Prey work, not a new controversy - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-23-2009, 02:14 PM Thread Starter
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Prey work, not a new controversy

Here is another piece of an article from 1981. Many of you know the author of this article.
Opinions seem to remain the same but sadly the dogs have not. The last comment about the status of the GSD in the world is no longer true.

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Quote:A sensitive subject is presently being discussed by the SV. Under debate is the so-called prey drive method for training young dogs for SchH trials. Precisely defined, the method works as follows: The dog is stimulated to center his attention on a fake prey object, ( sack - sleeve), also called substitute prey - his inherited prey, hunting and play drives are used in SchH training.
These drives are present in almost all dogs and if handled right, it is possible to train a dog in such a manner that none of the inherited character faults are evident to the looker watching the trial.
Now that an experienced and successful handler has thoroughly described this method in addition to other methods, many handlers feel that they have found the absolutely best and only successful method. When the goal in this type of training is reached, the dog performs perfect protection work, as far as the observer is concerned, but the dog’s work is not motivated by the desire to protect this handler or himself , but exclusively by the delight and enjoyment he derives from hunting, playing and making prey. The helper is of no importance at all, only the sleeve- the substitute prey- is the object to be bitten and attacked.
The driving forces are therefore not “protection drive”, “defense drive” , “fighting drive“, but only “hunting drive“, “prey drive” and “play drive.”
At trials, a dog trained by this method often gets 10 points fighting drive or under the present evaluation system the grade “pronounced fighting drive”.
But this type of work has absolutely nothing to do with what we envision protection work to be! Such dogs are often called “sleeve happy” . The officiating judge who only sees the dog for a few moments during the protection phase and must arrive at a score, is simply cheated.
If many handlers today call their dogs “tournament dogs”, they forget that the original purpose was, and will remain, to breed German Shepherds who are suitable to carry out various tasks. Which are based on the working abilities of the dog.
Even though our trial rules have the characteristics of sport, they are, in the final analysis , in line with the intended service capabilities of the dogs, especially as protection dogs for people and various uses in police work.
That training that is based exclusively on the prey drive must be stopped and that all responsible friends of the German Shepherd dog are being urged not to use this method is obvious. The fact that the German Shepherd is recognized and valued as the number one working dog in the world is due to the work of many thousands of breeders and tens of thousands of trainers . These people, the majority of these responsible and often modest fanciers of this breed, were able to promote and preserve the value of this dog. Not the winner at the Sieger Show and the National Working Dog trials, are the pillars of the breed, but the bulk of all good dogs. I think this must be pointed out once and for all.


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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-23-2009, 05:28 PM
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Re: Prey work, not a new controversy

really nothing that can be disputed at all in this snippet. I don't dare hazard a guess at the author either, so I'll just give it a little bump so a few more people get a look at it.


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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-23-2009, 05:30 PM
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Re: Prey work, not a new controversy

Anne, it is so nice to see these articles so some people can understand that an evolution has taken place, not for the betterment of the breed. These methods have had a major role in turning our breed into a pet (showlines), and a sportdog (workinglines). Where is the service dog anymore. Real herders aren't clamoring for GS, the military/police aren't clamoring for the GS. The founder of the breed would be SICK!
Part of it is training and part of it is genetics, and most of it is people in the forefront that don't know what this noble breed is capable of and has been.
Case in point, I firmly believe that one of the reasons you see so many Czech dogs as police dogs is because in the Czech Republic the "box" is used with green dogs to balance the "prey work" that is done with young dogs. At say 10 to 12 months these dogs are worked in both prey and in the box which strengthens defense components. Dogs learn to confront stress without a danger to the youthful age of the dog. In other parts of Europe and America the dog during this same period is only worked in prey. So by the time the dog is 18 months and is a quote"green" dog the ones in America and Europe are entrenched in prey drive habits(sleeve happy, little focus on helper, lack of handler protection development,etc), and the green dogs from the Czech Republic are more balanced in seeing the helper as an adversary and thus easily converting to police/patrol work. Of course there are exceptions to this premise, but by and large I honestly think the overindulgence in prey drive training leaves most dogs except the exceptional ill equipped to serve man as a protector anymore.JMO
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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-23-2009, 05:45 PM
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Re: Prey work, not a new controversy

Just to play devil's advocate...

Just because the motivation is not defense does not mean that the dog will not be able to perform the work of gaurding, chasing and catching the threat. At the end of the day, with a true, working protection dog, isn't that the goal. To provide a deterrent and ultimately protection if needed?

Perhaps it is not the method of training the SchH dog to complete the protection exercises that is at fault, but the test itself. Take away the sleeve. A running decoy (whether with sleeve or suit) is still a prey object, the bite is still a prey bite. A strong nerved dog that is worked in prey will fight the prey object just as vehemently - it's goal is to kill the prey. A dog in defence is just trying to escape from the threat.

