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Discussion Starter #21
One last thing, I really admire Debbie Zappa for taking the stance se has taken. It’s amazing the crickets you hear from people involved in sport on this subject, yet here is a person who got to the top of the pinnacle of sport, looked down and did not like what she was seeing and is making an effort to change some things. It’s bigger than tools, or training methods, or political climate of country, or personal likes, or breeding so everyone can own a GS, it’s about restoring the breed to the integrity of its inheritance, which probably decreases its popularity, and maybe makes the breed not a good fit for everyone cause they like their looks, and enables breeders to become true stewards of the breed.
 

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I understand what your are saying. A focused heel doesn't tell you anything about a dog's confidence or ability to work in a real life venue. It might tell you something about their food or prey drive, or the skill of the handler. Grips sometimes tell you something about a dog, but a dog lacking huge, calm grips could be an exceptional police dog. Going back to the original topic and video of Debbie and Jerry on American schutzhund, I only watched a little, but wonder if they plan to incorporate enough environmental challenges to assess a dog's confidence and nerves. I think people are seeing what you see. The question is if profit is too much of a driving factor and if people will put aside self interests for the betterment of the breed.
 

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Cliff's statement is such an accurate and concise assessment of where we are today. Thank goodness there are a handful of breeders who still understand the concept of balance and do their best to preserve all the drive/temperament characteristics that create a dog that can and will love to work with the handler, possesses natural aggression that it will not turn on the handler and also the drives necessary to create a natural tracker that serves real world needs (LE, SAR, etc). I also disagree with a statement above that a strong dog must be pushed backward into defense to develop fight on the field. A correctly bred dog has appropriate natural aggression that is forward in use--the dog brings the fight to the helper--not the other way around. It should also have a clarity in thinking that allows the dog to respond with that aggression only when appropriate. Dogs with these characteristics are a joy to work with and are relatively easy to train because of their strong desire to please their handler. Perhaps the development of a test/trial system that focuses on the traits the dogs were originally bred for will encourage an expansion of breeding practices that will return us from the brink.
 

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...I also disagree with a statement above that a strong dog must be pushed backward into defense to develop fight on the field. A correctly bred dog has appropriate natural aggression that is forward in use--the dog brings the fight to the helper--not the other way around. It should also have a clarity in thinking that allows the dog to respond with that aggression only when appropriate. Dogs with these characteristics are a joy to work with and are relatively easy to train because of their strong desire to please their handler. Perhaps the development of a test/trial system that focuses on the traits the dogs were originally bred for will encourage an expansion of breeding practices that will return us from the brink.

I'm not sure which post you were referring to where you wrote someone stated that a dog must be pushed backward into defense to develop fight on the field. If it was something I posted, you misunderstood. My view is that some dogs are genetically more defensive. That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the dog's thresholds, nerves, training, etc. My point was that a dog that tends to bring defensive aggression during bite work, without being "pushed" into it, has to learn how to turn off whatever the catalyst is that is creating the stress. The dog learns to do that by learning how to fight the decoy and display the behavior you want to see. For me, it is pushing forward with the bite and using the feet to engage the decoy rather than trying to push off of the bite. What do you mean by natural aggression? For me, I am referring to defensive aggression that is genetic in nature and defensive aggression is essentially fear and stress. If there is no stress, there is no room for the dog to grow and overcome the stress and the biting is just a game. I agree that a dog should be clear headed and prefer a dog with a higher threshold for defense, but if there is no edge there, the dog is primarily working in prey. Some breeds, like Malinois have such a high level of prey they can more easily/less stressfully develop fight without being defensive, but typically, a good GSD does not come with that drive package. That brings up the issue of the emphasis of barking in schutzhund. The B&H is a big part of the protection phase. Barking can tell you something about a dog, but it is still only barking. The idea of the B&H in schutzhund is for the dog to hold the helper with his bark rather than his bite and show some fight/defense rather than prey, but I don't think that is what happens. The dog knows he is never going to be hurt in the blind, and the whip is used so much to get a bark, that I think it is often not really reflective of a dog's drive state. So I would get rid of the B&H entirely.
I will add that with my current dog, the decoy has done very little to get my dog to bite in prey and very little to get my dog to bite in defense. He is not using active prey movements or agitating the dog to elicit aggression. This approach is different from the typical schutzhund bite work training I am used to.
 

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I would probably like it better if they had stuck to article searches and stayed away from detection work which can be very specialized. Using pseudos can also present issues. I understand they are saying that finding land for tracking is getting difficult. Maybe urban or something like the AKC's VST would have been a better alternative that isn't so specialized.

