Tag Archives: treats for training

Let’s Share Gordon Setter Training Tips!

Yoda_SWSBFortunate are we indeed, (little Yoda there shaking up your reading experience) to welcome  Guest Blogger, Diane Dargay to share her personal experience training a Gordon Setter. All breeds are different and learn at various speeds and levels, and like many other breeds the Gordon has their own special needs. Thanks to Diane for sharing her personal observations and tips!


by Diane Dargay

Photo by Dargay
Photo by Dargay – Jackson and Diane

Growing up, we never had dogs so when we got our first Gordon, Baron from a pet shop at six months old, he was VERY mischievous. I remember Bill cutting the lawn as Baron would follow nipping his butt. We always had to put him in the house. Leash walking was impossible and chewing was bad. At this point, I decided to take a class at our local town hall. He was somewhat better and I know my training was not that great. I hooked up with a friend that was taking classes with a gentleman that was in the K9 corp. We did much better and Baron eventually got his CD.

Training back then was the choke and jerk method. Food training was frowned upon. I could not understand that because the dogs in the circus always were trained with food.I could see Baron was miserable and swore my next dog would be different.

Photo by Dargay – Jackson and Diane

Fast forward 30 years……Food and some clicker training works and the dogs are much happier. I have found that Gordon Setters do not take well to many repetitions in training. They are not Golden Retrievers. When an exercise is trained, if they do not get the concept by the 3rd try, I do an exercise they know and go back later and try again. Going past 3 reps they sniff, ignore and eventually do not pay attention. Sometimes it happens after 2 reps. If the dog does it correctly after the first time, I stop and do a new exercise. My motto…one and done. Many people will do it again because they are so excited the dog did it only to come up with failure.

Time limits are crucial as you do not want to overload the dog. Five to ten minutes is enough time and only practice 2 to 3 exercises not a whole repertoire. Most Gordon Setters are impatient, so keeping attention is key.

Photo by Dargay – Jackson and Diane

Obedience training is started at 8 weeks. The learning period up to 6 months old is key training time as they absorb the most information in this time period than any other in their lifetime. Teach them everything…….sit, down, come,heel and stay. They can handle it just in 3 minutes intervals. They have the attention span of a gnat, so keep it fun. If you have other dogs, they will learn from them. Monkey see, monkey do.

Since I do many venues, I try to get the obedience stuff out of the way first while they are growing. Once I start flyball, agility and hunting, obedience goes to the bottom of their list. Heeling is boring! Getting into the Rally ring by 8 months is good as ring experience and being able to talk/motion to your dog on leash helps in future trial situations. Even if you do not qualify, experience is great. Some people are afraid of failure. Most of us have failed at something in our lives. It only makes us better.

Photo by Dargay – Jackson and Diane

My last tip discusses food or treats. Most of the Gordons I know enjoy their snacks. That does not mean that toys cannot be used if the dog has a favorite. Whatever your dog seems to be driven to, will work to keep his attention. Integrating both is a good tool. When choosing treats, you want something special not kibble. Something with an aroma usually works well. I use microwaved chicken hot dog slices. They are better for your dog and not as greasy as regular hot dogs. Sometimes when learning a new exercise, I up the treat value if they are not learning. What I mean is this. If you were given a choice between a hamburger and filet mignon, which would you choose? I would guess filet mignon, correct? Same with the dog. If chicken franks were not working, I would go to pieces of chicken or beef. The lesson is we want to keep the dog focused on us. That will maximize the learning.

This is just my training program. There are many other good ones out there and I always take suggestions from anyone to better my dog. You want your dog to play and work with you. There has to be something in it for them. If you are not the center of attention, training will be harder. Make it fun!

Photo by Diane – Jackson and Diane

The photos in this article are Jackson at a trial in December, 2012 at the age of 8 months. He was a good boy and even placed 3rd with a score of 98. I know you are thinking that this all came about because of my experience. You can do it.

Analyze the photos. If you notice in most of them, the leash is in my right hand and my left hand is clenched at my waist. Jackson is thinking…….could a treat fall out of my left hand???

Gordon Setters Need To Play Games!

If you’re looking for an exercise buddy a Gordon Setter just might be for you. As a sporting breed our guys need plenty of time to exercise and play. As a matter of course, Gordon Setters, especially in their younger years, will run circles around you most of the time, they’re like the Eveready Bunny, they just keep on going.

Photo by Bob Segal
Photo by Bob Segal

As Gordon Setter owners we all understand their need for fun, plenty of play time and room to move around, but do we also understand that stimulating their mind, giving them puzzles to work out, giving them a job to do, those are the things that can and will make living with your high energy dog easier? Sometimes our Gordon Setter continues running and jumping till we’re exhausted by their behavior, and they’re doing this at times because they’ve nothing else to do and they’re simply bored. Give that same dog a game to play, a puzzle to solve on a regular basis day after day, and he’ll start to settle in becoming more manageable, especially if you’ve added a dose of basic obedience training.

Photo by Bob Segal
Photo by Bob Segal

Offering up some expert advice on how to stimulate our dog’s mind is Guest Blogger – Jennifer Skiba  She comes here often to share her expertise with us and we really appreciate that!

Mental Enrichment Food Toys

by Jennifer Skiba

One of the most important things I wish owners did for their dogs is to use mental enrichment food toys.

You are going to feed your dog every day of their life. That is a simple fact. And many people just throw food in a bowl and go about their day.

But, there is a better way!

If you teach your dog to play with their food from a variety of food toys every day you get more bang for your buck.

What’s in it for you?

  • A tired dog!
  • Your dog is less likely to have destructive behaviors due to boredom
  • You don’t have to walk them for hours or throw the ball for hours to burn off energy – they are doing it themselves when they eat by using their minds more.
  • For dogs that eat quickly they slow down which is better for digestion.
  • It’s fun for kids in the family to watch the dog figure it out

What’s in it for your dog?

  • Your dog engages in a mentally fatiguing exercise every day (a tired dog is a good dog).
  • Your dog learns to entertain themselves.
  • Your dog gains confidence.
  • Your dog has fun!

Here is a list of my favorite toys.

Uses either hard or soft foods:

  • Kong
  • Toppl
  • Tux (treats not a full meal)
  • Forage feeders (slo bowls)
  • Nina Puzzles

Uses hard foods or treats:

  • Kibble Nibble
  • Magic Mushroom
  • Kong Wobbler
  • Pickle Pocket
  • Trekone
  • Tretball
  • Tretbone
  • Orbee ball/bone
  • Snoop

If you’re new to food toys and need some guidance on how to take full advantage of them click here to link to a video that will demonstrate exactly how to stuff a number of various toys to get the most out of them for your dog.

Variety is the spice of life! If they only have one toy they can figure it out pretty quickly so start getting your dog as many different toys as you can.  That way you can rotate them and they don’t get bored. You will be so happy you did!

Jennifer Skiba, Namastay Training LLC

“Teaching people to listen, one dog at a time.”

Kong – Stuffing Recipes click to go to this website for ideas on things to put in your Kong toys.

These toys can be found in pet stores as well as on Jennifer’s training website:  Namastay Training – simply click here to go to her site.

Click here for video link to Mental Enrichment Food Toys by Jennifer Skiba

Forage Feeder
Forage Feeder
Forage Feeder - Slo Bowl
Forage Feeder – Slo Bowl
Kibble Nibble
Kibble Nibble
Magic Mushroom
Magic Mushroom
Kong Wobbler
Kong Wobbler
Orbee Ball
Orbee Ball