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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My dog is 15 months old and comes from (I think) good working lines (pedigree here incase it's relevant (dad is Sch3 FH2) http://www.pedigreedatabase.com/german_shepherd_dog/pedigree/698776.html

Anyway, I have never done SchH so am a novice but I have been looking for a club since I came to Italy. I finally found one (180 mile round trip though) and we went today to have a chat with the trainer.

This is what happened...

As I pulled up the trainer saw me and came over to the car, he asked which dog I was planning on working and when I pointed to Kofi he asked what bloodline he was, I had bought his pedigree along as thought i might have trouble explaining in Italian. So he had a look at the pedigree and then asked if I had done any IPO with Kofi before and when I said no he looked a bit doubtful. Anyway, he told me to get him out and bring him onto the field.

There was another dog and a group of people, the trainer and I went out into the middle and he asked if I had a ball, and then asked to see me play with Kofi with it (which he did). He asked if I always worked him on a flat collar and if I used a clicker (yes to both). Then he asked me if I had taught him any obedience, so I showed him some sits, downs, heelwork etc. Then he asked if I had done any bitework and when i said no, he said, well lets see what happens then..

So he went off and came back with a jute bite roll on a string and a whip. he came onto the field and started coming towards us in an arc and cracking the whip. Kofi started barking at him but seemed unsure about what was happening, he was pulling towards him barking but not pulling to the extent that it was hard to hold him. He was also backing away very slightly each time the whip cracked, and then going forward again. He made some attempts to bite the tug but only half hearted and then when the helper threw it at him, he just sniffed it.

The helper said he didn't think Kofi had what it takes. I am not sure if he meant drive or aggression, because his translation was 'enough will to bite'. I asked him if he thought it was just his age and inexperience and he said that I was welcome to go along for lessons and give it a go but he didn't want to mislead me. He said that generally he trains people for top level competition and he didn't feel that Kofi would be that.

My take (as a total novice) is that we live in the middle of nowhere and so a 2 hr drive to somewhere new with strange people/dogs was very distracting for Kofi and he had just got out the car, and I thought it was a lot to expect of him. Also, it seemed to me (just from what I have read) that the guy went straight into trying to put him in defence rather than prey drive. But I could be wrong as I have no experience obviously.

Would be interested to know what others think. Is it worth me going back given that it is going to cost a lot?

Was his assessment how it's normally done?

Thanks for any advice you may have. :)
 

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I dont' know anything about SchH but here is my take on it. His assessment sounds fair. If he is used to training top competition dogs, I would have to ask what he meant by he doesn't have what it takes. Does that mean he wont' be a top competition dog because he doesn't have the right drive? Or that he will not be able to do SchH at all?

He was probably looking for the prey drive when you were playing with the ball. His willingness to chase the ball and his willingness to bring it back. That's what my trainer was looking for when she evaluated Jax.

He was being honest with you about what he saw. You can build drive so Kofi may be a great dog for you to learn with but might never do much in competition. I would do a few lessons and reevaluate what I wanted then.
 

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My TD told me that Madix is not going to be a top competitor either. He thinks he has what it takes to title but not to do awesome at it. I am totally fine with that :) I didn't get Madix or raise him with Schutzhund in mind, this is just something I found out that we are both very much enjoying. If that's a huge concern for you then I would try to find another group - but if you don't care (like me) and just want to give it a go and see how far it takes you then I would be up front about that and go for it!
 

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I'm new at this, too. But hey you seasoned Schutzhund people, wasn't the use of a whip a little much for a first timer?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm new at this, too. But hey you seasoned Schutzhund people, wasn't the use of a whip a little much for a first timer?
Thats what I thought (as we had only been out of the car a few minutes!) but I am very new so really don't know anything.

I asked my breeder for advice too and apparently this guy is used to only working with very high drive dogs at the 'top' level, so probably not the right sort of club for a novice handler like me.

Oh well...I am so disappointed as I was looking forward to it but such is life.

