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  Training Your Gordon
  Liver and Red Gordons
  All About Crates

Training Your Gordon

The first days and weeks in your home are very important in your Gordon puppy's life. Early training, learning the rules of your house and socialisation can never be replaced. In other words the work starts right from the day you bring your new pup home. It is essential that your pup is able to meet a great variety of situations without being fearful or timid. To achieve this you need to expose your pup to new experiences in a calm and reassuring way.

it is important that all pups learn the basic commands sit, drop(down), stay and most important to come when called. Pups should have been handled before they left the breeder, ask your breeder to show you how to lead your pup into a sit with food in your hand and shape behaviours such as sit, drop and stand, and to follow and come when called, this training is called positive reinforcement training and teaches the pups what words and actions please you, and will be rewarded. At this stage you should ignore errors Remember house training is your responsibility, you must put your pup out when it wakes, has eaten and learn to read the signs so you will quickly have a clean pup.

Puppy preschools offer good early training and socialising with other pups and people, in a safe environment. . Some preschools wait until after the final vaccination but some will take puppies before this so the puppy does not miss out on those vital early weeks. At preschools the basics of training are shown to new owners so they can practise with their puppy.

Once the pup has finished its course of vaccination it is eligible to join an obedience class run by your local Obedience club. Obedience clubs offer opportunities to take part in many dog-related activities.

The instructors are usually very experienced and can show you how to train your dog to respond to the basic commands of 'sit', 'stand', 'come' and 'stay'. In addition they will teach you how to walk your dog on a lead without it pulling or lagging behind. All this is done at a pace appropriate for you and your dog and all the while the dog is meeting other dogs and people in a controlled environment. It is through this basic training that a wonderful rapport is built up between the owner and the dog.

Formal training can be ongoing or can be terminated once the dog has reached an acceptable understanding of basic obedience. Obedience classes also provide a good source of socialisation. You can enhance this by walking your dog on lead in noisy and bustling places such as busy streets, football matches in the local park and so on. Teaching your dog not to jump up on other people, not to rush through the door first when it is opened, not to steal food left on a kitchen bench and so on are all part of the training and socialisation process but the main rule to remember is to be consistent and make sure that every member of the family does the same thing where the training of the dog is concerned.

For those who are interested, it is possible to continue on in obedience to the point where the dog can enter trials and perhaps move on into other activities such as agility, jumping, tracking, endurance and flyball. If you have ever been to an agility trial you cannot fail to be impressed by the absolute joy the dogs display while competing in these events.

Information on dog training clubs www.dogsnsw.org.au/clubs.

Liver and Red Gordons

Please note that Liver or Red coat colours in Gordons are not a health issue.

As most of us know the Gordon Setter is black and tan - however like many other predominantly black and tan breeds it is possible to get liver and tans, reds, red and tans, and even tricolours with a mostly white background. The tan colour is similar to what is sometimes called chocolate or brown in other breeds, and the red is similar to the colour of an Irish Setter.

Because liver and red are both recessive genes it has proved impossible to completely eliminate the genes from the Gordon. What is the effect of recessive colour genes in the Gordon Setter? If a black and tan (b&t) Gordon who is a carrier of the recessive red gene is mated to another b&t Gordon who is also a carrier of the recessive red gene then about 25% of the resulting litter will be red instead of b&t. So in a litter of 8 puppies you would probably have about 2 red puppies. If a carrier for red is mated to a non carrier for red then all the puppies will be b&t but about 50% will be carriers of the recessive red gene. In the first example where both parent are carriers of the recessive red gene about 66% of the b&t puppies will be carriers of the recessive red gene. In other words in our litter of 8, on average 2 will be red, 4 will be b&t but carrying the recessive red gene and 2 will be b&t and not carrying the recessive red gene. (Please note the use of terms such as 'about' and 'on average'. The inheritance of genetic characteristics is the probability of an event happening based on large sample sizes and the actual percentages can vary considerably if the sample size is small.)

In the past it was difficult to know if a particular dog was not a carrier of a recessive red or tan gene but things have now changed with the development of gene technology which can determine if a Gordon carries the recessive liver or red genes. The test is available from Vet Gen in the USA. See information on websites for full details - the cost at October 2005 using the Australian agent Gen Test is AUD $119.00 see www.vetgen.com or http://members.optusnet.com.au/~gentest

All About Crates and How to Use Them

A dog crate is a rectangular enclosure comprising a floor, three sides, a top and a door. They come in various sizes and are generally constructed of wire or plastic. Used correctly they are an invaluable asset for any dog owner and once your dog accepts a crate you'll wonder how you ever managed without one.

