Question: Hey Jeremy I going to get a 8 week old puppy this weekend and is going to be my first sporting dog ( a lab ) and I'm wanting it to become a multi-purpose dog like a bird, shed and maybe tracking dog and I've seen you Videos talking about foundation and understand thats what comes first but I'm not sure when I should starting including the field Aspect of the each sport. Do I work on one try to master one sport then move to next or kinda throw in little bits of all of them in training or do think I'm trying to do too much with my first dog thanks!
Answer: Hey Austin, Thanks for the message and congrats on your new pup. I do think that it is possible to train the same dog to do multiple things, much like it is possible for our kids to successfully play multiple sports. In fact, I look at developing a young hunting dog similar to developing a young athlete in a lot of ways. The more sports the kids play, the better athlete they typically become. The more I do with a hunting dog, the better hunter they become.
I think the foundation is always the key to ultimately finding that success in the field. Without it we are not able to do the more formal field drills. I think your question about "when" to start working on those field drills is a common question for those getting started in training. Unfortunately it doesn't have an answer and one of the biggest things that will help you to better enjoy this process is to stop looking at it as a timing thing measured on age/time and instead look at it as a process that develops at its own pace. That being you, the pup, and how they respond to training. I don't compartmentalize the training much at all as there are so many overlapping skill sets. Obviously the seasons themselves vary greatly from a calendar perspective so when that time comes I do focus some effort specific to preparing for the upcoming season.
I do think that you're asking the right questions and likely trying to do too much at once, but that is often times the issue. Take one step at a time, build your foundation first remember patience and enjoy every step along the way. I hope this helps, keep me posted and be sure to check out some of our training series in our Training Library on the website. I think they will give you a better idea of the big picture when it comes to your training plan.