Wroxham Irish Red And White Setters


By Maggie Roberts.

Are there any obedient R&Ws? Well, Seamus has been taking me to obedience training since he was a puppy and at nearly two years old we are in the advanced class.

We are lucky to have Kelly, gundog trainer and breeder of German Wire Haired Pointers, running Happidogs Training School. All training is reward-based; there is no jerking of collars or punishment of any kind. Handlers are trained to praise and reward, even if the dogs don’t get it quite right. Kelly even uses this method in her handling of the handlers – we regularly receive certificates and prizes for particular achievements, which spurs us on to try harder. Kelly understands and compensates for any shortcomings of the various breeds. She realises that setters are very slow to mature and makes allowances for Seamus accordingly.

At home, in the garden, he is perfect! Instant recalls and retrieves, good send aways, dropping immediately into the boxed area and staying there until recalled, perfect scent work and lovely heelwork. In class it is a different matter! Friends have to be visited during recalls, that bit of hair on the floor is much more interesting than a boring old dummy retrieve (even it is wrapped in rabbit skin), Kelly is sure to have a treat to feed him, how can he concentrate on distance control when that light in the ceiling is so fascinating…..do you get the picture?

We have ventured into competition, but it was not a success! On arriving at the show, Seamus was quite overcome by all the noise, the tannoy system was completely new to him and there were frightening things like a Bouncy Castle and vintage tractors. He tried to get back in the car and hide. I thought at this stage we would not be competing at all, but we walked around for a bit practicing heelwork and eventually he calmed down.

Into the competition ring we went (thankfully the beginners class, so on-lead). We were not doing too badly until the Sit-Stay. He resisted as long as he could but eventually caved in – that grass just had to be eaten and he had to lie down to do it! Ten points lost there made a total of 15 points dropped. Still, we had a perfect Down-Stay, so ended on a positive note and we didn’t (quite) come last!

However, Seamus has made some progress, although his achievements are so far just In-Club certificates:

January 1999 - 6 week puppy course completed

June 1999 - Highest standard at Intermediate level whilst still a junior 22/9/99 Outstanding

handling Intermediate level 2

October 1999 - Advanced obedience stage 1 level 1

March 2000 - Advanced handler, obedience stage 1

June 2000 - Advanced stage 1 obedience

So he is a not-quite-obedient-but-trying-hard R&W. Now let’s get on with that training. 

Seamus (Wroxham Strike A Balance) and his friend Barney practice the Sit/Stay