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Let's discuss this aspect of the GSD. Over the years, I have witnessed the rather significant affects the people can have on their dogs, both good and bad.
For the purpose of this thread, lets just talk about the negative effects the things people do, can have on their dogs. Cases where the people are maybe trying to fit a square peg in a round hole or where something about them just brings out the worst in their dogs. This can be the handlers or maybe helpers in SchH. Trainers you hired etc.

Have you ever witnessed a case where the people actually made a very good dog look like a very "bad" one?

Do you think the dogs should be bred to overcome the deficiencies in the people?

Please share any experiences where you witnessed a case of the people having this kind of impact on their dog.
 

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I can't really comment on the SchH aspect but one thing I see alot when I do the all-breed training clubs is that everyone seems obsessed with their GSDs being buddy-buddy with any ol' dog on the street (or the dog park *shudder*), and if their dog is not very outgoing or friendly towards other dogs, then they label it "aggressive" and run off to some "positive only!" behaviorist who really just pressures and stresses the dog sometimes beyond repair by constantly forcing it to confront other dogs, all in the name of treats and clicker training. To me there is a difference between a dog who is aggressive and will charge and provoke other dogs, and a dog who is aloof, under the control of the owner, and simply does not care to make friends with other dogs. I do not understand the fascination with trying to force the GSD to openly accept all other dogs in any circumstance and being OK with using so much pressure to try to achieve this, especially with really young, immature dogs.
 

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It's a bumpy ride down the road of nature vs nurture. I see it right here with a few members and nope not gonna talk about them!

My own experience with rescues is to say yes, found a lot of good dogs who's original owners/guardians whatever politcally correct expression you prefer couldn't handle the dogs core personality, dog didn't fit their life. They weren't willing to let the dog be themselves so they gave them up.

I still have one of those dogs. Morgan is not really outgoing. She could care less about meeting people or adding new people to her inner circle and tends to act like a nazi bitch around other dogs. Loves children though. It's been a hard road to get her to accept my friends coming over. She does it for me now, to make me happy. Only took 5 years to get her to that point...
 

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My feeling is that although I would like my dog (2 yo male GSD) to be friendly with other dogs all that I will insist on is that he tolerate another dogs presence and not get aggressive. (PS he does have the right to defend himself if that ever becomes needed).

he must also be tolerant of kids and puppies as any normal adult dog should be.
 

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Well, Bixler, my first dog, got from the newspaper, genetically not the best, Me, 18yo, knows nothing about dogs, training, etc, quickly turned into a bad situation, just as quickly turned around when I realized I was causing a lot of his issues, and I realized that you have to train your dog (and the addiction began!) he still has his issues but with training he's come a long way, and Ive learned a lot about handling a dog like him and how most of the time I triggered his episodes.

Also, In just the last few months I've seen 2 dogs come out to SchH training, having both been worked with 2 different helpers at 2 different clubs, both owners were being told their dogs were basically crap. These dogs might not be national level dogs, but they have both come so far in a very short time.

Dog A, first time on the field, extremely defensive barking, and would hardly bite, the sleeve just kinda fell out of her mouth. The dog is 2 or 3 yo and had been put under a lot of pressure in previous training. This dog is actually turning out to be a nice dog. Its hard for me to believe its the same dog I saw on that first day.

Dog B, apparently people at previous club would run away when the woman brought out her dog, why, I have no idea. The dog is soft if anything. Started her out on burlap rag, built confidence, and now, again, would never guess it's the same dog.

Same with obedience, Ive watched both these dogs, and others come along in obedience, leaps and bounds!

Even with my Hexe, who I thought had nice obedience, a couple months with an excellent teacher and her nice obedience is even nicer!

Ive really come to appreciate having a good teacher and helper



As far as being bred to overcome deficiencies.. I think if you have a really well bred dog, they SHOULD be able to overcome these deficiencies (in less someone is just really stupid and maybe shouldn't have a dog period) I think its more that the dogs who aren't as genetically superior are the ones who are more susceptible to have issues due to poor handling. But that's just my opinion with limited experience.
 

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Originally Posted By: SunCzarinaIt's a bumpy ride down the road of nature vs nurture. I see it right here with a few members and nope not gonna talk about them!
I have to agree not the dogs fault though!
 

