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Val Martin

How many of you have had 'no issues' with your Setters?

I have been reading through some of the discussions on this site and I couldn't help noticing how many training and behavioural issues have come to light ....

Destructive, noisy, disobedient, separation anxiety, hyper, fussy eaters to name but a few! 

It would be interesting to know how many of you have had no problems (excluding health) with your Setters and have found the breed to be very trainable and a 'doddle' to live with and why, in your opinion, do other people seem to come up against these problems with their dogs.



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Great reply Finn....:-))
No issues with any of mine either. People that visit might not say that as they jump all over them and they hate cycles that go up and down the road outside of 'their' field. I'm very tolerant of my dogs, after all it's my choice they live with me (not so tolerant of humans). I've had a nervous one, picky eaters but they get over it. Also our Border Collie we owned did not have issues except for protecting our property and I wasn't going to stop her doing that, she only growled, didn't bite and she lived on a farm working with cattle so was busy and happy.
Years of living with these clowns and their many quirks has taught me that they respond best to love.  They can be irritating, frustrating, destructive, they can take the pee out of you........they can drive you to distraction and you want to kill them.......then they smile at you and you are like putty in their hands.  I have learnt to swallow hard, take deep breaths and approach each situation calmly.  I have also found that, certainly all mine, have gone through phases of disobedience and grown out of it.  Like delinquent children.  Sue is so right, everyone of them is different and demand a different approach.  I think they teach you to be tolerant.  There has only ever been one issue I couldn't cure and that was coat chewing.  I took advice from others, I went through coat spraying, separation etc. none of it worked.   I know a coat chewer does this for a variety of reasons and I tried to resolve the issues without success..........I gave up and found the offender a loving home where he was the only dog.  If anyone has any good ideas then please let me know...............for the future.   

I am on my fourth Irish boy and he is 20 months old.  Cash is a gift from God in my eyes.  I had some separation issues with him last year which we worked through although due to our life, he isn't usually left alone more than 3-4 hours when he is left.  He has learned to do fine with it, but still is waiting at the window for me when I return :)  Other than being the world's messiest water drinker, he is simply a joy to live with.  I want to pinch myself because he is such a wonderful companion, is respectful of other dogs, all breeds, and doesn't jump on people!  He never destroys anything in the house and doesn't dig up the yard.  He is a picky eater but that isn't a behavior problem in my eyes.  Just an irish setter trait.  He is healthy and other than a couple ear infections hasn't had any problems.  Oh wait....he freaks out about having his nails trimmed or filed.  I forgot, darn I guess he isn't perfect afterall!


Oh tell me about the messy drinking! I've never known another dog make so much mess with so little water as Harley does! It's a talent, I'm sure of it! :-D.


However, he does love the beds upstairs and given half a chance, would sleep on them morning noon and night as he doesn't see why he isn't allowed up there :-P. Whenever I come downstairs of a morning or come back from being out all I get from him is 'chatter' him twirling round me in excitement that I haven't left him after all!


Harley also would steal food from a starving pup's mouth. He is a terror with food but we have managed tom mostly train him out of it. However, I would never trust him with food on his own. I can trust out Spaniel but Harley I can't trust an inch with left food. It has to be put out of his reach or there is trouble :-P :-D

If we are honest we have all had those moments when they insist on doing another lap of the field when you are in a hurry or just give you a big hug with dirty paws as we head out dressed! oh and what about walking across your freshly laundered bed! ring any bells? But one look from those big brown eyes and the wistful expression excuses all we wouldn't be without them! ( mine are all perfect especially Abbie----- when shes sleeping!!!)


Well, Harley is my first Setter. He has had no real issues apart from the typical Setter traits of no recall, thieving food, boisterous behaviour and testing me to my absolutel limit sometimes.


I have found that they do not respond well to harsh words and tone of voice but respond far better to praise when they've been good and a short, sharp 'NO!' when being bad. I am one of seven children and the second-eldest and oddly, I have found it far more effective to treat Harley as a delinquent toddler than anything else! He is intelligent but also sensitive and I found that telling him off like I did our spaniel was almost totally ineffective as he would basically flick up two fingers and carry on the naughty behaviour! His attitude was 'in for a penny, in for a pound' and it has been a battle of wills at times.


The only real problems I have had with him is him pulling on the lead, not sitting and waiting at road sides and having zero recall.


