I thought they had to have VERY strong obedience first? Just be careful. There are people out there that will put too much pressure on a young pup and can just ruin it.
Although some people believe this to be true. I do not (like I said in my original post... there's no right or wrong... just preference). You build them up gradually. In the beginning, bite work is all a game anyways. There's no defense in it... it's all prey drive. A good game of tug of war... however you want to look at it. The puppy should not be stressed or scared in ANY way. So to me... that's like saying you can't play tug or ball with your puppy until you get a solid OB foundation. Sounds silly. Now should you have a good OB foundation before a good game of fetch in a 10acre unfenced public park with dogs and birds everywhere... sure! Just like you should have a solid OB foundation if you are sending the dog out for a long bite without a leash at a decoy in the bite suit. If the levels you train in each are even... there should not be a problem.
The way I work with mine and how most at my training group do it is the dogs go through intense OB work outs, some do tracking as well (for Schutzhund dogs, and Police K9 work), and then we have bite work at the end. For the puppies, it's about 1-3 very short sessions each. All stages are trained with equal importance. There are MANY occasions where we also ONLY do obedience in certain work outs. That to me is extremely important... but, that doesn't make me believe that my dog shouldn't do bite work until we are IPO1 level OB. Everything is trained equally here.
Is it okay to work some of these things (some, not all) like playing with a flirt pole, tug, and desensitizing to MILD stimuli with out the presence of a trainer? What would you recommend to start with just myself before getting involved with a trainer for a 9 week old puppy?
I wouldn't try to do any sleeve biting on my own but I too am considering getting involved in protection training. I don't want to desensitize to any really scary stuff until she's a little older because I don't want to imprint her with fear, but in my puppy's temperament test video they made a really loud sound and she went to investigate instead of cowering, so maybe it would be okay to expose her to more loud sounds since she seems confident?
Marnie explained it perfectly!
Don't make it bad or scary... make it fun! When I brought Storm home she already had solid nerves. However, at feeding time I used to take her bowl and drop it to the ground with a few kibbles (it's a metal bowl.. very loud) When she went and ran up to it... I praised her and let her eat the kibbles of the floor. It became a game to her. With my trash can.... I would empty it and turn it on it's side and push it. She found it fun to play with.... I praised her. I bounced it on the floor (it's a plastic round trash can). Didn't bother her. I would take trash bags, and shake them while throwing yummy treats at her... or throwing her favorite toy when she acted excited/interested or even just ignored it.
When a dog DOES react scared... I would leave the item on the floor and add treats to it... or a favorite toy. When they were interested and went towards it, I praised them and made a happy sounds. It became fun for them. A few days of that and they were running around with the item in their mouth or pushing it around the house. There are different ways to do this, and it depends on the dogs temperament. But you do have to desensitize and socialize young. Don't wait, because once it's a true fear for the dog as it ages..... it's VERY hard to get the dog over it. Right now is the most important time to imprint all these odd situations on your puppy. Don't go so far to where they are stressed... but, don't stop introducing strange things. Make it fun, and keep it stress free. When your dog is 2yrs old full grown and can walk through any situation and objects like it's nothing.... you'll be extremely thankful!
Desensitizing is to prevent the dog from becoming sensitized or afraid of things. You need to desensitize a dog while it is young, part of the socialization process. This work has to be done correctly and at the proper age. If a dog isn't properly socialized, a robber could walk into your house and open an umbrella and send the dog fleeing under the bed. Adult dogs are often afraid of things they never saw as puppies. With this in mind, you have to make sure your puppy sees everything, especially a whole lot of strange people.
You should also talk to your insurance agent. A lot of insurers will not insure or will jack up the rates on a home with dogs they consider dangerous. They will probably want a whole lot of information about the dog's training.