is bite training right for me and my puppy? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-14-2010, 12:54 PM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb is bite training right for me and my puppy?

Sorry for the long introduction, but I was hoping to give as much background to my situation to help get informed responses. I have been browsing many boards on this site for a long time, trying to learn as much as I can. But I decided it is finally time to ask for some direct advice.

First some background on me. I have grown up with dogs my whole life, specifically labs. I have my own 11 year old Labrador that I trained, and quite successfully ran in Field Trials. I am not new to this style of training, and have done it lots, and by many are considered quite consistent and good with the dogs.

But I am not looking to compete in anything any more. It was fun, but I don't plan to do it again. And because of that I looked to try something different, specifically I got a male GSD. I can't be more pleased with my decision, it was hard to decide what breed to go with, but I have no question I made the right decision.

Despite the fact that I have no desire to compete in anything any more. I have every intention of training this dog, through his entire life. The training I have given any of my previous dogs has more than payed off in the long term loyalty and the proper manners. It is easily the best investment you can make in a dog.

So, now I have a 12 weeks (turned 12 weeks today) GSD puppy. He is a great dog, I got him from a good breeder and both his parents have an extensive pedigree in schutzhound. He is extremely confident, and extremely intelligent.

Currently his training is consisting of:
* sit
* come
* plotz
with lots of play between commands, and lots and lots of treats. He seems to love his training, particularly loving to come running to me (not enjoying sitting too long, but he is only 12 weeks so I _try_ to not push him too hard). I have only owned him for two weeks, but he has made amazing progress, and I just keep doing more because he seems like he gets bored if we don't. I can tell already he will be a dog that not only needs physical exercise, but equally important mental exercise as well.

So I have been thinking things I can teach him, since this will be a long term thing. Mostly what I have come up with are extreme obedience situations, lots of distractions, lots of focus, etc. But with that said....

While walking him the other night, I had a somewhat scary situation. Nothing happened but some people will talking badly to us, and I worried it could escalate. I now carry pepper spray on our walks just to be safe. But since I have considered more things to train him with, and to exercise him mentally, the thought of bite training for protection did occur to me.

Which is what really brings this post. I am sorry if I sound ignorant, but it is only because I am. I have not done a lot of research into this, but I thought you guys might be able to direct me to some good resources, as well as giving me your personal opinions. So here is my questions:

Currently his biggest problem is mouthing...he really likes to bite at people's hands and feet, and just gnaw on them or bite at them. This is a behavior I have been trying to discourage as it's nothing anyone enjoys, and I worry what it could turn to when he gets older.

My questions are:
* Can we correct mouthing while still treating bite training
* My BIGGEST priority on this dog is that he is a well behaved pet, that he has manners and obedience. If teaching bite training is going to compromise that goal, I will find other ways to ensure my safety. So the question is, can this be something that is literally trained into. And trained to a point where it is ON with a command, and OFF with a command, and does not impact every day life outside of training.
* if this does sound like an okay training for me and my puppy to start, when and how do we start? Any online or book resources you recommend?
* what is the best way to show the difference from manners in the house, to training/play outside the house
* anything else you think I should know?

Thank you very much for reading this long post. I appreciate all the feedback and help
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-14-2010, 03:37 PM
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welcome to the board and congrats on your new puppy) My sister is the lab person in the family, has had labs for years, and also did field trialing/water stuff as well as obed/agility with her dogs.. Glad you like your gsd,,my sister thinks mine are to much dog for her)

Schutzhund, as I'm sure others will tell you, is a pretty involved and dedicated endeavor. I know I am not up to the task myself.

With that said, maybe you should check out getting your dog Personal Protection Trained. One of my gsd's sire was a PPD dog, and he was absolutely wonderful to live with, do anything with in public, loved kids and people/other animals, but knew what to do should the need arise when it came to protection.

