Carol Raschella reached out to me and asked if I would reach out to you, to learn how many would be interested in putting together a group for Setter people who are working at (performance) training, such as obedience or agility – this would especially apply to those who want to compete to attain titles on their dogs? She’d like to help us create a question and answer place, a student and mentor relationship group, where all are welcome and training questions get answered with techniques that work for our Setters.
There are so many opportunities to compete for titles out there today, starting with obedience of course, but we’ve added all of the various agility levels, and things like rally, flyball, barn hunting, and so the list goes.
Carol mentioned that 14 years ago she formed a Setter obedience chat group on Yahoo, and while the group activity has since dropped, she wonders if perhaps it should be revived, or, if you all have some other ideas, she’s willing to work to start something new or different. The name of the old Yahoo group, if you’d like to check it out is Setter Obedience: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/SetterObedience/info.
We’ve included the original group’s description below to give a sample of the overall concept that could be adapted to align with all of the new sports available now.
Group Description: This group is for the discussion of competition obedience training in any of the Setter breeds – Irish, Gordon, English, Red and White. Share your training tips, techniques, experiences, observations as they pertain to the unique temperament and abilities of our beloved Setters, including the differences and similarities among the four breeds. And brags of course, are welcome too! No flames please, we don’t want to embarrass our dogs.
Let’s get a poll going here so Carol and I can work with you, if there is interest, enough interest, to get something up and running for you.
If you would be interested in joining this type of group, as either a student, or acting as a mentor to help others, please complete the following survey!
Whether you’re a new Gordon Setter owner or have lived with them for years, training our breed can have it’s own quirks and sometimes it’s helpful to have the expertise of a trainer who has worked with our breed. Lucky you, because Gordon owners are generally friendly folks who are willing to offer advice and training suggestions at the drop of a hat! I’ve found a couple of folks who are willing to offer training suggestions and wanted to share their information with you here today.
Diane Dargay has a world of experience working with the Gordon Setter and has trained her dogs not only to be excellent pets, but also competes in many performance type events from Obedience and Agility trials to Flyball and so on. To reach Diane for advice simply send an email to us here at email@example.com
Barbara offers training classes and her service area in NC is:
Orange County, including Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough; Northeast Chatham County and Pittsboro; and Southwest Durham
Barbara writes a column and will answer your questions, best of all she also has experience working with Gordon Setters.
We are always searching for trainers who are willing to help our readers, if you are an experienced trainer who is willing to share your expertise please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know that we can include you in our list of those who are available to answer questions and offer advice.
We’re in need of Performance material to publish for our readers on this Gordon Setter blog. We truly need your support and expertise to build reference material for those who are seeking information and mentors to help them learn more about performance competitions and training. We need your expertise and encouragement to draw more owners to enjoy time with their Gordon Setters in performance competitions.
We are always seeking writers to share their material, experiences, or expertise here.
We are always seeking training enthusiasts to share links to websites or other blogs of value to those who share your passion or are seeking knowledge.
We are always seeking your recommendations of books and videos.
You can reach us at email@example.com with your contributions or questions.
Hope you’ll join in to make some noise about your adventures in performance events!
In the past couple of days we’ve heard from two Agility competitors, Susan Nelson and Linda Stebbins who both mentioned using clicker training as a core beginning for the more advanced work we see in Agility. If you’re new to dog training the phrase clicker training probably sounds like a foreign language to you, so we thought it might be good to share some resource sites with you where you can learn more about this positive training method and if you want you could start putting it to use immediately to train new puppies or old dogs new tricks!
The first site we’re listing is by the originator of the clicker method Gary Wilkes who lives here in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. An introduction taken from the website tell us that “Gary Wilkes is an internationally acclaimed behaviorist, trainer, author, columnist, teacher and lecturer. He offers a wide variety of animal related services, including behavior modification, training and behavioral instruction for animal care professionals, pet owners and professional trainers. He currently provides behavior services in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area by veterinary referral and is the architect of the highly successful Coyote rehabilitation project at the Phoenix Zoo. Wilkes is most noted as the founder of “Click and Treat(R) Training”, the first practical and humane application of operant conditioning for dogs – and the hottest trend in modern dog training. He has taught his methods to US Army Delta Force Special Operations handlers, the staff at the Seeing Eye and Paws With A Cause – the most effective service dog school in the country. Wilkes has earned respect for his abilities in both the “real world” of dog training and the scientific world of behavior analysis. He has a unique ability to simplify complex principles into easily applied methods.”
