General Care

                                      Puppy Care and Beyond

  We hope this page will answer most of your questions about caring for your English Setter from the first nights home, to well beyond. 
 Please feel free to contact us if we can help you any further.

                                     Supplies and Equipment

Here is a list of recommended tools and supplies that we believe will make puppy ownership much easier.

1.  Crate.

Large enough for your puppy to stand up inside and turn around, without being so   large that he will use it for a potty. In the whelping box, we place a large cardboard box in  one corner for a "den".  The rest of the box is lined with newspaper and wood chips.   When the puppy leaves our home, he already has an idea that the den is for sleeping, the other end is for potty. If your crate is larger, you could make it smaller inside by placing a box in it, reducing the area for your puppy to roam. The crate is a great tool for  house breaking.

2. Newspaper

or newsprint for lining the crate. Unless you really love laundry....

3. Feeding dishes

4. Appropriate puppy food

5. Chew toys  

It is very important to have an abundance of chew toys available to your puppy. He will be teething for the better part of a year, and beyond that time, chewing is helpful to relieve boredom.

Our dogs love raw hide rolls and bully sticks. We have them all over the house. Best Bully Sticks is a good ource.

  Dogs can be taught at a very young age to chew only their own chew toys. When we have a dog pick up a shoe, or child's toy, we say, 
"No, get your chewy", then we place a chew toy in their mouth. Over time, they will actually look for their "chewy" when you tell them to.

  So, at least in the early months, it is easier if you have them in a lot of places. If you do not want your dog to chew your good shoe or sock,  please do not give them an old one as a toy. They will not know the difference between a shoe you have discarded, and a brand new shoe.

6.  Collar 

This is not necessary, but it never hurts to have your puppy get used to wearing one at an early age. Always remove the collar before you kennel your pup for the night to avoid strangling or getting tangled. 

7.  Leash 

We prefer 3/4 inch leather leads that are 6ft inn length. Much easier to hold, and a must for obedience training. Be very careful with retractable leads. They can be  yanked out of your hands by a strong dog, and they make it much more difficult, if not impossible, for your dogs to read obedience signals.  Retractable leads are really best used to take your dog potty or to the mailbox.   An inexpensive nylon leash is fine for a puppy, but  a leather leash will be required of training.  Gun Dog Supply has a good .    A good leather lead gets better over time.  They are worth the initial investment.

 8.  Comb and Soft Brush
  Its never too early to get your Setter used to a good brushing!. Practicing early will make grroming much easier when he gets big.

                                      First Days and Nights at Home

  Now that you have your supplies, what can you expect on your first days and nights at home? Well, your new pup will likely not even miss her littermates until it is time for bed!   That will be when the crying starts.. I must caution you, English Setters are very persisitent. That is why they make wonderful bird dogs. However, that same gift gives them the stamina to cry for hours. There are no magic bullets. In our experience, the best thing to do is stick to a consistent  schedule of feeding, playing, potty, bed time, and soon enough your puppy will learn the routine. You can try the "ticking clock" by the box trick, but honestly, these dogs are smarter than that. It may be helpful to place a "bully stick" in your puppy's crate at bedtime to distract him.

  Ok, so there is one magic bullet. You can do what I do. I put a large box beside my bed, and hang my arm into the box at night so when the puppy cries, I can comfort him right away. But I couldn't possibly recommend this method to you as a responsible breeder, (wink)      (*note* puppies trained this way often end up as dogs who sleep on their owners bed, just fyi)

  The next thing you can expect is diarrhea. This is very, very common, and does not necessarily mean illness. You puppy has undergone a tremendous amount of change since arriving at your house; first time in a car, long car ride, possible airplane trip, new smells, new people, new sounds, different water (yes, this can
be stressful), nothing familiar except possibly a towel or piece of blanket from the whelping box. On top of everything else, all of his familiar playmates are gone, too.

If your puppy has diarrhea, it is important for you to make sure he is getting enough water. If he refuses food (which also happens sometimes) give him some Gatorade., diluted with water.  It is important for him to keep up his strength.  Also try  to keep him confined to one area of the house, so messes will be easier to catch, and also so he can get used to one new place at a time.