I am not thrilled with the call off. I am an old SchH person, a call off was never part of the test and, IMO, could become an issue with a sport involving a sleeve. Do the old style courage test. That is all that is needed.

The connection with PSA seems to be a turn off for some people. I do not know why, but just what I have read from others. The environmental testing in the BH will probably discourage a lot of people as will having to start all over with a BH in already titled dogs. Maybe a grandfathering in for a few years might be more welcoming.



I was excited when I first heard about it because I am so discouraged by the Euro politics destroying everything (no sticks hits at the FCI Worlds this year), but we shall see how it goes. It is not old SchH.
 

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I don't know if defensive aggression is the right term. Or maybe it is for you but defense is reactive. It doesn't really belong in Schutzhund and dogs generally don't do well if they are defensive . You might be able to make a personal protection dog with that though.
Perhaps you mean active aggression. Active or social aggression is the core of the protective instinct. It's how the dog starts the fight with a helper. Not where the helper starts it and then determines everything the dog will do. It should be the other way around, where the dog dictates what the helper does.

As for the rest, I'm kind of in line with what Lisa said. Schutzhund was about looking for the traits in the breed that allowed them to do many jobs. It wasn't specifically police. I'm not particularly comfortable with who the judges might be. Of course, I have no idea who they might be but I would hope it's somebody with dog knowledge who doesn't need to see the dog doing every specific task in order to determine if it's a good dog.
I think most people now think you train just about everything that happens in protection work versus bringing out what is natural in the dog. Much of it is achieved through avoidance behavior and I'm sorry, that is not fight drive. The fight happens in front of the helper, where the dogs see the stick and feels the stick/threat and does not try to retreat to the back of the helper. Do some dogs try to stop the helper on the escape? Well yes of course. And they can pull back to a degree in the front as well but it isn't trained by pulling their fur or hitting them in the legs etc. It comes through active aggression and fight drive that a skilled helper knows how to bring out of the dog. And it doesn't look like what we are seeing now that everybody cheers about and calls fight drive.
It's just been so turned on its head. Just like what happened with the show dogs, where people would look at a dog and say "no that's not correct structure" and the show crowd would lose their minds and scream and yell at them for pointing out the deformities in the dogs.
I think the biggest challenge will be overcoming the mentality that exists now. It's a mentality that the big dog organizations have worked very hard to attract.
 

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It’s interesting the changes over the years in SCH. When I was first introduced to the sport/tests the final result at SCH III was a very capable yet very well composed dog. He could be taken in public, could accept reactive dogs nearby, was not distracted by virtually anything. Assuming a decent X ray and good health, very breed acceptable. Also a good prospect for law enforcement.

The fight drive was very real. It took only a few sessions to teach the dog various requirements for law enforcement. Very capable dark alley fighters.

Today that’s not the case. Most of the K-9 units dot take SCH sport dogs as their real take it the adversary drive is not there.

I’ve watched from the sidelines some LE dogs being trained and even the training is not like it used to be. They aren’t really bringing out the real hard core fight that was done in my day. Many dogs just don’t have the nerves and mental capability for this work. It takes skill from the helper to bring this out and even that is lacking. There is a lot of macho/macha in the protection helpers. That was forcefully pounded out of me in my personal training. I was taught to work the dog not feed my ego. I had to watch over the helper’s back then I was quizzed on what I saw before I ever got to put a sleeve on.

As for tracking, once I learned how to lay tracks and keep a mental picture of natural markers, we tracked nearly everyday. My dog loved tracking. I would lay tracks in the mornings on the way to work then run then when I got home. There were many mile or more tracks in all weather even before the SCH III title. What I lacked was good information on what the judges wanted. At that time a slow methodical track with a perfect indication at each article was desired. Downing sideways or too far from the article were point deductions. Air scenting was bad news. It took extra trading to fix this but the dog never failed a track. Later on we lots of search for suspect with LE certifications.

There is a lot of correct form in tracking now and that’s ok, I don’t like forced tracking, I like the dog to really want to work and have what we call “fun”. I like to think the dog gets satisfaction that he can do sometime us hu-mans can’t do. The more difficult the test, the more the dog enjoys it.

Obedience. Making this sport a three part test is great. Again I like the dog to enter this with enthusiasm. I like an anamated dog not a tail dragger. It takes skill on the handler to walk a straight line and make turns the dog can follow. Crisp clear commands are a plus with quick action on the dog’s part. I don’t like a lit of high stepping unnatural arm swinging. Walk naturally as you would down the street. Yet crisp performance of commands. This is competition stuff here.