By clicking on this title, Gary Wilkes – Click & Treat you will be taken directly to his website which you will find loaded with information, training tools and other helpful links.
A second website we found that was loaded with great information is Karen Pryor Dog Training. “With years’ worth of wisdom from Karen Pryor and a vast array of experts, our library is the largest resource of clicker training information you’ll find anywhere online.
Well that’s about all the clicks I can handle for one night, hope this helps and don’t forget to leave your comments, suggestions, additions etc. in the comment section below. We love to see you sharing with each other!
Sally Gift Mesa, AZ
UPDATE: Please read the comment section of this article by clicking on Comments under the title, Carole Raschella wrote to provide insight about clicker training that we found enlightening . Many thanks to Carole who added the Karen Pryor Clicker Training Expos to our list as a wonderful source for the serious trainer. You may follow this link to more information bydoing the infamous click here!
I am so very pleased to welcome this week’s Guest Blogger – Linda Stebbins of Los Ranchos NM to share her training experience in Agility. I know you’ll all treat her right, give her a big round of applause or shake her hand and say “thanks so much” next time you see her!
Agility success with a Gordon Setter requires flexibility, concessions, a desire to learn, train with restraint and understanding and a SENSE OF HUMOR! One of my Gordon Setters was running a clean course in a large horse arena and at the end of her run, a pigeon dive bombed her and returned to the rafters. She took a sharp U-turn, raced up the dog walk and went on point to the pigeon. So much for BEAUTY, BRAINS and BIRD NONSENSE.
Although I do not consider myself an expert, my 25+ years in a breed I dearly love, allows me to make valid comments, constructive criticism and appropriate recommendations.When I write about a topic, I am pulling from my own experiences and do not deny there are other methods and styles of training whether it be in conformation, performance or field. I do not proclaim to be a professional trainer and am in a perpetual learning mode. I do this for FUN!
Because I handle my own Gordon Setters in all venues, the journey to their titles is extremely long, self satisfying and rewarding for me. I live in New Mexico where 80% of competitions in the conformation and performance rings are a 7-8 hour drive away. This can be long and grueling but I am totally committed to showing and competing with my Gordons. There is a sense of pride when one can train and show their own dogs.
I like to get my Gordon Setters’ Championship and Grand Championship titles as soon as I can so I can start playing in the agility ring. I don’t begin competing in trials until my Gordons are two years old and I know that their growth plates are closed. I use rally trials as a tool for socialization, obedience and positive reinforcement. My true love is agility and I can honestly say I am an agility-holic. Before agility I participated in obedience and hunt tests. Agility became a strong desire for me because it gave me and my Gordon Setter a sense of mental and physical challenge. I truly appreciate Gordons who have titles on both ends of their name, and there is every reason for a Gordon to be extremely successful in this sport if so desired.
I am a strong proponent of breed standards so when one wants to take up agility with their Gordon Setter, we must keep in mind how substantial this sporting dog is. The normal jump height is 24″. The physical demands of agility are significant. Larger boned dogs may require negotiating some of the obstacles more carefully. Good structure (balanced conformation), temperament and soundness are very important.
While most breed show dogs are campaigned for a relatively short period of time, many agility dogs compete into their senior years with the jump height going to 20″. As for temperament, I like a Gordon who has a desire to work and a willingness to train. I was asked in an interview, “In your opinion, what makes the Gordon Setter such a special breed?” I replied, “Versatility!” They aim to please. They can hunt expertly, are extremely agile, obedient out of love, flow like a stream in the show ring, are a form of positive therapy for the owner’s “dog days”, full of snuggles and contentment whether in your lap or in their beds. As a learner, the Gordon Setter in general is intelligent, quick to learn and of bold character. I like the Gordon’s willing and forgiving attitude which makes a great partner. Curiosity and independence are traits which I think allow the Gordon to be a successful student.
