Where would expect a typical dog to be, marking wise, when when he was 4-5 months old? I don't want to push this pup too fast. At the same time I want to be sure I am not expecting too little.
So, pretty much expose him to any marking situation that I can think of on a very simplistic scale. Thanks you very much!afdahl said:Your goal of neither pushing too hard nor expecting too little is good. Base your judgement, though, not on what others typically do, but on this particular puppy. You want to avoid discouraging him, so your marks should not be so hard that he needs help more than rarely, and the physical challenge should be well within his physical ability. Some puppies have much better running gear at this age than others. Don't overwork and tire him out.
You can expose a puppy to lots of different marking challenges without requiring him to run 200 yards all of the time. Swales, sidehills, down-and-up, over-the-rise, different wind directions, crossing roads, anything you can think of. You can use a ditch or dirt road to introduce angling through an obstacle, crossing an obstacle that is close to the mark, or a throw back across the obstacle. Usually short cover is best, but if your puppy has demonstrated a persistent hunt, you can try some shorter retrieves in higher cover. If he has difficulty with something, work on the same concept in a simpler setup. If he returns and delivers, try hand-thrown doubles and even triples.
More challenges you can try include marks at the edge of the field up against the woods or fence (not a fence he will hurt himself running into), marks partway up a ridge, and singles off multiple gun stations.
I'm not saying you should necessarily get to all of these concepts, but that there are lots of things you can expose him to without pushing his physical limits.
all I remember about the duck-raising episode can be summarized in a single, four-letter word that, as I recall, Chris doesn't like used on his boards. Apparently ducks produce more of it than any other living being.