Today since I no longer compete, I do everything “street wise”. My Aussie operates without any verbal commands for many things. I do use hand and voice commands when people are around mostly to “show off” that my dog is well trained compared to their reactive mutt. People and street dogs have changed. Lots of irresponsible people and untrained dogs. I just didn’t see this 25-30 years ago.

So yes, the sport has changed. I think a lot has to do with making it easier to train, less “drivey” dogs, more event trained dogs. The result is breeders creating dogs that are easier to train. This means that more people can enter the sport easier and with less time out of their busy schedule.
 

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As always, Anne's (Vandal) post is so much clearer than mine re active aggression--a reflection of her experience. Thank you for yet again taking the time.
 

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. A lot also depends on the balance of a dog's prey and defense. IPO really only needs and tests for prey IMO. A dog that is more on the defensive side is more challenging to train and often doesn't match up well for the sport of IPO, so you end up losing dogs being bred for some defensive aggression. Defensive aggression involves fear and stress and the dog has to be taught what he needs to do to work through those feelings and IPO doesn't provide for that and there is a woeful lack of decoys who know how to teach a dog how to work through the stress of a dog that tends to be more defensive. Correctly done and with the right kind of defensive aggression, you can end up with a very serious dog who is truly a man stopper.
I think the the whole culture of the phrase "defense" is probably the most misunderstood and controversial in this sport. When pushed, people who use this phrase fall back on "fight or flight"....which IS defense. You hear old timers and judges and helpers talking about running dogs off the field. That is a dog who does not have power - although his work at a trial mimics it. Because of training.

I have seen many dogs whose owners want them pushed into "defense" to present a more powerful picture. I have seen it work, and I have seen dogs totally broken. Some of the long time trainers still are known to do this. They generally have dogs who do not work "OUT" of defense but show power - some call it defense. Then there are prey dogs whose "power" is high prey for a reward....thus our training has evolved. I have had a few of those dogs - and those dogs have gone on and produced some very very nice, highly accomplished sport titles at high levels. I don't really have those lines now.....just due to circumstances.


What is NOT "defense" is a strong dog who looks for the opportunity to confront, challenge and dominate the helper. For enjoyment and to fulfill his own desire to dominate the confrontation. I own one (actually 2) of those dogs. I have owned several of those - and they have been females in the past...but produced it in males as well. The key is the strong, powerful females.

I have been absolutely fantastically lucky to have started out with dogs who do not need "defense" triggered. Early on, several judges and several experienced K9 trainers explained and discussed this with me over a couple of my past dogs. They have worked in true social/civil aggression. I have a male who is powerful, loves to work, and truely has a balance of prey/ball/toy drive and true social/civil aggression. Another poster on this thread has one the same way - that dog made big helpers cautious!!! LOL LOL! His sire was from a female line that is the foundation of a well known Czech kennel line. His dam my own breeding. She was called a "genetic treasure" by Herr Scheld at her koer. Her son was called "WOW" after the work for koer - the judge asking me if I knew what I had, how good the dog was and thenthe koermeister telling the helper that the dog was one of the strongest he has seen in the US. Helpers working him once tell me to take him to Nationals. The dog has it all. Once you see a dog with this type of power, true aggression and power in the work....you will see the difference between "defense" from fear and aggression from confidence and power. Breeders are missing out on a dog like this, which is needed, in favor of sport dogs who get run off the field!


Lee
 

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I don't know if defensive aggression is the right term. Or maybe it is for you but defense is reactive. It doesn't really belong in Schutzhund and dogs generally don't do well if they are defensive . You might be able to make a personal protection dog with that though.
Perhaps you mean active aggression. Active or social aggression is the core of the protective instinct. It's how the dog starts the fight with a helper. Not where the helper starts it and then determines everything the dog will do. It should be the other way around, where the dog dictates what the helper does...

