Multiple clubs, seminars, etc.... - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-06-2010, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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Multiple clubs, seminars, etc....

What are everyone's thoughts on having multiple helpers work your dog, belonging to multiple clubs, attending lots of seminars, etc? Do you feel differently depending on the age and level of training of the dog?

I was thinking about this recently because one of my dogs does a lot of performance events like rally, agility, obedience, etc. and in those venues I like to try out various trainers, clubs, environments, and seminars and get a lot out of each, kind of taking a little bit away from each time and working it into our training. But when it comes to SchH I find myself never wanting to let anyone else near my dog. Recently I was looking into some other club options and a few other clubs were pretty inviting about allowing us to come out and get the dog evaluated, or even train a few times even if we had no intention of joining the club. I've also seen some seminar opportunities within a reasonable driving distance for me. But each time I get cold feet especially about protection. I don't know if that's good or I need to get over it since at some point you have to trial on new fields with different helpers. I also want to do SDA with my dog (which means some different obedience and also bite suit for protection) and get differing opinions on whether I can train and title both side by side or should do SchH first and then switch to SDA.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-06-2010, 11:58 PM
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Re: Multiple clubs, seminars, etc....

Here, at the Arkansas Schutzhund Club you can attend the seminars as an observer for a smaller fee and leave your dog at home. You could also do everything but the protection segment at the seminars. I did one seminar last spring and another (partial) today.
I would talk to the clubs about your interest in tracking and obedience participation. Another thing you can do is just observe. At least the club's rules here are that you can visit for three times before applying to join.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 09:08 AM
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Re: Multiple clubs, seminars, etc....

We have gone to multiple clubs...when I was looking to join a club I went to different ones and when I travel I have e-mailed and asked if I could come and train with several different clubs...actually I really enjoyed that because I got to train with some really neat clubs and you get to see different dogs...if I was doing schutzhund at the time I asked the club I was training with...I don't regret allowing different helpers to work my dog...don't believe anyone has ever done anything harmful in anyway ... she works differently with different helpers...she has helped train a helper and I am really proud of her for that...Don't do schutzhund now ...but when I go on vacation am hoping I can go visit a club and train there it was fun
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 09:24 AM
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Re: Multiple clubs, seminars, etc....

Good for you Lies for wanting to protect your dog. Good helper work won't hurt your dog, but bad helper work can set you back in your training.

I have the experience now to watch and decide if the helper is safe AND will do as I ask. No matter how safe a helper if he/she will not do as you ask then don't work your dog. I am not saying they can't make suggestions, but they do not know your dog so it is ultimately up to you to decide what work will be done.

Seminars can be tough because people get caught up in the moment and the fact that this is some famous all knowing person. It is often best just to go watch or, if you take your dog, watch and then only work your dog if you feel comfortable with what you are seeing. May mean you lose some money, but better that than having your dog injured or your training set back.

Yes, I do work my dogs on multiple helpers. Vala has worked on at least a dozen helpers in her 5.5 years. Most of those were when she was a mature dog, but not all. My youngest 2 have had a few bites after their teeth came in and have worked on two helpers. Both I know and trust.

You can always go visit clubs and just not do protection. It won't hurt your dog to see other fields in obedience or track at other locations.

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Multiple clubs, seminars, etc....

Lisa do you intentionally work Vala on various helpers for the different experiences? Do you wait until a certain age or level before you're willing to branch out? I'm assuming you are familiar with these other helpers so you know when it's OK for them to work the dog?

I think (and this ties into the direction the other thread has gone) that I am just not confident enough in the protection aspect to really know what is truly the best for my dog vs. what could be damaging and that's why I feel "safe" with the one or two helpers I trust who have always worked the dog, know how he works, and know the genetics. Whereas when I think of the other activities like Rally or Agility I'm more confident in what I know about how my dog works to branch out and know when to say "we won't do that" or "that's a really good idea". It's like I'm not yet in control of the dog's program as far as the protection work, but I don't know how to get that bigger picture. I want to branch out...but not at the expense of the dog. It sounds like going to seminars without a working spot might be the way to start....
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 03:02 PM
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Re: Multiple clubs, seminars, etc....

