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Discussion Starter #1
so a defence drive is good to utilize when training dogs in protection, SchH, etc....or so i've read.

i'm just not very clear....from my reading, it sounds like it utilizes fear reactions in the dog. is that right? and if so, i thought you were supposed to avoid fearful dogs for that kind of work. is it a different kind of fear?

i'm just a bit confused
 

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Defense training is confusing. The whole idea is counter-intuitive
to me too. One would think it would easily create a fear biter.

It does bring out the fight drive because it removes flight.

I think old school protection training employed more of this and now
prey drive is used more often to train, at least in earlier stages of protection than once was the case. But at higher levels, pressure applied to insure the dog won't disengage is essentially still in use.

On the other hand, if a dog brings fight with confidence, then
mission accomplished, quickly. Sort of depends on the dog, it's drives, it's maturity.

Not unlike the old school OB by enforcement versus positive methods,
protection training has too employed more prey drive to shape behaviors in protection training. You might get there quicker successfully with a harder critter, but you may shut a newbie or softer one right down, which is a huge set back.

And of course, you would never even attempt it with a fearful one,
that's what temperament testing beforehand will wash out. Not all
can bring it, especially when immature.

I'm sure others here can speak to it better than I, but there's a time and a place for all things...and it seems to me from what I've come to understand, working in defense happens less often than it once did, and later in the whole process than it used to. Folks who've been at it a long time can tell you better than I can...but I had the same doubts and walked away from it nearly 40 years ago, and again just
8 years ago after witnessing an "old schooler". But now, am enjoying
it using a more measured approach.

Hope this helps.
 

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This is an interesting topic. Defense drive is used during protection training, but normally the foundation is trained primarily in prey drive. Regardless of confidence level, all dogs have a threshhold of what feels threatening to them. Put on a sleeve, square up and stare down a strong confident dog while cracking a whip and moving towards him and eventually he will feel threatened. Being fearful in general and feeling threatened are very different because in some cases the dog is correct to feel threatened. Being that he is on a leash and cannot go anywhere flight has removed and he is put into the position to fight. In order to teach any REAL protection work a dog has to be pressured. From what I have seen, this does not happen until the dog is able to handle it (translation mature enough). My TD begins this with prey defense, defending the sleeve from the helper after they earned it. The dog is pressured, reacts by defending and the helper backs away acting intimidated. This happens over and over again teaching the dog that when he defends he wins. Then this transitions to drive switching with the helper showing the dog two distinct different pictures... 1. Moving away and side to side (prey) and 2. Squaring up with a nasty face looking them in the eye (defense). This is reinforced with the handler having two lines with one on an agitation collar (for prey picture) and one on a prong (for defense picture). The dog associates the prong stimulation with the helper, not the handler in this situation.

Teaching protection foundation in prey is much more fun for the dog and handler in my opinion, but you can teach in defense and do it humanely and in the long run increase the dogs confidence. I did not think this to be true until I saw a dog worked in purely defense. A highly skilled helper can achieve this by knowing exactly how much to pressure.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
thanks guys, that is very interesting. i've always read about defense but never really thought about it in terms of the dog having fear vs. fear in fearful dog, and what the difference is.

someone on another board put forward a bunch of examples/scenarios of dogs, and what i got out of it was that it is, to some extent, what the dog chooses to do with their fear. if they are confident, they may be defensive b/c of being threatened, but still stand their ground, whereas a more fearful dog (and one not appropriate for protection work) would not stand their ground and would fall into the fear aggressive category.

that makes sense what you're saying about the helper. sort of like tugging w/a dog and letting them win, it builds their confidence - so that, i guess, threatening situations aren't overwhelming and the dog reacts to them w/confidence, b/c he knows he's taken the guy in a similar situation before?
 

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Very interesting discussion and good explanations. I just wanted to add one thing though.

Originally Posted By: ZeusGSDBeing that he is on a leash and cannot go anywhere flight has removed and he is put into the position to fight.
With many dogs (the good ones), it's not the presence of the leash or anything else that removes flight. It is the dog's own choice.

Every animal has a threshold at which it's flight/fight response is triggered. Some animals will choose flight as a first option. This is what in protection training is called avoidance. Others will choose fight as a first option. THIS is defense drive.

Different dogs have different thresholds for feeling threatened and having that fight/flight response triggered. But while threshold varies from dog to dog, what would be considered a good GSD (and one suited to protection work) is the dog who chooses first to fight, without hesitation and without giving up easily and switching to flight.


