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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First off, thanks for taking the time to read this! I recently purchased an Irish Setter puppy from a 'breeder'. The 'breeder' is an IS lover who breeds them (occasionally) for a little extra income. I believe the puppy is from a show line, however, I haven't researched the lineage enough to say for sure. The 'breeder' does not hunt, nor show her dogs, however they all AKC registered.
Question 1: Knowing the background, should I even undergo the task of training the dog to hunt? When I take the dog to a nearby park (large, open field), she seems to be 'hunting'. Nose to the ground, pathing back and forth. Recently, on a trip to a farm, she was running around the yard and eventually caught the scent of 2 pheasants. She followed, and flushed them. I doubt this was a 'fluke', but I can't say she'd be able to repeat the task either.
Question 2: Assuming it is worth the resources required to train a dog, could anyone suggest how/where to start. A video/book, etc?
Question 3: Approximately what percentage of a dog's hunting ability is 'instinctive', and how much needs to be refined by training. I know this may vary from dog-to-dog, but does it vary drastically? Does it vary by breed?
Question 4: Everyone asks me if I am going to use my IS to hunt. After researching the history of IS's, they have traditionally been great bird dogs, however, it seems they have lost popularity in the hunting arena due to a huge increase in popularity in the show arena. In your honest opinion, should I try to train an IS to hunt, or leave the hunting up to better suited (by breeding) dogs that seem to be today's favorites?
Again, any insight would be GREATLY appreciated, and thank for taking the time to read this novel!
 

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Question 3: Approximately what percentage of a dog's hunting ability is 'instinctive', and how much needs to be refined by training. I know this may vary from dog-to-dog, but does it vary drastically? Does it vary by breed?
100% is instinctive

yes it varies drastically between breeds

take the dog where there are lots of birds and encourage it when it shows interest, some Irish setters even from show lines still have the instincts they need
 

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Hunt it!
Any dog can be trained to hunt, of course not necessarily wonderfully. But you are correct, the IS has lost much of its natural instinct due to its beauty and success in the show ranks. Much of their hunting instinct has been bred out of them. I hate to say but it sorta sounds like yours might not be from proven hunting lines either. But, you can alter that and get the dog on a training program designed for setters. ( I'm not sure of one though)
My family had two setters when growing up. Man they are gorgeous and can run like the wind and have a beautiful point.
Hopefully someone can direct you to a program geared toward setters.
Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies! I think the suggestion to take her to a place with a lot of birds is the next logical step.
Now some new questions!
1. Living in Pennsylvania, there are pretty much no 'natural' pheasants in the wild anymore. The PA Game Commission stocks some, but I think I would be better off to find a pheasant farm. Are most pheasant farms okay with someone just training a dog? I understand they are a business, and would want/need some kind of compensation. Any ideas of what I'd be looking to spend to let a (now) 6mo. old puppy run around their fields for an hour or two?
2. Assuming I take her to a farm, what preliminary things should I look for when she is hunting? I know she won't be completely ready to hunt, but what are some 'signs of interest'? When I take her for walks, she is very responsive to my voice, and I have been practicing on getting her to stay on a 'path', and change 'paths' when I change direction. As such, I don't think she'll just run around a field like an idiot, nor would she stay on my hip the whole time.
3. In keeping with the above theme, can you guys generally tell right away if a dog is 'promising'? Does it take time to get a better idea of their 'quality'?
Thanks again for all the insight! The more I read up on this stuff, the more interest I, personally, am getting!
 

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I am not an expert on setters but hopefully this advice will be on anyway. I buy pigeons here when I train. I have access to lots of land as well. See if you can find pigeons in your area. Introduce the dog to a pigeon..the smell, etc. Let the dog get used to birds in your yard for a week or two, maybe throwing frozen ones for her to retrieve or just horse around with. Once used to birds You can run the dog in the field with planted birds-dead or just clipped. Might want to start with dead ones. As the dog progresses, use the clipped birds so they can flutter etc.
In general the more birds the dog is around she should become more intrigued-maybe not. I run retrievers so I really can't say much more but I start my pups on birds asap. They usually start pretty slow but the more exposure the more interest and agressive they become. So, you can't always tell right away if a dog will be good or not..often it takes time.
Too bad someone doesn't have a training program geared towards setters for you. I bet if you googled "training Setters" you could find some instruction??
 
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