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Thread: Training and where does it begin?

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    Senior Member Steve Shaver's Avatar
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    Default Training and where does it begin?

    The recent thread about using frozen birds got me to thinking.
    The question is always asked about when to introduce this or that or when does actual training start. It is of popular belief that the serious and most important stuff starts with basics at around 6 months with which I pretty much agree, BUT! I don't necessarily agree with the most important part. Yes you need a good foundation but I say it starts waaaaay before basics. I get very serious training a pup the minute I bring it home. I just don't let the pup know that. To me this is the most important time. Wait a minute, I really should back up here because this is not where it all begins.
    The most important part starts with the breeder. I will use my good friends Brandon and Dawni Bromley at Revittup Retrievers as an example. This is where it starts. Not only is Brandon very good at putting together pedigrees but the care and attention the puppies get before they go to their new homes is extremely important, Dawni does an excellent job of this. I have had puppies that came from breeders that don't get the attention they do with the Bromley's and I'll tell you it is a world of difference. The opening line on their web site says it pretty well. "Welcome to Revittup Retrievers, where nature and nurture synergize". A puppy with this kind of attention has a big head start.
    With that being said the next most important part is when the puppy comes home. Again the popular belief is that the basics it the foundation of all further training. Wrong! It starts with conception and puppies are ready to be molded at birth. As far as actual training it is never too soon. I train professionally part time. Mostly gun dogs but have run a few client dogs in the games. If I had my way I would train nothing but puppies starting at 7 weeks old. I believe this is where it all begins and the is a lot that can be done. It is said that the words never or always should not be used when it come to training. I will add a couple more word to that. Don't ask WHEN OR IF. Instead ask how. It is never too early to start.
    Last edited by Steve Shaver; 12-12-2013 at 09:19 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Shaver View Post
    The recent thread about using frozen birds got me to thinking.
    The question is always asked about when to introduce this or that or when does actual training start. It is of popular belief that the serious and most important stuff starts with basics at around 6 months with which I pretty much agree, BUT! I don't necessarily agree with the most important part. Yes you need a good foundation but I say it starts waaaaay before basics. I get very serious training a pup the minute I bring it home. I just don't let the pup know that. To me this is the most important time. Wait a minute, I really should back up here because this is not where it all begins.
    The most important part starts with the breeder. I will use my good friends Brandon and Dawni Bromley at Revittup Retrievers as an example. This is where it starts. Not only is Brandon very good at putting together pedigrees but the care and attention the puppies get before they go to their new homes is extremely important, Dawni does an excellent job of this. I have had puppies that came from breeders that don't get the attention they do with the Bromley's and I'll tell you it is a world of difference. The opening line on there web site says it pretty well. "Welcome to Revittup Retrievers, where nature and nurture synergize". A puppy with this kind of attention has a big head start.
    With that being said the next most important part is when the puppy comes home. Again the popular belief is that the basics it the foundation of all further training. Wrong! It starts with conception and puppies are ready to be molded at birth. As far as actual training it is never too soon. I train professionally part time. Mostly gun dogs but have run a few client dogs in the games. If I had my way I would train nothing but puppies starting at 7 weeks old. I believe this is where it all begins and the is a lot that can be done. It is said that the words never or always should not be used when it come to training. I will add a couple more word to that. Don't ask WHEN OR IF. Instead ask how. It is never too early to start.
    Good read Steve. Thanks Don

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    Senior Member 2tall's Avatar
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    Steve, I agree with you, and I have watched you put your words into action with 7 week old puppies. But . . . the large majority on here, myself included, do not know the "HOW" part of your post. Also, we do not know the "WHAT" at that age. How many times have you seen someone post, "My pup won't retrieve" and then read he has been throwing the dang bumpers down the hall 20 times an hour three hours a day?????? I find that for the beginners and less knowledgeable, we will do far less damage by doing nothing but playing and exploring, until ready for Hillman or whatever program. If you ever get your early puppy training ideas put into a book or video, I would for sure buy it. It would be an incredibly valuable addition to the material out there now.
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    Senior Member Steve Shaver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2tall View Post
    Steve, I agree with you, and I have watched you put your words into action with 7 week old puppies. But . . . the large majority on here, myself included, do not know the "HOW" part of your post. Also, we do not know the "WHAT" at that age. How many times have you seen someone post, "My pup won't retrieve" and then read he has been throwing the dang bumpers down the hall 20 times an hour three hours a day?????? I find that for the beginners and less knowledgeable, we will do far less damage by doing nothing but playing and exploring, until ready for Hillman or whatever program. If you ever get your early puppy training ideas put into a book or video, I would for sure buy it. It would be an incredibly valuable addition to the material out there now.



