Who's suited to be a Schutzund handler? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 08:10 PM Thread Starter
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Who's suited to be a Schutzund handler?

As I'm inching closer to my dream of bringing home a GSD, I'm now burying myself in related literature to prepare and of course that includes the topic of Schutzund. Though there seems to be a lot of info on how to pick out a good pup for Schutzund, I haven't had luck finding much info on what makes a good handler. The sport is demanding and though my interest is still strong, I need to honestly ask myself "Do I have the goods?"

In your opinion, what makes a good Schutzund handler? What personalities should stay away? Is it appropriate to ask a local club if you can watch their training? Before I apply for a puppy, I want to be 100% clear whether I will participate in this sport. At this point, I can't tell if I'm the teenager who wants to compete in car racing before she's even gotten her driver's license or if my level of interest is healthy and appropriate.

Any wisdom will be much appreciated! Thank you!
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 08:33 PM
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I would definately go to club(S)! This way you can see different helper methods, and hopefully how other breeds beside the GSD are working in the sport.
If you can attend a trial(SDA, too), that would be a bonus as well! You can see how the handler/dog relationship is so important.
I think to be a good handler you need some confidence-for your dog and for yourself, as you'll be on a field by yourself with others watching while doing obedience and protection. The confidence you have or don't have will flow down the leash to your dog.
Once you go and visit clubs, you will probably become addicted to the sport!
Many clubs are very kind to the newbies and want to help them succeed if they know the newbs are devoted and committed.
If you aren't then, their help may not come as freely.
As you visit clubs some of the dogs may stand out to you, and if you like them find out who the breeders are, etc. A good way to find a SchH companion!

Jane~
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 11:22 PM
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I think it depends on how you define "good handler". If you are asking what it takes to title a dog then I will leave that to those with more experience to answer.

If you are talking about what it takes to participate in training, this is what I have observed so far. Those who I would consider good handlers...

...put their dogs first. They are first concerned with their dogs well being and their relationship with them. Training methods reflect their value of the relationship.
...strive to understand their dog. They learn to read their dog's body language and ways to communicate with them.
...are humble and open to improvement. No matter how experienced, they are open to constructive criticism.
...are committed to training. They work with their dogs daily, not just on club days. They spend time researching and learning about dog behavior and training methods.
...keep it in perspective. They have goals but aren't so focused on them that they can not enjoy the journey. (I know that sounded cliché, but don't know how else to put it)
...are self aware. They understand that their actions and attitudes dramatically effect their dog's "performance" and make appropriate adjustments.
...have fun.

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shehulk View Post

In your opinion, what makes a good Schutzund handler?
  1. They are committed to a goal and work hard to achieve it that goal.
  2. They don't take every criticism as a personal attack.
  3. They have good nerves and temperament.
  4. They have the time and resources available to them.



Quote:
What personalities should stay away?
  1. sadist
  2. idiots and fools
  3. those that don't have healthy relationships outside of "the dog world"
  4. those that can talk a good game but their dogs are not as good as their talk
  5. those that are selling something


Quote:
Is it appropriate to ask a local club if you can watch their training?
You can ask anything you want. But if they say you can't watch, go to another club.

Quote:
At this point, I can't tell if I'm the teenager who wants to compete in car racing before she's even gotten her driver's license or if my level of interest is healthy and appropriate.
The kid that want's to be the champion has a much better chance of being the champion than the kid that doesn't try. If you don't dream you can't achieve. If you work hard and smart and have a decent dog you will see some level of success.

Good luck.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 11:15 AM Thread Starter
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This is so helpful. Thank you!
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 11:23 AM
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<<<<n your opinion, what makes a good Schutzund handler>>>>

I just want to add one thing.. some of the good handlers have what I call a "natural ability". In that the way they interact w/dogs, the way the carry themselves, are able to read dogs.. It's something they don't have to think to hard about.. Like some of your star athletes and the really good helpers..

Leesa~

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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 12:28 PM
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It is also a movement thing. You can have the ability, but not translate to the physical movement.


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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 01:28 PM
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I think, first, you have to want to do it.

From what I noticed of my club, the older, more experienced guys tend to give you the cold shoulder until they see you start showing up for tracking @ 6am on Saturday morning and Sunday morning ...
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 02:19 PM
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As Jason points out, you have to be willing to spend a lot of very early mornings tracking. You have to be able to tolerate the heat, the cold, rain and snow, and bugs. You have to be willing to listen, take a lot of criticism and work your butt off. Often the latter can help compensate for a lack of that "natural ability" that Leesa mentions.

Oh, and you have to be willing to drive and give up at least one day of your weekend to dogs and the club.

Many clubs will allow you to come watch.

Lisa Clark

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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-15-2010, 02:36 PM
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I have only been doing this for about 3 years, but I have still seen alot of people come and go.

If I could build my perfect SchH handler I think you would want someone with determination/commitment, a certain amount of physical ability, a problem solver, and some natural skill.

I think the biggest thing that stops most people is the commitment. People are all gung-ho about their new puppy/dog and then life gets in the way and other things become priorities. You have to be able to stick with it and celebrate the small successes. Training for SchH is a long road that can be years in the making (and no, not just for "high level" competition) and there isn't a lot of instant gratification. You have to be Ok with that.

There is also such a thing as too much knowledge. You can read boks and web boards and become a real hypothetical expert, but without experience you really don't know what you're doing yet. I find that a lot of trainers get turned off by people who want to come out and tell everyone how it's done. At the same time, you should be able to function on your own. Critical thinking/ problem solving is *I think* a cornerstone of dog training. You have to be able to go through the thought process of
1. This happened.
2. Why did it happen?
3. What can I do to either maintain or change that result?
4. Evaluate results.
I've always found my SchH trainers to be great resouces for help, but the first thing they ask is "What did you try already and how did it go?"

This is a physical sport. You will have bruises, and aching muscles, and if you're in this long enough you'll probably get bit. You will be wet, or cold, or dirty, or sweating, covered in mosquito bites. That alone is enough to turn people off of the whole thing.

And I agree with Leesa. There is a certain amount of natural flair and instinct for understanding what is going on in the communication between animals and human. If you can understand what your dog is saying, and know how to react appropriately you're head and shoulders above most. And you don't know if you have it until you try!

And yes. It's appropriate to go watch a club train. I wouldn't even bring my dog the first couple of times. If you're too busy fussing with the dog you're not really paying attention to what is going on. I don't know if anyone else runs into this, but I've seen a fair number of people who want to come out so they can have their dog out the whole time and brag on it's awesome pedigree and import fees. Those people don't last.

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