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Was researching working line dogs, some say they require a dominant or strong handler. What exactly do they mean by this? I've raised dogs in the past but I don't think I was a "dominant" handler. A little more specifics would be great from experienced handlers.
 

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I prefer the term confident. They are referring to a handler who is capable of leading the dog. One who doesn't waver or become indecisive, giving the dog cause to doubt you. It also refers to a handler who can remain clear, focused and calm which is ideally where you want your dog at as well. Some dogs will actively challenge a handler and the person holding the leash has to be confident and strong enough to deal with that, because if you let them win once you make things much harder for both of you.
 

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Eh. It's more important to be consistent and fair then dominant and strong with most dogs, even the working lines IMHO

Most pet owners I've met are very very inconsistent with their dogs. Forgetting to release after commands, not reinforcing ignored commands, constantly changing the rules.

My, albeit limited, experience with working dogs seems to be their are a plethora of personalities amongst them and to say all WL need a strong or dominant handler just doesn't fit. I've seen dogs that are so hard that practically need a 2x4 slammed over their head before they notice a correction. I've seen others that act like the world is ending if their person just gives a stern verbal. Some dogs shut down if given a correction too strong for it. Others will turn and lash out at their handlers for the unfair treatment. Most are somewhere in the middle.

If you are interested in a working line dog the most important thing is developing a good relationship with some breeders, owners, and trainers. There are going to be dogs out there to suit just about any handler's style, energy, experience level, and goals.

Getting to know people who work dogs regularly well help you find people producing dogs you will be best matched with.
 

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How much are you getting paid for that? :rofl:

With that said, I would hardly compare owning a working line German Shepherd to anything remotely similar to owning a Pit Bull. Many familiar with both breeds concur no two types of dogs are more diametrically opposed.
 

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How much are you getting paid for that? :rofl:

With that said, I would hardly compare owning a working line German Shepherd to anything remotely similar to owning a Pit Bull. Many familiar with both breeds concur no two types of dogs are more diametrically opposed.
Having actually owned both pits and gsds. I disagree with this statement.

Yes they are different breeds and have different drives and temperaments. My gsd is suspiscious of strangers. My pit was dog aggressive, etc. However the actual day to day life with them (re owning) has a lot more in common then say a GSD vs spaniel or a GSD vs Havanese or a GSD vs Newfoundland or GSD vs a Greyhound. (I say those as they are other breeds I have experience with)

I'm talking day to day as in dealing with prey drive, exercise needs, training needs, and their general management. Heck I have found that my pits and gsd even prefer the same type of games that my other breeds were meh about. Like tug and nosework.

Anywho.

Didn't watch chips video. Something about the dude annoys me. Can't put my finger on it. Hey may be the best trainer in the world, I wouldn't know (and don't take this post as me bashing his skills). Could be a great video with fantastic info - i just can't get through it lol
 

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Can't agree with that, handling a dog that is prone to HA is distinctly different than one prone to DA. I have been around too many of both. I really can't even see a comparison with the ease with which a person can take an HA dog out in public vs one that is DA, and I am not speaking fear aggression. I have owned HA dogs, the more HA the better for me, and I have owned DA dogs. Please, keep the DA dogs. :)

But seriously, never met a professional dog trainer, handler, breeder, etc., of HA aggressive breeds that did not consider DA a PITA, while appreciating HA and managing it with ease.

Not trying to start another Pit Bull thread, then again, I was not the one to bring up Pit Bulls, but there were two separate incidences in the past 24 hours where a man was killed by a friend's Pit Bull (which he knew) in CA and a 7 year old boy in Maine was killed by the family pet Pit mix. No, no way can anybody advise that the two breeds are similar, or share similar requirements.
 

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At the last IPO show I went to I saw a lot of shepherds and mals. A rottie. 2 dobies. 3 or 4 American bull dogs. 2 Pits. A ACD. A Dutchie. Oh and one very cool mutt.

Seems to me if they are competing in the same sport successfully there are similarities. At least more similarities between them and many other breeds.

But seriously, never met a professional dog trainer, handler, breeder, etc., of HA aggressive breeds that did not consider DA a PITA, while appreciating HA and managing it with ease
I have. Plenty of them. American Bulldogs are pretty known for DA. Yet I'm pretty sure the director for the USCA southeast region has titled a half dozen of 'em.

But that aside pits really have nothing to do with this thread. I stomached some of that video an non of it was pit bull breed specific really.
 

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With my little experience, I also prefer words like confident and leader. Just to give a small example, I got my one and only GSD when he was roughly between 1-2 years old. He would have been considered an easy dog by most people on this forum, but he was a handful for me, just full of energy and hormones. He also acted like he had the choice of obeying me or not and much of that was my doing. I am a soft-spoken person and began to realize that it was the tone and projection of my voice and body language that gave him that idea. Once I realized that, I had to learn to give commands in a firm, no-nonsense manner and Newlie responded much better to that, it was like a light came on in his head "Oh yeah, THIS is what she wants me to do."
 

