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Thread: Training and where does it begin?

  1. #11
    Senior Member DarrinGreene's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    Souf Joisy


    They're learning from day one whether you like it or not... so might as well start teaching them the right things... instead of letting them learn the wrong ones...
    Darrin Greene

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  3. #12
    Senior Member Bait's Avatar
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    Jan 2004
    Gibbstown, N.J.


    Quote Originally Posted by DarrinGreene View Post
    They're learning from day one whether you like it or not... so might as well start teaching them the right things... instead of letting them learn the wrong ones...
    John Baitinger

  4. #13
    Senior Member Dave Flint's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    Central Texas


    Excellent topic!
    "The bird hunter watches only the dog, and always knows where the dog is, whether or not visible at the moment. The dog’ nose is the bird hunters eye. Many hunters who carry a shotgun in season have never learned to watch the dog, or interpret his reaction to scent."
    Aldo Leopold, Round River

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  6. #14
    Moderator Renee P.'s Avatar
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    Dec 2010
    Salt Lake City


    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Shaver View Post

    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.
    Steve, this video is not working for me. It starts to play, then stalls.
    R. Pennington
    (Formerly Mitty)
    Snake River's Banana Cream Pie QA2 MH

  7. #15
    Senior Member Irishwhistler's Avatar
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    Sep 2013


    I could not agree more with Steve's general philosophy regarding the fact that "training" starts long before pup ever comes hime from the breeder. I often have folks ask me "how do you get such a young pup to do those things"? I tell them, "pup already has these things in him, you just have to know how to let them out"! Now of course, this is a gross over-simplification, but those of us that have successfully trained retrievers and other breeds, know that this premise rings with much truth at it's root. Certainly as Steve suggests, starting with a pup with the genetic "right stuff" helps in mapping for a recruit gundog pup to have a journey pointed toward success.

    Like Steve and others have suggested, much of the "early training" I do with a pup is the shaping of foundational cornerstones of ability and desire of a pup to learn. A vast array of experiences are provided for pup to socialize and to be introduced / exposed to the vast number of relationships and objects that the pup will by necessity deal with throughout life.

    I structure "early lessons" to be fun for pup, his learning experience remaining painless all while shaping
    desired behaviors in each moment spent with the little student. I focus on pre-planning success into each concept I am working on with the pup, the objective being to build pup's self confidence and ability as well as desire to learn. Good trainers realize early NOT to test pup (experienced trainers already know what pups are capable of, thus testing as such is really meaningless), time spent building success is far more important. I train with a focus on shaping behaviors for success and as sequential building blocks for increasingly complex concepts or desired behaviors. Secondly, I continually re-visit previously "taught" behaviors while considering pup's overall training as "an ongoing work in process". Pup's training will really continue throughout life, needing to maintain behaviors that have been taught over a long period of time. Much like a knife, pup is continually worked with, but must be maintained to keep a well honed edge.

    By the way Steve, that wee pup Homer "takes a nice line".

    Cheers Mates,
    Last edited by Irishwhistler; 12-12-2013 at 09:13 PM.

  8. #16
    Senior Member fishduck's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
    nowhere Alabama


    I agree completely with everything mentioned about training puppies early and often. It is necessary to remember the very short attention spans and accommodate them. Puppies can be taught many things including simple handling at a very early age.

    My question was more along the lines of using birds. Many puppies cannot properly handle a full grown mallard. They drag it back by the wing, head or feet. This is not a habit I personally wish to promote. The birds most puppies can handle well are typically doves, quail or pigeons. All very thin skinned game & when combined with sharp puppy teeth can tear. A taste of fresh meat & a hungry puppy (they are always hungry) can end in disaster. Teal would also be an option but in my duck camp teal go on the table. We eat what we kill & teal are second only to speckle bellies as table fare.

    I am very much a proponent of introducing birds early in a controlled environment. My only concern was overuse because of the reasons already mentioned. If a pup is hesitant around birds, I use them as much as needed to overcome it.
    Mark Land

  9. #17
    Senior Member twall's Avatar
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    Jun 2006



    Good topic and video. I noticed the pup went out over the obstacle but returned to the side. It is pretty minor now but I would add another garment so the pup has to come back across something.

    Tom Wall

  10. #18
    Senior Member Matt McKenzie's Avatar
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    Oct 2004
    Jacksonville, FL


    In my opinion, most people are way too focused on the retrieving with young retriever pups. I think that those first few months are a great time to teach pup "citizenship" and helping them learn to learn. With a well-bred pup, the retrieving will take care of itself if you follow a good program. Of course, throwing a rolled-up sock down the hall a couple of times a day and introducing a clip-wing pigeon at the appropriate time are great things to do, but much more important is teaching pup to sit calmly to receive affection, to sit and wait to enter or exit doorways, to kennel on command, to walk on lead, etc. If you do it properly, you will be miles ahead by ensuring that pup has some basic obedience skills, but much more importantly, your pup should have a solid understanding of where he fits into his "pack" and how to deal calmly with exciting situations. I've gotten far too many pups in for training that had no concept that a human could dictate what they could or could not do. They lived the first 6 or 7 months of their lives with no rules, boundaries or limitations and then had quite a shock when they got into professional training. To be honest, I'm not impressed by those pups that are racing out to do big marks at 4 months old. That won't make a hill of beans of difference when that dog is 3 years old. But how that pup is conditioned to behave at 4, 5 and 6 months old will make an impression that will have an impact its entire life. One man's opinion.
    Matt McKenzie

    "Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it." Henry Ford

  11. #19
    Senior Member frontier's Avatar
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    Nov 2003
    Tuttle, OK


    Pat Nolan's Early Puppy Training Instructional information is very good. I've incorporated many of the puppy drills into my early puppy training.

    For example, I really like the drills with the paper plates or dixie cups
    Last edited by frontier; 12-13-2013 at 03:27 PM.
    Terrie Tomlinson
    Frontier Retrievers

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    HRCH Frontier's Cherokee Rebel MH (5-9-2000 to 12-6-2011)
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  12. #20
    Member CindyGal's Avatar
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    Mar 2012


    Great point Steve. As an Obedience Competitor we start with our puppies the day we get them home. All fun and games and treats, treats, treats! I like to teach using "games and treats" with my pup 5 times a day at only 5 minute intervals each time. Keep them wanting more. And the more repetition there is the quicker they will pick it up. In just a few weeks time you can have your dog doing a sit, down, stand, heel (both sides) front sit, recalls, baby jumps (usually just over my legs when sitting on the floor) and they never even knew they were in puppy kindergarten. I also like to have them climb over and through different kinds of obstacles just as you showed in your video while retrieving or doing a recall. A simple towel, some pvc, small cardboard boxes, play tunnels sold for cats etc. Be creative but keep it safe and fun.

    I agree that it makes a huge difference if the pup had been socialized at the Breeder's. I can't say enough of how much of an impact that has on each puppy!

    Happy training!

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