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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 04-03-2010, 02:18 PM Thread Starter
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new to Sch with question about my dog not fighting during tug games...

Ok so this will be kind of long so I can get my story across so hopefully everyone understands what I'm trying to ask.
I bought a WL GSD, my first one and I have been wanting to do Schutzhund for the past 5 years. Got a 7 mth old pup from a really good breeder (would like to stay anonymous, so I won't name names, but they are very well known [in a good way!]).
Anyway, this pup mostly likes playing with clothing, will tug with other things though. The problem we are having is I swear she seems kind of...lazy..? She will chase us down and go crazy to grab the clothing we are wearing so I started carrying an old shirt around to transfer her over to so I didn't have to correct her and she will grab it but won't "fight" for it. Basically she just holds on and pulls very slightly back, just enough to keep pressure on, or sometimes doesn't pull at all, just stands there or EVEN sometimes sits down (!). Very rarely does she really pull back hard or shake her head, even after I really engage her and tug and jerk her around to the point where I'm out of breath (and I'm a mostly in shape young person). She's 8 mths old now.
We tried taking her to a club but after the TD evaluated her, he wants us to wait on doing bite work (thinks she is going through a fear period), so we have been advised to do some prey drive work at home. Still doing OB and will start tracking. She doesn't act fearful with us or intimidated.
I would really hate to get really involved with this dog just to have her wash out because she won't fight for a rag.....sleeve....whatever. Does this sound like something that will change as she matures? Do I need to be crating her more or something? She gets a LOT of anxiety in her crate even though she has no problem going in there for a treat or meal times. She's not loud, but pants excessively. So I almost feel like the crate feels like a punishment to her and I don't want her to feel that way just to make her have more energy.
Will she maybe be willing to "fight" more with someone she doesn't know (like the helper)?
I have been trying to really get her engaged then as soon as she starts pulling back or showing more fight, letting her "win" the rag or toy and praising her but she still won't fight back very often or for more than 1-2 seconds.
I also tried to build some tug/ball drive with her with a back-tie but she pretty much shuts down. She shows drive if my boyfriend holds her back and I tease, but for some reason, being tied to a tree is different...?! He doesn't like to help me a whole lot so I wanted to have a way to build drive on my own. Is this also a bad sign?
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 04-03-2010, 03:49 PM
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There will be more experienced answer coming soon, I'm sure, but from my view, it doesn't sound like you have a dog that lacks drive, but more like you have a very polite dog who is not comfortable challenging your for a toy, and naturraly defers to you.

You got her a month ago? She is probably still adjusting to her new home, trying very hard to fit in and not cause any trouble - normal for a young dog her age. I got my WL for Schutzhund when he was six months old, and it took a few weeks for him to feel comfortable enough with me to really engage and tug. He would at first just let me win all the time. I could tell that he wanted to really tug and play with me, but he has a naturally respectful personality, and the respectful thing for a puppy to do was to let me, the leader, win the tug. I just gave him time to settle in, to get comfortable. Just had fun with him, no tug games unless it is something he is really wanting.

Some dogs learn their leash manners so well, they don't like to pull when tied to a post. That is how my mixed breed was when I tried to get her to bark for a toy and tried to build drive by back-tieing her: She just looked at me like "Why are you even trying to get me to chase and catch that toy? You KNOW I'm tied up, dummy!" (some dogs are just a tad too smart for their own good ).