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stepping away from the breed discussion here is how I look at the Dominant / Strong handler. It means this dog will be testing you so you need to have clear limits in mind. And you have to be consistent in enforcing them. It means using positive training for teaching new skills but not being afraid to use some appropriate corrections once you know the dog understands what you want yet refuses. Corrections do not mean beating the dog, though. You have to keep up with this dog, know his body language well and his moods so you can adjust unacceptable behavior right from the start. It is much harder teaching proper behavior if you have to play catch-up.

It is not so much Pack Leader mentality but Benevolent Dictator. You wouldn't let a child run the house, don't let the dog run the house.
 

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Was researching working line dogs, some say they require a dominant or strong handler. What exactly do they mean by this? I've raised dogs in the past but I don't think I was a "dominant" handler. A little more specifics would be great from experienced handlers.
I, personally, hate the word "dominant". You do need to be a leader. These dogs are smart, they will make their own decisions if you won't take charge. And they will get themselves in trouble doing that! In terms of a "strong" handler, you do need to tell them "No! You will NOT do this" at times.

BUT, in my experience, the relationship between you and your dog should be a partnership. It should be fair, clear and consistent. It needs to be based on trust between you and your dog, not on dominance.
 

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At the last IPO show I went to I saw a lot of shepherds and mals. A rottie. 2 dobies. 3 or 4 American bull dogs. 2 Pits. A ACD. A Dutchie. Oh and one very cool mutt.

Seems to me if they are competing in the same sport successfully there are similarities. At least more similarities between them and many other breeds.



I have. Plenty of them. American Bulldogs are pretty known for DA. Yet I'm pretty sure the director for the USCA southeast region has titled a half dozen of 'em.

But that aside pits really have nothing to do with this thread. I stomached some of that video an non of it was pit bull breed specific really.

I did not watch the video either, I saw the writing on the wall with the thumbnail and went no further, so I cannot comment on the content either.

German Shepherds can, and do, compete in many different venues. That does not make them the same type as other dogs in all of those venues, nor should the reverse be said of other breeds.

I do agree with the rest, Pit Bulls have nothing to do with this thread. They should have never been put in the mix, yet again, to derail yet another thread. The handling skills necessary to handle HA (civil), and to manage and control this desirable trait as well as frequently to enhance it, are not the same as those needed to handle DA, a quality that most try to suppress, and should not be consistently represented as such without being addressed further on a GSD forum. OP is on a German Shepherd Dog forum questioning how to be a strong or dominant handler for working line dogs. Let's get back on topic.

IMO, being a strong or dominant handler frequently has a lot to do with a person's natural temperament. Lacking such a type of personality, there are skills that can be learned to increase one's handling abilities that would benefit a naturally dominant personality as well. One has to be willing to assume a leadership role and be willing to enforce consistency and some basic rules. Commitment and patience are key, as well as the ability for the handler to be teachable. An understanding of dogs, their behavior, how they think and learn, body language, breed specific traits, etc., are all skills that can be learned to improve one's handling skills.
 

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stepping away from the breed discussion here is how I look at the Dominant / Strong handler. It means this dog will be testing you so you need to have clear limits in mind. And you have to be consistent in enforcing them. It means using positive training for teaching new skills but not being afraid to use some appropriate corrections once you know the dog understands what you want yet refuses. Corrections do not mean beating the dog, though. You have to keep up with this dog, know his body language well and his moods so you can adjust unacceptable behavior right from the start. It is much harder teaching proper behavior if you have to play catch-up.

It is not so much Pack Leader mentality but Benevolent Dictator. You wouldn't let a child run the house, don't let the dog run the house.
Can't agree with that, handling a dog that is prone to HA is distinctly different than one prone to DA. I have been around too many of both. I really can't even see a comparison with the ease with which a person can take an HA dog out in public vs one that is DA, and I am not speaking fear aggression. I have owned HA dogs, the more HA the better for me, and I have owned DA dogs. Please, keep the DA dogs. :)

But seriously, never met a professional dog trainer, handler, breeder, etc., of HA aggressive breeds that did not consider DA a PITA, while appreciating HA and managing it with ease.

Not trying to start another Pit Bull thread, then again, I was not the one to bring up Pit Bulls, but there were two separate incidences in the past 24 hours where a man was killed by a friend's Pit Bull (which he knew) in CA and a 7 year old boy in Maine was killed by the family pet Pit mix. No, no way can anybody advise that the two breeds are similar, or share similar requirements.
This should give you a bit of insight:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-VJXhM0iJo

I think Jeff explains it way better than I can. :)
Great video. The key here is patience. The slip lead and air spray are good tools as well.
 

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I don't like the term dominant either regarding dogs because it isn't a good description. It's too vague and it gives people the impression they need to be tough or angry with their dogs. I agree with the words used here, confident and consistent. The best way to learn that is by taking a class or private lessons with a good trainer and learn to mirror what that person does. If you are involved in IPO you will learn a lot from the training sessions by observing other dog handlers.

