I have a 6 month old BLF who is progressing nicely. Her adult teeth are in and she is mature and all about business on her retrieves. She has been delivering to hand for the last two months and has always been good about this. At this age, I have never demanded that she heel and sit, just bring it to me and drop it in my hand which she has done.
We started hold, walking hold sessions, and walking hold with distractions a couple of weeks ago. After that we started FF last week. She is progressing as expected and beginning to open her mouth at the Fetch command and ear pinch.
Both Mike Lardy and Evan Graham video's indicate that marks during retrieves are ok if it doesn't interfere with the standard you are setting. Today I tried some marks thinking that I could give the hold command and heel her. It didn't work and she dropped the dummy before heeling. I placed it back in her mouth and gave her the hold command. After two of these, she dropped the dummy about 10 feet away on the third retrieve and sat without coming back to me. This was really the first time in a long time that she hasn't delivered to hand. My read is she felt she was being punished for retrieving back to me. Consequently, I stopped the hold command and threw a few more marks. Her enthusiasm returned and she delivered the rest of the retrieves to hand as normal (no heel or hold command) and was again a happy pup.
My questions is whether you think I should stop marks until FF is complete or do you think it is ok to continue marks and delivery to hand without making her hold or heel on return. If I am not giving the hold command and she delivers to hand (without healing or sitting) am I reducing my standard for hold and FF training?
Thanks for your comments.