Only Working Prey - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 209 (permalink) Old 08-30-2011, 10:47 PM Thread Starter
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Only Working Prey

Wifey's thread and the resulting conversation promped me to start this thread. Ok, all you I.Es, why should dogs only be worked in prey when they first start bitework? Should it be all movement and grips? Should the helper ever confront the dog?
When can the only prey work end? What are you looking for that indicates the time has come to move on?
You get the idea. Now, should you choose to respond, you MUST state reasons for your beliefs. If you don't, I will call you on it.


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post #2 of 209 (permalink) Old 08-30-2011, 11:08 PM
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Sorry Anne, I would respond but for some reason I don't think that my keyboard types the English language any longer.


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post #3 of 209 (permalink) Old 08-30-2011, 11:26 PM Thread Starter
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It's ok...you can respond...we have tools at our disposal.

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post #4 of 209 (permalink) Old 08-30-2011, 11:38 PM
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It is really late, so hoping this will make sense.....
I think most dogs should be started in prey. But I have reasons!

Working a dog in prey seems "safer." Working a dog in defense/aggression requires a helper/handler team with more ability. They need to read the dog and find out what is too much, how far to push, and when to push. It just requires more talent; because you CAN screw a dog up by pushing, and pushing, and pushing. I do not think there are a lot of helper/handler pairs that can do that.

If you have a dog with lots of defense, it is nice to start them in prey, because that way you have a built-in fall-back to use as the dog matures.

Many, many people want to work young dogs. IMO, working a young dog/puppy with "pressure" is either impossible, or inappropriate. Prey-work can be done, and satisfies the needs of the overachiever handler. (Not talking green dog here, but immature)

Now, I am not saying these reasons are right, but I think they are legitimate.
So, thoughts?
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post #5 of 209 (permalink) Old 08-30-2011, 11:56 PM
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My dog really works better NOW in defense and not so much prey. He isn't about a jumpy, moving helper, but if that person swats him with a whip or tries to flank him, he comes out with some fire. He's been doing 'bitework' since he was 4 months old and it was prey in the beginning, but he is of higher threshold and not so crazy that the movement is what gets him going.
He barked very early on, never had to encourage him to bark at the helper. Karlo was the pup that was out helping other pups to bark. But he was not crazy bark, just consistant bark if that makes sense( it shows now in his hold and bark) He was on a wedge a couple sessions, a pillow for a couple more, and the helper/club changed at that time.
The new helper was all about presence...bald, big tattooed and fierce facial expressions(he was a national level trial helper but not so much a training helper).
Karlo wouldn't look him in the eye the first time out, but wasn't focused on the sleeve either, he kept his eye on the threat. This was about 6 months of age. Pillow was used and I handled him, he was not ever backtied.
I wouldn't consider this first w/ new helper session prey whatsoever. Karlo bit hard, but was not real confident with himself...so I patted him up and praised him. He wasn't pressured(other than the presence of the helpers looks, though I know he did try to make eye contact w/Karlo and Karlo wouldn't) and the helper knew he was young so kept it short and positive, but it was intense just due to the difference in helperwork. The eye contact was key in the helper reading Karlo's ability during that session.
The next few sessions went better, but I feel he was pushed too fast too soon, prey was never really in the picture, we did blinds too soon, and hold & barks before he was a year old.
I know now that we should have slowed down and not done the closed blind scenario's. Still not prey type protection on his part. But he always tended to look good, so the helper just progressed on. I then learned we were doing too much too soon, and decided to slow it down.
I changed clubs again when Karlo was 1.5 yrs(last year at this time) and we back stepped for a few sessions. Helper went with a bit more prey drive to balance him out and when he finally put pressure back on, K came out with confidence and power, the more pressure, the more power. Still not mature in the brain though. We've taken things slower in the past year, all phases have shown his early foundation(suspicion and a bit of lack of focus due to this) and his genetics....Czech/ WG blend. He is confident though in all venues I've taken him, never showing insecurity or hesitation. If I ask him to do something, he does. He doesn't rely on me for instruction, though.
But on the flipside, I dont' ask enough of him, I tend to baby him, not correcting him effectively for example. He would give more if I asked more.
I think he is balancing out but needs the threat to get engagement as far as protection goes, he focuses now on the sleeve to reduce pressure and will guard it more if he has to work harder to get it. All maturity learning process on both him and me!

