English Setters are a happy, active breed throughout most of their lives; however, it is their puppyhood that many owners find most challenging. While they go through all the normal stages of development, it is a time when firm boundaries must be established without fail. This not only helps them feel safe but prevents an overdevelopment of separation anxiety from taking root, something the breed has a known tendency for. Failing to take the upper hand is likely to result in needless trials and tribulations. The happy English Setter is one who knows the rules of the game and is confident in their owner.
For the most part, obedience training will be the one thing that gives the English Setter a good sense of self confidence. The highly sensitive breed often forms its attachments early on and owners accidentally foster anxiety issues by being too permissive or overly protective. Training should take place early when the Setter is at its most impressionable. It should be noted that the highly perceptive English Setter will require a balance of firm yet gentle training, as they do not respond well to heavy handed tactics. No matter how frustrating, an owner should be prepared to work on problems in a consistent manner. In the long run, this will result in a well adjusted Setter that is a dream to be acquainted with.
As with any other breed of dog, anxiety in the English Setter is expressed through chewing. Because they are so sensitive and anxiety prone when young, it is important to have plenty of chew toys available. Owners must also establish what is appropriate to chew on and what is not. Much like a home that prepares for the arrival of a new child, owners must be sure to get dangerous items out of their puppy's reach. Cords, plants, decorative items and other objects should be put out of the way or kept in another room behind closed doors. Leaving chew toys throughout the house will distract the puppy from chewing on shoes, furniture and other valuables.
It is also important to provide plenty of exercise during this time. Although it may seem like their energy is boundless, keeping a puppy busy is the best way to keep destructive habits to a minimum. A Setter puppy left to itself will look for ways to stay occupied on its own. Without anyone to show what is appropriate and what is not, he or she will likely resort to whatever comes natural. It is situations like these that are the biggest snag between dog owners and their pups. Developing a good solid relationship with any new dog takes time but requires the owner to first take the lead.