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Anne, you are somewhat familiar with this one....

Elf-- GSD female showed tons of promise as a puppy. Social, agile, drivey and obnoxious:)
I did not work her until 2 . She came out first time, met the decoy head on, showed lots of aggression, hit sleeve hard and full.
But I forgot that she was a baby. Forgot that she still needed to be built up (or just did not realize it).
Decoy continued to pressure her, I had never bothered to learn protection from a trainers view point.
Now the dog is screwed up. Fixable? Maybe, maybe not.
---But should our dogs be bred without that aggression?? I don't think so. It certainly has its place and even now my girl is managed with just a little common sense.

Anik- as a handler, I get nervous when people come up to my dogs. Heart rate goes up, hand tightens on leash. Anik is VERY stable but I am afraid I will screw him up by sending these signals out.
I try to minimize it by only going places and around people in situations that I know I can control.
 

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I had a little bitch several years ago that was an ADHD dog. She could not focus for more than a few seconds off leash. i tried everything -- treats, toys, corrections, etc. All I did was make her nervous about working because she didn't want to fail, but she couldn't meet my expectations. So I changed my expectations. I put her on a buckle collar and just decided that points really didn't matter and qualifying did. She is the only dog I have every trained that would relax after the off-lead healing portion of AKC Open obedience. She got her title with scores in the 180's.
 

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unfortunately I did what Lies refers to in her post, with some twists, as in, I could care less about my puppy being a social butterfly with other dogs, I just want all my dogs to be able to go out into any situation, mind their own business and deal with life.

Suffice it to say, I could have (and thought I did) really wreck my puppy but thankfully I was able to turn around all the 'negative' stuff. Even tho I say "I", I"m sure alot had to do with genetics as well.

I think if you have a sound dog to begin with, turning things around are easier than having an unsound dog.

I also think with an unsound dog, figuring out what works for them vs us, is key to management.

I couldn't comment on the breeding aspect, as I have no aspirations to breed:))

and yes, unfortunately I see alot of good dogs look bad in the wrong hands...I guess I would ask, is it uneducated owners? Dogs that are mismatched with owners??
 

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I've always had easy to train, good temperamented dogs...til Onyx came along. It made me really step up as a trainer, handler. She has taught me so much and I thank her for that.
I was uneducated before, even though I had dogs all my life. I never had a fear aggressive dog.
I think I may have screwed up Onyx's foundation. Her first ob class was with a compulsion based trainer. I saw it immediately, and didn't let her use her methods w/ Onyx, though the imprint had been done in the first class. She harshly corrected her when she lunged at another puppy. I didn't know better and let the trainer do it, my bad.
Though, a dog with good genetics would have overcome it.
I was inconsistant in my methods and it took us over a yr for me to learn that she would not be the social type dog that I've always owned. Cool with me, now that I know.
If she ended up in a place that the owner didn't learn, or used compulsion on her, she would have been either euth'd due to bite history or who knows, I hate to think about it. We manage, one day at a time and as time goes by, she has really gotten much better.
 