    Funny you should mention that. I have two new puppies now and have started doing videos of them but will eventually need assistance putting them all together

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    Senior Member KwickLabs's Avatar
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    Wonderful topic!

    Steve said:
    I get very serious training a pup the minute I bring it home. I just don't let the pup know that. To me this is the most important time (after the breeder's input).............the popular belief is that basics is the foundation of all further training. Wrong! It starts with conception and puppies are ready to be molded at birth. As far as actual training it is never too soon............Don't ask WHEN OR IF. Instead, ask how. It is never too early to start.
    Carol said:
    I find that for the beginners and less knowledgeable we will do far less damage by doing nothing but playing and exploring.
    Carol's comment is supported by anecdotal pro trainer stories about young dog(s) just in for formal training needing to have a few things to "straighten out".

    The alternative of waiting seems reasonable except for how do you "play and explore"? Steve stated one aspect of this early stage is to make sure the pup feels like most everything is his choice. It helps to have a bit of a "con man" personality.

    The "deal breaker" with Steve's approach vs. a waiting beginner is the delay in becoming a teacher with a plan. Understanding, developing and working at sequential training is not a spontaneous process. It seems contrary to avoid confronting the obvious. I rarely see this mentioned about puppy work......there are early "windows of opportunity" that can never be re-visited......don't miss them.

    It is common knowledge that pups thrive on predictability. Design a 24/7 structure for a pup. The ultimate goal is to approach formal training with pups that ooze "That was fun! What's next?"

    As Steve suggested "Ask how!"
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    Senior Member Hunt'EmUp's Avatar
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    I like to work on what I'd call "instintual work" with those puppies, ~5wks -formal training at ~6mt. These are all the aspect associated with nose, socialization, bird drive, independence, exploration, confidence, etc. I also like to work play retrieve (no consequences if they don't choose to retrieve), and even some basic 3 handed casting (I use the nose & treats for this). Still all that is usually done at the pups choice, hidden in as play. There is some puppy OB, (no biting, come when I call, house training, etc) that are introduced with consequences & a rope; but those are done to maintain my sanity, before formal training begins

    The key is reading your student, some pups like to learn, they like to interact and live to please (those pups can pick up many things; with play way before formal training), some pups have to mature they don't have the attention span, they are pretty much out for themselves, and your better off waiting to teach things formally, where you can re-enforce them. Of course even with the most interactive-teachable puppy you still have to be aware of the butterfly effect. No matter what your doing or what your focus as a trainer; a puppy will for whatever reason, at any time, may need to chase a few butterflies, and you just got to throw up your hands, and let them. Heck most of the time it might benefit the trainer; just as much to go chase a few themselves.
    Last edited by Hunt'EmUp; 12-12-2013 at 01:14 PM.
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    I feel we train similar to what you are saying. The pups don't even know they are being trained they just think....this is what we do! Our dogs respond so well to it. I think too many people miss the boat and wait too long to start training.

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    We have videos of our pups sitting steady then retrieving 40 plus yard doubles (live wing clipped pigeons) while we are shooting over them with primers and using duck calls. All at about 4 months old. People say how do you do that! Slow steps and teach the pups this is just what we do!

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    Senior Member Steve Shaver's Avatar
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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bm_d...hDt2tsedfrqyAg

    Here's just a quick little example teaching pup to deal with obstacles. I am playing indoors in this video because at the time it was only 3 degrees outside. My main point is pups generally will just do things right when they are this age. This little guy doesn't even think about going around the towel or picking up the bone. He just goes for his toy. I try to create habits like this before they start to think of ways to get around things. I teach all age marking to pups this age dealing with all the factors of wind, terrain, cover and weather permitting water but just on a tiny little puppy scale. To me it is just sooo easy to do at this age, they just do it and if you work to make it habit it is fun for all. If you wait and teach it later it can get frustrating for both trainer and pup. Pup in my avatar was learning to take angles into and across the water and come back the same way, At this age it is easy. If you wait till they are older and they have already learned to square the water or go around all together it can be tough to teach them what you want.
    Last edited by Steve Shaver; 12-12-2013 at 06:06 PM.

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    Senior Member Mary Lynn Metras's Avatar
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    Totally agree with you Steve. Thanks for sharing the video.
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