Ready Set(ter) Goooooo!
My training philosophy consists of the Five F’s “Fun, Fair, Firm, Flexible and Fun”. I support positive reinforcement using rewards based methods. I want to develop teamwork. As the handler, you have to think step by step through the shaping process needed to train for an end behavior. I enjoy looking for the good things my dog does successfully. Rewards I use are treats, tug toys, tennis balls and/or verbal praise. Clickers are a true way to mark desired behaviors for problem solving and I do incorporate that in my training. Eventually the clear click sound transfers to me saying “YES” or “GOOD”. Whatever the method, I want to find a special connection that makes us a team.
My puppy starts in puppy socialization class which includes manners, and then moving into basic obedience where he/she learns to have a reliable sit, down, stay, and recall. We transition to “flat work” which is agility foundation, teaching me how to handle and making my body language clear and timely. The puppy learns how to take direction from me. After all, it is on the flat surface where I do most of my job navigating my Gordon. A combination of training class, private lessons and creative home training make a great equation for success on the agility course. A class exposes my Gordon to different sounds, breeds and people. Private lessons help clarify and tweak those skills that I so desperately need to have for my Gordon to advance. Homework is a must and this reinforces and gives my Gordon a purpose. At home I like to introduce my puppy to a rocker board, and later trading it out for a wobble board for building confidence and being comfortable with movement and sound. The Fit Paws Disc is another way to develop canine fitness, balance and confidence. Learning fundamental skills properly is vital because training mistakes will be very hard to fix later on. I have learned from my mistakes and work to overcome them. One big recommendation is do not compare the speed of your progress to other members of your class. This has been very difficult for me to ignore, primarily because I am generally the only sporting dog in a class of many herding dogs. I find the herding breeds are a natural for this sport and excel quickly.
When searching for an agility instructor and facility, attend a local trial where you can watch the various handlers and trainers. Find appropriate times to talk to the people and ask them questions about the training methods, styles, techniques, etc. I find most agility competitors are very receptive and want to help newcomers. When you visit training centers and talk with the instructor(s), see if he/she has a willingness to work with all breeds and a variety of energy levels. Not all dogs are high driven. I have had Gordon Setters who have been moderate in drive and consistent on the course. I also have had the total opposite where I have had over the top, high driven Gordons. Once again, don’t compare your Gordon to the speed demons. The instructor should be able to work with all levels of drive. Of course this goes without mentioning, but knowledge and staying up with current changes in the sport is crucial. I personally need to work with someone who has a sense of humor. After all, Walt Disney didn’t create Goofy after the Gordon Setter for nothing. This is supposed to be a FUN sport for you and your Gordon. Make sure there are a variety of classes offered, addressing specific skills and it is not just your basic levels of agility; availability and communication is vital. My READY SET(ter) GOOO! instructor(s) will ask for a video of my homework attached in an email. I will receive feedback commenting on the rights and wrongs. This is extremely helpful! The training center must offer a good foundation so when your Gordon is ready to compete, it is confident and safe on the equipment.
Agility is constantly changing and evolving. Many handlers have gone to the internet to take instruction. I have not experienced this type of training but it is getting to be more and more popular. In fact books became outdated quickly and the internet has taken its place. Seminars and camps are well sought after and the training center you attend will have announcements posted.
Book by Nancy Gyes – Alphabet Drills (click title of book to be linked to Amazon for detail).
Kim Terrill (Training/Activities Director) Owner and handler of canines winning AKC Agility Nationals, USDAA Agility National as well as many regional agility and obedience trials. Linked here are videos.
Three Gordon Setter Club of America members who have far exceeded anything I have accomplished and are reliable resources are: Julie Ashley, Ohio, Gail Deller, PA, and Susan Wey, TX. I am sure there are many others who are knowledgeable and successful but these three have helped and supported me immensely in the sport.
