Should I try Sch? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-22-2012, 09:16 PM Thread Starter
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Should I try Sch?

Hello everyone. I'm still pretty new here; signed up a few days ago and have just been reading. Thor is not only my first GSD, but my first dog that I have 100% responsibility for, now that I have my own house and whatnot. He is currently between 7 and 8 months; around 65 lbs. He's not a full GSD, but his DNA test shows traces of Great Pyrenees on one side of his parents (not sure how far back, but I'd say less than 15% of him is Pyr).

We rescued him (a stray) about 4 months ago, and enrolled him in a Puppy course at Petsmart the first week we had him. He passed that course, and has his test this Sunday for his Intermediate course. I'm debating if I want to try him for his puppy CGC, or just wait a few more months and get his CGC, but also trying to decide what kind of job is right for him. OB is going great, and only has a problem with a lot of distractions. He rarely pulls anymore (pinch collar did wonders to stop this), and we are getting better at heeling on leash (not so good off leash). Sit, Down, Stand (stays with all of these too), come (recall), watch me, wait, swing, around, park it, and touch are pretty much what he knows so far, and he is definitely food motivated. Food time is training time...heck, he will even work for his preventative heartworm pill.

With his intermediate class coming to an end this Sunday, I am trying to decide what to do next. I could go on to the advanced track, but the trainer we work with (who is wonderful to say the least) is big on agility (she does agility with her border collies) is pretty much what she teaches in her advanced classes. I really want to work more in OB (he can do 2 minute in-sight down/stay, and 1 minute out of site down/stay, and getting better at longer--and commands at a distance are also getting much better). I also want to do tracking (or trailing) with him. Since OB and Tracking are two of the three parts of Sch, should I just give Sch a chance? I don't have a "want" to teach him Protection, and it would be more of a plus. There is a local trainer here in Central KY that will be evaluating Thor in the coming weeks, but what are some traits to look for in deciding a job for your dog? Is ~8 months too early to start in Sch? Should I start in Tracking first (and how do you start in tracking)?

My goal is to be able to go out to a field, or the lake or something...let him off leash, and have fun with him. Tracking being the wanted goal here.

I have no idea where to go from here! Thoughts?

EDIT: I should also mention that if I did train in Sch, and join a local would purely be for fun. Not competition. I would love to get some titles for Thor, but since I am not really looking to compete (and this might change once I get into it) I was thinking that maybe AKC Tracking might be a good start. Just the idea of Sch containing 2 of the things I want to work on, seems like something I should be looking into. I think I would much rather having him trained in SAR and be able to volunteer in disaster scenarios, would be much cooler than competing. I want to have fun and give him a real sense of purpose.

Last edited by tycoonbob; 10-22-2012 at 09:22 PM.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-22-2012, 09:32 PM
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Check out the trainer...or go to a couple of clubs in your area(2 hour drive is usually an 'area!) have him evaluated.

As far as tracking, buy a bundle of surveyors flags and put one in the ground, stomp out a 3x3 area(scentpad) and toss some treats or his dinner in that area, give it about 1/2 hour to age. Give him a search/"such" command and then let him search out the food, but pull him off before he gets all of it. He'll learn scent discrimination(crushed vegetation) and searching for food reward(you'll want him to stay in the crushed area box and not wander out to search for more).
His line placed under his leg will naturally keep some tension on the line to keep his head down. Pulling him off will build drive for the next time. Crate him after this for a bit so he can process what he just did.

After you do this a few times you can do straight tracks: stomp several paces to a flag, do a scentpad with food, then footstep(heal to toe) with food in every footstep for about 20 paces. 3 of those straight ones and the last one have a jackpot of food and praise him highly so he knows he found it. Crating or downtime after these sessions is important/dogs learn while they are processing what they just did. - Tracking

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-23-2012, 11:49 AM
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Your dog is the right age to be evaluated for SchH. I would go visit a couple of clubs and see if this is something you might like to do. Then I would have you dog evaluated, maybe get some pointers about how to start him in tracking, obedience, etc.