Crates have a multitude of uses. They are an extremely effective housetraining tool as they take advantage of your puppy's inbuilt instinct not to soil his den. A puppy can be placed in his crate when you are unable to watch him and you can be sure that he won't toilet on the floor, destroy the furniture or chew on the electrical wiring. Your dog can be confined to his crate for short periods of time during the day if you have to go out, at mealtimes or if 'non-doggy' people come to visit. If you have a dog who is inclined to be noisy at night you will find that a crate is an excellent way of keeping him quiet. I have three dogs who bark at possums so I don't leave them loose outside all night. They are shut in their crates when we go to bed and we don't hear a sound until we let them out at 7am the next morning. Being portable a crate can also be used whilst travelling, at a dog show or obedience trial, anywhere, in fact, where it is necessary for your dog to be confined. Above all, you can be sure that when your dog is in his crate he is SAFE.

Some dog owners react very negatively to the idea. They see a crate as a cage or prison and consider crating a dog an act of cruelty. However they are seeing things from a human point of view, forgetting that a dog is a den animal and that in the wild he would naturally seek out a small closed in space, he feels secure there, to him it's home. Of course you should never keep a dog locked in a crate indefinitely. They are not really suitable for a dog that will be routinely left alone all day although I know of some people who do this and find the arrangement quite satisfactory. Personally I would not leave a dog in a crate for longer than about six hours. However if for some reason you absolutely have to leave the dog locked up for an extended period of time, make sure that he's well exercised beforehand. It is possible to buy small water containers which fit over the wire of the crate and are useful in these situations.

The right size

There are a few general recommendations that I would make before you buy your crate and start training. To begin with make sure that it's the correct size, it should be large enough to allow an adult dog to lie fully stretched out on his side, he should also be able to stand up, turn around and sit up without hitting his head. If in doubt, buy the larger size as it's always better to have a crate that's a little big rather than too small. Buy a padded mat or dog doona to use as bedding, these are harder for your dog to scratch up than blankets or rugs and he won't end up sleeping on the metal floor. For very young puppies use a thick wad of newspaper covered with a towel or one of the commercial brands of dry dog bedding.

Never use crating as a means of punishment. This is the quickest way to teach a dog to hate his crate. He will associate the crate with your anger and negativity and start to avoid going in there. Always remove his collar before crating, even though it seems impossible there is always a risk that he may get hooked up on something. Drape the crate with an old blanket or something similar, this makes the crate more 'denlike' and consequently more attractive to the dog. And finally, if you buy a wire crate with a metal tray, a piece of cardboard or a towel put between the wire and the tray can help make it less noisy.


A young puppy of 8-12 weeks of age will generally readily adapt to a crate. Within a few weeks he should be happily using it as a place to 'hang out' in as well as for sleeping. When you first acquire the crate, place it in a part of the house where people congregate e.g. the kitchen or family room, put some toys and treats in, leave the door open and allow him to investigate. Puppies take lots of little naps during the day, so when you see him getting sleepy pop him in his crate and shut the door. Stay in the room with him, but don't rush to let him out if he whimpers, after an initial protest most puppies will settle down, especially if they're already sleepy. Remember to keep an eye on him and as soon as he wakes up, IMMEDIATELY take him outside to relieve himself. Feed him all his meals in his crate as this will help to create positive associations for him.

At night make sure that he's emptied out before you put him in the crate and shut the door. Don't leave any water with him, he will more than likely knock it over and if he drinks it he's more likely to want to urinate. He may complain a little for the first few nights, but you will find that he will quickly adjust to the routine. If he is very young (8-10 weeks) I wouldn't leave him crated overnight for longer than six hours. You don't want the puppy to be forced to dirty his crate, as if this happens on a regular basis it may develop into a habit. You may have to get up a little early for a few weeks, but you will be able to lengthen the time as he gets older and gains greater control of his bladder. Any accidents that do occur can be cleaned up with Nilodor or just plain soda water, don't use anything with ammonia in it as this will encourage him to mark the place again. A puppy under 8 weeks has little or no bladder control and in these circumstances it is advisable to place the crate in a wet area such as the laundry overnight and leave the door open. Place some newspapers outside the crate door for him to use until he's a little more mature. Puppies and dogs will rarely soil a crate unless they are left in there for an unreasonable length of time or have a bowel or bladder disorder. In fact adult dogs will hold on indefinitely and suffer acute discomfort in the process. This is why it's not a good idea to leave the dog too long.

All dogs are different and some adapt to crates more easily than others, puppies can be crate trained in a week, older dogs may take much longer. However long it takes I am sure you'll agree that having a crate trained dog is well worth all the effort.

Dog crate sizes

There are two major types of dog crates:
  • Rectangular wire crates
  • Moulded plastic crates/kennels
I have used both but in our climate I prefer a wire crate. The wire crate allows a lot better air circulation and when you want to store it, it collapses more compactly than a moulded plastic one. If at any stage you want to contain the warmth you can cover the crate with a blanket.


The size you buy will depend on how big you expect your Gordon to grow to and the amount of time he will be spending in it. The 36" long crate would be suitable for a smaller Gordon that is only going to spend shorter periods (up to a couple of hours at a time) in it. Wire crates:
26"h x 36"l x 23"w
30"h x 42"l x 26"w