If your puppy still has a loose stool after several days, please take him to the vet, just to be sure. Although rare, the stress of change could bring on illness from coccidia. Coccidia is everywhere, but is not active in most dogs. Young puppies are very susceptible to it until they have their own immunity built up at around 4 months 
of age. For this reason, we recommend that new puppies not be taken to dog parks or pet shops that allow dogs until they have completed their vaccination schedule. 

 If you just can't stand it, and have to take them out in public,  PLEASE do not put them down!!! Let them potty before you leave, and put paper in their crate for the ride home.
There is no possible way to know if dogs brought to these places have been properly vaccinated, and your pup is at risk. Also, please be cautious around rescue/adoption fairs. Without knowing the origins of these dogs, you could be exposing your puppy to parvo virus.

A lot of  dogs carry coccidia, and are not sick, but stressful situations will make it surface. Daybreak pups are given two doses of a coccidiacide before they leave our home, just to be safe.

                                                    Feeding Your Puppy

  Your new puppy has been fed on a schedule since being weaned from her mother. It would be helpful, and ease stress a bit for your pup if you could maintain this schedule.

 Your pup has been eating at 9:00, 2:00, and 6:00. We feed them approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup of puppy chow mixed with warm water, and provide fresh drinking water at feeding time. They are then allowed to romp and play for 15 to 20 minutes until they eliminate. Then we bring everyone back to the box. Of course
you will want to change this to suit your schedule, but try to maintain a consistent amount of hours between feedings. This will help tremendously in housebreaking.

 By the time your puppy is 12 weeks old, you can move to two feedings a day. Follow instructions on your puppy food bag for proper amounts to feed.

  At Daybreak, we feed grain free dog food to our Setters. We have noticed a change for the better in softness and luster of coat, and much smaller stools, which indicates  that they are absorbing more nutrition from what they are eating. We have been using Taste of the Wild, or Victor Grain Free puppy food.

  It is beneficial, regardless of what you feed, to change your dogs food every few months to avoid allergy and sensitivities from starting. Most brands of food have several flavors to choose from, so sticking to one brand, but alternating flavors will avoid intestinal upset common with switching food. We also like to give our dogs an additional fish oil capsule or tablespoon of coconut oil mixed into their food each day. This adds helpful oils and antioxidents to their meal.

  If you do choose to change foods, we have found the best way to do this is to make the change gradually over the course of 7 days. While keeping the same volumn of food. replace a couple of spoonfuls with the new food the first day. Next day repalce a bit more, until by day 7, your pup is eating only the new food. If stools become soft, just add a bit of the old back until the stools are firm again, then continue switching.

                                                Medical Concerns

   Now on to vet care! With me (Jim) being a vet, we take care of all the pre-transfer medical things here at Daybreak, as do most breeders. I will tell you what we do and recommend,  and you can expect something close with most breeders.  

   First, deworming. We start deworming at 3 weeks of age, and repeat every 3 weeks, so your pup will have 2 dewormings with a drug called pyrantel pamoate under it's belt when you pick him up.  Further, we use a medication called toltrazuril to protect against coccidia, a common protozoan parasite, again giving one dose at 3 and 6 weeks.

 Vaccinations.     Vaccinations are started at 6 weeks of age. This is about the earliest that the pup's maternal antibody protection (which can interfere with vaccination) will start to wear off.  We use a high quality DA2P-CPV vaccine, which covers distemper, parvovirus, parainfluenza, and adenovirus type 2. So, your pup will have one of these under his belt when you get him.

    I highly recommend that you schedule a visit with your vet soon after getting your pup home. He has only had 1 of a series of vaccinations, and is in NO WAY done with his shots yet! 

 The regular dewormings will also need to be continued. At my practice, I usually give the second puppy vaccination at 9 or 10 weeks of age, and the third at 12 weeks of age. The 2nd and 3rd shots contain a fraction protecting against leptospirosis ("lepto"), a devastating and hard to diagnose disease fairly common in our area. You and your vet may or may not decide to vaccinate against Bordatella ("kennel cough"), Lyme disease, or other diseases problematic in your area.  

Of course, rabies vaccination is required by law in all jurisdictions, and is usually given at about 4 months of age.

   We include in your puppy goody bag his first month's dose of heartworm preventative, Iverheart Plus, which I recommend giving at 8 weeks of age. Continue as advised by your vet.

