Let me start by saying I do not strictly follow any one training program but more a hodge podge of about 5 programs with a bunch of other stuff thrown in. Not saying my way is the best, it just works for me. Not uncomman for me to hunt everyday for a month or more so how would I "train" if I did not take a pup in the field with me?
I start my pups real young in the field. Not a very popular theroy in some groups but it works for me. Youngest was a 6-7 week...........yes, I said week old, English Setter pup that was so small he had to ride in my brothers coat pocket. His momma was in the field so he went with. He turned out to be, maybe the best dog I have ever hunted behind. The years have dimmed my memory but what I remember was good. He also caught his first wild, wounded rooster pheasant that day.....
If a 6 month old pup starts with me in the field at the beginning of the season I would expect that dog to be on over 100 wild birds by seasons end. Yes, pup will make mistakes....so what. Train him in the field. Will there be "holes", sure. So what, close them.
I do not train for testing......I do test. I train to hunt and exposure for me is the key to making a solid hunting dog. My latest 2 V-dogs were born in December and January. Both were bear hunting in their first spring. One was on her first bear at 5.5 months old. The other was 7.5 months old. Both were in the field at 7 and 8 months old on wild birds when the season opened.
Like I said, I don't know you or your dog. Don't know your goals. If it were me I would hunt that young dog. I would know my dog and I would put that dog in a position where it would succeed.
By the time I take a dog in the field, pup is gun proofed, has excellent recall or wearing a check cord, has been on lots of big game, live birds, upland as well as waterfowl. Has at least be introduced to tracking blood, doing drags and search work. Is tracking and catching live birds on land and water. Is collar conditioned and wearing an e-collar. Has a good handle on blinds and doing water blind searchs. Is fully kennel , truck and boat trained. Is bold and confident in manner.
Good luck with your dog no matter what way you choose to go. Remember, it's about the dog. Don
Forgive me for being arrogant. I own 2 Drahthaar's.
Don Lietzau, Chugiak Alaska