I am new to the retriever training side of dog training, I have only trained pointers in the past and even my experience there is limited with 2 dogs. I will give you a little bit of a rundown of how my training has went thus far and one HUGE setback I had and now where I am at...
I got puppy, beautiful chocolate I called Hank, the first of Feb. He was the most laid back hunting breed puppy I had ever seen. Off the bat he didn't have a ton of drive as far as retrieving even when I pulled out the pheasant wing, with the help of a dirty sock with some puppy treats tied off inside of it I was able to gradually get his drive to be pretty strong over the next couple of weeks. In obedience training he was the easiest dog I have ever worked with, including my pointers and family pet muts that my wife "needs" to have. In 3 weeks he was sitting steady, for his age, healing, walking in heal on a lead without correction, and very enthusiastic to recall. Now I live in town and my back yard has a privacy fence around it and he was best friends with my rottweiler so they were wondering the back yard together for a few minutes without supervision cause there is no way for him to get out. Well, my neighbors adopted an adult German Shepard a week before this and he apparently had some psychological issues. While they were outside I hear my neighbor scream for help, I am in my skivvies, so I run outside thinking her dog attacked her and she was in trouble. I get out and see her dog had pulled a board off of the privacy fence so I hurdle over the fence and see her holding her dog down and poor Hank bleeding next to them. I scoop him up and run out of their yard back to my house to throw on some shorts and get him to the vet. We were at the vet within 10 minutes of the incident but unfortunately the damage to his lungs was too sever and he did not make it, I won't lie for only having him for 3 weeks I felt like I had lost a life long member of my family. I was devastated and it kind of ruined my desire to get another puppy for a while, my wife on the other hand felt so awful for me she contacted the breeder and told him the situation and as it turned out he just had his second litter for the year and they would be able to take home on April 1. So now I am here with a new puppy that I was somewhat reluctant to get but he has stolen my heart same as Hank did and I am so thankful to have the wife I have. I will add the neighbors did take full responsibility for what happened took care of the expenses and got rid of the dog they had adopted and they were great about it and felt terrible so please don't bash on them, in neither of our wildest dreams did we imagine something like that could/would happen.
So here I am with my new puppy, Blaze, and he is about the polar opposite of Hank. He is a go go go type with a retrieving drive like nothing I have ever experienced and cant sit still for obedience training for nothing. I did some research and found the Bill Hillman program seemed awesome where he emphasized that wild to retrieve was the biggest element to success and Blaze has that in spades. So, I know he is young, I started this program but really eased into it since he was a few weeks younger than the puppy Bill was working with. It has been a disaster, I know its my fault I just am not sure what I am doing wrong. At first he did ok to start out with but then after we would do some fun retrieves he was done learning, he wanted that bumper and that was all he could focus on. Then after a few sessions of not doing any retrieves until the end he just didn't want to work, what he would do was half hearted slow response to commands and really no enthusiasm at all. I don't believe in strict heavy handed training for puppies, it needs to be fun for them cause I don't want to do anything that would hurt his drive later on. I have done a lot of reading and have cobbled some ideas on what to do with a mix and match type training regiment, my pointers I just read tons and trained in that mix and match style and they turned out to be GREAT hunters, good enough to get me invited on bird hunts just so they could use my dogs lol.
So, I guess what I am asking is if anyone has experienced this and how they handled this, successfully, with their pups? Or, even if you haven't experienced this I love any and all tips/suggestions I can get beings that I am a complete novice to the retriever training world.
Also, I do understand that he is only 10 weeks old now and will get considerably more trainable as he gets a little older. This is more for me, not the puppy, I just want to make sure I don't do something to hurt his drive or give him habits I will have to re-train out of him later on.
Thank you in advance for all of your help, there is some incredible knowledge on here and hope to learn as much as possible from you guys!