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I see "civil" used to describe GSDs (ie. the dog has strong civil.) a lot and I'm quite sure I am 100% clear on what people mean. Can someone describe what they mean?
 

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This is a term used in protection training and law enforcement. A Civil dog is one that will bite for real. Often, dogs trained to bite a bite-sleeve or a bite suit do not have the nerve to bite a person for real, that is a weakness in a dog bred and trained for law enforcement or protection. A dog described as Civil has no such hang-ups. They are not afraid to engage for real, and fight for real.
 

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I've been wondering about this.
How do you know if a dog will bite "for real", and not just on the field and a bite sleeve?
 

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Sounds like a great definition, Castlemaid. I'm curious though why in the world this word was used to mean those things. According to webster, it means nothing of the sort:

Definition of CIVIL

1
a : of or relating to citizens b : of or relating to the state or its citizenry <civil strife>

2
a : civilized <civil society> b : adequate in courtesy and politeness : mannerly <a civil question>

3
a : of, relating to, or based on civil law b : relating to private rights and to remedies sought by action or suit distinct from criminal proceedings c : established by law

4
: of, relating to, or involving the general public, their activities, needs, or ways, or civic affairs as distinguished from special (as military or religious) affairs

5
of time : based on the mean sun and legally recognized for use in ordinary affairs
In fact, according to that definition of "adequate in courtesy and politeness" it seems a dog who is willing to bite for real is anything but "civil." Do you happen to know the history of this word's use in the law enforcement or SchH world?

I'm also curious how this word is actually composed in a sentence. The word is defined as an adjective. Do dog people use it as a noun?
 

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I've been wondering about this.
How do you know if a dog will bite "for real", and not just on the field and a bite sleeve?

A good trainer should be able to test a dog and get a good idea about the dog's temperament. A number of ScH clubs used to test a dog before they let the owners train them. Don't know if they still do the same type of testing generally. This was a long time ago when the training was more in defence drive.
 

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A good trainer should be able to test a dog and get a good idea about the dog's temperament. A number of ScH clubs used to test a dog before they let the owners train them. Don't know if they still do the same type of testing generally. This was a long time ago when the training was more in defence drive.
So basically there's a lot of dogs out there who look nice on the field but if an intruder has no bite sleeve, they're up a creek??
 

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I've heard it used to mean a dog that possesses appropriate defense aggression towards humans. A dog that does not have to be trained in prey drive to bite a sleeve, but who will bite for real out of defense drive.
 

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I've heard it used to mean a dog that possesses appropriate defense aggression towards humans. A dog that does not have to be trained in prey drive to bite a sleeve, but who will bite for real out of defense drive.
That is how it was explained to me as well.
 

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So basically there's a lot of dogs out there who look nice on the field but if an intruder has no bite sleeve, they're up a creek??

That is how it was explained to me by those far more knowledgable in protection work than I ever will be. "Sleeve Happy' was one of the terms that was used.

And there is nothing wrong with that for the majority of household pets, I don't think.

As an example of sleeve happy, do you think that an agitator for a PPD or militay/police K9 dog would attempt to pet the dog on the head while the dog is attacking and grabbing some piece of him/her?
 

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I've heard it used to mean a dog that possesses appropriate defense aggression towards humans. A dog that does not have to be trained in prey drive to bite a sleeve, but who will bite for real out of defense drive.

Do you know how they distinguish a "civil" dog from FA dogs?

Body language? Whether the dog is at the end of the leash or hanging back? Bark, lunge and back up?
 

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I've been wondering about this.
How do you know if a dog will bite "for real", and not just on the field and a bite sleeve?
The dog can be tested on a hidden sleeve for one. And experience trainers can often tell exactly what they have in front of them (i.e., a sleeve happy dog, or a civil dog).
 

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So basically there's a lot of dogs out there who look nice on the field but if an intruder has no bite sleeve, they're up a creek??
Yup, lots and lots! You'd be surprised.

Do you know how they distinguish a "civil" dog from FA dogs?

