I did this years back, so that particular setter was very good at it.
I gave it up in preference to obedience-work as I felt the bloodtracking just took forever. And always having had more than one setter, I felt I was not able to give the others enough time.
I feel the same about any tracking...the better the dogs get, the longer the scent has to lay and the longer it all takes.
Perhaps that is the main snag for me...
The hanging around waiting, without much being done. :-)
Not a good thing to do with a setter, if you also want tit to work as a bird dog. It encourages the dog to work with its head down and following/searching for ground scent, A birddog works with a high head and air scents.
But if you ONLY want to do tracking,no problem, a setter should be able to do it
Oh I know, its fatal to get them working this way if you want them to hunt as a bird-dog.
On the other hand I have never had that ambition, so there was no problem for me personally.
The problem with setters is that they normally dont lend themselves to tracking in the same way other breeds would.
And that is excactly for the reason you mentioned...their normal working-pattern...head up high and going for air-borne scent rather than sticking their nose in the ground.
But if you dont hunt (due to lack of ground etc) you need them to work in another way, I feel.
I think it is better not to train setters on pheasants , as they run on the ground and the dogs get into the habit of following the ground scent to find the bird. Better to train on grouse and introduce them to pheasants later. With wild grouse, the dogs have to learn to hunt using airscent
I also have bad problems with rabbits here, as the valley is rabbit infested, and from an early age the puppies start to follow rabbit scent on the ground which encourages them to run with a low head
And the deer come down off the hills at night to find grass and water in the valley, they also leave ground scent which the dogs follow, more problems!
Margaret, I'm sure you are right IF we all had grouse on our doorstep;-)) But I'm afraid the next grouse from my home in Switzerland is roughly 1000 kilometres away (apart from the mountain type that are protected). So I will stick to pheasant as they are practically on my doorstep (ie only 160 kilometres across the border in France). As to partridge, very rare indeed.
So if I wanted to do any kind of hunting here in Switzerland the only hunting my setters could be used for would be blood tracking for wounded deer.
This autumn I started at JS paar (like GT) with my male Lohmanns Milan and we won with 18 points excellent and CAC. Four weeks later we started at a versatile hunting test (VGP - german master test for versatile hunting dogs) among other things with blood tracking overnight and he wons again this VGP as best working dog with best notes in fields and in blood tracking. Two weeks later (last Friday) we started at Herbstjagdsuche (HJS like GT) and won again this trial at 1st prize.
It is possible to work in a versatile way with your Setter. But I think ist is better to teach him in fields (as also retrieving and water) the first 2 years and than later (2 years and older) to teach him at blood tracking and other versatile things.
In germany setters are often used as versatile working hunting dogs.
A Setter DON'T HAVE TO DO such versatile things like blood tracking or retrieving a fox - but he CAN do this ;-)
I agree with you, they CAN do both, but better to start with birds and get the high head/air scenting pattern established, then do the other things later
And I still think, if one wants a really first class grouse/snipe/woodcock/partridge dog, its better to keep a setter away from following ground scent.
If one wants a versatile hunting dog, then why not buy a continental versatile hunting breed, rather than a setter?
I'm afraid if we all thought like that there would be no point in having setters at all in most countries. Thankfully dogs are very capable of differentiating between jobs providing they are tought right. Michaela mentions how she started first with field work and then continued with tracking work.
As you know I work my dog in the field. But during the long months when I can not train him in the field we actually train for Search & Rescue of humans in the local forests. I've never experienced any kind of difficulty with my dog not knowing the difference.
But I suppose that we have been indoctrinated (hope I got the spelling correct) by the swedish setter-club (SISK).
In Sweden you can compete in bloodtracking and make up a champion.
The breed of dog is not specified and this title can be won by a German Shepherd as well as by a miniture Poodle.
But NOT by an Irish setter!
It is not the kennelclub that stops us setter-owners, but the breed-club!
No way should a setter go with its nose down!
And if setter-owners want to compete, so be it!
But will they (after all the work that has gone in to this) get the title? NO!