Activities For English Setters

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Introduction

The English Setter is an elegant, large hunting dog who detects upland birds by their airborne scent. They are gentle but are also known to be a little stubborn and mischievous at times. They typically require more exercise than many other breeds and are at their happiest and healthiest when they get at least two or more hours of activity per day. These active and athletic canines are also very people-oriented who enjoy interacting with people and are particularly fond of children.

Agility Training

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
15 - 60 min
Items needed
Weave Poles
Tunnel
Jumps
Pause Table
See-saw
A-frame
Activity description

Agility training is a popular dog sport in which an obstacle course, made up of several obstacles, like jumps, tunnels, and weave poles, is created for dogs to move through as quickly and accurately as possible. This sport is not only physically challenging it also engages the English Setter on a mental level and gives them an opportunity to work closely with people and improve the communication and bond between canine and human. It is important to wait until this dog is fully matured at around a year to fourteen months of age before beginning training on obstacles that require jumping as it can cause permanent damage to the bones and joints. 

Step
1
Introducing the obstacles
There are several different obstacles to introduce your dog to individually before attempting to string them together. Tunnels can include both the traditional tunnel, the collapsed tunnel, the crawl tunnel, and the hoop tunnel, and there are several types of jumps, including a long jump, a panel jump, and the tire jump. In addition, your dog should be familiar with weave poles, pause boxes and tables, and contact obstacles such as the dog walk, the see-saw, and the A-frame, all of which could be included even in novice courses.
Step
2
Putting it together
There are typically several obstacles in differing categories when performing at a competition level. Novice competitions generally start out with around fifteen obstacles while higher levels can have up to twenty-two in a row. Once your dog has mastered each obstacle individually, you can begin by putting two or three obstacles in a row and gradually working up to competition level course sizes.
Step
3
Compete
Agility competitions are a great way to showcase your dog's new skill set, and most English Setters will enjoy the attention. Local dog sport training centers and local agility groups can help guide you to competitions that are appropriate for you and your dog’s level, as well as providing tips and tricks for entering your first competition.
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Search for Supper

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
5 - 45 min
Items needed
Dog Food
Activity description

While giving your dog food in a regular bowl in a consistent spot is a perfectly acceptable way to feed them, the activity of searching for their supper is an entertaining and alternative way to feed your pooch and to satisfy their innate foraging instinct. The English Setter, in particular, has a tendency to counter surf and is more prone to obesity than many other breeds. One way to help counter this is to make their supper time into a mentally engaging activity which can also help to prevent over-eating in many cases as well as encouraging or dog to get up to look for their supper.

Step
1
Create a challenge
Initially, hiding their regular bowl with their regular kibble is often enough of a challenge for your English Setter, but it typically doesn’t take long for these dogs to figure out the rules of the game. Once they have mastered hiding the food in simple spots, you can find more difficult hiding spots or utilize hidden treat toys filled with kibble to increase the challenge.
Step
2
Set the rules
It is important to set rules for where the dog's supper can be hidden, for instance placing their bowl or treat toy of the counter is more likely to encourage counter surfing than to correct it. Utilizing old backpacks or purses to hide items may seem harmless and clever as well, but if your dog gets used to rooting around in these types of items, they may root around in newer purses or backpacks that are still being used. This can not only cause annoyance and embarrassment but can expose your dog to choking hazards and toxins.
Step
3
When to search
Choosing when to search is likely to depend on your schedule and your dog. While the title Search for your Supper may imply that this is only done at your dog’s evening supper time, some people may prefer to play this game in the morning instead. This is particularly true for pet parents who have dogs with separation anxiety as putting the food out before they leave for their day may keep the dog entertained for a longer period of time.
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Hunting Games

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
5 - 30 min
Items needed
Bird Wings
Activity description

There are many English Setters who are more comfortable in the show ring or on the family couch than in the field, but those who are bred from hunting lines are known for their ability to switch gears when hunting different kinds of birds and for their cooperative natures. They can track and retrieve anything from quail to geese, although they are more commonly used for grassland birds like quail and pheasant than for waterfowl like ducks and geese. There are several fun and educational games and activities that you can share with your English Setter to prepare young pups or novice hunters for the field. 

Step
1
Walking the pocket
Many hunters prefer that their dogs to remain in or near the pocket when hunting, this is the swath of cover that roughly encompasses the area between ten o’clock and two o’clock in front of the hunter. This keeps the dog in front of the hunter and typically within sight, making it easier to hunt without having to backtrack or spend too much time searching for the dog. Training your pup to stay in front of you when walking through cover is rather simple. Starting as early as possible, walk your pup with a long lead and whenever your dog lags behind or goes too far off course, clap your hands to get their attention, point forward, and gently tug on the leash to move them in the correct direction, praising them when they are back in the correct area.
Step
2
Feather retrieval
One way to increase your hunting pup’s desire to retrieve feathered things is to occasionally replace the usual target with duck or pigeon wings. This activity should not be overdone, and the fetch games should be kept relatively short and uncomplicated. Two or three sessions of five to ten minutes a day is ideal. As your dog gains maturity, you can help reinforce impulse control by having your future hunting partner wait to start running until the command to retrieve is given.
Step
3
Fire away
It is important that your hunting dog not be startled in the field by hearing the sound of gunfire for the first time. Firing your shotgun around the dog on a regular basis will help them to get used to the sound, and you can add realism into training practice by incorporating the sound of a shotgun into your dummy drills.
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More Fun Ideas...

Whoa Command

If you are going to be hunting with your English Setter, it is imperative that they have a good grasp of the whoa command in order to prevent them from flushing a bird they are supposed to be in point for.

Dog Shows

This breed is not only well-known for their prowess in the field, but also for their exceptionally graceful bearing and well-tempered behavior. These dogs frequently do very well when competing in dog shows.

Geocaching

Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt that was first introduced in the year 2000. This athletic setter will have a great time coming along and helping you hunt for the hidden containers containing small treasures.

Conclusion

It is important to ensure that your English Setter gets enough exercise throughout the day to help maintain their athleticism as well as to help prevent degenerative diseases from occurring or to help slow down the degeneration. These dogs are also very people-oriented, don't tend to be shy and are capable of handling multiple situations with ease.