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Hi there,

Our super-handsome hound is always crazy and he never seems to calm down. He is just totally dominating us and is always at us. It seems like no amount of exercise is enough for him. He sleeps downstairs and goes quite nuts when we come down in the morning - I'm trying to make him sit before we open the stair gate and make him sit while I put his breakfast in his bowl and pretend to eat a bit of it before I give it to him - but he definitely thinks he's the boss of us and in the evenings, if he hasn't been out for long enough, he just won't leave me alone, biting, pawing, jumping up etc etc. Hence he's spending a lot of time in his crate. Should I make him sleep all night in his crate downstairs? I let him have the run of the downstairs when I'm out or asleep upstairs - is that too much freedom? When someone knocks on the front door, he goes berserk - and when visitors come in, he's all over them - so much so, I have to put him in his crate - but he's so strong and powerful and will snap if I'm trying to make him do something he doesn't want to do. Same with the dog shower at the pet shop - he's a nightmare and actually scares me when he snaps. I'm thinking of getting him castrated in the hopes that will calm him down somewhat and am going to get a dog psychologist to come to our house to have a look at him towards the end of Feb. We're doing a bit of gun dog training, just to get the basics sorted - but it feels like we're wading through quicksand. My dog sitter just told us she can't take him again because his high energy levels upset her own bigger, older dog. Is this totally normal for a 9-month-old Setter - or is there something else at play? And does anyone have any tips/advice??? 

Thanks in advance! 

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Same old story, same old song... have look at some of the older posts and you will see, that you have a perfectly normal setter at home. I doubt, castration is the solution and will help - I would not even consider this, just because he is young and playful -, neither will a dog psychologist, who has maybe never seen a setter - I even fear that could cause more harm than help; that is if he/she comes with a mind set for a Border Collie or a German Shepherd. I can understand your frustration but I would recommend help from a good trainer, one that knows the breed and has a positive and friendly attitude. Constantly crating is also not a solution, for the more you crate him, the more energy is let loose when out of the crate and he has not learned anything. There are many good answers in the post to 'Paddy' just below your post - and in the older ones - have a look there. I would let him have his freedom downstairs, when up or out, unless he would be in some sort of danger and I would start with clicker work to get him tired and trained at the same time. Exercise does not tire a setter, headwork does. Maybe there is a good trainer near you? What's the name of you young dog and do you have photos of your new family member? Best of luck with him!

Thanks Cornelia! I'm going to take him to Gun Dog training courses for the basics and see how we get on. I was hugely buoyed by looking at Paddy threads the other night - it's great to know that CuCullen (or Cookie as we mainly call him) isn't crazy, he's just a normal setter pup. I got him two squeaky toys yesterday on our evening walk and he loved looking for them when I hid them in a different room. Really tired him out. In fact, we've been doing that this morning, too - and he's now asleep! He's such a clever dog and is sitting brilliantly these days - I think it's really starting to sink in that we won't tolerate his jumping and nipping. I'm easing up on the crate - and going for the complete ignore. Already we all seem happier. Thanks for your reply, I'm taking it all on board!My daughter knows how to put up a pic of him - I don't. Will ask her to do it when she gets home. Thanks again! Mink 

I initially had huge problems with Jamie when he was young. He was jumping, mouthing, ripping clothes and had so much energy it was scary. You need to get him to calm down, and the turning point for us was when we walked into his space until he submitted i.e. sat down. You need to corner him in a room with your body, no shouting or noise and stand over him, stay there until he submits i.e.; sits down, but he must lower his head, if that is still up he hasn't submitted properly, just be patient and when he does submit, walk away. Keep doing this if he is behaving in an inappropriate way and he will get the message you won't tolerate his behaviour. Jamie was crated at night time until just before two years of age but we never used the crate for bad behaviour. Good luck, I know how challenging it can be, it will improve.  I really don't think hormones are to blame. x

Thanks Alison! That sounds like a great idea - I'll be sure to try that. I don't use the crate as a punishment - more as a space for him to calm down in. But I do it too much, you're right. Am looking forward to doing the whole cornering him thing - I'll let you know how we go. Thanks again for your reply - any more tips gratefully received! Mink  

A strong and powerful dog who snaps is not a good thing if you have children.
Your first course of action is to keep them safe from getting bitten.
Then deal with his problems.
But he can probably sense your fear when he snaps and knows he is the dominant one.
So good luck.

I agree with Cornelia. I recently adopted a six year old neutered male and he has the energy of a pup. We renamed him Finn. Unfortunately he was never trained well or consistently so he came to me with a lot of bad habits. The first thing I did was enroll him in training. The trainer I use trains with the aid of a stimulation collar. Not to be confused with a shock collar! The purpose of the stimulation collar is to get attention and reward behavior much like clicker training. The trainer likens it to poking someone in the shoulder with your finger to get their attention. This training worked amazingly well with my female, Teagan, whom we bought at 8 weeks old from a breeder. She is now 2.5 years old and is quite the well behaved young lady, but still super energetic and playful. Unfortunately, I believe that Finn's former owners used a bark collar on him, so any stimulation, including vibration only, produced results that could only be described as heartbreaking. So we only use the collar when he's running off leash outside which he seems to accept well. Inside and close up work we use lots of praise and treats to reinforce behavior.

That being said, most of the work that tires my pups is all mental. After learning sit, the next command is "place." This means you put the dog in a spot and they can't leave that spot until you give them the "break" (release) command. As they get better at this command you increase the difficulty of the place you put them. This not only forces them to figure out how to get to the spot, physically balance in that spot, and also THINK about staying there too. Teagan is a pleaser and will do her best to stay on the most unsteady, slipperiest, and smallest spots. Anything from standing in a 4" x 4" box, to sitting on an 18" diameter garden table on uneven ground, or half a bosu ball, or the slippery plastic case for my garden hose reel, she will try and try until she succeeds. With Finn I've found he loves a challenge and his favorite place to place is on top of a 6 foot tall round hay bale! This training is the absolute best in creating confidence in an insecure and submissive dog.

Plus, whenever I have guests or a workman come into my home I give the pups the place command and they go to their beds and stay out of the way. Everyone who visits my home comments on how well behaved my pups are. Even my mom who hates dogs, loves both of mine. They're great ambassadors for the species. In fact, it was demonstrations of Teagan's training that sold the rescue where I got Finn on allowing me to adopt him.

I am fortunate enough to live near a County park. Dogs are supposed to be on leash but no one ever has theirs leashed. It's fields and forest and creeks and marsh, all filled with places to explore and things to smell and chase. A one hour hike out there is guaranteed to exhaust both of my pups. Of course allowing them this freedom comes only from the consistent training I've put into their recall. So many Irish Setter people out there seem convinced that the IS is an untrainable dog. Just about every rescue I've come across will not adopt a dog out to a home without a fenced yard. This is so not the case! It just takes time and dedication.

Okay, enough bragging and off my soap box :-) I believe your answer lies in training, training and more training. My trainer believes that you can achieve good results with only 10 minutes a day. Regardless, good luck with your pup!

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