I think many would agree that the jargon used to discuss aggression, drives, etc. in dogs is not known for its congruence. Also, I believe drives/behaviors overlap and the constructs we use to describe a dog's behavior have limitations and we can only speculate based on experience, what a dog is feeling, which would reflect his drive states. When I was referring to my dog, I can see why the term defensive aggression is not fully accurate and there could be an element of active aggression, since the dog is not being threatened and shows no avoidance, outs quickly and is forward. Just to muddy the water, Winkler uses the term active defensive aggression. He says it is a reactive form of aggression, because all defensive aggression is reactive, but is strong, powerful and stems from confidence in the dog. But he kind of contradicts himself when he says defensive aggression is always triggered by worry and then says with active defensive aggression, "offense is the best defense." He also sees social aggression as a very specific trait where a dog with true social aggression will bite anyone outside of his pack because they are outside the pack and defensive aggression is not part of social aggression. That doesn't describe my dog. He is generally social. For a while, I thought he might end up being the type of dog you could take out of his crate and walk away with, but with maturity, that is not the case at all. I do think the dog is starting the fight with the helper because, as I said, the decoy is not agitating the dog in any way, and if I out him, he stares the decoy in the eyes and is eager to reengage. What I see on the bicep bite is a combination of frustration, anger and some stress, which is fading, because the dog is young and has not fully learned what to do during the fight. His grips are very full, hard and don't shift, which tells me there is confidence behind them and I see improvement with each session, so the dog is working through any uncertainty he might be experiencing. Also, a properly socialized dog tends to have some natural inhibition to bite a human because people are seen as sort of an adoptive relative. Once the taboo of biting is overcome via training, that uncertainty goes away and becomes a behavior the dog looks forward to voluntarily do, rather than feeling he has to do it out of self preservation. The self defense is more of a purer form of defensive aggression, and that is not what I am seeing.
 

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Discussion Starter #31 (Edited)
I think many would agree that the jargon used to discuss aggression, drives, etc. in dogs is not known for its congruence. Also, I believe drives/behaviors overlap and the constructs we use to describe a dog's behavior have limitations and we can only speculate based on experience, what a dog is feeling, which would reflect his drive states. When I was referring to my dog, I can see why the term defensive aggression is not fully accurate and there could be an element of active aggression, since the dog is not being threatened and shows no avoidance, outs quickly and is forward. Just to muddy the water, Winkler uses the term active defensive aggression. He says it is a reactive form of aggression, because all defensive aggression is reactive, but is strong, powerful and stems from confidence in the dog. But he kind of contradicts himself when he says defensive aggression is always triggered by worry and then says with active defensive aggression, "offense is the best defense." He also sees social aggression as a very specific trait where a dog with true social aggression will bite anyone outside of his pack because they are outside the pack and defensive aggression is not part of social aggression. That doesn't describe my dog. He is generally social. For a while, I thought he might end up being the type of dog you could take out of his crate and walk away with, but with maturity, that is not the case at all. I do think the dog is starting the fight with the helper because, as I said, the decoy is not agitating the dog in any way, and if I out him, he stares the decoy in the eyes and is eager to reengage. What I see on the bicep bite is a combination of frustration, anger and some stress, which is fading, because the dog is young and has not fully learned what to do during the fight. His grips are very full, hard and don't shift, which tells me there is confidence behind them and I see improvement with each session, so the dog is working through any uncertainty he might be experiencing. Also, a properly socialized dog tends to have some natural inhibition to bite a human because people are seen as sort of an adoptive relative. Once the taboo of biting is overcome via training, that uncertainty goes away and becomes a behavior the dog looks forward to voluntarily do, rather than feeling he has to do it out of self preservation. The self defense is more of a purer form of defensive aggression, and that is not what I am seeing.
Chip, food for thought,.....Some of the great champions in sports relate to us that they always have butterflies ( a sign of stress or worry) before their event. Other champions relate they are cool as the other side of the pillow befor an event.
Should we look critically at the butterfly CHAMPIONS. Should we try to make him calm internally before the event. Or should we accept that excellent performance can come from many different bases or foundations, and sometimes labeling leads to overreaching or over training for performance, and eventually a decline. Just food for thought.
 

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You haven't trained for real life until you have trained scared. That is something Ive been told and believe. Scared doesn't have to be for your life for real. It could be competition anxiety. The endorphins are similar. Dog probably picks up on it too. Even other people can smell fear and/or anxiety on other people. I'd dare to say a dog that keeps it together and gets it down while his handler is jelly in front of a crowd speaks well of the dog's genetic foundation.

One thing I like about my dog is he blows off my mistakes. And I have made a lot of them. His protection and OB during protection is really REALLY good. And while his engagement with me is good, for the regular OB he is crooked, he has zero ass end awareness on the field and in life. It's all my fault and inexperience. But when I get the experience and do apply it he goes with it and forgets yesterday. For instance...I tried teaching him dumbells by ....modelling the behavior. And it somewhat worked? Well we are trying it properly now. Maybe I work from home too much.
 

