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Did I steady my pup too early?

Steadying my pup...too early or not?

4016 Views 26 Replies 20 Participants Last post by  Chris Atkinson
So, I've got this FC Candlewood's Joe Black pup, bred to Nate Baxter's Diamond QAA (out of Honest Abe x Nate's MHR Raven MH).

He's a lot of fun and hes' proving to be quite smart, sensitive, and loves to train.

He was born June 30, so he's between four and five months old. After hunting with and talking with a buddy of mine, hearing his thoughts, and then talking with some Amish training buddies, I've decided it was time to work on steadying my "Bus" pup.

I started this last week and he took to it quickly.

I've found that some buds are surprised that I've steadied him this early.

Thought I'd throw it out to you guys. Did I steady too early?

He shows tons of drive and loves to go. I just decided that he was smart enough and big enough that it made sense to set up one consistent set of rules that will apply from now on, rather than change the rules on him later.

What do you think?

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Its not demanding if that's all the dog knows from an early age. What's demanding is when the dog has done it one way for a year and then all of the sudden we change the game. Thats not only demanding its down right confusing for the dog. Not to mention if you are using a belt cord method it's a less difficult steadying a young pup than a strong adult dog.

This in no way takes away drive from a dog, in fact the more denials you give a dog = a rock steady dog that will run though a brick wall for the retrieve when sent.
I totally disagree with this. If you put a young dog through demanding yard work where no matter how light handed you are just the mental pressure can get to some pups, you need to leave some outlet and to me the field is the outlet and by not demanding alot of control. I think the pup needs to be undercontrol on lead but I don't like to make him be responsible for that himself.
I would have to disagree with you on this, Mike. If you "teach" the correct habits from beginning, there is no pressure. I actually start my steadying from the first day the pup starts retrieving in the hallway. I don't demand perfection from the beginning, it is something that develops over time.

If there is some underlying reason not to steady early, like low momentum or desire to retrieve, then you have to adjust on the fly, just like any other aspect of training dogs. There is no single right way.

I've gone both routes - and the last three have been steadied since retrieve one. Frees 'em up to concentrate on their marks without the distraction of navigation - or a rule change down the road.
In one form or another, I worked on steadying my pup practically from her first days of "training-disguised-as-play." By the time she was 5 months, her little fuzzy butt was staying down until she was released...then she was hell on wheels going after her mark.

Since we only hunt (no trials or tests), I've relaxed my demands on her steadiness a little...she's great in a duck blind, and is remarkably steady to flush & shot on upland. Of course, she breaks occasionally, and we have "discussions" about that ( :evil: ), but all in all, I'm glad we worked on steadiness as part of her basic obedience training...and we still work on it every training session.

Sorry to disagree, Kristie (and others)...but it worked for my Sadie and me!
I said no, but I agree with lots of other folks--it all depends on how you do it.
I feel that retriever training is 95% control, the sooner pups learn to work with you the faster training can progress. I like to teach pups to sit on a whistle at 3 to 4 months of age. If the desire isn't there under control you should move the pup on , no need to waste a lot of time trying to make a silk purse out of a sows ear and believe me I been down that road to often. It is easier to restrain a 30 pound pup than a seventy pound fool twisting and turning in his skin and never seeing 75% of the marks fall. The only command I'll ever consider as a request is maybe to give, "Daddy a kiss" everything else is a command not to be ignored.
Thanks for all the replies.

I've gotten some really neat ones via PM! I bet that some of these responses would be different, had they heard the information that one PM'er shared! :wink:

I've witnessed the 70 lb and up twisting, turning maniacs at the line who don't mark a bird. I've witnessed and read about numerous situations where folks are having such a hard time getting an adult retriever steady under certain situations.

Kristie's post is among my favorite made here in the thread. I bet many could learn some things from the exact steps that Kristie uses on how to steady a dog. If I were that confident in its ease with my own experience base and past results, I'd not be steadying this early.

As a related matter, I have not even THOUGHT about introducing a whistle for anything yet. To me, that's what's "easy"...but maybe I'm in for an awakening and should pull that lanyard out of the glovebox!

So far, I've got a pretty steady BLM with no reduction in drive, enthusiasm, or joy of the work.... So, I may be doing a thing or two reasonably "OK".... Man, why did I wait so long to get another puppy? I LOVE this stuff!

Thanks to all of you!

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