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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-23-2009, 07:24 PM
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Re: Prey work, not a new controversy

I had a related discussion with someone a while back that goes right to the root of this issue. They were talking about the idea of a "sport" dog vs. a "real" dog. I told them that I think that entire notion is non-sense. The same qualities that I want in a dog for the sport are the same qualities that would make the dog good at "real" work. They scoffed at this. I think this is a real problem.
Additionally, it seems to me that there are very few helpers who understand how to work a dog in anything except prey. If the dog is not a prey monster, he is immediately written off. The last litter I had produced dogs that were very hard with a lot of aggression, but not over the top prey. I do not believe there are too many helpers today that understand how to work dogs like this. (By the way if you are interested in the pedigree of that litter go to PDB and type in "Erko von der Zahnburg")
The thing is that breeders are rewarded for producing over-the-top prey dogs with little or no aggression, because these kinds of dogs can win big, particularly with some of the incredibly talented trainers that are out there now.
I realize I have been kind of rambling, but I think this is an important issue that people don't pay attention to. It seems to me that a lot of people breed to points and don't look at the dog. Additionally, I think this is a short-fall in the sport itself. The training for the sport can show you an awful lot about a dog, but on the trial field you only see what the trainer allows you to see. The training has shown the handler and his helper what that dog really is, but on the trial field you don't see that.


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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-23-2009, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Prey work, not a new controversy

Quote:
Quote: The training for the sport can show you an awful lot about a dog, but on the trial field you only see what the trainer allows you to see.
That is not particularily true. Here is a recent example of a dog who shows who he is on the trial field and yes, I do like this dog in case anyone has been wondering from my other posts about him. Lots of people were befuddled by the 100 point score and it is because of the other things you said in your post.
I work a dog in my club who is a son of this dog's father and he is like this dog...very serious, very powerful and he fights. A very old style type of dog and only the people who saw the dogs back then can truly appreciate what I mean by that.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRwAWVIHDJI


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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-23-2009, 08:39 PM
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Re: Prey work, not a new controversy

Anne,

I am not suggesting that it is not possible for a dog to show his power on the trial field. Rather I suggest that a good trainer is quite capable of preventing the judge and the spectaters from seeing what the dog lacks. The trainer knows, the training helper knows, but because of how good some trainers are it is never appearant on the field. The judge (and spectaters for that matter) only see what the trainer allows them to see (if the trainer is good enough to do so and I contend that there are trainers that are this good).


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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-23-2009, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Prey work, not a new controversy

See, now I look at it differently. I think the trainers who can't train in a way where the dog is not squashed or where the dog is just playing, are not really good trainers. Lots of people are afraid to work dogs this way because they think the dogs will be dirty. In MY opinion, the dogs are much less likely to be dirty when they are confident and using all the genetic traits they should possess when confronting the helper. It only makes sense and I have seen it done.
I know what you are saying though but to me, a great majority of trainers are incapable of what i just said, but in reality they always were. I used to be outraged at all the insecure dogs who had endured WAY too much pressure when I first started in SchH. I was not opposed to using prey at first, we did try that method with one of my first dogs but we/ I figured out over time that there is a balance to be achieved with the dogs.
I'm not done with SchH but I have been less than happy with the V scores for dogs who don't show much of anything other than nice obedience in protection. Dogs who get a V should be something special and over the last ten years or so, they have been just average. Judging from all the complaints about the Nationals, I am hopeful something is changing. The DOJ told me recently that things are going to be different and I am looking forward to that.


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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-23-2009, 09:08 PM
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Re: Prey work, not a new controversy

I have to ask a question that is related but OT somewhat and perhaps I should have started another thread regarding it, but there has been reference in a couple of threads about working a dog in the box. Could someone please elaborate on this concept?

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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 11-23-2009, 09:13 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Prey work, not a new controversy

Just to clarify what I said because I rambled there....must be contagious......what I was TRYING to say was.....I think that most trainers cannot bring out all the drive and fight in the dogs they are working. I don't think it is a case where they are hiding who their dog is intentionally, I think they can't bring it out in the dog. I have said this before, so excuse me to those who get sick of me saying it, but when I have gone to clubs and worked dogs, most of the dogs were not BITING. Sure, they were on the sleeve and that's about it. No one seemed to notice until they saw their dogs bite me.... and suddenly they were looking a bit harder. That is the state of most clubs, the helpers can't bring that fight out of the dogs and others are trying to put it into the dogs with work that is "too much". You can't do that, it does not work and creates other problems for the dog.


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