Begining bitework questions - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-08-2015, 03:56 PM Thread Starter
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Begining bitework questions

Hi guys, I have a 6 month old german shepherd from working lines, and I wanted to get him involved in IPO. Here is the thing: he will not hold onto the tug. I stopped bitework when he was teething, after his adult teeth grew in I started working him again. He has been on the rag and has had a nice, calm, full, firm grip on it. I moved him up to a tug, but he will not hold onto it the same way he holds onto the rag.
This is the first dog I have had that I am looking to compete with, so this is new for me (I have only had personal protection dogs worked in defence) so I need some guidence. I know joining a club will help but I am moving out of state at the end of the month so I was going to wait until then. For now, I have been working him by myself.
It has been bothering me though, my lab that I had held on better than this shepherd. I need all the advice I can get, I'm wondering if his drive will come out better when he is older, or if I should just stick to obedience and tracking.
I thank all of you in advance for your help and taking the time to read this.

Last edited by maureen_mickel; 01-08-2015 at 04:01 PM.
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-08-2015, 05:03 PM
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what is the tug made of? Burlap, suede, leather are sometimes too slippery and dogs don't like that texture. I'd get a two handle synthetic tug and see if he will grip that. Ball on string isn't getting it either? How are you 'working' him?
Usually a 6 month old is still teething....have you looked to be sure all the teeth are in alignment and baby teeth are out?

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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-08-2015, 05:25 PM
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This is usually due to some sort of conflict between you and the dog. So without seeing you work with the dog and seeing your daily interactions it's really hard to give that much advice. A 6 month old really wouldn't be able to tug that hard in the first place...its a young dog, and it knows that it probably won't beat you anyways so it just lets go. The dog still needs confidence building and it's really tough to do that by yourself.

Your dog probably doesn't have over the top prey drive...is probably a bit more defensive if it's coming off the tug like that, so it will take someone else to really tap into and develop the dog's prey drive without causing more conflict between you and the dog.

I would just stop working the dog...you can do a lot more harm right now than good. You don't want to have to go back and fix things later, and you don't even know if you'll have a helper/trainer wherever you'll be that will be able to fix the issues you might cause also.
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-08-2015, 05:27 PM
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tug causes conflict? Don't tell Karlo that, lol It is his favorite game/at 6 months he won alot!

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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-08-2015, 05:39 PM
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tug causes conflict? Don't tell Karlo that, lol It is his favorite game/at 6 months he won alot!
If done improperly...I've seen how tug can cause a lot of conflict between handler and dog. Dog is fine on a flirt pole (disconnected from handler) but the moment it's closer to the handler or the handler has their hands on the dog, dog drops the tug. It's conflict.

It's usually not the "act of playing tug" and most times the other stuff that occurs around the house that causes the conflict. If the dog doesn't have the natural high prey drive to keep hold of the tug and actually fight for it, you can really cause some issues.

I can even see this in my own dog...he "respects" me a lot more than a helper. He will play/tug with a helper harder than he will with me. This is partially due to me not knowing what I was doing when he was younger and having to change the way I play with him later on in life.

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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-08-2015, 05:44 PM
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I would stop working your dog for now and wait until you can start up with a club. It may be conflict or it may just be that he isn't ready. 6 months old is very young. Don't be in a hurry.

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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-08-2015, 06:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice guys,

My gsd (Griffin) is usually crated or on a "climb" if I'm not training him-he only gets toys through training. I feel like his genetics are a part of it (though I can be influencing it of coarse) , his half siblings have had issues holding on to rags/tugs, though they have gone on to doing k9 work and competing. Should I stop using the tug as a reward too and just use a ball? Whenever we play I try not to put too much pressure on him (eye contact, looming over) I also let him knock me down if he triespecially too, and let him win it when I fix his bite. I try to keep sessions short and happy and with him still wanting the tug. I'll try to get a video up on how I work him later on tonight

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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-08-2015, 06:12 PM
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It's hard to say without watching a dog work. This isn't always about age. Some dogs, even at a young age, need pressure and like a little bit of fight. It pisses them off and they get more serious. Like I said earlier...as a handler, you shouldn't be putting yourself in the position of a helper ESPECIALLY if you're not actually a knowledgeable helper lol. My helper, won't work his own dog, it causes conflict and it depends on the dog if it affects them or not. He knows it would affect his dog, so he doesn't do it.

This being your first competition dog...you really don't want to make any mistakes by trying to rush your dog.
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-08-2015, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by lhczth View Post
I would stop working your dog for now and wait until you can start up with a club. It may be conflict or it may just be that he isn't ready. 6 months old is very young. Don't be in a hurry.
This.

and a good helper can bring a lot out of your dog. Find a club.




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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 01-08-2015, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
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Right better safe than sorry....I think I'll wait then. I have had some experience with it in the certification program, but not nearly enough in protection. For obedience rewards, I use a magnet ball on a rope. He is crazy for it. In your opinion, do you believe that this will also effect bitework? I try his building confidence with this toy (he tugs on it and I fall over, act like it's effecting me alot lol!)

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