German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
938 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I really want to teach my girl to have a "job," but the vast majority of opportunities I have found would not be appropriate for her because of her outbursts at other dogs. It's going to take a *long* tine to work on this as her thresholds are very low. What sport can we do together that wouldn't require her to be in close proximity to dogs?

She is great at backpacking so far and likes agility exercises, but I could never trust her off-leash. I tried doing some basic exercises in nose work but she seems to actively dislike it when I try to get her to retrieve an object, even if it has treats inside.


Sent from Petguide.com Free App
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,464 Posts
Are you asking about what dog sports you can compete in that don't require her to be in close proximity to other dogs, or what kinds of sport activities don't require it?

Competitions have other dogs around, regardless of the sport. Depending on how reactive your dog is, any competitive venue might be problematic. And be aware that every event has at least a couple of handlers that just don't pay attention to how intrusive their dogs are. Whether because they are chatting and not paying attention to how their dog has now invaded your dog's social bubble or because they just don't see their dog approaching every other dog as a problem. It happens all the time.

Training, however, is different and you can certainly set up training and practice sessions that are private, without any other dogs present. Most trainers who are okay with having clients who don't compete are more than happy to set something private up. And what you get involved in is entirely up to you and what you want to try. Agility. Herding. Tracking. I have done all these activities on a private basis with my dog.
Sheilah
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,821 Posts
Why not try tracking? A local club could instruct you with the basics on how to lay track and then you'd practice on your own and get a lesson occasionally.
"Nose Work" is another one you could try.
:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,574 Posts
Competitions have other dogs around, regardless of the sport. Depending on how reactive your dog is, any competitive venue might be problematic. And be aware that every event has at least a couple of handlers that just don't pay attention to how intrusive their dogs are. Whether because they are chatting and not paying attention to how their dog has now invaded your dog's social bubble or because they just don't see their dog approaching every other dog as a problem. It happens all the time.
Yep.

Keeping that caveat in mind, my suggestions would be:

(1) Trick Dog -- because you can do it at home (even the Trick Dog Champion only requires a video submission to qualify, and you can tape that without having other dogs around) and therefore you can both train and qualify for titles without having other dogs around.

This is a very flexible sport that is designed to be a bridge between casual pet dog trainers and competitive sports, so it's fairly easy at the lower levels, but IMO the higher levels do present some interesting challenges and of course you can keep on making it as complicated and difficult as you want after you "beat the game," just for fun.

I would also recommend Trick Dog because it gives you a great structured way to interact with your dog with lots of fun and very little pressure, and the process of training up the levels is a great way to build up a distractible dog's interest in and focus on the handler. Ultimately, fear and reactivity are just high-level distractions, so Trick Dog can be an extremely helpful way of building up that foundation. Then you can draw upon it for other sports, and feel like you've accomplished something measurable in the meantime.

(2) Rally Obedience -- Level 1 in APDT/World Cynosport Rally is (almost) all on leash (other than two out of the three bonus exercises) and I think the same is true of AKC, although I don't do AKC so I'm not 100% sure on that. There's only ever one dog on the course at a time (no group Stays like there are in competition obedience) and, at least in APDT/WCRL, most competitors are very understanding about special needs dogs and will clear a path for you to bring your dog into the facility and toward the ring with minimal disturbance.

Low-level Rally is also a fairly slow-paced and quiet sport, which tends to keep the dog's arousal levels lower than they might be in agility or flyball, which tend to ramp dogs up for speed. (Even high-level Rally is quiet and slow compared to those sports!)

(3) Tracking/nosework -- nosework is probably easier to get into (more facilities offer it) and will give you a good idea of whether your dog is likely to enjoy and be successful at tracking. But both are good options for, again, slower-paced sports that only have one dog working at a time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,536 Posts
Beginning nosework doesn't involve retrieving objects and the dog does his run alone while the others are crated or in the car.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,574 Posts
As far as having a dog who doesn't like retrieving -- yep, feel you there! Neither of my dogs is a natural retriever. We had to shape their retrieves from nothing, and even after months of work, Pongu's formal retrieve is the very first thing that falls apart when he gets stressy. It'll probably be a solid four to six months before I get that one reliable in the ring. (As for Crookytail's retrieve, well, let's just say his sad, sad attempts cement the fact that he is not and never will be a competition dog.)

You can get it eventually, if you're patient and sink the time into shaping it (as much as I moan about Pongu's retrieve, it will be ring-reliable in a few months; I can see it improving with every attempt, even though we're still failing right now), but more importantly, you can adapt basic nosework exercises to build up the value of sniffing things out (assuming your dog enjoys sniffing things out) and give her a "job" in that way long before you get a retrieve. EVENTUALLY the joy of doing the job can become a reward that creates an incentive to do the retrieve.

So... recognize the obstacle for what it is, but don't write a whole sport off because of it.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,904 Posts
Nose works is great for the reactive dog. They are always worked separate from other dogs!!! In my nose works class we had a lot if reactive dogs, including my girl. It's great fun too!!!


Sent from Petguide.com Free App
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,021 Posts
Trainers recommended nose work for mine and he's reactive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,913 Posts
Nose work, tracking, rally (good place to start!), trick training, herding..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
938 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Sheilah, I think you are absolutely right that there is no way to be certain that other people will keep their dogs away at a public venue. We will need to take more classes to see if it's even an option. I *think* she can eventually settle, but if we can't even make it through a group class, then competition seems like a bad idea. Cart before horse, etc. Doing these things privately sounds great, but I can't afford $65/hour which is what our trainer charges for private lessons. I've looked for others but haven't had any luck.