Body language? Whether the dog is at the end of the leash or hanging back? Bark, lunge and back up?
Yes, the body language gives it away. For someone new to this, it is hard to read the difference, but once someone points out the differences between a dog in a fear-aggressive reaction, and a dog in a forward defense/fight drive action, then the differences are quite easy to spot. The look in the eyes, the willingness to move forward towards the threat, the tone of the bark all tell a story.
 

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Do you know how they distinguish a "civil" dog from FA dogs?

Body language? Whether the dog is at the end of the leash or hanging back? Bark, lunge and back up?
Body language. If the dog is civil, you will see the ears up and forward, tail up, and dog lunging to get to the threat and engage him. He may be barking or may not, but will definitely bite without hesitation!

An FA dog will have ears back, hackles up, the whites of the eyes showing, tail between the legs, be lunging forward and then back, and will probably be making snarling and barking sounds in a higher pitch. The dog is afraid and is attempting to defend himself, and will probably bite, but would really rather flee.
 

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Body language. If the dog is civil, you will see the ears up and forward, tail up, and dog lunging to get to the threat and engage him. He may be barking or may not, but will definitely bite without hesitation!

An FA dog will have ears back, hackles up, the whites of the eyes showing, tail between the legs, be lunging forward and then back, and will probably be making snarling and barking sounds in a higher pitch. The dog is afraid and is attempting to defend himself, and will probably bite, but would really rather flee.
Good explanation! Another thing that an FA dog may do is avoid looking directly at the threat - or keep looking away, barking not at the threat, but at the empty air next to the threat - wanting to sound big and impressive to intimidate, but afraid to directly challenge the threat in front.
 

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I agree with Castle and Free, a good helper will push a dog during bitework when he feels the dog is of the age in which the push will not force the dog to feel threatened by the helper and create a negative reaction. He will keep that dog in prey mode to build on his confidence then try to push them again, which is most dogs. Then there are some dogs, that when pushed, essentially look at the helper and say "bring it on" and exhibits the body language as previously described. I have one of those dogs and when my trainer starts to step in and/or gives a stick hit or two, my 16 month old just moves toward hims with a focused on his eyes and a deep growling bark, but we saw this in him when he was 8 months old. Otherwise he is great off the field, social and completely neutral.
 

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So... does anyone know why the word "civil" was chosen to describe this behaviors/tendencies?
 

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I always wanted to do bite work with our GSD who passed away 2yrs. ago now.
I'm positive, knowing him, that he'd have excelled.

He had this certain...deliberateness about him.
When company would come over, he'd meet them at the door and nudge their arm, looking up in almost a "bark and hold". He had no formal training though.
He'd sit there for a few moments until we said to move away, as if he was waiting for them to "mess up" and do something worth biting over. He never turned tail though, and would just look up and keep his nose near their arm.

He never bit though, except one day when our landlord's son was taunting him - even then it was a "pinch" and not a full on bite.
 

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So... does anyone know why the word "civil" was chosen to describe this behaviors/tendencies?
I don't know, as it does seem counterintuitive.

The only thing I can think of is that the word "civilian" means a person, and that the word "civil" regards a dog's dispostion toward "civilians".

It's a stretch, but it's the only thing I can think of.
 

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So... does anyone know why the word "civil" was chosen to describe this behaviors/tendencies?
No idea - I think I'll ask in the IPO/K9 section, I'm curious too.

One explanation I heard is that since most protection/patrol dogs are trained by the military or the police with the decoys wearing protective gear, a 'real' dog will bite for 'real' when out of training and operational in the civilian world.
No idea if this is accurate or not - sounds to me more like an explanation that someone came up with and others latched on to because it sounds plausible.
 

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So, for example, I was out in the yard with Shasta and Thor. A branch broke off a tree and crashed to the ground about 25 feet away from us. Shasta circled around behind me with her hackles up, but Thor rushed toward the sound to investigate. Now Thor is just a baby, of course, but can I read anything about his defense drive in that behavior? It's a typical reaction for him when he sees something new/different, whereas Shasta always had to be (strongly) encouraged to investigate.
 
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