I have recently read an article about conditioning our k9 athletes. It told the story of a dog that came onto the field and hit the decoy like a bullet out of a gun. The dog did everything right and was allowed a second bite, just as exciting as the first. But on the way off the field the dog nearly passed out and died of over heating.
This dog must have crazy drive. Fascinating to watch perform but does he have no sense of self preservation? My long haired WGSL barely wants to do obedience when the humidity gets high. Actually that is pretty smart. He's not going to die of working too hard in the heat unless I push him too much. Are we breeding some of those smarts out of our dogs in favor of drive?
And after watching the video in the thread "too much whip" and seeing those dogs dodge the decoy I couldn't help but think "that is the smart thing to do". If a stranger came at me with a flying baton I think I'd back up and rethink the situation, too. Of course it is exciting to see a dog drive right past the threat and grab the sleeve but it that a sign of bravery in a dog or a lack of street smarts? Of course the IPO dogs, once they break the routine usually go back to the handler. They know that is a safe place. PP dogs are taught to duck and reengage and grab the arm with the weapon.
So the random thought it, in favor of drive and excitement and speed in our protection sports, are we really destroying some of the sense of self preservation and intelligence our dogs really need to have?
I'm going to take a broader view here, please bear with me.
A working dog and a human exist in partnership
The dog should have the drive, the skill, the athleticism, the stamina, the nerve, the brain, to do what is asked, to the best of its ability. Otherwise, it isn't really a useful working dog.
The human needs to think and make choices about how to use the dog. The handler is in charge of assessing the risk level, and the dog has to trust the handler. Trust is mutual and trust is earned.
The human won't ask the dog to run too hard or too far in terrible heat, and afterward, the human provides water and cools down the dog that has worked hard. The human won't ask the dog to run down a bear, the human decides to call the dog off. The human won't ask the dog to give chase and run headfirst into a busy road, the human has to choose what risks are acceptable.
My BIL's hunting dog would hunt until she became physically incapable of going further. Extremely keen puppies are usually caught/picked up after a short lesson and calmly removed from livestock, they have so much drive and desire they could easily overwork themselves. These are useful dogs, working dogs, intelligent dogs. It's up to the handler to decide when to start and when to stop.
The working dog exists to support the endeavors of the handler.... otherwise, why use a dog?
When the human asks their own dog to do a trained task, under reasonable conditions, I'd consider it a fair test for a dog. Isn't that the point of any trial? Demonstrating ability to do a task for which the dog is trained.