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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings,

My husband and I are bringing our puppy home this spring, and I was curious about what others have done as far as early training before they brought their puppy to their club for the first time. What kind of games did you play, and did you teach the German commands immediately? I am assuming tug-o-war is a popular game for Schutzhund prospects?

Did you make sure your puppy knows that you are the "Alpha" early on? (In other words, did you establish dominance?)

Share your experiences and advice, if you will! It's greatly appreciated!

Kind regards,
- Angel
 

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The only things I ever focused on was building confidence and our bond, not correcting the puppy, but re-directing. The bond you share with the pup is really important, you want the pup to be happy and biddable. I don't think establishing dominance is a big deal, the pup should see you as the leader, but a fair one.
Before I got my pup I read(and still read) Purely Positive Training by Sheila Booth. It has a great section on puppy foundation training for competition dogs.
You can start with the German commands but some will use those only for the SchH training and other everyday commands for everyday use. I use German.
 

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The only things I ever focused on was building confidence and our bond, not correcting the puppy, but re-directing. The bond you share with the pup is really important, you want the pup to be happy and biddable. I don't think establishing dominance is a big deal, the pup should see you as the leader, but a fair one.
Before I got my pup I read(and still read) http://www.dogwise.com/ItemDetails.cfm?ID=dtb588]Purely Positive Training by Sheila Booth. It has a great section on puppy foundation training for competition dogs.
You can start with the German commands but some will use those only for the SchH training and other everyday commands for everyday use. I use German.

My primary goal will always be to establish and build upon the bond between my myself and my new puppy, regardless of everything else. That is very important to me. My puppy is meant to be my constant companion and a family member first and foremost.

Dog training and behaviour is, in a way, my specialty. I have a great deal of knowledge gained through experience, research and education. I may have been unclear in my initial post, but what I seek is personal experience and advice as opposed to resources. I have a great deal of resources, but most do not cover preparing a dog for Schutzhund. ;)

My question, I suppose, is if there is any special training or preparation owners like to do with their puppy when they plan on competing in Schutzhund.

Also, I really like the idea you mentioned about using the German commands only during training/competing. Perhaps it would encourage an on/off switch in the dogs?

I actually have a copy of that book! I also have several German Shepherd specific books. I have my various text books from school including a copy of "The Complete Book of Dog Breeding" by Dan Rice, which has an excellent section on raising puppies.

I greatly appreciate your response!

Kind regards,
- Angel
 

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I never liked the idea to play tug of war with a puppy. I always felt it encourages them to bite and most of all be very aggressive when playing. I feel your homework has been done and you have selected the breeder and pup that will give you the best chance for what you are looking for in that dog. I also feel working on the mind of your puppy to challenge it mentally will give you the best chance to have it progress in what ever you choose to teach it but encouraging it to be aggressive and rough isn't going to help in any way when they are so young. JMO. =)
 

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I would strongly advise you to take your pup everywhere and do everything with him. Expose him/her to as many things as possible and keep it light and fun for them as this will help with confidence and bonding.

Also what Jane said about re-directing, I don't think Stark was actually "corrected" other than a "ah ah" until he was about a year. I always tried (and still do try) to re-direct the behaviour(s) into something more desirable.

TONES of games that build on focus and engagement.

If you can, I would look up Michael Ellis's DVD's (I like, "the power of training your dog with food" and I especially loved "the power of playing tug with your puppy").
 

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I don't think tug is that bad when played in a proper manner, I like to play it lightly and or to teach the out command. Tug a little and when the pup gets it, tell it to out and give it back as a reward but with no tugging. Either way it seems like you are well on your way, you will be fine. Good luck and make sure you post some pics.
 

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If the plan for this pup is SchH, then you should start taking the pup to your SchH club right away and have them give you advice for what they want you to do with him at home. Definitely get him out and about and socialize him as much as possible. Do not punish him for biting or chewing; discover the wonderful world of redirecting and channeling that energy. And, yes, playing tuggie is a good thing.
 

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If the plan for this pup is SchH, then you should start taking the pup to your SchH club right away and have them give you advice for what they want you to do with him at home. Definitely get him out and about and socialize him as much as possible. Do not punish him for biting or chewing; discover the wonderful world of redirecting and channeling that energy. And, yes, playing tuggie is a good thing.
Yes, I am currently investigating my closest clubs to choose the one that is the best fit for me and my husband. I have every intention of being fully prepared before my puppy's arrival. ;) I have contacted each club requesting some time to discuss certain things and answer my questions.

I know the basics of re-directing, but have not gone in-depth. I will study this method more immediately, since it seems to be a popular and effective method. Thank you!

I always assumed tug of war was a good game to play, when done correctly and controlled. Tug of war and Schutzhund seem to fit quite well together! One must be careful not to encourage the wrong aggression/dominance when playing such a game, correct?
 

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I would strongly advise you to take your pup everywhere and do everything with him. Expose him/her to as many things as possible and keep it light and fun for them as this will help with confidence and bonding.

Also what Jane said about re-directing, I don't think Stark was actually "corrected" other than a "ah ah" until he was about a year. I always tried (and still do try) to re-direct the behaviour(s) into something more desirable.

TONES of games that build on focus and engagement.

If you can, I would look up Michael Ellis's DVD's (I like, "the power of training your dog with food" and I especially loved "the power of playing tug with your puppy").
Yes, I certainly will expose her to as much as I possibly can to encourage strong nerves and acceptance of many different situations. Socialization is important in every dog's earliest years. Building focus and confidence are very important! Thank you!