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post #6 of 209 (permalink) Old 08-31-2011, 08:16 AM
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Jane: My experience with Brenna (another Andy Prodegy), is similar to what you describe in Karlo. We have really taking training slowly and concentrated on building good foundation. When she was 12 mos we started the hold and bark in the blind and after 2 sessions realized it was way to soon. Now at 20 months we have begun again and it is coming along really nicely. When young we could get her to bark in defense, but spent months developing prey. She was not interested in ball or tug but now has become much more interested. It has been a big difference from training my first schutzhund dog which was a german showline and worked almost all in prey.

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post #7 of 209 (permalink) Old 08-31-2011, 08:44 AM
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Depends heavily on the dog. In order to avoid any "I.E." accusations, I'll describe only my dogs, as I have two very different dogs. In the general sense, as I said before, I believe teaching should be done in prey, then when the dog has a solid understanding, begin introducing more stress and working more in defense or fight drive... as everyone has slightly different use of those words, I'll define them for the context of my post. This is what I mean when I use the words:
Prey drive - chasing the ball, chasing the leather roll, bite pillow, early sleeve work, etc. The drive has no emotion in it. Its purely instinct, and doesn't cloud the dog's mind like other drives. The other drives all make learning more difficult. Learning is most easily done in prey.
Defensive drive - self preservation by meeting an imminent threat of violence with violence. This drive is one coupled with and triggered by stress. A dog with low defense and high prey should never be a working k9, but can certainly achieve a schh title (not saying they should, but thats reality)
Fight drive - "the best defense is a good offense".. meeting a perceived threat with violence before that threat's violence is imminent. I believe this is less stress than defensive drive, and marks a dog that really enjoys the fight. I believe this is the only one that is not present in most dogs (across all breeds). The other two are always present in some degree.

My female is extreme high prey drive, by anyone's measure that has seen or worked with her. Defense is there, but the astronomical prey means the defense drive must be intentionally stimulated in order to work in that drive in order to get it high enough to not be overshadowed by the prey drive. With her, stress is put on her, otherwise bite work becomes too much about the sleeve and not about an interaction with the helper. Push the stress just a little too high and she says "I'm done with the stupid game" and goes for the helper. She is extremely fast and has gotten the drop on a number of people, so this is not ideal simply from a safety standpoint, forget about training goals. Lots of whip or stick can easily push her defense very high.. when that happened, we can still train, but less of the session's lessons stick with her. She is presently getting more and more stress introduced to bring intensity into her b&h and stop any focus or persistent attention to the sleeve. After an overly stressful session you can see the stress manifesting itself in wanting to put the sleeve down and thrashing, getting chewy, lack of calmness on the bite, etc.

My male has high prey drive, but very high fight and defense drive. He has to be worked in a particular way. For him, he wants to fight the helper, and the sleeve is just what he knows he is allowed to bite. Eye contact, squaring off, walking in with a bunch of presence, pretty much ensures you will get him highly loaded in fight drive. This is great down the road, but when teaching it is really a hinderance. Teaching him has to be done in prey, or its just a big sparring match where not much was really accomplished other than him getting his dominate urges satisfied. It looks cool and intense to a bystander, but its counterproductive. When we are teaching behaviors, the helper always presents him a side profile, no eye contact, lots and lots of sleeve movement to keep him in prey. His sessions are very short and frequent. Its not that the stress would ever cause him to go into avoidance, or that he can't "take it", its simply that teaching in full on fight drive is not nearly as effective as teaching in prey. When I like what I see in his b&h built on a prey foundation, we'll allow him to fight a bit more... otherwise we are rewarding less than ideal behavior.

At the end of the process, both dogs will have correct, very intense, fight/defense driven bark and holds. Most importantly, they will be operating out of well exercised behaviors that are now second nature to them, and they don't need to think much about what they are doing. At that point, I can let the helper lay on the stress on either dog.

Just so we are clear, a dog only ever trained in prey is not honoring the point of schh IMO. It seems that if you tell someone the dog is too stressed, they take it as a shot at their ego, and respond with "oh no, my dog isn't stressed, he can take that" blah blah blah... ego's are the biggest hurdle in training I've seen.. asking for too much too fast, being blind to whats happening in front of your eyes that is easy to fix if you only realize whats happening, etc.

