random thought about self preservation - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 100 (permalink) Old 10-24-2017, 08:32 AM Thread Starter
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random thought about self preservation

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?
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post #2 of 100 (permalink) Old 10-24-2017, 10:12 AM
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Car2ner, yes, i think there's such a thing as a dog having too much drive and not enough street smarts.

I've heard of police dogs (malinois) being given a ball as a reward for a find, while training in a multi-story building that was built especially for police and fire department exercises, so there was no glass in the windows, and some of the openings were right at floor level.

If the ball rolled out of one of the openings, some of the dogs would follow it - to their deaths!

Back when German shepherds were the #1 choice for Seeing Eye dogs, I remember someone asking one of the trainers why they were the best choice. The trainer responded, "If you were using say, a standard poodle as a Seeing Eye dog, and the blind person came to an excavation in the sidewalk, and told the dog to go forward, the poodle would just jump down into the excavation. A German shepherd would not. It would have the sense to protect the blind person from falling into the hole."

It's my personal belief that this is tied to the German shepherd's herding instincts, and desire to protect its flock. And I think this sort of discernment is becoming harder and harder to find in our breed.
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post #3 of 100 (permalink) Old 10-24-2017, 10:15 AM
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It?s an interesting point. And not only in the whip video posted m. IPO is a good sport and interesting to watch. it looks like they expect a home run everytime an not allowed to have an off day. I was surprised that many people who did ipo said they are not sure their dogs would protect them in real life so I could never understand this is that what the ipo sport is about trying to prove the dog is capable of protecting the owner or is the dog protecting itself or a game. I do understand the fact the dog has have enough prey /defensive drive and nerve to accomplish the protection phase in ipo. If a game then how is protection instincts tested since they put so much emphasis on this part of the sport. If just a game and the dog knew it was a just a game and not truly protecting its owner or itself why should the dog push past its self preservation instincts.

Yes as sunsilver posted I would think a degree of discernment is a good thing.


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Last edited by Jenny720; 10-24-2017 at 10:30 AM.
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post #4 of 100 (permalink) Old 10-24-2017, 10:33 AM Thread Starter
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It?s an interesting point. IPO is a good sport and interesting to watch. it looks like they expect a home run everytime an not allowed to have an off day. I was surprised that many people who did ipo said they are not sure their dogs would protect them in real life so I could never understand this is that what the ipo sport is about trying to prove the dog is capable of protecting the owner or is the dog protecting itself or a game. I do understand the fact the dog has have enough prey /defensive drive and nerve to accomplish the protection phase in ipo. If a game then how is protection instincts tested since they put so much emphasis on this part of the sport. If just a game and the dog knew it was a just a game and not truly protecting its owner or itself why should the dog push past its self preservation instincts.

Yes as sunsilver posted I would think a degree of discernment is a good thing.
An IPO dog might not protect the owner if a real danger came up. The dog learns to bite a sleeve and wait for a cue from the handler. In real life there is no bite sleeve, hits will hurt more and punches and kicks come into play. Since the dogs aren't shown, taught or practice what to do in a situation like that they get confused and run back to the handler..."tell me what to do boss, this guy isn't playing by the rules". IPO was a test that dogs in Germany went through BEFORE breeding or training for other things.
I just wonder as some people breed our dogs to look flashy in a trial, is there a trade off? And Sunsilver brought up a good point. I have also heard about dogs so ball crazy they completely loose sight of their surroundings and jump off of a ledge, out a window or break their necks crashing into a tree.
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post #5 of 100 (permalink) Old 10-24-2017, 10:44 AM
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I believe this all goes back to what Cliff has been harping on for years. If you breed a GSD specifically for ONE thing, in this case, high prey drive, so it can score well in IPO, the breed loses its balance. Dogs become good at IPO, but maybe not so good as house pets, guard dogs for the home, or medical or police service dogs.

As Cliff has often said, it used to be you could find dogs to perform all of these jobs IN THE SAME LITTER!

Some people still breed for this, but it's getting harder to find.
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post #6 of 100 (permalink) Old 10-24-2017, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by car2ner View Post
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.
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post #7 of 100 (permalink) Old 10-24-2017, 11:35 AM
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You can condition intensity into or out of a dog as well to a large extent.

Conditioning wise I use frisbee fetch games to keep my dogs in shape. When I want high intensity out of a dog I will break a fetch session into rounds with recovery breaks in the middle similar to interval training track and field runners might do. Early on rounds might be super short with long breaks in between. The dog will leave it all out there and go full speed because rounds are short. Dog is expecting a sprint not a marathon so the dog paces appropriately. Once the expectation of "sprinting" is there for the dog then I start making the round go a little longer and some a little shorter. The dog still sprints because that's what was conditioned. Over time the rounds get longer with a few overly short ones thrown in to keep him from catching on. The general trend is rounds get longer and longer but it happens in a creeping way so that the dog doesn't notice. As his endurance builds next thing you know he's running sprint pace for long periods of time. Periods of time where if we started the rounds that long to begin with he'd have never chosen that pace or intensity to start with.

If I want slower longer paces I can throw the frisbee slower and higher and jog the dog under it as he's slowing to keep pace to catch. If I want faster I can throw it level with the ground and he's gotta blast out there to catch it before it hits the ground.

I can control pace and play with round or recovery length to condition my dog the way I want. During breaks I can use things like pools to insure safety and prevent overheating even in warmer weather. I watch closely and manage my dogs conditioning exactly like a track and field coach will watch his atheletes. I push, I build the dog, but ultimately I'm responsible for his safety.

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post #8 of 100 (permalink) Old 10-24-2017, 11:37 AM
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I may be wrong, but I suppose police and military who use and depend on k9s basically expect those dogs to die in the line of duty if it comes to that. I can't imagine anybody would want either of those two types of dogs to be thinking of self preservation.

Not saying they WANT their dogs to die in the line of duty because I am sure none of them do and they would all try to backup their dog however they could. But if the worst thing happens no officer wants his dog to think "I can't win this fight, you're on your own dude"

For basically everyone else then yes I agree, I prefer a dog with more common sense. But even my old male GSD x who had more self preservation and more street smarts than any other dog I have ever known chased game back and collapsed from the heat. He wasn't particularly sensitive to heat either. To be fair it was probably not the actual chase that did him in, but running all the way back to me afterward in the FL heat. THEN he got e collar trained and that was that. in basically every other circumstance that dog was always very smart about his own safety. And he had lived as a stray for quite some time so if he had no sense he probably would not have survived.
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post #9 of 100 (permalink) Old 10-24-2017, 12:51 PM
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there are many things physically which could have contributed to this .

Heart problem?

Metabolic problem , exercise induced collapse

the dog could have had an embolism

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post #10 of 100 (permalink) Old 10-24-2017, 01:01 PM
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Of course self preservation being a different story in military and police dogs which can cost a life. I still imagine some may have off days. interesting how different a job from say a gsd leading the blind where some judgment is needed on the part of the dog which In turn saving the handlers life.
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