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You make a good point Cliff. I always got butterflies when I played sports and it was a combination of excitement and a little stress, which quickly faded once the game began and added adrenaline to help my performance. I'm not sure what you mean by overtraining based on labeling. I am not intervening when my dog is vocal on the bite, because his grips and other behaviors tell me he is not overly stressed. He also has some anger when biting. It is just a matter of repetition, reinforcing a pushing bite, and letting the dog figure it out by gaining experience and more confidence with maturity. This dog clearly enjoys the fight.
 

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CometDog,
A good way to clean up crooked heeling, static heel position and poor ass end awareness is to use food with your dog in a sit facing you. With the leash in your right hand and about a foot away from the collar on the leash, and multiple pieces of food in your left hand, call the dog to heel while pulling the leash to the right creating opposition reflex. Keep a constant pressure and not a correction.This should trigger the dog to pull and flip into heel. Only reward correct position and continue to adjust the opposition reflex to get the dog in the correct position rather than you moving so that the dog is correct. Once that is down, work on quarter pivots to the left. Do a ton of this until the dog becomes solid. You can later go to a ball on a string and free the dog for correct position by tossing the ball to the left to prevent the dog from starting to forge when heeling. Food is best to start because you can use continuous reinforcement without stopping the exercise. As the dog improves, use opposition reflex from various angles, take a sidestep to the right and command heel, a step back, a step forward, etc.
 

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CometDog,
A good way to clean up crooked heeling, static heel position and poor ass end awareness is to use food with your dog in a sit facing you. With the leash in your right hand and about a foot away from the collar on the leash, and multiple pieces of food in your left hand, call the dog to heel while pulling the leash to the right creating opposition reflex. Keep a constant pressure and not a correction.This should trigger the dog to pull and flip into heel. Only reward correct position and continue to adjust the opposition reflex to get the dog in the correct position rather than you moving so that the dog is correct. Once that is down, work on quarter pivots to the left. Do a ton of this until the dog becomes solid. You can later go to a ball on a string and free the dog for correct position by tossing the ball to the left to prevent the dog from starting to forge when heeling. Food is best to start because you can use continuous reinforcement without stopping the exercise. As the dog improves, use opposition reflex from various angles, take a sidestep to the right and command heel, a step back, a step forward, etc.
Thank you! We did just go back to food for some things. I am going to try the leash technique you describe. We tried a bowl with his huge body and 95lbs. It reminded me of the scene in Harry and The Hendersons where they taught Bigfoot to sit and he was collapsing all the furniture. The rubber bowls kept caving lol

A lot of the problem admittedly is I did not care if he was a little crooked. I should have cared. We will continue to work on it though for sure.

I see American Schutzhund has a Beginning Detection Work event I would love to try in May. Our IGP Tracking is still a work in progress though. I dont want to confuse him any more than I already have in life. But, being a realist in hobby it really does appeal to me more than footstep tracking. His sire was a prolific tracker/trailer. He definitely got his sire's nose for it.
 

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I don't know anything about your dog Chip. I simply stated that perhaps you were using the wrong term.
As for social aggression, I've owned dogs like Armin talks about in his descriptions. However, social aggression is not an all or nothing. Dogs have it to varying degrees, although I will say the dogs nowadays, have much less of it. It's more a combination of high prey drive and a little weakness in the nerves that I see more often now. Yes, there are still decent dogs but they are different dogs than what we saw years ago. Of course, all the people who have done it five years say those dogs were no good. They were fortunate those dogs existed and the sport operated the way it did. Because otherwise, there would be nothing left at all.
We're headed there. Again, we are on the same trajectory as the show dogs. In another 10 years we can see where it's at unless some major intervention takes place and more people actually learn about the dogs themselves and what drives they should be working in during protection work. Oh and maybe what actual obedience is. Because right now it's more like a series of tricks achieved with electric collars. When you see an activity dominated by one device, also used to stimulate dogs in protection work… It makes you wonder if any type of sport could change where we are headed.
 

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Anne,
I agree that I was probably using the wrong term and that active aggression is more accurate. I also agree that Armin uses a narrow description of social aggression. Here is a link to my dog's pedigree.
Litter from Xly Z Canczech and Bjori Soky-Pe
You see Olex in the 4th generation and his maternal grandsire was Yoschy. While his genetic contribution is small, my understanding is that he was known for having and producing active aggression. To me, it is a really interesting pedigree because it goes back to so many very good dogs from the past, including quality dogs from West German, Czech/Slovak and DDR lines. The sire and the sire's dam are not titled, but I have seen numerous videos of them and they are very good dogs to my eye. Here is a short video of the sire which speaks to his nerves IMO.
 
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