If I was having trouble with a standard poodle I would contact Rich Louter http://www.redhuntingpoodles.com/. He is a knowledgable trainer doing well with your chosen breed.
It is next to impossible to properly address your issue via the internet. Dog training is a very in the moment, dynamic process, where reading the dog is of the utmost importance. You are having a very uncommon issue with a breed not often trained for retrieving. To complicate the mix, you are a first time trainer and don't have a base of knowledge.
If it were my dog, I would let a retriever trainer evaluate the progress and critique the reaction. Hopefully there is a club in your area with someone you could ask for help. No one trains a dog in a vaccuum, everyone with a well trained dog has been helped at some point. Most are happy to return the favor.
These are dog people, and they're concerned for your dog, as I am. But I don't think a clear picture has yet been offered, and a lot of overreacting is going on. Try not to throw the baby out with the bath water...yet.
EDIT AFTER RE-READING MY POST - I have spoken with JNG on the phone twice prior to posting this.
In fairness to JNG, I believe he is indeed doing his best to read his dog.
It sounds to me like this is a dog that has:
1) Already had e collar experience. He's been "stimulated" for jumping up on and or biting people. So he's already had direct e collar pressure combined with something like "no" or "off" as an audible cue.
2) He does not have any formalized obedience. He is not efficient at "heel", "sit" and "here". He will not yet promptly sit when commanded on lead. He will not yet sit and stay while the handler walks a distance, waiting to be called to handler.
Evan, my advice to JNG is that before he tries to collar condition using your method, or the one outlined by Mike Lardy, he needs to get his obedience much more conditioned. He needs to have the dog performing reliable, repeatable responses to basic obedience first. His pup also needs to have a clear understanding of the use and relationship of a lead and a collar in combination with compliance to obedience commands.
I believe he was trying to collar condition before the dog was properly prepared to understand what was expected and how to respond. I've advised him to not put his dog through another session so he can get it on video, until he's confident that his dog is reliable and responsive to basic obedience commands, taught without the use of e collar sitmulation.
I guess an alternative to this would be to try Hillmann's method. My concern here is he's already been corrected for jumping and biting with a collar...so I think it's time to train first, then try the collar later, incorporated into already known commands.
Since so many people have been so generous with their time and expertise, I wanted to say thanks, and to post a quick update. I've put the transmitter in the drawer for the time being and I've been taking Watson on leashed obedience walks for the last few nights. He's been doing the same things that got him tangled in the ropes so hopelessly--constant bounding, spinning, backwards-walking-facing-me-no-matter what, biting the leash--pretty incorrigibly.
Tonight, we had a breakthrough.
He was doing his backwards-spin-twist-bound routine, but tonight when he bit the leash he got just a teensy bit of the end of the choke chain in his mouth, so when I jerked it out of his mouth it REALLY got his attention. And just like that, everything changed. From that moment on, we had a beautiful walk. He didn't heel perfectly, nor would I have expected him to, but he did walk in the forward-facing direction, at my side, and he responded nicely to collar guidance when asked to 'heel.'
Hopefully we can keep building on this.
very good to here
I think you may like a prong collar.
it is more better than the classic choke chain, I feel.
ugly as heck, but wonderful for the task you have.
Without seeing the dog it's still largely guess work. Is video not possible?
To add to my previous statement, I don't think your solution lies in playing hopscotch with methods, but rather in working through and improving on the way you're applying the proven method you began with. When I was a brand new, "green-as-a-gourd" trainer, I asked the late D.L. Walters about a training issue I had. I asked if perhaps I should just stop for a while and do something else. His reply is relevant here. He said, "You can do that, and your dog may seem happier. But your problem will still be there waiting for you when you come back. The best way to solve a training problem is to improve your training, and work through it, not quit."
Let's work a little harder to see what's really wrong here. "See" is the operative word at this point. I would caution also against launching into the formalizing of your training if the teaching was incomplete. Did you thoroughly teach the fundamental commands; Here, Heel, Sit? Your dog knows what to do, but is perhaps just acting out instead?
Your advice is very much appreciated. I just sent you a responsive pm about the video issue, and apologize for not seeing to that sooner.
I guess a short answer is that I'm pretty sure the dog understands the commands and that the teaching is complete, but what I'm "pretty sure" of isn't worth much given my lack of experience and knowledge. So it seems to make sense to take a little more time on the teaching to make absolutely sure, instead of just pretty sure.
I'll send video when I get that capability back.