I have a 6 month old male pup who has been around sheep since about 3 months. (Really just tagging along with my older dog and being tied at the fence.) For the first few months he could have cared less about the sheep, but during the last month or so he has turned on and become REAL keen. I decided to let him start working. His maturity level away from the farm sometimes exceeds that of my 2 year old dog and so I felt he could take the pressure of training.
I have been keeping his sessions short and real upbeat. In three sessions I had him going both ways, taking a down on balance and walking up (he naturally seems to be tucking the sheep in for me and I haven't started putting any short flank commands on him yet). I felt like I had struck gold with this dog!
Last time I worked him in he seemed a bit less eager and a bit less certain. It has started to make me question if I have started him too early. After seeing this, I cut the session short, kept the praise level high, and went home (... to kick myself over ruining a good dog).
I know there are as many opinions on when to start a pup as there are ways to take your morning coffee. I have also heard that one the dog is started taking months and months off is a "bad" thing. This is the first "real" dog I have started and I really like what I've been seeing. I don't want to mess it up!
I'd like to hear how you decide:
If your pup is ready for training or not?
What you do if a pups enthusasiam seems to wane a bit in the early stages?
Thanks in advance,