The pulling on the lead was solved by a leather slip collar and short, sharp tugs on the lead and a firm 'gently Harley'. he now walks on a loose lead by my side unless he is particularly excited. He is only young though and we are getting there.


Recall was a massive issue as he'd just run off in to the distance and wouldn't come back for love nor money. This was solved by reward at home. Every time he responded to his name, I'd give him a biscuit. After a week I moved this training in to the park and the very first time I called him, he came bounding back the minue he heard his name. He now comes back 99% of the time. The other 1% is because he has found something too interesting to leave!


He now sits and waits at roadsides even if we are sat there for what seems like five minutes, ignores other dogs when we pass them, sits and waits for his food to the point where if I want to, I can call him away and he will leave his food. All this was happening by the age of 18 months/two years old and I have had Setter owners come up to me and compliment me on his behaviour.


Having said that, I have no doubt that the next Setter I have will be different again and will require a different approach to training. They aren't just dogs, they are personalities and intelligent ones at that! :o).



Julia you have done great with your dog!  While I have recall of Cash, if it comes down to me or a bird...I am afraid to say the bird will probably win out.  He goes into a different zone and is fixated on birds.  I am able to take him to a lake without fencing, but far away from traffic should he take off like he did last summer.  But so far this year after dozens of swimming dates, he has stayed put near me.  If I see him lock onto a bird and start to move...I would call him and he has stayed with me.  So maybe as he is approaching his second birthday he too has mastered a few things.  Since mine is no longer food motivated, praise is all I have but he seems to suck that up so much that it works.  Last year he would beg everyone for a treat at the petstore and this year they offer him several different types and he just spits them out.  I alway have to apologize for his rudeness! 

Romeo must be a setter in a million. I only got him when he was five years old but he has none of the issues mentioned by Val or others on this post. Rachael & Tony obviously did a fantastic job bringing him up, but i feel that he is a special character and people always comment on how he is different from the other setters they knew. The only thing i find strange about him,being a gundog breed that is,is that he will not go into the water and loud noises like gunshots agitate him. As he is my first setter,i guess i am a very lucky boy to get one so mature,well behaved and without many of the issues mentioned. Still, life is a box of chocolates....and all that!  We love them no matter what....and that is all that matters.

Not sure this is a real issue however Hamilton managed to corner a hedgehog on the patio last night and we wouldn't have known anything about it except a very loud yelp grabbed our attention. On investigation there was Hamilton on all fours and the hedgehog peering at him pushed up against the storage box. Rescued Hamilton and the hedgehog ran off into one of the flower borders.
Sue, thank you! I think you have to approach training Setters in a totally different way to how you would train an 'ordinary' dog because they will outwit, disobey you, answer back and generally do as they please if they sense that they can. And even if they know they can't get away with it, they will still try! It's been a long road of trial and error but I am very proud of him :o). He responds much better to praise than a telling off though and I've tried to remember that :o).

Ah well, after 39 years of Irish setters, 15 in total, and usually in multiples, I can't begin to list the 'issues'! many I recognise from reading these posts, and can't help smiling! I'm still learning how to manage the issues, and find that each dog presents differently and responds to different things. Finding their motivator is usually the key, but each one develops differently. Try as I may to be one step ahead, I'm usually left running to catch up if I take my eye off the game!

The thing that really gets me going is when someone says as a generalisation 'Oh they're such scatty mad dogs aren't they!' And I then launch into my stories that prove they aren't....to be honest I have had a few hooligans (I had a bit of a reputation in the ring!)...but equally some real sweethearts.

 Only one got me to the point of almost no return. He was a total delinquent. To top it all Shea would chase his own shadow for miles, and reflected lights etc. I can pinpoint the exact time and place that it first occurred...at a show at Ardingley. There followed a year of sitting in unlit rooms at night, walking him with a head collar so he couldn't look down on sunny days etc. but finally we got him through it. What a wonderful loyal friend he was as he got older and a wonderful playmate to our grandson who had leukaemia. Two really happy go lucky youngsters together. I like to think they are playing together now at Rainbow Bridge. Their roses in our garden are 'Irish Eyes' (Shea to a T) and 'Peter Pan' for Aaron who never grew up.

Issues they may bring but this home will always have an Irish Setter in it, or it won't be home.




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