Quote:
Quote:....that I am just not confident enough in the protection aspect to really know what is truly the best for my dog vs. what could be damaging and that's why I feel "safe" with the one or two helpers I trust who have always worked the dog......
In my opinion, your dog should be at a certain place in training before you work on another helper. Unless of course, that helper has some special ability that may actually help your dog and you know and TRUST him. I cannot emphasize that last sentence enough. You, ( first), and your helper, know your dog better than anyone.
Mostly, when I work a dog the first time, I am just trying to get a feel for the dog, so, unless someone tells me he will do this or that, I won't know until I work him. I, personally, always sit and talk to the handler before I work a dog the first time. Even the people who don't know much about helper work will reveal things about their dog. I ask about what they are doing in training and any problems the dog is having so I know not to step into a big problem. I always ask them other questions that help me understand what motivates their dog. I can usually adjust if the dog has some issue but some helpers cannot, seem to get embarrassed or they panic because they don't know what to do, and then you have a BIG mess on your hands.
When I go other places to train, I always try to have a plan and I spell out exactly what I want the helper to do with my dog. There are no helpers in this area that have the skill to do anything special with my dog, so, mostly, I try to come up with ways for my dog to have a very positive experience on a new helper.
Since you trust your helper, I would ask him to tell you what to do with a new one, (when you do get around to going to a new place), or ask him to go with you and talk to the helper, ( with you there as well), before you work your dog. Just make it really clear what you are working on and "usually" that works out. Again, I would go watch the helper first and listen to your little voice if you get a bad feeling.


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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 03:12 PM
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Re: Multiple clubs, seminars, etc....

Just to add a few other things. Many times there are helpers who may not have a vast array of skills but they are really fast or more exciting than other helpers. Then there are those that are more calm and seem to do a good job in that regard. When you decide to work your dog with someone else, you need to consider if they would compliment your training and also the kind of dog you have. If you want to calm your dog down a bit, you would use the second helper but if your dog is lacking a bit in the drive dept, the first helper is the better choice.


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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 03:37 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Multiple clubs, seminars, etc....

Do you place value in what you observe from other members of the club, not just the helper? For example.....a while back I was somewhere else and saw some things between a handler and dog that I did not like, it made me uncomfortable and feeling sorry for the dog. This was during obedience, not even protection. The dog would flinch and cower when getting a command, it acted very anxious and showed avoidance of the handler. The handler's body language seemed very confrontational at least for that dog. None of the other club members seemed to notice or care and even joked about the dog. They were very nice to me and very sportsmanlike but I remember asking myself if I'd ever feel comfortable training there (I was not there to train that day). How much can I hold the club accountable for one member being excessively heavy-handed with their dogs and how that effects whether or not I'd be comfortable training there before a trial hosted at that club?
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 03:48 PM
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Re: Multiple clubs, seminars, etc....

Lies,
You have to give yourself credit. You are noticing some really important things. Now the trick for you will be to stick with your gut feelings in the face of everyone else's avoidance behavior. Everyone has their own way of dealing with conflict and just like the dogs, many choose to avoid what makes them uncomfortable. They do the things you described where they try to minimize it. I personally notice things like what you just talked about. My problem is thinking I can "handle" people like that and I have been very wrong about that and recently paid a price for it with my own dog.
So, yes, I listen and now I will work harder on sticking with what I know the reality is. People who lose it with their own dogs lack discipline and can be dangerous for yours if you let them work your dog.
Having said that, some of the best helpers I have seen all had a certain personality where they can be very intense. This can frighten people but what you have to look for is how well they handle conflict or if their answer to a problem is to hurt their dog or other people's dogs. The intensity I am talking about his MENTAL, not physical.



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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 03:54 PM
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Re: Multiple clubs, seminars, etc....

I think I didn't exactly anwser your question. No, I would not train at a club where the members tried to minimize abuse. Dogs act a certain way for a reason, they are not really good liars, unlike people..... and while some trainers can make their dogs look slow and unhappy without abusing them, usually, when you put all the pieces together, ( like what you described), you can come to no other conclusion and simply avoid that place.


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