This is an article I wrote for my club's site that you might want to read:

To start in tracking I usually make a small scent box (for your dog 3X3 works). I put a flag in the bottom left corner and then stamp out and area putting around 12 pieces of food in the box. I take the pup/dog to the box use a piece of food in my hand to draw them to the box, put it in the box and then let them work. You need either a hungry dog or a dog who would eat until it was sick (I prefer the latter). Once the dog starts searching I have them on a loose line and try not to influence them at all except if they attempt to venture more than a few feet from the box. The line goes directly to their collar and not under their legs. I am laying the ground work for the future and don't want any influence from me or the line at this point. When the dog is finding the food I might praise softly, but for the most part I leave them alone to work. When they have found most, but not all of the food and are still actively searching I will pull them off of the box and head to the next one. I usually do three. Once they are showing a good understanding that the food is only found in the area that has ground disturbance then I move on to tracks.

I like Gary Patterson's "Tracking: From the beginning".

IMO you can use a SchH foundation in tracking for AKC tracking also. Even if you end up not doing SchH this won't hurt any future tracking you do.

Lisa Clark

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-23-2012, 12:08 PM
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Yeah go and get your dog evaluated...depending on how much Great Pyrenees is in there he might not have all the drive necessary to do SchH but you never know. Also many clubs will let you do just 2 portions of the training and not do the protection work if you don't want to. There are lots of books on tracking, and lots of different ways to teach it. You can find many of the methods on this website. Would be nice to work with someone that knows what they're doing though as they would be able to really let you know if your dog is doing it well, doing it wrong, should be corrected, or needs more work in x or y or whatever.

As for the going out into a field off leash...this comes with age and a good recall. I'd be surprised if with GSD and GP in there the dog would really ever wander too far, but you do want to be able to call him back to you whenever you need to. In theory, tracking would actually hinder this as he could possibly get on a scent and keep going without listening (happens with hunting dogs) but as long as "search" is a command he shouldn't just randomly start going off and looking for things.

I've let my dog off leash since he was 8 months old or so...never anywhere near a street but he never really went far away from me. 50 feet at most and even then I could call him and he'll come running back to me. Once you get him doing that, feel free to find areas to go off lead. Again, I'd never do this even within 100 yards of a street, just because all it takes is something to catch his eye, but its not something that is very difficult to do without a Schutzhund level of training.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-23-2012, 12:47 PM
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Read the article that lhczth posted in her thread ... I was quite interested in sch until I realized just HOW much work was involved. That stopped me dead in my tracks ... Good luck with your decision, and have fun if you do it!
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-23-2012, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for your tips.

I have glanced over that article, and I see where it is going (I will read it thoroughly tonight) and I do understand there is a lot of work involved. The fact that Protection work is not something I have a strong desire to do with him (and maybe he doesn't even have the desire), I am trying to figure out if I should even bother with Sch versus doing AKC Tracking. However, the more I read the differences between Sch Tracking and AKC Tracking, I think AKC is something I am more interested in. Obedience training never stops, so regardless of what job he gets, he will be doing Obedience training. CGC is our first goal in the next 2-3 months (puppy CGC actually, since he is under a year).

I found a club last night, Jefferson County Search Dog Association, and have contacted them for some information. They are more of a volunteer SAR group, with weekly training. I am still going to have Thor evaluated by the Sch trainer I found, since they also do training from beginner and advanced OB (CD, CDX, UD, OTCh) to Protection, to Schutzhund. They also do AKC Competition training (Conformation, OB, Tracking, and Field Trials) so I think that regardless of what we choose, this training facility will be a great place to start.

As far as the off leash in a field...we are also working with Thor on OB. His recall is pretty good, and we are getting better with distractions. In the front yard on a 35 foot rope, he no longer chases cars, other animals, etc...but they still get his attention (we live in a rural subdivision). Off leash obedience is definitely a want, and is right up there with Tracking/Trailing.

Thanks again for the advice. I am definitely going to read that article better about Sch/IPO, and going to find a copy of "Tracking: From the beginning" and see what I can do to get started. That evaluation is definitely going to happen too.

For what it's worth, here is the training facility I am talking about:
ARTC Goshen Kentucky dog boarding grooming daycare training East Louisville,Lagrange,Prospect,Buckner,Springhurst,C restwood,Norton Commons,Kentucky

The owner is based our of Frankfort, KY but they have a facility in Goshen, KY (just north of Louisville). Ever heard of them or see anything you don't like from their website?

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