I'm trying to dump a few pieces of info that happen at the very beginning of the start up of a third party app and not after the app is running. I have debugged on other platforms and there is usually a way to load the app and then halt before start up in order to link into it for debugging. Is there a similar mechanism with Android debugging? Using ddms, I can connect and set break points once the app is running.
Yes. Go to settings->developer options and select the app you want to debug in the "Select debug app" option, and then make sure the "wait for debugger" option is turned on.
Now, when the app starts, the device will show a dialog and wait for you to attach a debugger before the app starts running.