Handler "tags" in training. - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 121 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 04:30 PM Thread Starter
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Handler "tags" in training.

In another thread the topic of the dog biting the handler in training came up. I think it a good topic for discussion, but really not appropriate for the thread in which it started (even though that thread has now been pretty well hijacked beyond hope). So since the post that started the discussion revolves around a SchH dog, and much of the subsequent questions also revolve around the training/temperament aspects particular to SchH, I figured this is the most appropriate place to continue the discussion.

The post that started the discussion:
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Yes, he bites me every time we train! He bit my left hand twice today, it feels crushed at the moment. But these are just accidental bites, like missing the toy/target. I have two nice pairs of working gloves but I guess I can't be bothered to wear them. A few weeks ago he bit my face. Again an accident but I was NOT pleased and it still kinda hurts. Over the summer he bit my thumb so hard it was numb for a long time and had a deep puncture (I was holding Kong Wubba, talking to my uncle and not paying attention). He's also bit our helper a few times during agitation work without the sleeve or with the right hand, if he reaches in just an inch too close! Again, nothing you can "blame" on the dog, that's just part of training dogs! Oh, he also bit my neighbor's hand after we TOLD him not to reach over our fence and dangle the dogs' toys unless he knew how to get the dog to target. I think that was the bloodiest bite so far but the neighbor laughed and said now he knows what I mean about this not being your average tug-playing dog.


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post #2 of 121 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 04:35 PM
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Luckily, I've not been bitten too hard, too often and it was always my fault.
The dog knew immediately when he got me. Until I get better at targeting, we use the two handle tug and little ball play, otherwise I'd be tagged more often, so being proactive.
A guy at my club uses balls often and his female GSD has gotten his thumb many, many times, he just keeps on, hardly flinching...he knows it is his fault.
A face bite is unacceptable, not sure why the dog would go for the face? Was the ball tucked in the neck?

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Last edited by onyx'girl; 04-19-2010 at 04:38 PM.
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post #3 of 121 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 04:45 PM
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My take on being tagged during training...It happens. If you have a drivey enough dog, sooner or later you're going to get bit. I have a pretty good scar on the inside of my elbow where my dog went for the ball and I could have been more coordinated. The number of bruises I've gotten from teeth missing toys are too numerous to recall individually. My cuticles on my fingers will never be the same and I've given up all hope of ever having a manicure that lasts.

However that said, it's an issue of control. The more I've done this the more I've learned that a SchH dog does not need to get away with murder. You won't kill the drive for the toy if you teach them they must target the ball and not your arm. Starting with our very small puppies with balls on ropes, we teach them to grip the ball and not the rope, just by reinforcement. They will learn to target the ball if they know that's what they must do to win the toy. Another useful tool is the release word. If you teach your dog not to go for the toy until it is given a release command, you are more likely to be in sync with them and aware when they go for the toy, because you've asked for it. It's really just self control.

As far as tags on helpers in agitation. Well, that's safety to me. And usually handler or helper error. There's a reason we all sign waivers...

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post #4 of 121 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 04:45 PM
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I managed to stay away from that other thread and didn't read anything past the first post. This handler is either a total clutz or is in denial about their dog. The fact the dog bit the neighbor seriously is rather frightening and makes me think the handler is in denial.

I have seen safe dogs in SchH and I have seen dogs that aren't safe. The ones that aren't safe seem to be the ones that the handler actually likes their dog that way and encourages it one way or another.

I live in the real world with my dog going out in public and around people all the time and find that sort of thinking unacceptable. Other than rarely getting your own fingers in the way of a toy and it hurts but that's all and you quickly learn not to put your fingers there again, I feel there is no excuse for any other bites.

Besides, the thinking that this is ok and letting your dog get away with biting is not only dangerous to the handler and others, but continues the feeling that all SchH dogs are vicious.

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post #5 of 121 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 04:53 PM
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Erm, that would be my dog *slowly raises hand*. I forgot about that thread.

I was not there when my neighbor got bit but I did apologize to him and he laughed and said it was totally his fault. DH said what happened was that the neighbor had seen me teasing up Nikon with the ball and decided to try (you know, like you jerk the toy right as the dog is going for it, around in circles until you get dizzy and let the dog bite and tug). But he didn't really know what he was doing and was holding the toy up over my fence so he moved it wrong and got bit. I guess if people want to reach over my fence and tease up my dogs with their toys they can't expect the dog not to want to play the game.

I got bit in the face a few weeks ago. When I send the dog out for a dumbell I quick slip a ball under my chin (like in that video that often gets posted on here). After the out I either reward immediately (WITH a break command), ask for a finish, heel over to the next retrieve, etc. We've been working retrieves with a ball under my chin for months and until that day he had never once gone after the ball *until* I gave the release word and dropped the ball while I back away. But for whatever reason that day he went for the ball as he outed so I wasn't lifting my chin and backing away and he bit my face on my lower jaw. I solved the problem by giving him a swift but not abusive knee in the chest the next 5 times I said "out" which kept him sitting and now he is back to waiting for the release.
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post #6 of 121 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 04:57 PM
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I see helpers using their hands to agitate the dogs and if they aren't quick enough may get bit. But the dog shouldn't go for anything but the sleeve, IMO and the helpers at my club seldom use the hand in that manner,they really don't need to.

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post #7 of 121 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 05:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onyx'girl View Post
I see helpers using their hands to agitate the dogs and if they aren't quick enough may get bit. But the dog shouldn't go for anything but the sleeve, IMO and the helpers at my club seldom use the hand in that manner,they really don't need to.
I disagree but I don't want a sleeve oriented dog, I want a dog that brings aggression with aggression and fights back whether there's a sleeve being put in his mouth or not.
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post #8 of 121 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 05:10 PM
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The helper doesn't "put a sleeve in the mouth" where I go, and the dog should not look at the helper to feel they can bite them anywhere, the sleeve should be the target, especially during the foundation training.
Engaging the helper is one thing, but to think they can bite anywhere is dirty. Maybe I am wrong, but I don't want Karlo thinking he can go for a leg just to get a bite.

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post #9 of 121 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 05:17 PM
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The dog will go for what's presented, so if that's a right hand and not a left sleeve that's what they'll go for. If the helper is making physical contact with my dog during agitation work I fully expect the dog to show some civil aggression and it's up to the helper to know just how far they can reach and how fast they can get out. Coming into the blind the helper is just standing there, thus bark and hold, no reason for any dog to start tearing at the legs. Sleeve presented - bite sleeve. The foundation can vary. For a prey dog maybe all sleeves and biting and claiming objects, but for a not-so-prey dog maybe the foundation is that the threat is the target, and biting the sleeve diffuses the threat.

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post #10 of 121 (permalink) Old 04-19-2010, 05:19 PM
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i don't engage in the SchH sport, but i do play tug with my dog.........he loves it more than anything, and its a good tool to keep him busy in agility while the other dogs are running through the course.......

before i even started tugging with him, i made sure i knew how to do it correctly, there are rules to the game......game ends, if he slips and bites or nips, no jumping on me to get the toy, etc, etc......i start, i end, and do OB exercises with toy reward....its a great tool, it can teach alot of control with the bitting.....i cannot imagine even in SchH someone not controlling the urge to bite anything that moves.........instead of the target..........scarey.........

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