If the pressure continues after the dog has decided to fight, self preservation will eventually kick in and he will switch to flight. Some dogs have quite a wide gap between when their fight (defense) is triggered and when they will give up and flee (avoidance). With other dogs that gap is very small, and it won't take much for them to switch from defense to avoidance. Of course, while some defense work has it's place in protection training, the dog should never be pushed to the point where he goes into avoidance.
 

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That's really interesting information! How to recognize a dog with high defence drive and what is the best way to deal with it if the dog is not to be trained in SchH or Personal protection?
 

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Originally Posted By: GSD07That's really interesting information! How to recognize a dog with high defence drive and what is the best way to deal with it if the dog is not to be trained in SchH or Personal protection?
Can you elaborate on your question a bit? I'm not sure what you're asking.
 

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I was wondering if defense drive is important to take under account only if the dog is trained in protection. Does it also mean that a dog with a high level of defense drive will more likely initiate a fight in every day situation? Can I tell if my dog has a defense drive just by observing him on a day to day basis or he needs actually to be pressured on purpose to show if he has it or not? Sorry if I'm not very clear but I never thought about this drive before.
 

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Originally Posted By: GSD07 Does it also mean that a dog with a high level of defense drive will more likely initiate a fight in every day situation?
That depends on the dog's threshold for feeling threatened, and thus triggering in defense. Some dogs have high thresholds, and you probably wouldn't ever see defensive behavior in everyday life. The dog would have to be pressured to make it appear. Other dogs have lower thresholds. Some are so low that the dogs are far too easily frightened by everyday, ordinary things..... what is commonly referred to as fear aggression or fear biting.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
wow, thanks....great explanations! i was hoping you'd see this chris


so - just curious - i sometimes hear fight drive referred to as a relatively rare thing in dogs.....but not defense. if they're the same drives - and your explanation makes sense to me - are people just referring to the fight drive as what a highly proactive dog would exhibit?
 

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When training for protection how high should the dog's 'threshold for feeling threatened' be?

Is fight drive 'civil'? Is civil drive where the dog takes up the fight despite not being personally threatened, ie going beyond his/her own protection?
 

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Civil merely refers to a dog being willing to engage without equipment.

Fight drive, commonly referred to as active aggression, is different from defense. Defense (also referred to as REactive aggression) is a dog perceiving a threat. Active aggression is a dog perceiving a challenge or opponent (not the same thing as a threat) and being willing to engage. There isn't a threat/fear factor involved in active aggression. Just a desire to beat the crap out of the "bad guy".

Sort of the difference between someone who enjoys fighting and likes to go out and pick fights for fun (active aggression/fight) and someone who fights because they got jumped by a mugger in an alley (reactive aggression/defense).
 

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Originally Posted By: Chris WildCivil merely refers to a dog being willing to engage without equipment.

Fight drive, commonly referred to as active aggression, is different from defense. Defense (also referred to as REactive aggression) is a dog perceiving a threat. Active aggression is a dog perceiving a challenge or opponent (not the same thing as a threat) and being willing to engage. There isn't a threat/fear factor involved in active aggression. Just a desire to beat the crap out of the "bad guy".

Sort of the difference between someone who enjoys fighting and likes to go out and pick fights for fun (active aggression/fight) and someone who fights because they got jumped by a mugger in an alley (reactive aggression/defense).
I'm going to expand on this a little bit because when you describe it this way it is kind if difficult to see why fight drive is a good thing.

Why do we want to raise and train up bar room brawlers? On the surface it makes no sense. If there is one type of person the world doesn't need more of it is this type:)

But of course we are talking about dogs, not people. The job we ask a dog to do as a protector is incredible. We ask them to on command attack a target thats three times as tall as them and outweighs them by at least two to one. Thats long odds on anyones fight card.

But the even bigger factor is that we ask this of them in situations where they don't know what is happening, where they perceive no threat. They often literally go into battle on our say so where there is no way for them to be sure why they are doing so, or to have any of their more natural drives triggered.

Thats why a good protector needs fight drive, and the lines that will produce tomorrows protectors must show it.
 

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And to further expand on the hubby's expansion...

Regardless of whether or not the dog initially engages the human out of active or reactive aggression (sensing a threat or not), active aggression (fight drive) is an important part of him sticking with the fight.

