I'm hoping she'll be a real life-changer, in a good way.:)

Re: Hello

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 4:19 pm
by gagesbarb
I haven't had that much experience, but I'll share a few thoughts...
the most important is patience...it sounds like your girl is basically open to bonding to you,
which I think is clearly important...I try to remind myself of how confused a new dog in my house must be...
they don't know what is expected, how to "read" your signals or what is going to happen next to them...
and you don't know how to "read" them...you are used to your other dog and probably could just glance at him and
"know" what he was saying...
we've had our new one for about a month and he usually loves walks and is good on them...I just got back from taking him
to a friend's to walk with her two dogs, and he was very stressed...wouldn't take treats, pulling, panting...he loves other dogs and was good with them,
but we'd gone in the car, were in a new area and I imagine he didn't know what was going on...I wonder if they
wonder if they are going to yet another home when we go to a new place..."they" say it can take weeks and even
months for dogs to fully relax and settle in...
I think it is a good idea to always keep your dog on leash, at least for a while, then you can re-evaluate...there has been
lots of discussion here about letting dogs run off leash that I'm sure you will find helpful...but I think you guys need time to settle in first...
I also think that beginning the "dialogue" by asking for a sit (even with a gesture cue) before giving her food or treat, going outside,
joining you on the couch, really for most anything...to me, it is a way of setting up the idea of back and forth communicating...
We use "trade" to teach our dogs to give up something good...you need a really good treat to compete with a dead bird, and
sometimes it won't work (I think it is a very good sign that she let you take it, albeit not easily...she could have been a lot more
aggressive about telling you it was hers)...I would do a lot of "trading" to teach her that if she gives up something, she gets
something-really good treat, game of tug, etc. Maybe even set it up with letting her play with a toy then trade, have a "chew," then
trade (letting her have it back after she trades--double reinforcer--get a treat and get the chew back...)
I won't keep going on and on...sounds to me like you are off to a good start...I think that for most people, the beginning times with
a new dog are both wonderful and stressful as you learn each other...in a few months, you will look back and wonder why
you were worried...not to say there won't still be some challenges...don't know any relationship with another living thing,
two-footed or four-footed that doesn't have some challenges...but well worth it!! (I'm reminding myself of all this as we
"learn" our new dog and I worry that we are doing the right things for him :roll: )
look forward to hearing more about your unfolding adventure ...exchanging ideas is helpful for me!

Re: Hello

Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 7:31 pm
by janet909
First of all, let me just say that she is gorgeous !!!!! Thanks for sharing the beautiful picture !!! Secondly, you said you just got her. I can tell you, after rescuing 2 adult and 1 teenage Brittanies, they don't truly settle in to their new environment for at least 6 months. Especially if they've been in a difficult situation before being rescued. You just can't assume that they are comfortable and understand the rules. They WANT to please you but I guarantee that your new dog doesn't know how. The most important thing is to get everyone in the house on the same page regarding commands, rules, discipline and obedience. Training every day in a calm environment is a MUST. We have rescued 3 Brittanies that were quite wild and now run them all off leash but it took a crazy amount of work and two daily training sessions for a few months. Your dog's true personality hasn't even begun to emerge yet if you've had her for a month or less. Love, support and a structured environment will go a long way !!

Re: Hello

Posted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:59 am
by Cindy
I agree with Janet! We've rescued 6 adult Brittanys and each one has been different but all were eventually trained to be really goo both off and on leash but it definitely took training, time, and patience - more with some than others. And there's something to be said for that 6 month time frame in waiting for their true personality to emerge. So keep us posted and ask your questions as you go along. We're always happy to share what's worked for us.

Re: Hello

Posted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:26 am
by LucyK
I'm so very glad I joined this forum, already I feel very well supported and that it's a good place to come to share experience and seek advice. We've already had some wonderful times with her, but are very much feeling our way, not least when it comes to making sure we - my husband and I - are agreed about how we go about things with her. She's certainly a bright little button and I want to get it right with her. I don't want to rush things but also want know we should get certain things straight from the off. The dead bird situation rather startled all of us I think, but I was impressed that though she didn't want to give it up she didn't make any aggressive resistance at all, and was rather apologetic and hesitant around us for a while after. I feel mean rebuking her for her natural instincts, and like to see her pointing and looking around intelligently, and do love that streak of wildness and nature in her.

I've not had a rescue dog before, though I've known a few and also walk dogs from another refuge. I rather took to the little Brittanies they have there, but they're two crazy-old-man dogs who live in quite a happy threesome with an elderly beagle, so they weren't really suitable or us to take on. But their characters are different from hers. The other one I knew a bit was an elderly chap who belonged to a friend of a friend who used to look after him sometimes. He was different again, no trouble, my friend said, never ran off, but rather stolid and stupid and inclined to whine weirdly through his nose for no particular reason!