Thanks for your responses. :)
 

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Personally, I don't think it was a fair assessment. Kofi is 15 months old!! Why would he be snapping the whip at his age!? He is too much of a puppy to have a strong defense! :mad:

I'd say work on his prey drive with flirt poles and back tying. So that he can learn the game.

Were you planning on being a top competitor? If not then I would let the trainer know he is your first dog you were looking into learning schutzhund with. Go tot he club, learn (he may have a lot of knowledge if he truly has top sport dogs in his club) and maybe your next dog you can do more with.

Everybody has to start somewhere and if you have been looking there is no reason not to go and learn (and insist no more whip work until he has been properly introduced!).

:)
 

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I think the whip is a little much for a dog that has not grown up in the sport and has been unsocialized to the sound. For many dogs who are familiar the sound of a whip will fire them right up...but it's a little much in my opinion for a dog who has never done anything. I think the whip is overused. Most of the helpers I have worked with really don't use it all that much. Use of the whip is also not necessarily a tool used for defense drive- many prey based trainers use it as well. I've even met helpers who will use it as a marker and to just get the dogs excited. When my high prey dogs hear the whip there is absolutely no defense sparked in them- unless they are being stung with the whip. There are lots of different styles for protection training, and if this trainer is used to training higher level sport competition dogs with immense amounts of prey drive- it would be fair assessment to say that the dog may not be a very successful participant in his style of training program.

As a comparison point. This is Tag @ 6.5 months old. He is a high prey drive dog, with a high threshold for defense. This is only his second time doing protection- so is comparable for an evaluation on a beginning dog. You can see where he is trying to work out what to do- he sits down, watches...he has no idea about barking controlling the helper yet...but you can also see he has desire to bite, he does lunge and when he grips, he grips hard and full. This is something you can evaluate with your dog. When you play tug...if you pull it out and he bites, where does he bite it, does he bite it hard enough that you can pick him up without him shifting, does he hold it steady when you pet him, when you let him win does he walk around with it or does he drop it immediately??? All these things you can see in his play behavior at home can tell you something about the dog. And if you have those behaviors at home, can you have those behaviors with friends/strangers ou on the park? Then you can start to break apart if it is lack in the dog or if it is a mi**** on the helper/dog combo.

 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the video, lovely puppy. I think Kofi would have reacted differently if the approach had been more trying to intice him to play. AT home he loves tug, doesn't let go if I hold him still, pet him etc. He is the same with other people if they play tug with him.

But this was strange situation for him, because we just got out the car at a place he had never been before and played tug with the ball for a few minutes (he engaged in that no problem) and then this strange man started walking toward us aggressively and started cracking a whip and I think Kofi was unsure about what to do. I don't think his barking was prey, it was defensive and then when the man stopped walking, Kofi backed off the barking but he still seemed confused about what the deal was, there hadn't really been any teasing with the tug beforehand or anything...

I can see how the crack of the whip would get a dog excited and riled up when they know what's coming but I think it just distracted Kofi as he has never done any bitework and didn't understand.

I don't think it's the right club for us as it is more for very serious competitors, it's just a shame that there isn't another club near by. :(
 

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I think one session of bitework is too early to call it... keep in mind that even if he was not a top level dog naturally, a good helper and handler can bring a bunch more out of a dog than you might think.

Unfortunetly if you went club to club with the same dog (not your dog.. just any dog), you'd find some that would say "dog can't do the work" and some that can see what that dog needs to bring the desire to work out of him.

My female started bitework.. we've been 3 times now... first time out she kept looking back at me, as though to say "Am I really allowed to do this? Am I supposed to bite this guy?" and she looked pretty good but was clearly a touch confused about all this new stuff. This is a video of her third session... about 8 mins of bitework under her belt.


@JKlatsky Do you always use a harness, or just for that (or other) dog(s)?, or only early on? What made you decide to use a harness?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Katya is :wub::wub:

I think Kofi would have been like that if the guy had tried to engage him a bit, but as it was it was mostly just cracking the whip and holding out the tug. But Kofi was so distracted by the crack of the whip...then again maybe he just doesn't have it..which is also ok. :)

I mostly wanted to take him because a lot of his relatives are either competing or in the police force and I felt like I was doing him a disservice by not officially working him.