As was mentioned earlier in the thread, defense is a double sided coin. On one side is defense, on the other is avoidance. Every animal has a point at which they will switch from defense to avoidance out of self preservation.... the whole, run away and live to fight another day thing.

We don't want this in a protection dog. We don't want a dog who will fight for a while, but when his opponent doesn't back down easily, will give up and disengage. A dog working in defense is more likely to do this, because that is the basic nature of defense drive. Defense is rooted in self preservation... so if plan A (defense) doesn't appear to be working, the dog is going to switch to plan B (avoidance). Fight drive is not rooted in such basic survival instincts, and as such it doesn't have that potential weakness that defense does. A dog working in fight drive is less likely to do this, and will stick with the fight even when it gets tough, because unlike defense, fight drive doesn't have that avoidant flip side.
 

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When you say there are things you can't know about a dog without working him or her.....is this what you mean?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
this is all coming together in my mind now
thanks chris and tim!
 

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Chris & Tim, who should own these dogs & what responsibilities are entailed in keeping them? To what extent should those who keep the dogs also be involved with the training? Are these dogs generally well suited to be family dogs & companions?

Civil aggression can be either fight or defense then, is that correct?

Final question...bar brawlers...IMO, a good Pit epitomizes the classic bar brawler...loves to mix it up & revels in a 'good' fight. They're not strictly killers, though they're not necessarily unwilling/unhappy to kill but the *fight* is the real thing with them.

I've known 2 people whose dogs summarily killed Pits when the Pits' silly assed ignorant as **** owners insisted on repeatedly setting it on another (non-aggressing!) dog to see what the 'big' guy could do. One was an Irish Wolfhound. The other was an Anatolian Shepherd. Neither of these dogs was a 'fighting' type. In both cases the Pit was set on the other dog multiple times. When the 'attacked' dog got past its point of tolerance it simply grabbed up the Pit & snapped its spine.

The mind set of these dogs was very different than that of the Pit. Neither was a brawler. They don't look to scrap & fight. If engaged they go immediately to KILL. Both were very serious dogs. (The IW was ordinarily safe with other dogs. I'm not certain of the Anatolian)

Are protection Shepherds brawlers or killers? Do you think aggressive GSDs tend to be brawlers or killers or both? (It sounds terrible & I don't intend it that way)
 

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Originally Posted By: RubyTuesday

Final question...bar brawlers...IMO, a good Pit epitomizes the classic bar brawler...loves to mix it up & revels in a 'good' fight. They're not strictly killers, though they're not necessarily unwilling/unhappy to kill but the *fight* is the real thing with them.

I've known 2 people whose dogs summarily killed Pits when the Pits' silly assed ignorant as **** owners insisted on repeatedly setting it on another (non-aggressing!) dog to see what the 'big' guy could do. One was an Irish Wolfhound. The other was an Anatolian Shepherd. Neither of these dogs was a 'fighting' type. In both cases the Pit was set on the other dog multiple times. When the 'attacked' dog got past its point of tolerance it simply grabbed up the Pit & snapped its spine.

The mind set of protection dogs is different than that of the Pit. Neither was a brawler. They don't look to scrap & fight. If engaged they go immediately to KILL. Both were very serious dogs. (The IW was ordinarily safe with other dogs. I'm not certain of the Anatolian)

Are protection Shepherds brawlers or killers? Do you think aggressive GSDs tend to be brawlers or killers or both? (It sounds terrible & I don't intend it that way)
Pits trained to dog fight are not brawlers they are insane by any measure of doggy social scale. A good pit will respond to protection situations in the same way a shepherd would.

Protection dogs do not go for the kill. They engage in the behavior they are trained to regardless of the situation.

Protection dogs or the ability and willingness to engage a human has no relation to dog aggressiveness. In my opinion fighting pits through poor or abusive handling and selective breeding have been driven to what other dogs must think is insanity by any social measure they have. after a few warnings any sane dog will come to the conclusion that there is no alternative to the pits social stupidity but execution. Any sufficiently confident dog would then just kill them as you have seen. Also people who fight pits often fight the same dog more than once, frankly in my experience if a dog is serious about fighting and good at it fighting another dog of the same type leads to one of them being seriously injured in an argument precluding repeat engagements. This is why intelligent handlers do everything in their power to keep their dogs out of situations where they could be hurt or get into a dog fight.
 
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