Exclusively Setters

Home for Irish Setter Lovers Around the World

I would like to ask members their thoughts/experiences on the importance of being Pack Leader and to what extreme they choose to or have had to take it.


I genuinely believe our 'pack' of 6 tick along beautifully - especially when you take into account it consists of 4 un-neutered males (if you include my husband and son)!!!  The boys are happy, balanced, cheeky typical setters. 


A trainer friend is horrified however at some of our practices.  We allow the boys on our bed (he says it is elevating them to our level and will confuse them).  He believes that dogs shouldn't be allowed to instigate play, it should always come from us.  Even the dog laying down with its back to you is an open display of disrespect and should be moved!  He believes that by giving these mixed signals, we make them insecure and can trigger dominant tendencies thus potentially causing trouble.


Whilst I appreciate that these techniques can be valuable tools with certain canine personalities that may veer toward aggression, do we really need to apply them in all cases? Am I simply confusing the issue by mixing and matching?  Can we have a 'happy medium' or (at the risk of sounding like a Gary Glitter fan) should I be the 'Leader of my Gang'???



Views: 155

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Well said Sue, I agree. My dog can get away with somethings that others might not approve of in their homes.
But I do expect certain things to be obeyed. I raised my kids the same way and they didn't turn out bad at all.
Sometimes just a look will let them know they are crossing a line, no words needed. Dogs can get the same signals as well. But I do love a dog that tries to cross the line every now and then, shows a good spirit and some spunk. I think some breeds of dogs and just some dogs in general need more of a commander than a companion. I haven't had an irish that needed such strong powerful leadership. Softer approaches suit my dog more. He is sensitive and if you raise your voice in the wrong setting he is upset by it. Gentle coaxing suits us more. Only in a dangerous situation would I scream at him. And judging by the other day when he found a toad/frog to pick up, I yelled quite loudly, and he dropped it and ran to me in a flash. I have heard that toads are dangerous to them and since I have no clue which is which, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Sometimes saving that for the truely important things can work. One guy at our park yells non-stop at his very unruly Saint Bernard. The dog completely ignores him. The man looks like a fool yelling "O'Malley come here" over and over. Gives me a headache. I think they tune you out if you raise your voice all the time to them. Has no meaning or importance anymore. I totally understand others here who like a good firm leadership role, but that isn't me. No jumping on counters, no rushing out front doors, no chewing my things are all that really matter to me as far as obeying. And those are obeyed. I know I couldn't own an alpha dog because I am not strong willed enough for that. Glad I picked the right breed of dog for my personality.
I think it's in the genes. That's exactly how my living room looks right now-different sofas and different dogs-same pose! John
Finn, you have a red and white, that comes down from some of my dogs (VBG) You should see my house at the moment after a month of nearly continous rain, and a sea of mud outside. I'm seriously thinking of painting my hall dark brown
Chair covers and dog bedding have to be washed every day,
And when the dogs dont get anough exercise because of the rain and mud, they turn to activities like emptying the trash can and spreading the contents around the house. A good supply of bones to keep them occupied in bad weather means my kitchen floor looks a cow exploded there
Hi everyone, yes i also have a totally spoilt Irish friend called Mia and yes she goes wherever she like to sleep. When i got her i said to my husband and kids that she was not going to be allowed on my sofas and chairs or access to our bedrooms, what do you think has happened, yes you guessed all rules went out the window. But she is worth it.

I can pick up her toys and she watches me do it, then once i have finished i see a red phantom creep out to her toy box and bring them one by one back in to the lounge. It is quite funny really.
Oh yes, she also has a bed of her own but insists on going to bed with my son and falls asleep on a chair in his bedroom.

so i think she well and truly spoilt.Lol
I love your comment Cornelia!!!! did you learn your sense of humour from your IS?
This looks like my lot too .......
thats like our house plus a cat
Love this discussion!.

I think setters are the most companionable of dog's and agree that co-operation and teamwork is the key to a happy well balanced dog.

Could the assertive, pack hierarchy training be responsible for children being attacked?, when the pack leader/alpha human is not there to keep the status quo, the dog is trying it inflict the pack status on to the child as they would an under dog?
This is very interesting, wouldnt it be great if they could join in the discussion and tell us what they think...... I mean the dogs! All the dogs I have had or been closely involved in have had boundaries which you teach from around 8 weeks then as they mature some can be relaxed usually as they begin to earn your trust but if I think back to bringing a tiny pup into my house then to an extent I have acted like pack leader, teaching acceptable behaviour and as Sue said sit, wait come etc but I have fed them before us and I too have found the only place available to sit is the floor while they are on the couch ..... I think they do look for leadership but hopefully as a gentle leader who educates, cares and loves them... Jennifer I am not qualified to answer your question but if the dog is out of their usual enviroment then who knows ........
Just to say - I have never heard of a setter attacking anyone but have just read another story of a Bullmastiff x Boxer ripping a child's lip off!
Cathy, thanks for this very interesting discussion. I am glad to read the content of all the comments already collected. Our friends the Setters, without doubt need to know their boundaries, which will vary depending of our own views, but they are so easy to train and to live with, we certainly do not have to follow anything your trainers have mentioned. Some trainers have to justify their work with some more than dubious theories, to ensure they can make a living out of it. Some trainers like Fran comment, are more concerned at doing the right thing for our beloved pets.
We are their leaders, and they quickly learn and accept it. My personal and more than dubious theory is that my setters know too well that the one giving the food is the pack leader, and yes they eat before us most of the time purely because of convenience. Do we need to impose regimental rules? Like someone said, it is just showing our insecurity. Our setters, like us human as children, need to know the basic rules to live in harmony, and they learn it very quickly. Sometimes, some of them may challenge the boundaries, but for what I saw with mine, it is not to become the alpha pack leader but rather out of cheekiness, may be to check if they understood properly or if we did not change our minds.... :-)
As Sue mentioned, as long as they sit, wait, down and come, what else do we need? just giving them the love and care they deserve, and they will do anything to please us, including warming our bed....
Susan I love your picture!!!!
So pleased to read all your comments which basically validate my way of thinking.

As I type this, Spider has gently placed his toy elephant in my lap - I look at him and smile and he pushes it further in, drops it and takes a step back. 'I'm busy with my new friends' I tell him. He picks elephant up and flings it in the air. I laugh as I hear the rhythmic bang, bang, bang of Tinker's tail thumping the wooden floor in enthusiastic appreciation of the entertainment.

It hasn't taken my crack squad long to break me and I engage in ten minutes of blissful play as yet another unsuspecting knitted bystander falls victim to my Red Ninjas' onslaught. We tug, and yodel and laugh and wag. The boys conclude the show with some well practiced curly lipped Elvis impersonations and then peace reigns and I can return to the thread.

How encouraging to read everyone's comments, opinions and personal experiences of their exuberant, joyful and unique friends.




© 2024   Created by Gene.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service