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i think a sound dog can bounce back from any kind of training, handling........
on the other hand if you have an unsound dog it seems you have to treat it like a piece of fine china, one mistake and the dog is doomed for life..........and in the process of training an unsound dog it would be a learning experience for the owner as well, trying to figure out why normal training exposure isn't working.......
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Like I said at the beginning, I have seen quite a few instances where the people just kind of create havoc with the dogs. One recent case was with a dog in SchH. The owner called me because after two years of working in SchH, his dog would not bark at the helper. When I asked what the dog does, he said he would just kind of make woo woo sounds, and would get so stressed, his eyes would turn red and he would exhaust himself within about 30 seconds.
I asked what they were doing to the dog to try to get a bark . He gave a number of examples where they had tried to disturb the dog so he would bark. They hit him with whiffle bats, squirted him with hoses, threw cans at him, used the e collar, you name it but nothing worked. I have to admit when he described the red eyes and exhaustion I thought the dog must have nerve issues. So, he came down to train and I had him bring the dog on the field and put him in a down while we sat and talked. The dog looked nervous, not afraid but just nervous in the way he would dart his eyes looking around and how he was breathing. So, I thought , yep nerves.
I had him bring the dog out and I stood there with the sleeve on. The dog came up, didn't bark and within about 30 seconds he was totally spent. I had the owner take the dog away. I decided that I should probably work him in a way that really disturbs him to try to get the bark . I do this by sitting on the ground and using a leather rag and I am very still when the dog is brought out. I have yet to meet a dog who does not react when I do this. Well , he did and out came a very strong and serious bark and that continued for a few minutes and then we quit. The next day he came again. It was 110 degrees and we tied the dog on the pole and I walked up to him with the leather rag in one hand and the sleeve in the other. Really strong barking and the dog only required one adjustment and he was there barking for over three or four minutes in that weather. We put him up and I sat there almost amazed at what a difference that made in the dog. The same dog the night before could only make it thirty seconds and was then exhausted and now he had energy to spare in over 100 degree heat. What they were doing to that dog to get him to bark was just all wrong and it had made the dog look like a nervous wreck when really, he wasn't at all. It was really a remarkable change and also a rather disturbing one when it occurred to me what the trainers in that club were doing to the dog and his health. They created a problem and then just kept compounding it with methods that did nothing but make the dog crazy. He is a really nice dog, very powerful and like I said, once he figured out what to do, all the energy and stamina came right back, no more blood shot eyes, just a normal , very strong dog. A few weeks after that I was talking to someone who trained in the same club with that dog. I asked him if he knew the dog and his response was to immediately criticize the dog and talk about the red eyes rolling back in his head etc etc.. No one , it seems, had a clue that the work was all wrong for that dog. Maybe ten years ago I might have thought the same thing but luckily, I learned how to work a dog the way I described and it worked for that dog, although since he still trains in the same group things have probably reverted back, hopefully not where it was before though. I'm not telling this to prove what a great helper I am, I am telling it because of the absolutely amazing difference in that dog when the method was changed and the dog was shown how to get out of the stress vs being submerged in it. I think in SchH this probably happens quite a bit, ( maybe not to that degree though). However I could list quite a few examples of people doing this with their pets as well, where the dog, (once the right method was applied), became another animal entirely.
 

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I couldn't really think of any examples, but then your story of the dog that didn't want to bark reminded me of Keeta - not a GSD, not a "bred" dog for anything, but I had issues when I adopted her. People would have labeled her as stubborn, independent, handler aggresive, hectic, unrespectful, etc . . . Of course I adopted a sweet young dog (stress, illness, honeymoon period was the "sweetness"). But I ran into a lot of resistance in her in my attempts to get some basic training. She was consciouly resisting. Facing off, staring me off, fighting my will. I was ovewhelmed by the effort it took from me to try and impose my control - and that was just the issue, I was trying to force my will upon her, approaching it all with "YOU WILL SUBMIT" type of attitude, because I was a . . . . shtupid dork, who did not believe in "bribing" dogs to do stuff, they should listen just because I said so.

I had to admit complete defeat, and took her to food reward based, positve training classes (now that was a desperate move from my part!).

It was like what you said in your post. She became a different dog!
It was like someone reached into her brain, and flipped a switched, and all the lights came on!!! (Same thing could be said for me after seeing the change in her after the change in training methods).
She LOVED this game!!! Everytime a new excercise was introduced, you could see how she got excited trying to figure out the "right" thing to do in order to get the treat and the praise.

She just whizzed through the obedience classe and tracking classes, and even did a "challenge" track that the instructor laid for fun so confidently and accurately, that the rest of the class gave her a standing ovation when we got our certificates. The smarts, and more importantly, an innate desire to work for ME were there just needed the key to unlock it.

My whole attitude and philosophy changed from being "in control" to positive leadership, and Keeta was more than willing to follow along. It was one of the biggest mental shifts I went through and I am still amazed at how it changed my relationship with my dog to the better. I had to change how I was thinking, and everything else just fell into place.

Nothing wrong with the dog - but there was a lot to fix with the owner!!!

As to your question, should dogs be bred to overcome deficiencies in people - wow, I never thought about breeding that way before.

Should they? I think that is an insult to the dogs themselves, not being able to appreciate them for who they are, and what they have inside to give. Us being blind and stupid to recognize their potential and insisting to always do things the same way, instead of adapting to fit the individual dogs.