  There are as many deworming protocols and vaccination schedules as there are vets, and most of them are fine. If you trust your vet, you should be able to leave this up to them. Certain overly (in my opinion) "holistic" vets and breeders will advise against vaccinating, and recommend herbal cures for deworming (and most everything else!). Proceed with caution here;
 distemper and parvo still exist, and you hunters sure don't want an "Old Yeller" scenario where your dog tangles with a rabid animal and has to be put down! I myself practice integrative medicine,  where I use alternative, aka "holistic", therapies along with more conventional ones, so I am not against holistic methods as a whole, but I do believe that, as in most things in life, there is a balance  or "happy medium" that delivers the best of both worlds!

This should get you started. Let me close by emphasizing the importance of regular vet visits. Some owners skip yearly visits, or opt for "shot clinics" or feed store vaccine. While this may adequately  vaccinate your dog, you are missing out on the opportunity of an experienced vet getting their eyes, ears, and hands on ol' Scout or Sadie, and thereby miss the opportunity for early, often life saving,  diagnosis of serious problems. Serious diagnoses happen in my practice constantly, and the owners are so glad they opted to bring their pet in rather than save a few bucks and have cancer, heart worm,  heart failure, or some other serious malady go undiagnosed until too late.

 Loosing a pet is a heart wrenching thing, made all the more so when you know that it was preventable. Believe, me, myself and the
 vast majority of my colleagues love your pet and you more than your money! We really want to help.



To spay/neuter or not? If so, when? These two simple questions have been the source of never ending debate among breeders, owners, animal control folks, and vets for a long time. I am making my
 argument primarily from the perspective of a pet owner, secondly as a vet, and thirdly, and within a very limited scope, as a breeder.

Definitions: neuter- surgical castration (male). spay- surgery to remove ovaries and uterus (female).

Lets start with a list of pros and cons for animal sterilization, actually just dogs since this is a dog website.  

  SPAY: Pros: can't get pregnant (depends on owner desire); won't go into heat (which is usually twice a year for dogs); reduces or eliminates risk of mammary (breast) cancer; eliminates risk of pyometra  (life threatening uterine infection).
  Cons: dogs tend to get and stay overweight; breeding is permanently not an option, i,e, it is irreversible.

  NEUTER: Pros: can't make a female dog pregnant; reduce or eliminate tendency to roam and / or fight for breeding rights; reduce tendency toward secondary male sexual behavior, such as aggression,  urine marking, "humping", etc.; eliminates possibility of testicular cancer (especially important for dogs named Lance!); reduce or eliminate chance of prostate disease, including cancer.
  Cons: Dogs tend to get and stay overweight; eliminates to some extent muscle development of canine athletes; renders dog permanently incapable of reproduction.

At first glance, it may seem to most people that the arguments Pro spay/neuter far outweigh the Cons, and this is probably correct for most pet owners, with some important qualifications. I am, and have always  been, in disagreement with "baby neutering/spaying" as practiced by most humane societies, rescues, and some vets. These early sterilizations reliably produce fat, sexually indistinguishable (except by checking their "junk"),  little rolly-polly puppies. They also have anatomical and urological problems unique to this class of animal, and their tendency to gain excessive weight early in their lives plays havoc with their skeletal development. 

 I diverge from the mainstream on this, I know, but I am basing my opinion on decades (3 plus) of observation, not on some blind allegiance to the "spay early and often" movement. I do recommend that anyone  not intending to breed their dog have them neutered, but I highly recommend that they wait until the dog is at least 6 months old, and preferably older. Spaying by one year of age will still protect against mammary cancer  and virtually any chance of pyometra, just as neutering by that age will protect against testicular and prostate pathology.

A word about retained testicles: they should ALWAYS be removed, as they are highly likely to become cancerous, usually malignant! A retained testicle is any testicle that has not fully descended into the scrotum. 
 This is non negotiable!

Obviously, if one intends to use his dog/s for breeding, neutering/spaying is not an option, The medical conditions associated with not sterilizing a dog are uncommon, and are usually easily recognized by the  conscientious owner. The owner of an intact dog, i.e. not spayed/neutered, needs to take precaution against their dog's getting pregnant, causing a pregnancy, or running loose in search of "a good time". 

 Signs of some possible hormone driven diseases of intact dogs are:

  Male: 1)prostatitis- pain / difficulty of defecation; signs of urinary infection (such as more frequent urination, accidents in the house) 2) testicular cancer enlargement of (usually) one testicle, in some cases accompanied  with atrophy (shrinking) of the other testicle.