Is your pup on a collar when you back-tie her? Try a harness if you haven't yet, that might help. Another thing you can try is to have more distance between you and her when you play tug, so your presence isn't overpowering her. Have a tug on a line for example, so you stand further away when you are tugging. Also, a great toy for drive-building is a teaser-pole - like a fishing pole with a line tied to the end, and a rag or other toy tied to the line. I use a lunging whip with my mixed breed and it is her favorite toy in the whole wide world!!! If you are not familiar with a lunging whip, it is the long-handled whip, like a buggy whip. I get them at a feed-supply store for about 10 dollars each. She just chases and chases and chases, and when she catches the line, we tug!! For some dogs, you may want to tie a rag or a treat to the end to make it more enticing. Careful though, because with some high-drive puppies, it puts them into a state of hyper-drive (my term), and they loose control and focus. I can't use the lunge whip with my one-year old, because he gets a bit crazy and will jump and snap at anything that moves, including my hands and arms! But that is only with the lunge whip, he is fine with other type of toys and games. As he gets older he may learn how to control and direct his drives better, but for now, it is not for him.

Not sure about the crate, I would just continue with your usual routine and give her more time to get used to her new environment and new life. For the rest, I agree with the TD of your club, give her more time to settle in, give her a bit more time to mature. In the meantime, don't worry about her tugging, work on building a positive relationship, do a lot of fun stuff, go easy on the Obedience, and build up her confidence by letting her know that she is the best puppy in the whole wide world, and let her know in your eyes, she can do no wrong!

Lucia


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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 04-03-2010, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for replying!

I thought about the collar vs. harness thing too since the first time I tried was with her collar .........and when she first came to me, she wouldn't pull on the leash really at all (that has changed!), so I got a harness and tried it....no difference really. I guess there's a difference to her when my boyfriend acts the part of the "pole" and holds her back and when a tree is holding her back.

I thought about trying a flirt pole with her too....so far we have just been hooking a leash through the old shirts we've been using as "rags" to make them jerk around faster.

I'm just concerned because she's not as drive-y as I really wanted.....but the breeders insist she was definitely a good Sch prospect and acted different at their house. But when we play prey drive games with her (with my boyfriend holding her back and me teasing her, letting her "win" the rag every now and then) she never really gets all that excited....she will snap and snap and go after it and jump around but never any of the barking, whining, etc. like I've seen with a lot of dogs (and some puppies even younger than her). And as soon as I stop moving the rag side to side, she lose a lot of interest and will sometimes even sit down. I'm just nervous because I've watched a lot of videos that the breeders made of them working their dogs.....and in a lot of them, even when they get the prey item out, the dogs/puppies will start barking and trying to get at it without be teased at all.
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 04-03-2010, 05:26 PM
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If you're really only had her a month--you're probably pushing too much. Not a SchH person, but I'm definitely one that feels a dog takes a good 3-4 weeks to even begin to settle into the house.

If it's a good breeder and they gave you the dog as an SchH prospect, I doubt they were BSing you.

Some dogs take longer than other to get comfortable with a new owner/handler and a new home.

Out of curiosity, are you working with a trainer? It could also be something YOU are doing. It might be worth it to find someone that will come to your house to work with you guys.

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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 04-03-2010, 05:43 PM
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First, your pup is not an amalgamation of every other pup you have seen on youtube and internet videos. She is unique and different, and will have different levels of drive and reactiveness and react to different situations her own way. No two dogs are alike, ever, and you are sure to be disappointed if you expect your pup to be like all the other pups. Not fair to your pup, not fair to your breeder, and not fair to yourself -

Some dogs are more vocal than others, it does not make them any better or worse, just different. When I got my pup, the breeder told me he was a tug-fiend at home, but throw in the major upset of being shipped, of being in a new home with new people and new resident dog and new owner, all this when he was only six months old, well, I didn't see the tug-fiend emerge for a while, but there was not doubt to me that if the breeder said he was a tug-fiend, the fiend in him will eventually come out when he is ready, and it did. I just allowed him to be himself without consciously or sub-consciously willing him to be one way or another, gave him time to feel settled and comfortable.

I feel like you are not giving this dog a chance. A lot of pups will just sit down and wonder what they are supposed to do when they start out. Dogs are very situational, so if she was pulling and tugging at home, she may not be sure that the same thing is expected from him in her new environment. She may be trying to figure YOU out, you have a smart pup in there, and you better stay on your toes, haha!!