Trick dog sounds like a good option. We'll look into that! Also if any tracking classes come up we will give that another shot. I just haven't been able to get her interested, but it might be the heat or something I'm doing wrong. Herding would be amazing, however I am almost certain she would try to bite the sheep. :p

Another sport I thought of is skijoring. We wouldn't be fast enough to compete, but there is a pretty strong mushing community out here that I would like to get to know. I've driven a dog team a few times- awesome fun. Another advantage is that trail etiquette is well-defined and loose dogs are absolutely verboten.


Sent from Petguide.com Free App
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,658 Posts
My girl is reactive and we have tried all sorts of things....the most relaxing has been nosework. She works on her own. No other dogs around. No retrieving is involved. Just a "game" of find it. Stella is not a natural retriever.....the retrieving she does do is pretty limited....has to be a stick or her jolly balls. Everything else...eh....not so much.

We have been in several levels of obedience, beginner agility, cross training, and even freestyle. I pretty much stopped a lot of these because it wasn't fun having to worry about her reactivity all the time. We still go to an advanced obedience class with a focus on reactive dogs, in addition to nosework. I hope maybe one day to get back into one of the other venues....sigh
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,318 Posts
Trainer suggested nose work for a dog in class that is reactive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,464 Posts
Herding would be amazing, however I am almost certain she would try to bite the sheep. :p
Don't discount herding because of that! Although there are dogs that are just too predatory to work, herding is all about channeling that drive. They learn pretty quickly that biting (or "gripping" as it is called in the herding world) is a no-no unless it is used in a very specific way. Gratuitous biting is not good, but a dog willing to nip at a balky sheep is actually a good thing. You want a dog that will go head to head if they have to, and sometimes that means nipping.

Look into it if you can. It really is a lot of fun.
Sheilah
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
938 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Don't discount herding because of that! Although there are dogs that are just too predatory to work, herding is all about channeling that drive. They learn pretty quickly that biting (or "gripping" as it is called in the herding world) is a no-no unless it is used in a very specific way. Gratuitous biting is not good, but a dog willing to nip at a balky sheep is actually a good thing. You want a dog that will go head to head if they have to, and sometimes that means nipping.

Look into it if you can. It really is a lot of fun.
Sheilah
I would really like to! There is a trial next weekend that I plan to attend. I think it's the Oregon Sheepdog Society sponsoring. My dog is very predatory. She chases and bites hard with small animals (something I no longer allow) and I know she would have no qualms about attacking any dog that ran away and was smaller than her. She does not react at all to horses. I guess I'm just wondering how you approach an instinct test facilitator if your dog is known to bite? I'm worried she'll seem to be doing okay at first but then go into sneak attack mode. Do sheep people know how to predict that kind of behavior from body language?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,081 Posts
hey it depends on the clubs and trainers in your area, if you have a good trainer and good club they will never turn your reactive dog away they will work with your dog according to your dogs needs etc..

Just depends on the club or trainer

your location? if people can send you to a nice place? just because your dog is reactive does not mean she cant join normal clubs

My club no one is allowed touching each others dogs, and almost every training working dog place no dogs ever meet each other face to face
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,988 Posts
Regarding skijor- one of my favorite dog sports. Skijor is an option but sled-dog people can be pretty hard on "alligators" on the trails. You would need to make sure your dog is not allowed to go after other dogs- and a skijor trail is an exciting venue with lots of movement and running dogs. Even if they are all in harness.

I have a somewhat reactive malinois who I skijor with at a competitive level. I am going to work harder on commands this summer, but last winter I simply did not allow her to get anywhere near other dogs on the trail. Sometimes, this was difficult and meant we couldn't pass slower dogs. It was her yearling season, and I hope to make her rock solid with commands this summer so we don't have an issue. She is also only mildly reactive. But, believe me, skijorers (in general) are very wary of a dog that might bark and lunge. I am a good skier, so I can control my dog by force if necessary even when I'm on skis, but if you are not a skilled skier, this could be a problem.

Also, sheperds/malis can get more, not less, reactive in harness. I think it might be called oppositional reflex. This means, the harness can make the dog more brazen than he/she might be off leash. Think of agitation training where the dog is tied-back with an agitation harness. So, for me, I had to train my malinois that the harness was not a signal to get even more reactive or defensive.

The commands "on-by", "leave it", and directional commands like "whoa" "gee" and "haw" are all important. A shepherd type dog will pick these up quickly. Reliability around other dogs is key. Train like you would any other obedience command but keep it very positive.

I highly encourage you try skijor, but just wanted to throw my experience out there. Feel free to ask questions. I also have a recommendation for a harness that fits the shepherd body type better than the typical x-back. Made a huge difference for my dog because the "normal" harness pinched her below the rib cage and made pulling uncomfortable. Hard to see, but my profile photo is my malinois crossing the finish line in a skijor race. She really loves the sport and it is a lot of fun.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,464 Posts
I would really like to! There is a trial next weekend that I plan to attend. I think it's the Oregon Sheepdog Society sponsoring. My dog is very predatory. She chases and bites hard with small animals (something I no longer allow) and I know she would have no qualms about attacking any dog that ran away and was smaller than her. She does not react at all to horses. I guess I'm just wondering how you approach an instinct test facilitator if your dog is known to bite? I'm worried she'll seem to be doing okay at first but then go into sneak attack mode. Do sheep people know how to predict that kind of behavior from body language?
I think if you find someone that is experienced with the evaluation of adult dogs, you should be fine. Make sure you tell them that you need a dog free work environment.

You might be very pleasantly surprised by her response to sheep! I say give it a try.
Sheilah
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top