I think people already ARE breeding dog to overcome their own and other's deficiencies. the low drive-low energy pet dog breeder who breeds couch potatoes, the extreme prey drive dogs for flashy obedience and more points, the very very handler-hard dogs so people don't have to worry about shutting their dogs down if they give it too hard a correction, and push the dog to hard, too fast - I think people are breeding for what they like themselves, they breed the dogs they would want to train and handle, that would fit their own training philosophies and methods, instead of breeding with a rounded view of what the dog should be.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I think what Lucia just said should be read a few times. The thing that struck me the most about what she said is the honesty about her part in what happened with her dog. That is what I think is the biggest problem, people who will not look at their part in how the dog is performing. I think people are just a bit too quick to label the dogs but a whole lot slower when it comes to labeling themselves. The dogs are the ones who are " stubborn " while they steadfastly refuse to try something different than what they have been doing over and over that is not working. Different people learn better different ways. Some can read instruction manuals and immediately know how to do something. Others need it explained verbally. I don't think it is a lack of intelligence for the later, just a different type of learner. It would not really be fair to punish the person who did not understand completely after reading a manual but that happens to the dogs quite a bit.

Of course you have to look at the dog and you have to consider who the dog is. That is very important but once you slap a label on that same dog, you are limiting your ability to solve the problem.

Let's consider the word "stubborn" for a minute. I have not met any stubborn dogs but I have met lots of them who appeared to be stubborn. Like what Lucia was talking about, I have see dogs who resist certain types of training because it disturbs or frightens them or it is simply the wrong method for that dog making it too difficult for the dog to figure out what the handler wants.
Here is an example. I had a SchH 3 dog here who was a rather accomplished dog. Trained by some of the better trainers in the world, ( which sometimes doesn't mean a whole lot as far as what we are discussing here). There were two things I noticed about this dog. If he had a toy , good luck getting it out of his mouth. The more you struggled with that dog, the harder he held on. Same in protection and when I asked the VERY famous trainer about the out in protection, he told me I must use a shock collar to control the dog. Also, most corrections would result in this dog going slower , not faster. It is important to realize that all of these behaviors are related and interestingly were the same traits that made the dog an absolutely impressive dog in protection. His sit out of motion was very hydraulic.... slow and if you corrected him, it got worse. So, one day, I took out a clicker and food and tried it that way. Within one session the sit was FAST. Then I tried to get him to out off the toy. When I used a more harsh and sharp out command, he bit down harder. Then I simply spoke the word "out" calmly and quietly, he immediately let go. Same in protection, quiet command and the dog would out. What was really interesting is that a woman I was training with owned this dog's mother for a while. We were talking one day and out of the blue she said, you know, that dog was really interesting, she would not out if you raised your voice at all but if you just said out quietly, she would immediately let go. It was an absolutely genetic trait in that dog and his mom but for the first four years of that dog's life, people imposed their will without considering that maybe they were using the wrong approach with that dog .
I see this quite a bit where what the people do , creates a behavior in the dog and then they correct the behavior THEY created.
 

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I posted this on another topic but thought it may apply here as well:

"Funny story, many years ago I worked on tree farm. The manager was an old man who had done this type work his entire life. He took me out one day to prune trees. I had no idea what to do. The old man looked at me and told me to watch him. He set off down a row of trees and trimmed non stop for about 1/2 hour. Carefully selecting which branches to cut, what branches to leave. As he finished the last tree in the row he looked at me and asked if I understood how to prune trees now. I know I had that deer in the headlight look so I asked him, "how do you know what to cut and what to leave - how do you know what to do"? The old man was silent and could tell that I was frustrated then spoke some words I never forgot. He said "son, I listen to the trees, they tell me what I need to do. A lot times in nature, you have to listen and watch."

I think some current German shepherd breeders (trainers, owners) should of worked with that old man."

I have seen first hand what improper (forced) training can do to a dog. A couple of friends have outstanding "working line" German shepherds and because of the abusive training done by previous owners and "experts" these two wonderful dogs have major issues with "trust". The horrible and painful training techniques employed will take years to overcome. I am thankful these two dogs are now in wonderful homes with great people that respect and understand German shepherds.
 

