In the K9 circles I see, a few trends are becoming popular.
1) All people are looking for is over the top drive. Mostly civil and IMO unstable dogs.
The problem I see is that it's sometimes the wrong drives for the type of work that's going to be done, that are "over the top."
2) People are rewarding hectic behaviors and thinking they are great over the top drives. In return getting a less clear headed dog.
3) Crappy nerve getting brushed under the rug because "the dog has over the top drives that will carry him through." Dogs never getting truly tested out of an extreme state of drive.
If the wrong drive is primary, it won't "carry him through."
Instead it will cause problems in the training that many trainers can't handle.
Number three is the most concerning to me. Handlers with dogs who are displaying fear aggressive behaviors are getting told this is good because the dog is civil and would make a great "police dog" even though it gets washed from sport.
I've been around for awhile and have travelled a bit. I don't see "fear aggressive behaviors"
very often. I do often see over−the−top prey drive that few trainers can successfully work with.
In some cases, it seems that the most important part of the dog is who it came from.
I have seen vendors and trainers who think this way.
Not the dog itself. It just seems that all handlers are looking for is over the top drive and a dog that doesn't think and will bite anything. What happens if the dog falls out of drive? These are peoples' lives we're talking about. How is this acceptable?
Handlers are usually not a good choice to select dogs. They have relatively limited experience in working dogs and many have never selected a dog. A handler often knows only enough to work his own dog. But sometimes, when it comes time to get a new dog for an agency, they turn to the senior handler to make the selection. It's a case of the near−sighted, leading the blind.
I would love the input of those who have been around much longer than me and have seen the various trends over the years. What do you see in your areas? Where do you think this is headed? Have you noticed the breed of dog having an affect on the "type" of dog PD's are looking for? For example, the introdiction of more and more mals/dutchies making people now want higher drives and less social, stable dogs?
Mals were introduced to the US as largely giving a financial advantage to the vendors who sold them in place of the GSDs that they used to import. As the use of K−9's soared in the 1980's in the US, the most popular breed was the GSD. As the demand increased, so did the price. But then a major importer of LE K−9's in the US lost an opportunity to purchase a large number of GSDs from Germany, the primary source for them at that time, because there was a whispering campaign, that he'd reneged on paying some bills and no one would sell him any dogs. He went to some nearby countries and found a funny little brown dog that was competing in a sport with some of the same characteristics as SchH. They were available and they were relatively cheap, costing him thousands of dollars less than the GSDs, and so the Malinois came to US shores to be sold to LE agencies. He sold them at the same prices as the GSDs, making him tremendous profits for doing the same thing.
But there was a problem. Those dogs had pronounced levels of many of their drives, much higher than those of the average GSD, and that caused many issues with the training. Many trainers tried to use the same methods that they'd been using for decades on GSDs only to discover that many of these dogs folded under the pressure and many of them put their handlers in the hospital, in protest.
Mals are great dogs but they require a much different method of training and handling, than a GSD, if one is to capitalize on them to the fullest extent.