I don't know your area, but maybe if you put out here on the board your looking for suggestions on trainers for PPD, and what area, you may get some good hits

Have fun with your puppy

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-14-2010, 03:59 PM
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Mouthing is pretty common is GSD puppies, do a search on bite inhibition and you will find some tips on curtailing that, eventually puppies get over that behavior, not something to worry about. If you have a toy with you, get your puppy to bite that instead of you. At 12 weeks he is still very very young, but you can start basic obedience with him. If you want to do Schutzhund with him try to find a club near you and visit the club and see if it is somthing that you are interested in. Schutzhund is a lot more than bitework though including tracking, obedience and protection. Your puppy can work in the puppy circle with the helper and they can judge his interest and drive, both which can be developed further. Good luck with your new GSD.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-14-2010, 04:12 PM
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What is PPD????

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-14-2010, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jakeandrenee View Post
What is PPD????
PPD = Personal Protection Dog.

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-14-2010, 04:50 PM
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With the wrong training and the wrong dog, yes bitework can screw up your dog.
In this area, I bet 90% of the PPD trainers are scary, and just turn out defensive, aggressive, fear biters.

There are good trainers out there, I know one, but major warning.... do your homework!!!

In general, in my opinion, schutzhund is less likely to screw up your dog. Schutzhund clubs are not as likely to work a dog defensively, and you also have a group of people who give input if things are going badly.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-14-2010, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry, maybe I was not clear in my post. I am not interested in competing or completely going through all the schutzhund training....I really only want to train things that I find interesting or useful, and have no desire to compete with the dog. I only posted this question on this board because I thought this board would be most familiar with protection training.

Reiterating (my first post was long, so hopefully this will be more clear):
Quote:
My BIGGEST priority on this dog is that he is a well behaved pet, that he has manners and obedience.
My questions (in a more condensed form):
* Can you do protection training without compromising this priority I quoted above? Meaning, he wont be aggressive, wont bark, just be a well mannered dog, but can flick on the protection training as easy as a command?
* if that is possible, please point me to some resources that would help me start that process...and any other tips you might have to getting a puppy started with protection training while keeping a foundation of obedience to be most important

Thanks for all the comments so far. I appreciate the input
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-14-2010, 05:51 PM
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Answers are in blue

Quote:
My questions are:
* Can we correct mouthing while still treating bite training
Correct the mouthing- No. Generally Not. It's counterproductive to the goal of having a dog that is confident and comfortable biting people. Redirect? Yes. You teach the mouthy puppy to bite things that are appropriate, not to Not Bite. If that makes sense. The majority of Puppy Mouthing is a form of play, You do not want a dog that you bite train to have previously learned that it is not OK to put it's mouth on people. This is a conflict of learning. Rather you teach them that there are situations when it is appropriate, and situation when it is Not. With a small puppy, you carry toys and tugs and teach them to bite those instead and Yelp or verbally interrupt mouthing on your person and the direct them to the toy.

* My BIGGEST priority on this dog is that he is a well behaved pet, that he has manners and obedience. If teaching bite training is going to compromise that goal, I will find other ways to ensure my safety. So the question is, can this be something that is literally trained into. And trained to a point where it is ON with a command, and OFF with a command, and does not impact every day life outside of training.
Yes it is possible. But there are different kinds of training and some of them can ruin your dog. The kind of training you are talking about does not in general occur in a puppy, but in a more mature young dog. This is more similar to Personal Protection Training, and this kind of Alert Training you are discussing is done through defense and natural suspicion. You would have to allow your puppy to mature and evaluate if he is the right kind of dog for this training. Some dogs do not have a lot of natural suspicion. You need to understand how this kind of training is achieved. It is done through making a threat at the dog, and having the dog respond. There are MANY PPD trainers out there for *real world* stuff that will intimidate and hurt your dog to make it respond. The reason more people here support SchH clubs and trainers is that the bite work on these dogs is done more for people with pets and that there is more consideration given in SchH bitework to control than in some of the wacky PPD groups I have seen. I have SchH dogs. I have 2 that will alert and bite for real, and this is a function not of the training but of the temperament of those 2 dogs. I have 2 that probably won't unless I go in and teach them a higher level of suspicion. The most common method for training suspicion is putting the dog into fight or flight mode and rewarding them with a bite. I'm sure you can see how this can be a fine line, and a trainer that isn't particularly good can really screw up your dog. There are people out there who are more interested in jumping out of bushes in costumes and bragging about how [email protected] their dogs are rather than actual practical work.

