Marks for young dogs and why they run at the gun
                       Written by Michelle Linnane
  Everybody has different thoughts about training young dogs, here are some things I do and
some of my ideas for young dogs.

 Once your puppy has the concept of a mark. What I mean by this is they understand that they run
out and grab the bumper and come running back without you having to call them.  As soon as people
reach this point the first thing they say is “lets see how far we can stretch them out”? So they take a 5
month old puppy and start doing 100 and 150 yards marks with them and some people try even longer
marks. Every one thinks that they must stretch them out as soon as possible. When people talk about
their puppies, “they are doing great they are doing 200 yards singles!” And they generally can not wait
to tell you about how far their puppy can go. But are they running at the gun or the mark?

 I feel this is wrong for two reasons; one is a issue with their hip development. The other is I feel too
many long marks get them running at the gun instead of the mark  Of course there are puppies that just
can not mark.

  The first reason their growth plates in their hips have not closed yet. That is a great deal of pounding
on young bones. Puppies bones will grow until they are about 11 months, at which time their growth plates
close. (This is what I have been told by my Veterinarian, I am not setting myself as an expert).

  The second reason is when you extend a puppy out to quickly the dog starts to run at the gun instead
of the mark. Now is the time to start to build the right habits. Some dogs will always run at the gun, but mostly
it  come from extending them out to quickly, and  giving many angle back throws.

 Most dogs until they are about 8 or 9 months old should have marks in no cover at all or
very little cover. What I mean is a baseball field or soccer field or a fresh cut hay field.

 Most of the marks for young dog should be thrown flat or a little in and far away from the gun. Another
thing many people do is they start to give puppies angle back marks right away. Most of the marks for
young dog should be thrown flat or a little in and far away from the gun. Instead of going to the mark the
young dogs run at  the gun and then to the bird.

  A friend of mine Pat Daignault works for Jim Van Engen of Right Start Kennels. Pat and I have had
many conversations about young dogs and basics. He told me if he gets a puppy that the owners  said
to him that they have done  100 or 150 yards, more than likely the dog will be running at the guns all the
time. Pat told me the first thing that they do with a dog that is running at the gun, is to shorten the marks so
they run more at the mark then the gun.

 This can be a real bad problem when you start to do water cheating singles as they will get handled a
great deal for going near the gun which can lead to some popping.  It is just not a good habit, and most
of the time it is always man made habit.

 What distance should I do with my young?  I like to do marks from 60 yards to 100 yards about 75%
of the time.  Really the dog will tell you this. If they start running at the gun shorten your marks (READ
YOUR  DOG) . If I have a very flat field and very  short cover I will stretch them out a little. I will also
look for a place to though the mark that the big white bumper will be very visible. Also get a good toss
don’t let your dogs pick up a bird or bumper close to the gun. Do mostly flat marks so they don’t have
to go by the gun.

 Making sure the bumper is visible on land will eventually help you on the water.  If they are used to
being  able to see the bumpers on land, hopefully they will swim straight to it when they see it in the
water. When a dog ignores a very visible white  bumper in the  water it tells me they are not used to
seeing them on land.

 Don’t worry about the distance getting dogs to go long is not that hard. It does not take long to stretch
them out once they get a little older. Make sure your dog is running at the mark not at the gun. If you
want distance get a boat. Slowly work up to long water marks no re-entry’s just long out swims and
back with no angles.

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