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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK... how does one introduce the stick? I don't want the dog desensitized to it, no.

I was thinking something like raise it and hope for some slight fight from the dog and release the sleeve. But what if you don't get a fight reaction? Does the dog need to be pretty mature to react properly?? I really don't know about this.

Hogan is 17 months old. This weekend, the helper had the clatter stick out there. I was thinking he would use it to disturb the dog a bit. But, it did end up over my dog in a drive. Well, I put an end to that, but I then started wondering about how to involve the stick. Hogan came through it okay but he was not holding the sleeve afterward as well as he usually does.

I am guessing you do have to push a dog incrementally to a level of discomfort to teach them to overcome, but I am not sure how to do that.
 

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Good question! I've been interested in this myself. Looking back I don't really remember how Nikon was introduced. I remember when he was still on the back tie sometimes the stick would come over and hit the leash or harness. Sometimes there would be a mini-drive without a real hit. Luckily the stick hits and drives have not been an issue for us (other things have). Nikon tends to relish fighting and the more confrontation there is from the helper the better he works with more aggression and fight. His behavior and grip on the drive and stick hits is probably some of his better work in the protection phase. Right now we have some dogs in the club that are of the age where the the stick is coming up, or coming over, or starting to make contact....
 

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I think it depends on the dog... we started on the stick when Cullen was working the wedge.... and then I believe he started sleeve work around 7-8 months? At that point, the stick was used only to strike the leash or sleeve... but now he takes a stick hit without phasing him, and he recognizes it as it should be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I was thinking that I do want it to "phase" him in a way. I would like him to recognize it as an escalation in the fight and some threat. Then I would like to see an escalation from him in that fight. I don't want him to ignore it or think nothing of it.

So, when the helper begins to raise the stick... what should they look for in the dog? How do you get the fight response? Hogan is youngish, so I wondered if he would bring enough at this point. He is a "fight" kinda dog, I believe, but not completely mature in that aspect of his being.
 

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What is the purpose of all this fight training? I admit ignorance on this topic.
 

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When Karlo was introduced to it, it was a brushing over his body then the sleeve was slipped. I think this began at about 10 mos, inside, dead of winter.
The helper then would hit the sleeve with it, before the bite. After he started with the escape bites(outside at 13 mos), the stick was used a bit more firmly, but not as a hit. He never really took a hit until he was about 16 months, and it was during a drive.
We changed clubs, so different helper, venue had us taking steps back, but now at 20 months he is fighting and taking hits with no problem. There is still a bit of hesitation or lack of the power in the blind(compared to the long bites, escape bites), due to his maturity, and we are moving slowly. Karlo is not in prey with the helper, it is all about the helper, not the sleeve.
 

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I don't want the dog desensitized to it, no.

Why not? This seems a little silly to me. I would like my dog desensitized to the stick, in that they still recognize it as an act of threat by the helper (although truly I think a good helper offers a good deal more threat through body language than actual stick threat), but that it's no longer any big deal. Although maybe it's a question of semantics regarding the word "desensitization". To me desensitization is a process that makes an animal less sensitive to a stimulus. We do it all the time in socialization. We desensitize our dogs to people, places, and things so that those things are not new or startling. Some dogs are naturally not sensitive to the world around them, and some are.

To my mind the stick is used in increments, pushing to a dog's threshold that I understand is felt and seen by the helper through the bite on the sleeve and other things the dog does. In working our dogs I've seen it used in a number of ways. Hitting a tight lead behind the head. I've seen helpers use hands. Pet the dog with the stick. Start with hits on the side of the dog. And following the stick hit/threat there is some kind of release of the pressure. The release of pressure can come with the release of the sleeve, or a change in the helper. I have one dog that when he would counter in on a stick hit the helper would collapse a little to the ground, so the dog could feel like he was dragging him down and winning their fight. I also feel it's important that if a dog should start to lose his grip during a stick threat, it's important to allow the dog an opportunity to counter before releasing the sleeve. The dog should win for countering or for not being phased in the first place.

And of course different dogs show different levels of sensitivity. One of my dogs you could beat all day in the head and he wouldn't even blink. There was no training for the stick. He just took it right away. I have another who is a good deal sharper. Training the stick was more important there.

One thing we did as handlers was to smack our puppies around. We hit them with hands on the sides, with the ends of their leashes, with sticks on walks, and while playing and turned a good smack into a sort of "Atta Boy". This way objects waving by their heads, physical contact to the body doesn't phase them. But of course these are just elements- none of which should involve threat when done by the handler. But being used to these elements can help the dogs to better focus when presented with a threat involving them. So rather than my young dog in protection having to deal with being a little unnerved by these elements at once- level of threat given by the presence of the helper, the noise, the movement, and the physical contact, all he really needs to focus on is the variable I want him to focus on...the level of threat presented by the helper. Usually when you see a dog being worked with on the stick, you usually see it being broken down into those elements. The movement (swinging the stick but not hitting), The noise (hitting the lead), the physical contact (hitting the dog in a less threatening way on the side), and then only finally on actually coping with the threat.

A good helper should be giving when presenting any kind of threat to the dog. The dog should always win the contest, regardless of how you are training. And no, I would not expect a puppy to be competing with the helper at this point in a fight. Of course any fight behaviors should be rewarded by your helper, but that's not really something most handlers can direct..because your arm is not in the sleeve and you cannot feel if there is compression of loosening. You can't really see if you dog averts his eyes to avoid or if he's staring right in the eyes of the helper.

So you have to communicate with your helper. There should be a purpose behind why he does what he does. He should be able to tell you why he slipped the sleeve, or why he decided to take the dog into a drive with the stick. Even if it's only just to see what would happen. One time will not ruin a good dog and it will provide information to your helper on what to do to adjust next time. A good deal of training is trial and error.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yes, I think it is just a semantics deal in this case.

I have a young and inexperienced helper person. He is very nice and easy to work with.

Speaking to me of good helpers and what they should and can do really does not pertain to the training situations in my area. So, there is no use talking about what they can do.

I do need to be able to help the helper help my dog along. So, that is why I ask how to introduce and progress this process. I think I have some ideas and if I can wrangle my kid into some helper work, we will try to see what reaction the dog can bring. My sense that he is not fully developed in his fight drive. This probably what will be the main factor. I can tell the dog is going to bring something to the fight, so I would like to let that come on before too much "progess" is pushed. I don't want to ask a teenager to fight like a man. They can't do it.
 
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