As an example, a friend had a spaniel-herding mix dog that was so aggressive it would bite the ankles of any guest at her home who made eye contact. Every time the dog did that, without exception, she would pick her up (big dog, too, 40+ lbs) and put it in her lap and hug it, saying No, no, don't bite. The woman was afraid to be firm with her dog or to make the dog behave around guests because the dog was a shelter dog and "had a bad childhood." It didn't bite hard, but enough to scare people off. I can't even imagine that woman owning dogs like I have, who are relatively even tempered but still need firm guidance.

For a WL dog, or any GSD, but especially if you have a dog with drive that makes it more persistent, you need to understand dog behavior and make sure your interactions are clear and consistent. I am teaching my puppy to respond to quiet voices and commands, because I don't want to always shout at him to make him respond. I am trying to be consistent, so if I say Sit, for example, I'm not moving around in a way that he might read as play time rather than work time. When we are working I try to use the same demeanor all the time.

I've seen that video and I like it because he uses some good calming techniques for keeping the dog from rushing out of the crate. I tried them and with only a few door closures, my puppy stopped charging the crate door when I open it. JG is very strange but he gets the desired results. He was doing it all on a simple slip lead, which shows the kind of control he has when training a difficult dog. He's patient, quiet and not at all "dominant" and the dog responds and learns quickly.
 

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Great video. The key here is patience. The slip lead and air spray are good tools as well.
Patience is good, but other then him saying he has confidence in himself, those are just techniques or tools being shown, they don't really have anything to do with your question. Even a wienie can shut a gate in the dogs face and teach him to wait so that he avoids having a gate shut in his face.

Being a strong handler is your voice, body language, attitude, and like was mentioned by others, confidence. Its what you have when the leash isn't there because they know the difference.
 

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Not saying that the person in the video isn't a strong handler, but the video is all about specific techniques - my resuce dog was worse than the dog in the video, and being "strong" with her didn't make any difference.

Being calm, patient, learning about working with a dog, managine their behaviour so they have no choice but to do what you want them to do and rewarding that, learning about how dogs learn and applying that knowledge turned her around 100% to the point that the highest compliment I got on her is people saying that their goal with their dogs is to have them as well-behaved and compliant as mine.

Being strong as others have said, is different than using specific techniques - it is more an inner confidence thing, knowing in your mind that you are the boss, but not feeling the need to boss the dog around. It's a million little subtle ways we interact with our dogs, and a very difficult thing to try and relay. If I saw someone with their dog, I probably could coach them on how to project a more confident, leader-like energy with how they move, how they carry themselves, how they interact with their dog in a gazillion little ways.
 

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Patience is good, but other then him saying he has confidence in himself, those are just techniques or tools being shown, they don't really have anything to do with your question. Even a wienie can shut a gate in the dogs face and teach him to wait so that he avoids having a gate shut in his face.

Being a strong handler is your voice, body language, attitude, and like was mentioned by others, confidence. Its what you have when the leash isn't there because they know the difference.
Are you calling me a weenie with no confidence?
 

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I did not watch the video either, I saw the writing on the wall with the thumbnail and went no further, so I cannot comment on the content either.

German Shepherds can, and do, compete in many different venues. That does not make them the same type as other dogs in all of those venues, nor should the reverse be said of other breeds.

I do agree with the rest, Pit Bulls have nothing to do with this thread. They should have never been put in the mix, yet again, to derail yet another thread. The handling skills necessary to handle HA (civil), and to manage and control this desirable trait as well as frequently to enhance it, are not the same as those needed to handle DA, a quality that most try to suppress, and should not be consistently represented as such without being addressed further on a GSD forum. OP is on a German Shepherd Dog forum questioning how to be a strong or dominant handler for working line dogs. Let's get back on topic.

IMO, being a strong or dominant handler frequently has a lot to do with a person's natural temperament. Lacking such a type of personality, there are skills that can be learned to increase one's handling abilities that would benefit a naturally dominant personality as well. One has to be willing to assume a leadership role and be willing to enforce consistency and some basic rules. Commitment and patience are key, as well as the ability for the handler to be teachable. An understanding of dogs, their behavior, how they think and learn, body language, breed specific traits, etc., are all skills that can be learned to improve one's handling skills.
You brought up pits. You discredited the video chip posted without watching it, souly on the fact it depicted a pitbull. Having actually watched much of the video, there is no advice given in it that is not applicable to ALL breeds. Though I agree with others it doesn't really talk about handling, it may show what a strong handler looks like in action, which could be valuable.

When sharing advice on this forum, do we need to vet all videos, books, and trainers to make sure they deal with and depict only GSDs? Good dog advice is good dog advice.

Personally I have met many professionals who do not mind managing DA dogs, the way your broad statements suggest. In some breed circles it is actively selected for - LSGs. Personally, I have found that the line between DA and HA is a fine one. Plenty of DA dogs redirect. Many individuals of HA breeds end up with DA. More of an overlap then in breeds where all types of aggression were selected against. But I digress.

My whole point is, having owned both gamebred pit bulls and a civil GSD, I have found they both need the same type of handler to be successful. Both are strong, intelligent, high energy dogs, drivey dogs, that need clear rules and reinforcement.

Oh. And a really good sense of humor is needed for both breeds.

So if others find the video useful, don't think the advice is inapplicable because of the breed being worked with.
 
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