I have written 2 different articles for ‘The Gordoner’ British Gordon Setter club magazine. Please find below copies of both articles:


Getting fit for your Gordon – six breed specific exercises!

  1. Arm stretches – flexibility for sudden lunges whilst Gordons on lead! Or after hours at the computer entering shows or trials- try five slow stretches1 2 3
  2. Abdominal strengthening- for bracing against sudden paws in stomach whilst on sofa , proctecting back and standing for long periods ( grooming, shows, field trials ) try six sets of 54
  3. Squats – presenting in the ring. Lifting dogs on and off tables , miscellaneous lifting of dogs over fences and stiles, lifting bags of food and baggage in and out of cars. Try 5 holding each for 10 secs5
  4. Lunges (as with squats) – presenting in the ring. Lifting dogs on and off tables , miscellaneous lifting of dogs over fences and stiles, lifting bags of food and baggage in and out of cars. Try 5 holding each for 10 secs
  5. Back extension – easing spine during or after any long periods of bending try 5 after every 10 mins of bending7
  6. Interval running – essential for showing, training or just those catastrophe avoidance moments!

After doing some warm up stretches (see above)

  • Walk 1 min
  • Jog 1 min
  • Stride 1 min
  • Jog 1 min
  • Walk 1 min

Increase as you wish up to 4 sets

Have fun! But remember….You know your own fitness level best -so please check with your own health professional if you have any health worries before trying the exercises

Angela Cairns

ARTICLE 2 – Working with Gordon Setters


I also wrote the additional following article:

ARTICLE 3 – Working with Gordon Setters

I own two Gordon setters Chartan Elijah Blue 5years old and Chartan Ginny Weasley 2 Years old. Both my Gordon setters enjoy working although they have some show lines in their pedigree. I train them myself and they are involved in field trials and also work as gundogs

Setters and Pointers do very specific gundog work

Originally they were bred to work over rough moorland in the North of England and Scotland hunting Grouse . They also work in crop cover in the Spring and Autumn in the wide fields of East Anglia working on Pheasant and Partridge. They are galloping dogs with great stamina they work ahead of a small group of guns and are shot over. On a working day they will work in front of their handler who walks into the wind followed by the guns. The dogs will run to and fro from right to left across the wind in an flattened s shaped pattern covering up to 200- 300yards either side of the handler turning on whistle commands this is called quartering . They air scent grouse and other game birds. When it scents a bird the dog stops in an intent posture, nose pointing towards the scent, tail still and indicates the bird often by lifting one paw in a pointing action. The dog must remain quite steady until the handler and the Gun or Guns that are shooting that day get close . The dog is then commanded to walk in and flushes the bird into the air. The dog must then drop to the ground on whistle command and remain steady ( to avoid injury) as the guns take their shot. In this country Setters and Pointers do not do retrieving work however in other European countries they do. My dogs also work to help gamekeepers in the management of moorland by working areas of moor (without the shooting party ) and flushing birds so they can be counted and populations monitored.

Training begins when the dog is just seven weeks old the first early lessons are all fun and the pup learns through play in short frequent sessions with plenty of rewards. It first learns to recall to voice and then recognising a whistle command used at the same time . The drop is also learned from an early age on the command “Hup” the pup is gently encouraged down either by moving a treat down and back from pups nose to between its front legs causing it to fold back into the down position or by gently guiding it by hand. Gradually a raised hand signal and a whistle command are added until the dog will drop on hand or whistle command. The dog must not leave the drop until a release command is given . Teaching quartering begins as a light hearted chase game – the handler running right and left with pup following – a pip pip whistle command is given on each turn . These dogs will instinctively run into the wind and they quickly learn the quartering pattern . The distance from the handler increases gradually as the dog gains confidence and it is obedient to the turn and drop whistle. The introduction to bird scent comes only when the dog is obedient and initially with a long trailing line to ensure that the handler can control the dog and as the dog points it learns to remain steady and drop to birds flushing. I keep my eyes open on every walk and if a bird flies I ask the dogs to drop, so that the flutter of wings becomes linked with a drop every time.

The training period is up to two years but setters do need regular revision sessions as they can be quite exuberant dogs and easily distracted.