Who learns for a math test better, a child who is positively encouraged to do his best, given the material and teaching guidance he needs, and put through the stress of a final exam once he's built a solid understanding of mathematics, or the child that is told "the test is friday.. if you fail it, you'll lose your nintendo, be grounded for a month, etc"... learning under stress is simply less effective. In the same line of thinking, do martial artists learn by the instructor saying "here's how you block a punch... alright I'm going to punch for real, so make sure you block it" and inevitably gets punched in the face a few times before he gets it (but invariably never has perfect form), or the instructor who demonstrates the maneuver and has the student repeat and repeat with an imaginary attacker until the brain does it without any thought and the form is perfect, and then proofs and hones the block with real punches?

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post #8 of 209 (permalink) Old 08-31-2011, 08:47 AM
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I won't keep a dog that can only be worked in prey so I guess I can't answer the question. I do not like only prey work. Right now I have a dog that will always default to prey given his pedigree and his age so he's not being worked at the moment and probably won't be for some time. I have another dog that is somewhat the opposite, would not work in prey. Helpers would dance around doing misses and fancy movements with equipment and the dog just stood there. At a better age a new helper came out and put some pressure on and the dog has been biting and fighting ever since never shifting in the grip.

To me the helper is not my dog's friend and is not there to make my dog feel happy and safe. That is not saying that the helper should overpower my dog. The helper should know how to have the dog win and build the dog's confidence without just playing games of tug and petting my dog.

I do think that the biting/gripping behavior comes from prey but IMO that is genetic anyway, either the dog has that or he does not have that so a dog that does not genetically work as much in prey might not have a fabulously quick strike and full grip but I personally am not overly concerned with this "bite development" thing. My goal is a dog that is out there to own the helper with his fight. Sleeve, suit, whatever, doesn't matter to me. I train him to target certain equipment or a certain area not because the dog wants to possess that thing or fight for that thing but because he knows that targeting that thing/area is what gives him the fight and diffuses the threat.
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post #9 of 209 (permalink) Old 08-31-2011, 08:50 AM
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As an excellent example, to anyone openminded enough to objectively look at it, note how if I say something that offended someones ego, their mind becomes so predisposed to defending their ego and discrediting/dismissing the point made, that they never really objectively read what was said without any personal emotion causing the point to be misconstrued or misinterpreted. In the exact same way, that persons "fight drive" or "defensive drive"... the reaction to a perceived attack on their ego, clouded their thinking enough to prevent any meaningful discussion from taking place, and nothing was learned by any party involved... if my points were truly incorrect, and the person had just taken a moment to explain why and effectively convince me of the flaw in my reasoning or observation, then maybe I could have learned something? Thats why I'm here after all...

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post #10 of 209 (permalink) Old 08-31-2011, 08:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liesje View Post
I won't keep a dog that can only be worked in prey so I guess I can't answer the question. I do not like only prey work. Right now I have a dog that will always default to prey given his pedigree and his age so he's not being worked at the moment and probably won't be for some time. I have another dog that is somewhat the opposite, would not work in prey. Helpers would dance around doing misses and fancy movements with equipment and the dog just stood there. At a better age a new helper came out and put some pressure on and the dog has been biting and fighting ever since never shifting in the grip.

To me the helper is not my dog's friend and is not there to make my dog feel happy and safe. That is not saying that the helper should overpower my dog. The helper should know how to have the dog win and build the dog's confidence without just playing games of tug and petting my dog.

I do think that the biting/gripping behavior comes from prey but IMO that is genetic anyway, either the dog has that or he does not have that so a dog that does not genetically work as much in prey might not have a fabulously quick strike and full grip but I personally am not overly concerned with this "bite development" thing. My goal is a dog that is out there to own the helper with his fight. Sleeve, suit, whatever, doesn't matter to me. I train him to target certain equipment or a certain area not because the dog wants to possess that thing or fight for that thing but because he knows that targeting that thing/area is what gives him the fight and diffuses the threat.
The quality of the bite is indeed genetic, but keeping that quality in high stress is to some degree conditioned.

The helper should be like a sparing partner... nothing more. Not a friend, not a hated enemy.

If you don't believe a dog's bite will deteriorate with too much stress, go do a really hard obedience session with lots of corrections and no rewards while a helper is agitating the crap out of the dog 20 yards away, and have the helper truly stress him. You'll see the bite quality, targeting, etc, all be less than that same dog with less stress. The only case where you wouldn't, is where the dog as been trained up to that level of stress, and has learned to work at that stress level, IMO. Up the stress past what he is used to or conditioned to deal with, and you'll still see the deterioration I think.

I wouldn't want a prey only dog either... nor do I have prey only dogs. In fact no one will handle my male for fear of him. when someone other than me has given a correction to either dog in bite work, it was not well received at all.

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