Team Work and Making the Dream Work requires your commitment, patience and sense of humor as an agility handler. Those embarrassing moments will occur and you must be willing to be amused by your Gordon Setter’s exuberant antics. It just means you didn’t proof the skill or train it long enough. 99% of the mistakes made fall on the handler, not the dog!
The Gordon Setter can transfer the ordinary day into extraordinary moments and memories.
Auntie Mame said “Life is a banquet!” I say “Living with Gordon Setters makes it a feast!”
We know you’re out there having the time of your life working and competing with your Gordon Setter in all manner of Performance events, Obedience, Rally, Agility, or maybe Flyball (have I forgotten any?) But after you’ve worn yourself out training we’re wondering if you would take a minute or more to share your expert knowledge – as in how did you get your dog to do that?
We need trainers who are willing to share their training methods, such as what resources you use to train, do you have favorite books or websites that you recommend, can you or would you write articles about training or training issues to help others who would like to get involved or who may be stuck and need a helpful hint or two?
We especially and most importantly want to share that information on this site if you believe that the method works well with Gordon Setters, because that’s who this publication is for, the serious Gordon Setter enthusiast.
“Together we will build an interactive, searchable resource for the Gordon Setter Fancier”– Sally Gift
Please help us build this resource site for fellow Gordon Setter lovers by contributing your articles, links, recommended reading, videos, websites, any of the things you believe are important to training with your Gordon Setter. Send your material to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JUST SAYIN – you don’t want to miss the excitement and the learning opportunities at the most anticipated event in our breed, the GSCA 2015 National Specialty. With this year’s convenient location in the heart of America the geographic location for the 2015 National allows folks from both coasts a more equal opportunity to make the trek. I’m expecting to see the very best in competition at this event with fabulous dogs from all corners of the U.S.
” All aspects of the 2015 GSCA National Specialty will be held at Purina Farms’ state-of-the-art Event Center. Purina Farms is a short, 40 minute drive from downtown St. Louis, MO.”
You’ll never find an opportunity to see as many fabulous Gordon Setters if you limit yourself to attending only local All Breed Shows and Specialties. In my opinion, you cannot fully develop successful breeding programs if you don’t know the competition’s best attributes. What better place to learn those attributes than by seeing them in the flesh at the National? (Notice I’m not mentioning finding their faults? That’s because I believe relying primarily on fault judging of your competitors dogs will be the fastest method you can employ to failure.) Yes, we must know the faults but breeding decisions should be based on strengths. You’ll never find a better place to view the strengths of so many other Gordon Setters if you don’t take the time to actually see them at their very best, in competition, in the ring, in the flesh.
If you are a serious exhibitor/breeder attending the National Specialty is the most versatile learning opportunity you can give to yourself. It is here that you’ll broaden your view of Gordon Setter type, style and structure. Your knowledge of the breed will broaden merely by sitting ringside to watch the judging. Ringside is where it’s at people, as this is there where you’re certain to see every example of Gordon Setter, and often multiple generations of Gordon Setters from breeding kennels all over the US, Canada and sometimes beyond. Seeing is learning, nothing can replace that for the serious breeder.
Are performance events like Obedience, Agility and Rally your thing? Well then why would you miss this chance to meet others who face the same challenges and successes that you’ve encounter with your Gordon Setter? The people you’ll meet at the National competing in performance events are your best source of training methods that work the well with our breed. Why would you deny yourself the chance to meet others like yourself involved in your breed, the Gordon Setter, to share knowledge and training methods? Ask any good trainer how they “got their dog to do that” and they’ll be sure to share.
If you’re serious, really serious, about breeding or training Gordon Setters you’ll not find a better opportunity to sharpen your skills and learn, learn, learn.
It’s not about going to the National to win, it’s about winning through learning! Hope to see you there!
We are dedicated to building a knowledge base and a sharing site for those who are involved in all of the various aspects of competition with Gordon Setters, competitions that showcase the Gordon Setter’s Beauty, Brains and Bird-Sense.