The Gordon Setter is a calm and even-tempered dog who usually looks as if he is deep in thought. Despite their serious nature, they are definitely playful and as puppies can be clumsy and rambunctious. Like their setter cousins, the Gordon requires a lot of outdoor activity to remain happy and healthy, and are well suited for people with active lifestyles. Gordons will want to be included in all family activities. Though reserved around strangers they can be trusted to be polite and well-mannered with guests once their puppy bounciness has worn off.
This hunting breed requires lots of vigorous activity in order to maintain health and happiness. Gordons aren't simply content to be left alone to their own devices in a yard, either. They need to engage in activities where they are side by side with the people they love. They are useful hunting dogs who can track, point, and retrieve on both land and water. If owners aren't hunters, they should be active and outdoorsy. Gordons enjoy hiking, jogging, swimming and can keep up with bikers. Yard activities should include playing games of fetch, or hiding toys and treats for the Gordon to track and find.
These are not apartment or city dogs. The Gordon is a country dog who is best suited for homes with fenced in yards. Farms are too open, and calling a Gordon home if he's caught a scent can be futile.
Gordons have a mind of their own and do not like to be bossed around. Training can be difficult and takes a strong, steady leader. Sessions should be conducted with an abundance of positive reinforcement and very little harsh discipline. Though establishing leadership can be a challenge, Gordons actually pick up on tasks quickly and have excellent memories. Once basic obedience is mastered and the Gordon Setter knows his place in the family hierarchy, he should be graduated on to advanced obedience or agility training to keep his mind active.
Housebreaking takes anywhere from four to six months with a Gordon Setter. They do not like to be told what to do or when to do it, so this process can be quite drawn out. Crate training is the best method for housebreaking a Gordon.
Gordons have a tendency toward jealousy and prefer not to share the attention and affection of their family with other household pets. They also have strong desire to chase smaller animals, so it's best that they be kept as the only family pet, unless they are raised alongside another dog from puppyhood.
Naturally standoffish toward strangers, it is very important to socialize Gordon Setters early and often so that their reserved nature doesn't get out of hand. Overly timid and shy Gordons can be hard to live with.
Separation Anxiety can develop quickly if a Gordon is left alone for long periods of time. They need companionship and are not well suited for people who work long hours. Destructiveness is the most common way anxiety shows itself, and can be combated with plentiful exercise and lots of quality time spent with people.