But we can just carry on training at home and have fun. Thanks for all your advice anyway. :)
 

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Katya is :wub::wub:

I think Kofi would have been like that if the guy had tried to engage him a bit, but as it was it was mostly just cracking the whip and holding out the tug. But Kofi was so distracted by the crack of the whip...then again maybe he just doesn't have it..which is also ok. :)

I mostly wanted to take him because a lot of his relatives are either competing or in the police force and I felt like I was doing him a disservice by not officially working him.

But we can just carry on training at home and have fun. Thanks for all your advice anyway. :)
Does he have what is needed to be a top level competitor? Maybe? Maybe not? Are you gonna take him there as a first time handler? Not likely either way lol. Could he achieve a schutzhund title? Probably yes. If its in his bloodlines to do it, baring some major deviation from his parents, he probably can. You need a supportive helper than can figure out what the dog needs to move forward though, and based on the little tidbit of info so far I'm not sure if that guy is the right one. Maybe he just wanted to "get rid of you" b/c he didn't want to deal with a language barrier, or is only interested in taking on dogs that exhibit exactly what he views as perfect? Thats not terribly uncommon.

Notice how my helper was just making noises, kicking that pillow around, getting her engaged, rewarding barking, etc. I don't think she'd be bothered at all by the whip (I've had my dogs around gunfire their whole lives) but we don't use it yet with her. My male gets the wipe though.

I'm quite confident you could work him at home with a jute toy, towel, shamey, or bite pillow and get him comfortable and present a different dog thats more acceptable to him to that guy after a little development.

Forgot.. Kayta is also 15 months old
 

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@JKlatsky Do you always use a harness, or just for that (or other) dog(s)?, or only early on? What made you decide to use a harness?

My experience with my dogs thus far (low threshold for prey, high threshold for defense) has been that a harness frees them up for barking. My dogs that I started in an agitation collar had a harder time learning to bark because they would pull so hard that they would choke themselves out. The resulting behavior of their barks is not as full sounding...if that makes sense? So the younger two we started in harnesses. from about a year ago this is Cade at 11 months in a harness-big bark for a 60lb dog-


Once the barking behavior is established then we switch to an agitation collar because it offers more control on the dog. Harnesses are not always well loved by helpers when they need to know exactly how far a dog can come out. Dogs seem to be able to find those extra couple of inches in a harness.

My personal dogs tend more towards the prey side...I would imagine that an older beginning dog that works in more defense wouldn't necessarily need the harness because their protection work would be coming from a different place and they wouldn't be choking themselves out. We do keep flat collars, pinch collars, ecollars all on the dogs when we work in a harness, so we can switch it around as we need it for different exercises. We also use harnesses for grip work on the pole and field.


To the OP- I agree. It's not really a fair assessment on your dog. Impossible to assess everything a dog has in one session. But this may not be a great training situation for you if the helper doesn't have much patience.
 

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But this was strange situation for him, because we just got out the car at a place he had never been before and played tug with the ball for a few minutes (he engaged in that no problem) and then this strange man started walking toward us aggressively and started cracking a whip and I think Kofi was unsure about what to do.
This is part of the evaluation though, seeing how the dog reacts in a new environment with new people. IMO, not a reason to throw in the towel right away, but Schutzhund is mostly about drive, not desensitizing the dog to the environment, the helper, the whip, etc. Some people will train it that way but I don't think that's really what it should be about. The dogs either have the drive or they don't. The differences come in the quality of the helper work, the ability to "read" the dog and understand what that particular dog needs to see in order to bring out the desired response (some not so good helpers will work all dogs the same way, or use too much pressure because they hold all dogs to their own golden standard).
 

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My experience with my dogs thus far (low threshold for prey, high threshold for defense) has been that a harness frees them up for barking. My dogs that I started in an agitation collar had a harder time learning to bark because they would pull so hard that they would choke themselves out. The resulting behavior of their barks is not as full sounding...if that makes sense? So the younger two we started in harnesses. from about a year ago this is Cade at 11 months in a harness-big bark for a 60lb dog- YouTube - CadeProtection


Once the barking behavior is established then we switch to an agitation collar because it offers more control on the dog. Harnesses are not always well loved by helpers when they need to know exactly how far a dog can come out. Dogs seem to be able to find those extra couple of inches in a harness.