We had a great walk this morning (the sun came out, we've been lashed by wind and rain for days), I took her to meet a very elderly friend up the road, a retired Breton farmer of about 95 who was quite impressed by her - the countryman's admiration of a good country dog, I think, and remarked on how 'belle' and 'calme' she was. Then we saw some rabbits, quite a long way off but I think if she'd not been on the lead she'd probably have been off after them, and then we met some very sweet elderly terriers and their owner who was cutting some wood, and everyone was very kind and friendly and polite to each other - that was the first time we've met other dogs together. This guy too was very nice about her, said she looked a clever one and would learn quickly, that we'd got her at a good age, and that he had friends in the Finistere (next Brittany department west of here) who had them and they lived as house dogs and were fine. Already she's getting me out and about and making contacts!

Anyway, for now I shall go and browse the forums for more help; there's the off-leash business, and perhaps some advice about the car; she gets in quite happily and isn't too bad, doesn't try to leap out when we stop, but I think it stresses her a bit, too much information going by too fast, I think, and she can't seem to settle down, I'm wondering about crating her, as that may have been what she knew (or maybe a van without windows), and it might feel safer, but it seems quite a big decision to go for crate training if we can acclimatise her to travelling without. On the way back from the refuge she ended up hiding under my husband's coat in the back. Also wondering about whether we'll ever be able to leave her home alone, and how to approach that; it was something we could never really do with our old cocker, but she was so easy with the car it didn't much matter.

As you all so rightly say, though, it is very early days, barely day 6, and she's doing so well. Thanks again for all the help and support.

Re: Hello

Posted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:10 am
by gagesbarb
lots of good info on these forums...

I also have found lots of good advice/guidance in Whole Dog Journal...you can join on-line...

Re: Hello

Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 7:55 am
by janet909
As I mentioned, we have rescued 3 Britts and trained them off leash. Since you seem to be interested, I will share some of my thoughts but the important thing to remember is not to rush them. While many members may not agree with the use of e-collar, I will admit that we have trained our rescues with them. (Moby, my Brittany from 8 weeks old was not trained on one but training an 8 week old puppy vs an adult dog with a checkered history is an entirely different game). I want to emphasize that the goal is to teach them recall without needing the collar eventually. Our other goal, since on occasion we still use the collar, is to train them to the vibration aspect of it NOT the electrical aspect of it. I also want to emphasize that the collar does not take the place of tedious, repetitive training. When we first rescue a dog, we have numerous 3-4 short daily training sessions in our fenced yard using chunks of meat as rewards. We practice sit, stay and come. The training sessions are short so they don't lose focus and so that it remains fun (the treats). Right before we say "come", we vibrate the collar and blow a whistle. They learn that the word, whistle and the vibration means "come". Then, once they seem to flawlessly "get it", we take them to a fenced in soccer field at the school or the town park. They immediately have less control as it is a new environment but we have 2 sessions, a little longer, every day using the same technique. Eventually, once they seem to really be coming when called, we head out to the desert. We attach a 30 foot lead on them that has numerous knots tied on it. We know we can't lose the dog because the lead will frequently get caught up on a sage bush. Again, their brain is on overdrive at first but we continue to practice the come command and ALWAYS have treats. After MONTHS of practice, we will eventually take them out without the lead and just the vibration collar but we select a canyon that has one entrance and no real escape route. We also use a GPS collar at that point in time, to watch whether or not the dog is listening to the command and whistle. With time (the earliest is 6 months and the longest dog took 1 1/2 years), we learn to trust the dog more and more and we eventually just take the whistle with us. The length of time depends on the dog. Wesley was only 1 1/2 when we rescued him and he was neglected. He had no human attachment / bonding sense so it seems to take forever. We were patient and consistent and now, he is the best dog of them all with re: to recall. We don't even bother watching him because he is watching us and knows to follow us. The dogs also learn that we have water and they frequently check in with us for a drink. Now, we really only use the collar when we are at the beach as they can't hear the whistle with the sound of the surf. If you decide to use an e-collar, I suggest talking with someone on how to use it first. You want your dogs to be excited when they see it, not scared. When I pick them up, my dogs go crazy and run to the door because they know it means an imminent adventure. In closing, I do want to emphasize that they are only off leash when we are out in open space wilderness. I don't trust them near any streets as they as not car smart. I live in western Colorado so it's easy to find places to go but when off leash, you have to decide if it's completely safe prior to setting them free.