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Here's the scenario, I'm looking for some advice. My wife has 2 English setters. We just got married 3 weeks ago, so now I have 2 English Setters. I've been around them a lot since she's had them, but we haven't lived together until now so I never had enough consistent time to train them to hunt, and there's also the fact that I've never trained a dog before. The male is 5 years old and the female is 3. They both have good natural pointing instincts, and both are very sharp on scents and smells (we live in the woods so they are always after something).


The male is outside the majority of the time, he hates to be inside and is always running around the yard, boundless energy really. He will retrieve toys if he's in the mood, but he's more interested in just running around. He doesn't flinch at all from gunshots.


The female is pretty clingy and follows us around in the house all the time. She's better with retrieving and is playful and energetic if you intiate it, but if not, she is kind of lazy and wants to be next to you and petted. She gets scared from gunshots, and pretty much any inadimate object in the house, if you move it (ex: moving a box or chair across the room). However, if she hears or smells anything, she'll go tearing right outside, they've even chased off bears before.


So the question is, are they too old to start? Where would I start? Of course I'd like to hunt with both dogs, but if I had to pick one to train I'd probably go with the male.


Neither one has been around other dogs much(except each other), and they have a large area to run free (invisible fence), but they know the boundaries and haven't crossed the fence in years. My concern is if I took them out somewhere else, they'd just take off into the woods exploring and chasing scents.


Thanks for any advice, I've felt for years I'm wasting their potential and would love to get in the field.

Freedom is a light for which many men have died in darkness

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Congrats on the wedding hammer08!


Never too old to start training the dogs to hunt. You should train them both and hunt them both, you may find that the female hunts closer and listens better. The gunshyness can be fixed.


I would start with pheasant wings in the yard and play "find the birdie". Then you can tie wing to a string and use a fishing pole to simulate a running bird. Get a check cord (long rope) if you're concerned about the dog running off or an electronic collar.


A good training book would be Gun Dogs by Wolters. Kinda old school, but still has everything you need to know. http://www.gundogsupply.com/-609-.html


Training Pointing Dogs would also be a good book http://www.gundogsupply.com/-601-.html

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Obedience is the most critical aspect of training any dog, bird dogs included.  It doesn't matter how phenomenal their prey drive is, their nose, their stamina.  If they won't listen to you, they are not hunting for you.  Start with basic obedience school so that both dogs listen to your every command.  Books are great, but I suggest for your first bird dog finding a good trainer near you and hopefully one that allows you to participate in your dog's training so that you learn as much as your dog does.  Some trainers are better than others at that.  My trainer has long since passed, but he insisted that his clients show up at his kennels a minimum of once/week to work with their dogs that he was training all week, and those of us that got up far more often learned a lot about training and later were able to train our own dogs. 


I've seen dogs well trained by a trainer in another state go bad after the hunter had no idea how to handle his dog.  Find a trainer that is willing to spend some time training you as well and you'll have a great time with your dogs.  Once you know the game, you can send a dog off to a trainer that won't work with you and your dog at the same time so long as you follow the same commands he has been training your dog on.

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