Some of the best "training" is actually shaping behavior that will carry forward into things like patience/steadiness later on. It starts the first time a puppy is picked up and held by its new owner. Puppy stays there calmly for a minute, then starts to squirm. Person puts puppy back on the ground. Puppy learns that wiggling/moving is how to get what it wants. If that puppy is held gently but firmly until the squirming stops, then is let down, it learns that being calm and quiet and still is the way to get what it wants.
I both agree and disagree with you here Matt. Check out the link above and tell me that this is not impressive for a 3 month old pup. Watch how she deals with terrain changes, angles the road and holds her line going up hill when it slants off to the left not to mention the way she handles a full size hen mallard that is almost as big as her. Coming back she squared the road and started to stray with her prize but that is where you got to work it and keep her coming which she also responded to very well. All this is because this is because she has been doing it since I brought her home at 7 weeks starting by hand throwing bumpers only a few feet with these types of factors involved. Of coarse it doesn't always work perfect. There are points along the way where instead of progressing you have to back up a bit. Baby steps! The hardest part is knowing when to push and when to back off. I say push as far as they will let you from day one the pup will tell you how far you can go. The whole point of this thread is that they generally start of doing things the right way naturally so I try to make it habit before they get smart enough to learn other ways of doing things.
I acquired this way of thinking at a seminar for work. Totally unrelated but the light bulb went on for me. The seminar was basically a safety seminar put on by a chiropractor from WA. She asked someone from the audience to come up on stage to demonstrate her point. She laid a book on the floor and asked the person to pick it up. He just bent over with his back without bending at the knees and picked it up. She went on to describe the anatomy of the skeletal system and why it was not engineered to do it this way. Then ( here is where my light bulb came on) she showed a video of a toddler maybe 1 to 2 year old barely walking do the same thing. He walked right up a ball squatted down bending at the knees and not the back grabbed the ball and stood straight up. She says now that is the way the body was engineered to pick things up. I instantly tied this to puppies. I try to think they are all born perfect and it is up to me to keep them that way. If they don't stay perfect then I blame the breeder cuz they didn't breed me the perfect dog;).
My focus for this thread is retrieving but you are 100% correct with everything else you said. Just because my focus here is on retrieving and work in the field doesn't mean all things you mentioned aren't important also. In fact I am very glad you made that point. It brings another word to mind, balance. It is all important. Cram everything into that little brain that they will allow you to. Problem with a lot of people is that they just don't realize what these animals are really capable of both as puppies and older dogs. Your words from above "If done properly you will be miles ahead" but it applies to everything not just one phase of training. Don't forget I have been where you have been (you know what I mean) when you talk about young pups coming in for training and it can be a nightmare. Dream early to avoid nightmares later.
I have always said that I cannot train a client dog as well as I can train my own.
I was more concerned on focus on the mark. I wanted him to have the open ends so that he had the choice to go over or around. He is not afraid to go over things! He went around it coming back because that is where I was so actually he took a straight line both going and coming. I like them to know both ways are ok depending on the situation. Just like later on they need to know that it is ok to both swim by a point or get on it. Teaching direct route as well as conquering obstacles.
With a litter of 6 week old pups on the ground ,I just cant let this thread die quite yet.....bump.:D Keep the ideas coming.
We are working on small pieces of hotdog rewards when they get all 4 feet on the place board with shaping a sit coming next and doing a lot of exploring as a pack.
Meh, I'm nobody. I don't know that much but I guess I am ahead of the average pet buyer.
If you have an older dog in training, or belong to a training group, take your pup to training sessions. This is good socialization and introduction to the training regime. At the end of the session shorten up the marks, hold your 3-5 month old pup up in front of your kneeling figure, have the gunner make some noise, shoot and throw. Depending on the dog's talent you may need to keep the marks very short and simple, but I have seen real good marking dogs run 200 yard plus singles at four months old. Play it by ear.