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this quote seems appropriate for this thread...

http://maxvstephanitz.homestead.com/ (posted in another thread)

Quote: A leader without expert knowledge of and affection for the dog will achieve only mediocre results wiht the best trained dog: while an expert dog-loving leader can achieve good results with a dog of only fair capapcity. In other words, the whole quesiton is not only a question of the dog, but quite as much, if not more so, a question of hte fitness of the leader." Max v Stephanitz
I'm sure there are dogs out there that an inexperienced person could still show well. however, and this is my only experience showing animals, I've seen some great horses go out and do terrible because the person riding did not know what signals to give the horse. I've seen some good, but not great, horses win large classes because the rider knew what to do to make the horse look better.

I think the same rules apply to dogs. As smart as they are, they can only do what is asked of them. If the person doesn't have a clue how to ask then the dog can not do well other than by accident or luck.

Now when dogs start judging the humans in the ring...
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I do want to make clear that I am not simply saying everything has to be positive. In some cases, a correction is absolutely necessary to make things clearer to the dog. Leaving a dog sitting in the "gray" is also unfair. I am saying that people should really sit down and think a bit and consider all the things they notice about their dogs BEFORE they try to train them.

When people first bring their dogs for training, I always sit and talk to them about their dog before I try anything. What they tell me about what their dog does at home and in certain situations , ( and what they do in response), has a great deal to do with how I approach the training, ( with both the handler and the dog), be it in protection or obedience, whatever.
Here is another example. I was walking with a woman while her dog was tracking. She told me the dog was not downing straight at the article. Down the track the dog went and when she came to the article she downed in a perfect "sphinx down". Her handler then praised her whereupon the dog curled around to look at her. Then the handler verbally corrected her and rushed up to correct her back into a straight down. So, I said to her, your praise is making the dog curl around. Don't praise until you walk up to her and maybe stand in front and straddle the track and praise her and give her food that way. Oh my, what a fight this woman gave me. She just could not see that SHE was creating the problem and continued on doing the same thing. What I pointed out, made her angry. There does seem to be a quite a few people who have a hard time controlling themselves attracted to controlling animals. I know there is a psychological reason for this that we don't need to discuss. I will just say that if you want to control the dog, you simply MUST have the ability to control yourself.
 

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In order to train an animal...you have to think like one! I'm just learning that and what a difference it is making!
 

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Originally Posted By: Vandal
Same in protection and when I asked the VERY famous trainer about the out in protection, he told me I must use a shock collar to control the dog. Also, most corrections would result in this dog going slower , not faster. It is important to realize that all of these behaviors are related and interestingly were the same traits that made the dog an absolutely impressive dog in protection. His sit out of motion was very hydraulic.... slow and if you corrected him, it got worse. So, one day, I took out a clicker and food and tried it that way. Within one session the sit was FAST. Then I tried to get him to out off the toy. When I used a more harsh and sharp out command, he bit down harder. Then I simply spoke the word "out" calmly and quietly, he immediately let go. Same in protection, quiet command and the dog would out.

I see this quite a bit where what the people do , creates a behavior in the dog and then they correct the behavior THEY created.
I've seen this a number of times. I don't understand it. People who try to speed things up through escape training or correction...and it doesn't work on their dog. They spend countless repetitions with the electric trying to get a faster behavior and if anything it gets slower. Why are you still doing it? You're not getting anywhere, try something else.

And yes. Undeniably people create behaviors that they don't want and have to later correct. I usually see it most often with people who are trying to work their pet as a SchH dog. I've seen people who are super frustrated with their dogs being nervous with sticks and movement around the face, the dog gets labeled as "spooky", and those same people smack the dog across the bridge of the nose for unwanted behavior. No wonder he flinches. People who don't understand why their dog, considered to have poor ball drive, isn't really going for the ball in drive building exercises, but they yell at the dog for being pushy, or they get nervous and their posture says "leave me alone!" People who try and build posession and at the same time are constantly taking things away from their puppies. On the other end you have people who are so afraid of telling their SchH puppy "No" that they provide poor leadership and create issues there.

So should we breed to overcome these people problems? We are already. Too often trainers adjust their dogs to fit their training style, they don't adjust their training style to fit the dog. Agree with Lucia totally on that item.
 
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