New club: what to look for? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-15-2012, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
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New club: what to look for?

I am hoping to join a club with my puppy very soon. As I'm looking at ones close to me I am wondering what am I really supposed to look for? Someone once told me, your TD and helper can make or break your dog. So what am I looking for in a helper?

I know for sure I want to see happy dogs that enjoy what they are doing. I don't want to see all compulsion training, lots of motivational training for pups. Looking for a group of helpful welcoming people who genuinely care about their dogs. But outside of that, I'm a little lost.


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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-15-2012, 12:24 AM
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I think you should have an open mind at this point. It takes about 3 years or more to train a dog in this sport, if the dog is trainable and you are commited.

So the first goal would be to determine if the pup has the aptitude for this level of training, everything else is secondary. Do not worry abut training methods and all that at this point. Just get yourself and the pup evaluated first.

Typically good clubs will be very honest in this evaluation and let you attend as a guest, if you show commitment, maybe you will get an invitation to join the club in a couple of years. I would caution you against clubs that would invite you to join immediately as it would be about the $$ only typically. Ypou need to find a club that is accomplished and members are motivated and have something to show for it.

Gnash von den Sportwaffen IPO3x2, AD, HOT
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-15-2012, 09:11 AM
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I would go to a few clubs, watch the other teams.

Your comment on the hapiness of the dogs is important and how the handlers treat their dogs~ the dogs enthusiasm to work.

Keep an open mind, different sessions may show different things(as far as where the dog is in training, some dogs may need pressure/control work that may be compulsive) Don't judge them based on one visit. Ask questions if you don't understand why something is going on, better to ask than not understand and leave thinking the worst.

Do the members help each other? The dynamics of the whole club(not just the TD or helper) is important to me.

The helper is there to help you and your dog. They know how to time rewards/ when to move forward and when to retreat. In many clubs the helper is the TD(or the TD is training other helpers)
Sometimes the closest club isn't the right fit, best to go to a few and see where you feel most comfortable.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-15-2012, 09:29 AM
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It depends on your level of commitment. For me SchH is not just about getting good training for me and my dog. I drive past four other clubs on my way to my current club. I want to be in an active club having 1-2 trials a year, members actually titling dogs, and a true club where there's one bank account (not paying someone for help/use of their land). For other people though, they might just want to pay a helper for their "slot"; come, work their dog, and go home. Schutzhund is as much a social time for me as it is training for my dog.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-15-2012, 10:15 AM
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I've been a member in two clubs now and the main difference between the two is the level of dedication and knowledge of the other members in the club. I wanted to be a part of a club that trained regularly, rain or shine, had more than one very small trial a year, and had members who were had consistently titled their dogs for an extended period of time. Being new to the sport, I needed lots of structure and guidance to lead me in the right direction and I didn't get that from the first club. It was one training director who had titled a dog one time maybe ten years ago, and she had a following of newbies like myself who didn't know any better than to take every word she said as law. I love my club now because the TD has titled many of her dogs to regional level and has been competing for the last 20 years. The other officers have also all titled their dogs and have been competing/training for at least 10 years. There is a wide diversity in training methods and everyone wants to help everyone learn with their dogs. The support I receive from them is incredible, and I have developed very close friendships with the people in my club. They are my best friends.

I also have a dog who many people have told me to give up on. I was actually told my people in my first club that it would be a long shot to title him at all. One of my main problems with this type of mentality was that it was coupled with people who only believed in one way to train, and since that way didn't work with my dog, I was told to give up. It made me feel like those people who supposedly had so much knowledge and experience in the sport really couldn't even figure out how to adapt their training methods just a little bit.

Well, we switched clubs and found out that there is more than just one way to train a dog, and now we will be going for our IPO2 on Saturday. I agree with the above statements about not judging the way you see some people training. People who know me and my dog know that I've had to use quite a bit of compulsion, since it's nearly impossible to motivate my dog. My dog is also quite dramatic, so when he is corrected even just a tiny bit, it sounds like I'm killing him. An outsider would probably think that I was murdering my dog, when in reality, its just the way he is. He recovers quickly and is making huge progress, so it bothers me when I hear people that I don't know give negative comments when they see me train my dog. It's important to be open minded.