My pup wasn't barking or whinning for the tug either at first - because he is a low-threshold, stable, clear-headed, thinking dog. He would do as your pup. It took a while but no issues now. We joke that he is the best barker in the club, this from a dog that would do as yours! You really haven't had your pup a long time, and since you are new to SchH, you may have some unrealistic expectations - and not your fault if you do, you really don't know what would be a realistic expectation. Remember too that any on-line video you see, the person would have posted what they would have wanted others to see. So maybe at first, their pups where like yours, but they didn't video it, or post it for all to see. Later on, as the pup figured out the rules of the game and showed more interest, THAT video got posted.

Also, HOW you tease and play and animate the tug can make a world of difference in how the dog responds, and how the prey drive comes out. For example, a new member at our club, with a 3 month old puppy, was trying to get the pup to chase and catch the rag. He said that since he was a teenager, he has watched Schutzhund training videos, getting ready for the day when he will be able to train his own dog. Puppy sat down, lost interest, went off exploring. Helper comes over to show him how to get puppy to chase rag, started swishing and jerking the rag around, let pup ALMOST catch it and pulled it away, rag never was still for a momment, jerky, unpredictable movements, puppy went nuts trying to catch it! Also, helper kneeled down on the ground to not dominate pup, but to be at puppy's own level. So often there is so much more to it than we imagine, and having that experience and knowledge can make a huge difference!

I wanted to reassure you that your pup sounds and seems fine, she is adjusting to a HUGE HUMOUNGOUS change in her life, and all her drives will most certainly come out if you give her time. My pup was almost exactly like yours, I did not sweat it, and now, six months later, everyday I see more power, more fight, more strenght coming out of him. Still when tugging with me, he is more reserved than when he tugs with the helper, because with me, I'm the leader and he defers to me. Doesn't take an iota of his potential and talent away.

If you really have serious concerns, have you talked to the breeder? Are you a member of the club that evaluated him? Could they work with you to show you how to bring the drives out? Really at this time, I would give the drive-building and barking and tugging a break, and just work on having fun with her.

Since you only had her for a month, you really need to give her a chance.

Lucia


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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 04-03-2010, 08:21 PM
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You got her a month ago? She is probably still adjusting to her new home, trying very hard to fit in and not cause any trouble - normal for a young dog her age. I got my WL for Schutzhund when he was six months old, and it took a few weeks for him to feel comfortable enough with me to really engage and tug. He would at first just let me win all the time. I could tell that he wanted to really tug and play with me, but he has a naturally respectful personality, and the respectful thing for a puppy to do was to let me, the leader, win the tug. I just gave him time to settle in, to get comfortable. Just had fun with him, no tug games unless it is something he is really wanting.
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If you're really only had her a month--you're probably pushing too much. Not a SchH person, but I'm definitely one that feels a dog takes a good 3-4 weeks to even begin to settle into the house.

If it's a good breeder and they gave you the dog as an SchH prospect, I doubt they were BSing you.

Some dogs take longer than other to get comfortable with a new owner/handler and a new home.

These two answers are probably the most accurate. It can take up to three months for a dog to fully settle in. Pushing the pup to do what YOU want her to do when she is not ready, is probably about the biggest mistake you can make. Also, some dogs mature at different rates and are ready to work much later. Not all dogs who grow up to be great SchH dogs will have that kind of prey drive that you are talking about and some will actually develop more prey drive later as well.
Sometimes you just have to wait, which seems to be what most people really struggle with. One of the best dogs I have owned didn't "wake up" until he was over 14 months old. He was really "sleepy" but he sure is not any longer. When something isn't working, it is best to stop doing it and wait until the pup tells you she is ready. Eight months of age is VERY young and many times, the best thing to do is to put the dog up, and wait. First they need to learn to TRUST you and you need to build a relationship with your dog. It may be this will be the kind of dog that needs a different approach to protection work. Meaning, it is not done out of prey but in a more serious way when the dog is older. That is the approach we took with the dog of mine I just mentioned. In fact, we do that with most of the dogs we train at my club. We are not playing with them in protection, so, chasing things like a maniac is not really a required behavior.