My personal dogs tend more towards the prey side...I would imagine that an older beginning dog that works in more defense wouldn't necessarily need the harness because their protection work would be coming from a different place and they wouldn't be choking themselves out. We do keep flat collars, pinch collars, ecollars all on the dogs when we work in a harness, so we can switch it around as we need it for different exercises. We also use harnesses for grip work on the pole and field.


To the OP- I agree. It's not really a fair assessment on your dog. Impossible to assess everything a dog has in one session. But this may not be a great training situation for you if the helper doesn't have much patience.
I was debating a harness for my female pup b/c the first time out she would charge full force and think she got corrected.. that seems to have not occurred again, but I might get one anyway. I'd like to see the difference (if any) with her.
 

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I was debating a harness for my female pup b/c the first time out she would charge full force and think she got corrected.. that seems to have not occurred again, but I might get one anyway. I'd like to see the difference (if any) with her.

Yeah, that happens sometimes. Usually, like you said, a dog will work through it, but if they are sensitive to the collar repeated small corrections can create conflict. A Harness would avoid that and you could just put a tab on the collar. It's not like they do their protection routine on lead anyway...

I wouldn't buy one right off the bat- or if you do, buy one that is super adjustable. The one I have fits all of my pups/dogs from 40-85lbs, which makes it nice so that I don't need multiple harnesses. Agitation harnesses can be a bit pricey. See if a club member has one you can use to see if you like it. Sometimes it takes the dogs a second to figure it out if they're not used to it, but most have no problem.
 

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IMHO you shouldn't feel like your dog needs to be trained in the sport - unless it's something you've always wanted to do.

Work on your home obedience - sounds like you've made a good start - and decide if you want to be more active in any competitive dog sport or therapy training or the like.

There is nothing wrong with having a well behaved family member either.
 

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If what you wrote is accurate, I think the whole evaluation approach and assessment was BS. Of course I'm not a Sch god. You have real gods on this forum and maybe they will weigh in, but as far as determining whether your dog can be successful in the sport, I don't think that was anywhere near fair. JMO
PS...There are many methods to training a dog and they are all successful with the right dog or they would be obsolete. There are many ways to evaluate a dog and usually you try to see what works for that particular dog by starting basic without distractions and progress from there. Again JMO.
 

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Nothing to really add...Cliff kinda summed it up.
I am so very grateful, that my husband is an excellent trainer/helper....
Carlos (my husband) is a firm believer that a helper/trainer is as good as his "tool box"....to train a dog correctly and to it's full capabilities, one will need the proper "tools"....without them...it's a job half done.
*The tool box, he refers to.. is... his mind, experience & capability to train each dog as an individual.*
Robin
 

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that a helper/trainer is as good as his "tool box"....to train a dog correctly and to it's full capabilities, one will need the proper "tools"....without them...it's a job half done.
*The tool box, he refers to.. is... his mind, experience & capability to train each dog as an individual.*
Robin
I think that's pretty brilliant! Nicely said, :thumbup:
 

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I was debating a harness for my female pup b/c the first time out she would charge full force and think she got corrected.. that seems to have not occurred again, but I might get one anyway. I'd like to see the difference (if any) with her.
I think a harness would be a good idea for your female. Looking over the video of her bitework, the one thing I would change would be how you do the "out". Just my opinion but I think for a dog with only 3 sessions under her belt, it's too early to do "out" like that (with you standing 4-5 feet behind and giving her the "out" as an obedience command). Since you are still just doing drive building prey work with the sleeve right now, I think it's better to do the out the way they were doing with Tag in the first video that Jklatsky posted (around 2:12 mark). Lift the dog up by the harness and let the dog drop it at some point. It's her decision whether to hold on to it or how much effort she wants to put into holding it and as soon as she drops it, kick it out and start the work again.
 
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