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-15-2012, 10:47 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the responses! I am def looking for a club that meets several times a week. This will very much be a social activity for me also. This is my "me" time

And I do realize there will be some compulsion training and that it's different for every dog. I just didn't want to see only compulsion/old school training on every dog. Especially with a puppy. But I'm glad you pointed out that it will be different for every dog and to ask questions, not to jump to conclusions etc.


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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-15-2012, 10:49 AM
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My female is the same way gator... Sometimes I get lucky and give her a verbal "no" she screams like I'm ripping her ears off when she forgot we were off leash and off electric, with no collars... Then they believe me about her being a drama queen lol.

We are a new club, only been around since 2010 or so I think. I joined on 29jan2011. Knew nada about SchH. Last may we were the first club member/dog team to title (Katya IPO1), first IPO2 (last Friday), are going to be the first IPO3 and PSA title in the near future. And I'm also the clubs main (and up till very recently 'only') helper. So there are new junior inexperienced clubs that still have every bit of the drive as the seasoned ones. You just gotta find the one you fit right into

Hunter, CWDC UScA Helper
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-15-2012, 10:56 AM
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A key item I forgot to mention is that when you visit clubs, keep an eye out for a mentor. This is very important as you are just starting out, to have someone that can coach you to train your pup. You now work every day based on the mentors instructions/plan and on club days demonstrate what you have beem working on at home.

So during the clubs visits, it is equally if not more important to seek out a mentor and let him/her show you the way at least till your dog accomplishes the IPO1 title. This way the training is consistent, a VERY important parameter.

I have seen too many people spend a few months here and few months there and this goes on for years and neither handler or the dog accomplishes anything due to too much varience. Dogs understand consistency. In a club environment you train your dog yourself after learning what to do for a certain exercise. A good mentor is key and consistency is the secret.

Gnash von den Sportwaffen IPO3x2, AD, HOT
Brimwylf Creasy BH, HOT

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-15-2012, 10:58 AM
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As others have said, visit several clubs at least a couple of times and be aware that the club you start with may not be the one you eventually end up with.

When I first looked into clubs I visited two. One was smaller, very welcoming, not as many titles each year and only one trial. The other was huge, lots of trials a year, many members titling, not as welcoming, though friendly, and the whole atmosphere was a bit much for me. I was not a novice in dogs, but I was just not comfortable with the latter club. I joined the former. This is the club where I got my tracking foundation and got a good introduction to SchH. We had a picnic every year, people had fun together, we trained dogs.

When I got Treue I knew I needed something different, some stuff happened in my current club with new members that I didn't agree with so I moved on. I trained on my own for almost 2 years and then I did the pay to play route for 6 years. I learned a lot about protection (some very good, some not so good), learned how to appreciate extremely strong dogs and titled two dogs. This group titled many dogs, had one or two trials a year, but was very much "my way or the highway" type of group. The atmosphere was also toxic at times. Eventually this group no longer served my purpose so I again moved on.

In 2003 I actually joined the second of the two original clubs I looked at in '92. I wanted a mixture of a serious club with the social atmosphere. I also wanted more control over my own training and the options to learn more. The club's dynamics had also changed and the people I didn't care for 11 years before were no longer there. I am still a member of this club (well, I am president and TD of the club ) and also train with a second club when I need people that can bring me their EXTREMELY experienced eyes. This works very well for me.

Be prepared to do some driving like Lies mentions.

Lisa Clark

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-15-2012, 11:06 AM Thread Starter
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I'm so glad that I am "supposed" to look for a mentor. I really need one. Aside from just bringing her out and about and some fun basics I haven't done much with rogue except let her be a puppy. I don't want to mess up and have to un train anything. I need to know what I'm supposed to be doing.


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