  Female: 1) Pyometra- (usually happens between 4-8 weeks after the end of heat)- lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting and , most frequently and readily notable, extreme increase in water consumption.   THIS IS LIFE THREATENING-SEE YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!
  2) mammary cancer- swellings/lumps, skin changes over mammary area, or foul smelling/nasty looking discharge from nipple(s).    THIS IS ALSO VERY SERIOUS. SEEK VETERINARY CARE RIGHT AWAY!

I have now, and have had in the past, several intact dogs of both genders, and I have found that the behavioral issues often blamed on the presence of gonads, especially testicles, are largely overstated. We train our dogs,  and expect them to behave, period. The only dog we have ever had to find a new home for due to aggression was a neutered male! (NOT one of our setters, mind you!) So, if you allow your dog run the show, he/she  may well run rough shod over you,and this may be intensified by the presence of sex hormones. In short, do yourself and your dog a favor; be the boss, take charge, and GET HIM/HER TRAINED!!! I promise, you  will both be happier.

The opinions expressed in this section are mine and it will take a HUGE amount of money to change my mind...JB

There is a new study linking early spay/neuter to various health issues, including hip and elbow dyspasia. You can read an article written by Dr Barger. To read the article, click  here:

Mr Wilson's Dilemma


  English Setters are very easy to groom, and tend to stay pretty clean. A good bath when needed with a mild shampoo will do the trick. Even here in Georgia, home of sticky red Georgia clay, our dogs stay amazingly clean. This cannot be said for my Old english sheepdog, who is a walking dust mop and permanently "peach" colored!

Check their ears monthly, and keep them free of wax. It is a good idea to play with their toes as pups so they will be used to having their feet held for nail trimming. Once the feathering grows in (this could be up  to two years on some dogs), a gentle combing will keep them smooth and free of matting.

                                                     Basic Training

English Setters are intelligent dogs that are eager to please. They are very easy to train, and learn quickly.They love to be with their  master more than any place else. If you are not looking for a companion dog, please consider another breed. It would be a shame  for such a wonderful dog to spend his life alone in the yard. Some Setters are prone to barking. We have used no-bark collars on  occasion with our dogs. Usually I just have to show them the collar, and they will stop barking. They really are that smart!

  It is absolutley necessary for your Setter to be well trained. A well trained dog is a joy. It is especially important for your dog to be well trained in obidience before you take him into the field to hunt.   We enroll our dogs in basic obidience school at 6 mos of age. Until then when they are not in their crate, I (Gia) keep them on a leash tied to my waist. this is a trick I learned from the trainer we have used  for years, and it works really well. With the puppy connected to me, it firmly establishes me as leader. I can talk to him, correct him, teach him simple manners, without having to chase him around. My puppies  seem to like being with me, and this prevents whining and barking. If I can't have the dog right next to me, I use a clothesline leash (a piece of clothesline with a clip attached at the end) and tether the puppy to a nearby doorknob or stair railing. I put a soft mat on the floor, and give the pup something to chew on. 

Whenever our puppies are inside the house, they are confined in some way. This establishes the fact that the  house is my territory, and the pup waits for me to show him how I expect him to behave in the "den". One of the worst things a new owner can do when they bring a puppy home is to put him down and allow him to run all over the house, or even a room. In his mind, he is thinking, "mine...mine...mine...." You have to establish what is expected of the puppy. Doing this from the beginning is much kinder than constantly  correcting later, and having a dog that jumps on you, snatches toys, and runs all over the house when you are calling him is a night mare. We let our puppies have plenty of time to run around outside,  but inside we teach good manners from the beginning. It really works.

  Setters are high energy dogs and will need a fenced area to run and play. I have seen our dog , Flint, run non stop all day, from one corner of the yard to the other, chasing our cat. On the other hand, there  has never been a bigger couch potato than Flint Barger when he comes in the house!  

Please take your dog for walks as often as possible, and provide them with a safe fenced area to run!

  A word about walks.
When you go through obidience, you will be taught to heel your dog. This is really important for your dog to know. However, we have bird dogs, and they love to smell!! So, when you are walking, if possible, let  your dog have some slack in the leash and allow him to sniff and explore. It is really important, if you are planning to hunt with your dog, that they get to practice "hunting". We say "Free" to them which tells them they can break from the heel.

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We are located in  Alpharetta Georgia