Consider if a PPD is really what you want or need. I like this bit that was written up on Leerburg.
Leerburg.com Discussion Forum: PPD Q & A for the beginner....


* if this does sound like an okay training for me and my puppy to start, when and how do we start? Any online or book resources you recommend?
There are online resources. I like Leerburg as a place to start and with some good information on raising a working dog. Books are often outdated but still with some good information. The best resource is a local training group. I would strongly advocate going, without the puppy, and just watching training and listening to how they achieve their goals. And see if their training and goals match what you are interested in.

* what is the best way to show the difference from manners in the house, to training/play outside the house
Most people avoid these conflicts by using their crates, Xpens, and kennels. If you are going to ask a dog to be pushy enough to actually engage a human being in a conflict, you cannot always be correcting them for bad behavior. It's really all about management. Don't correct, offer a replacement behavior. They jump? Ask them to sit and reward them for sitting quickly every time. They run around too much? Teach them a place command or only let them loose in the house when they are tired from running around outside and they are more likely to behave on their own.

* anything else you think I should know?
Quote:
My BIGGEST priority on this dog is that he is a well behaved pet, that he has manners and obedience. My questions (in a more condensed form):
* Can you do protection training without compromising this priority I quoted above? Meaning, he wont be aggressive, wont bark, just be a well mannered dog, but can flick on the protection training as easy as a command?
This can and does exist with the majority of people who own properly trained protection dogs with appropriate temperaments. BUT this is not as simple as training a behavior. You are training a mindset in the dog. You are training the dog not only to bite, or give an aggressive display on command, you are teaching them that the thing inside of them that wants to protect is APPROPRIATE and ACCEPTABLE on command. That means you are going to go through a learning process to get there, and there is a chance that if the training is not quite right, or your dog isn't quite right that you could have something you have to worry about. Most good PPDs are not really there until they are adult dogs.

* if that is possible, please point me to some resources that would help me start that process...and any other tips you might have to getting a puppy started with protection training while keeping a foundation of obedience to be most important
Everything in a good program is designed to foster a positive working relationship. All obedience is started positively, toys are built as fun, corrections are minimal and limited. You socialize the dog to be confident in new environments. And then you evaluate when the dog is more mature.

Personally, training that kind of dog is such a major time commitment, that if I were you I'd raise my dog to be the best that it could be, and hope that the protection naturally comes about.


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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-14-2010, 06:22 PM
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To answer your first question:

Yes, IF you have a dog of stable temperament and inpecable nerve that has been socialized to the hilt, is friendly, outgoing, confident, and natuarally protective, have experience in training a dog for protection, and are willing to maintain the training for the lifetime of the dog.

For the second part of your question, protection training is not something that someone should undertake without the guidance of professionals, even with all the past dog-training experience you have under your belt. Thus the suggestion to seek out Schutzhund clubs or private PPD trainers and work with them.

You could join a Schtuzhund club and do the training even if you are not interested in pursuing titles and competiting, but few, if any, clubs will accept members who only want to train the protection aspect without the tracking and obedience portions, mainly because a bite-trained dog requires a very high degree of obedience training, and by working with the club, the members can be assured that your dog is trained to that level, is safe and responsive.

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-14-2010, 06:30 PM
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I agree with everyone else, find a good club to train with.

The entire point of Sch is to have a trained and BALANCED dog. You have the calm and thinking part of scent work, the preciseness (sp?) of the obedience, PLUS the protection work.

I feel that just trying to work on protection, specially if you haven't done it before, can really end up with a liability issue and a dog with habits that are 'bad' and can end up seriously injuring someone unintentionally. Joining a club give you the guidance and training in the right order at the right time with a proper balance for you and your dog.

Otherwise, the really smart people just do dog agility with their GSD's ( )




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