Hello all, I just got an English Setter puppy. He is 8 weeks old and is quite the character, as can be imagined. I've never had a hunting dog before and am not entirely sure where to start. I know the typical puppy stuff like getting him house trained but where should I start with him? When should he be introduced to bird's and what should I be teaching him? Thanks a lot for any input!

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Well I don't know much about that type of dog but hunting dogs yes. Getting the dog on the birds as fast as you can he needs to smell that scent. Loud noise, he/she can't be shy of a gun shot. You have your hands full for sure. The more time you put into that dog the better the dog will be. I would have him out now fire of a few rounds every now and then to get him used to it. ken din may help you out a little better in this area. We did labs and beagles, never did a setter. Good luck and happy hunting.


Ken Dunn is the man. Send him a message and ask him his thoughts. I'm sure when he sees this he will pass on some info.
Sorry peter though it was dinn.
It is Ken Dinn. This frigging phone changes what you write. Drives me nuts.

It is Dinn........ no worries.



Congratulations on the new pup......always exciting times! Where did you get him and what are your intentions for him? I will assume ptarmigan. First thing is that remember that he is only a pup/baby so do not be too hard on him and make things fun for him. Teach him to be a good citizen i.e house manners and at least walking on a lead. Get his full set of vaccinations and them really expose him to as much as possible. Take him for runs in the woods and fields regularly but keep the runs short at first because he will get tired out quickly and you want him wanting more rather then beating him out and making it no so good for him. Put him on a good quality food and set a regular feeding schedule. You have to teach him to eat right and not just pick at his food.

Noise yes a dog can be made gun shy....... note I said made gun shy..... gun shy is man made. Yes some dogs are more prone to this then others but you never know which ones so you have to do a careful introduction to the gun. DO NOT just take him out and fire a few shots as this could be the shot or shots that make him gun shy. Start by banging some pots and pans around him when you put his food out. Do it from a distance then get closer over a few week period. If he shows no sign of even noticing this I then move to two 6 inch pieces of 2X4 and clap them together starting farther away and gradually moving closer if all is well. If he shows any sign of distress move further away and soften up the noise. If it is all good I then bang the 2X4 just before I am going to feed the pups this should see the pup coming running for his meal after a few days because he is associating the noise with GOOD which is his food. When all of this is done drop me a note and I will tell you the next step that I would take.

A good way to tell how he is taking things is watch his tail and tail that is up and wagging is a good indicator that he is happy and doing well. If he tucks his tail and sort of cowers he is confused or nervous so back off.

DO NOT get caught up in the  "wing on a string" deal for pointing as it causes more trouble then what it is worth.

Bottom line make it fun and keep it fun. Set limits for him in the house and expose him to anything and everything. Do not expect him to be a completely trained dog to fast.... it takes time.

Thanks, Ken. You are inded a gentleman with a tremendous amount of knowledge.

My pleasure thanks for the kind words.

Hey Ken, thanks alot for your reply. I really appreciate it. I got him from a Bill Chafe in Maddox Cove, the puppy isn't registered or anything, the owner just bred one of his hunting dogs. I've been banging the pots every chance I get while feeding him and he isn't bothered by it at all. I mainly just want a companion when I go hunting, if he can get me a few ptarmigan that'd be great. I'd also like to see if I can get him into grouse or duck, or even flush out a rabbit while he's going about his business through the woods. I have a few questions if you don't mind me asking.. 

 Is there any specific way I can get him on the go in the woods for grouse or he'll just take to whatever scents he likes? I know he is a setter and would be inclined on open terrain, so I won't be hard on him, I'm just wondering if there is any specific way to get him involved in that kind of environment.

When I take him in the woods, should I let him go out on his own accord and come back when he wants to or be whistling for him to come every once in a while? Should I train him to walk in patterns through the woods? If so, how?

Also, I have a few coturnix quail in a pen in my shed. Should I introduce my puppy to these, or would that mess up his natural reactions at all? And should I be teaching him any tricks in a certain order? He learnt sit in a few minutes and when I throw something he will go fetch and bring it back to me, that he did on his own. I've started trying to get him to learn "find it" by laying down and dragging a piece of cheese or meat on the floor and getting him to sniff it out. Does this all sound good or is anything I'm doing working him out of what he should be doing? I was also thinking of putting him through a puppy training course, is that a good idea? Thank you, i really appreciate all the help I can get.

Nick no problem I am only too happy to help. With regards to grouse there are a lot more grouse shot over setters every year then there will ever be ptarmigan..... not in Newfoundland but all over north America. The Rough grouse is considered the "king of game birds". Now when I say shot over setters (and other breeds as well both flushers and pointers) I mean the sporting way to hunt grouse only shooting birds on the wing over points. Not the typical stuff that you hear about shooting them on the ground or out of a tree. Great Sport.. Your dog is a bird dog not just a "ptarmigan" dog. He will point whatever you get him into. Right now he is young and has no purpose just yet so you expose him to the woods and the barrens , grouse and ptarmigan and he will get interested in both. When you walk him in the woods especially when he is young you will find that he will stay close, as he matures and  gets bolder he will start to range out but if you build a  good bond with him he will want to stay with you. If he starts to run big in the woods it is better to stay quiet as he will come looking for you but if you are always calling or whistling to him he already knows where you are so does not need to stay close. Most grouse hunters use a bell when in the woods or a beeper collar to keep track of the dog. So I would suggest putting a bell on when you hit the woods.

Quail unless you are absolutely sure what to do with "planted birds" I recommend staying away from them. Coturnix quail are very poor flyers and you dog will only end up catching them and you do not want a pointing dog catching birds..... if he catches them why would he want to point them??? Better to leave them in the shed.

What you are doing is fine but do not do too much retrieving with out getting him out and finding wild birds. You want to think of balance. Too much retrieving and not enough birds brings the pointing out of balance IMO I like a dog solidly pointing before to work too much on the retrieve.

One command that is a must for pointing dogs again IMO is WHOA which is basically stand there and do not move. Later down the road when he starts to point and you want to extend his points you can simply tell him to WHOA and walk in front of him to flush the birds. This is finished dog work but the WHOA command can be taught right from day one.

Keep it fun for him with short sessions and short walks.

Just because he does not have papers does not make him lesser of a bird dog..... he could be the best dog ever to walk the face of the earth who knows. 



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