Also, there is actually some skill involved in playing with your dog and trying to bring out behaviors. I have seen many people do this very badly, so, that might be your problem as well, especuially if you are new to SchH and doing this on your own. Go out to a club and watch for a while. Take the dog but do nothing with her. Just let her be there with you. Most importantly, give your puppy more time. Lots of the time, no training is the best training. Hard for people to grasp that concept but it is a valuable idea if you can make yourself use it.


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Last edited by Vandal; 04-03-2010 at 08:25 PM.
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 04-03-2010, 11:46 PM
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I don't have a huge dog experience behind me, but some.

Of the young dogs and pups I have had, I often wondered early on if they were too "lazy", didn't have enough drive, etc. I learned it is very hard to tell in the early months, maybe for several many months. I pushed too hard. I tried to make things happen. I worried. Well, it is easy for me to say don't do that to you, but if you can help yourself, as Vandal says, don't do that! I really think I did more harm than good.

I had one female that took a long time to come on. I gave up on her. Ha! She is 10+ and still slamming at tug and play. It took her maybe two years to really develop her drive and power. Whoa, after I saw that what was lacking was maturing of the drives and brain, I really felt bad for pushing her when she was younger.

I have a puppy now who sometimes seems lazy. Sure at times I look at him quizzicallly and ask him if he missed out on the genetic roulette wheel?? But, after had a few dogs now I know that chances are that he has all he needs and chances also are very good that it will not show itself for many months. If I try to get him to do more and look like a good schutzhund prospect there is every chance I could spoil it for the future. I almost think it is better not to think of a goal for the dog and just have fun and see what the dog is when it is more mature.
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 04-04-2010, 01:55 AM
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Think about what you wrote for a moment. Do you really want your dog to FIGHT you for the tug? Or do you want your dog to PLAY with you with the tug?

The purpose of the tug is to play, IMO. And each dog has their own style of play that they find rewarding. If your dog finds holding (possessing?) the tug rewarding then it's fine and I would leave it alone. You can cause a lot of problems trying to fit a square peg in a round hole just to fit what YOU think the dog should be having fun doing.

One more thing to remember. Most of the play that you see in dog videos was developed for Malinois and their style of play and does not work as well for GSDs.

Good luck with your pup.
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 04-04-2010, 01:42 PM
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I have to laugh because three years ago I could have written your post. Actually, if you search back three years I just may have written it! The only difference is I started out with a baby puppy that I got to be "just a pet", then after a month of having him home decided hey maybe I do want to get him into schh. I just want to echo what others have said because I think it's really sound advice. She is absolutely still settling in, she's VERY young, and you are inexperienced. My dog is nearly 3. He has been very, very, and I mean VERY slow to mature both mentally and physically. Today he resembles nothing of the puppy he was 3 years ago and I, hopefully, resemble nothing of the handler I was 3 years ago. It's hard, I know, but try to not push her or yourself too hard and don't worry about what you think she should be doing. Take some time to get to know her and become her friend. Develop a relationship with her. It will pay off in the end and before you know it the rest just falls into place. I can tell you with great certainty that the problems I was having three years ago all stemmed from me, from thinking "my puppy MUST do this and he MUST do that or we're doomed" and, as unbelievable as it sounds, not knowing how to play with him. It's really much harder than most people think.
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 04-04-2010, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by jesusica View Post
but try to not push her or yourself too hard and don't worry about what you think she should be doing. Take some time to get to know her and become her friend. Develop a relationship with her.
I'm brand new too and I can tell you everyone I talked to tell me exactly that.
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