Thank you, everyone!
 

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I think you are over thinking this. Just play tuggie and you will be fine. The club will teach you how to do it and how to out him correctly from there.

You said you were bringing home your new puppy in the spring. Are you getting a workingline dog?
 

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I never liked the idea to play tug of war with a puppy. I always felt it encourages them to bite and most of all be very aggressive when playing. I feel your homework has been done and you have selected the breeder and pup that will give you the best chance for what you are looking for in that dog. I also feel working on the mind of your puppy to challenge it mentally will give you the best chance to have it progress in what ever you choose to teach it but encouraging it to be aggressive and rough isn't going to help in any way when they are so young. JMO. =)

We hear this philosophy and it ALWAYS comes from someone who has no clue about what Schutzhund is and how to train for it. Generally it comes from people who come to our place to address aggression issues in their doodle mix, or rescue pup. They proudly state, well trainer so-and-so told us NEVER to play tug because it causes aggression. What a load of malarkey! A dog doesn't have hands, it has a mouth and they need and enjoy using it. As a game, it is a great way to teach a pup to take and release on command. Have you ever watched flyball teams compete? A huge percentage of them are rewarded with a game of tug, they even make and sell special tugs just for that sport. Nothing aggressive about it, just a reward. Same thing with Schutzhund, a good training director can get you started playing tug in a way that is enjoyable and educational for your puppy, just like learning to sit for a treat or a happy recall, learning to control when and how a puppy uses it's mouth is very beneficial. Why hide from it? That is like never allowing a child to use it's hands because when it grows up it might use them in a fight.
Everyone who calls about joining our Schutzhund club is encouraged to start as soon as they can. Even come out and watch before they get their puppy if possible. They can watch the obedience and tracking and see where they will hopefully end up and when they watch bitework, they can concentrate and ask questions without having to worry about their pup yet. We have been training as a hobby and professionally for many years, and we can say we have never had any dog that has been trained in bitework bite either of us or even almost bite. (They have an Aus command, go figure!). Now dogs from the general public, that's another story ;).
Go to your club and get them to get you started, at first, socialization and general manners are all you will need (yes we start off in German) but it is never to early to start.
 

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By the way, you do not have to use German commands. If that's what you want to do, you can, but it's not necessary. I don't speak German so I use English. As you live in Canada, nothing wrong with French. You are supposed to use one language throughout, so pick whichever one you feel the most comfortable with.
 

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I always assumed tug of war was a good game to play, when done correctly and controlled. Tug of war and Schutzhund seem to fit quite well together! One must be careful not to encourage the wrong aggression/dominance when playing such a game, correct?
Actually, I think when tugging with a puppy there is more risk of the human imposing too much on the puppy than vice versa. I've seen some people just be too rough with a puppy or expect a puppy to be playing tug like they are doing bitework. It's just a fun game. When I play tug with my puppies I use old towels or bits of old fabric on a string so that I can tap into their prey drive and put some distance between us. I'm not using a tug toy and bringing it to my face, staring down at the pup or leaning over the puppy. The puppy should win! I get my puppy tugging and then let him win, I call his name and clap and he comes running right back and shoves the rag back into my hands for more. What you don't want is for the puppy to run off with the toy all the time and then stay there, chewing it and keeping it from you. It should be a fun game for both of you and the puppy wins even though you are controlling the toy, if that makes sense.
 

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Actually, from my perspective I think tug of war is good for Sch today, because most dogs developed this way usually you don't have to worry about indescriminate biting. I think too much tug playing leads to play/prey dogs and that is okay in today's sch world, but not for developing a dog to really bite people.JMO
 

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We hear this philosophy and it ALWAYS comes from someone who has no clue about what Schutzhund is and how to train for it. Generally it comes from people who come to our place to address aggression issues in their doodle mix, or rescue pup. They proudly state, well trainer so-and-so told us NEVER to play tug because it causes aggression. What a load of malarkey! A dog doesn't have hands, it has a mouth and they need and enjoy using it. As a game, it is a great way to teach a pup to take and release on command. Have you ever watched flyball teams compete? A huge percentage of them are rewarded with a game of tug, they even make and sell special tugs just for that sport. Nothing aggressive about it, just a reward. Same thing with Schutzhund, a good training director can get you started playing tug in a way that is enjoyable and educational for your puppy, just like learning to sit for a treat or a happy recall, learning to control when and how a puppy uses it's mouth is very beneficial. Why hide from it? That is like never allowing a child to use it's hands because when it grows up it might use them in a fight.
Everyone who calls about joining our Schutzhund club is encouraged to start as soon as they can. Even come out and watch before they get their puppy if possible. They can watch the obedience and tracking and see where they will hopefully end up and when they watch bitework, they can concentrate and ask questions without having to worry about their pup yet. We have been training as a hobby and professionally for many years, and we can say we have never had any dog that has been trained in bitework bite either of us or even almost bite. (They have an Aus command, go figure!). Now dogs from the general public, that's another story ;).
Go to your club and get them to get you started, at first, socialization and general manners are all you will need (yes we start off in German) but it is never to early to start.

Excellent response, and I thank you for it! My belief that it is never to early to start is exactly where my initial questions came from! ;)
 

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Actually, from my perspective I think tug of war is good for Sch today, because most dogs developed this way usually you don't have to worry about indescriminate biting. I think too much tug playing leads to play/prey dogs and that is okay in today's sch world, but not for developing a dog to really bite people.JMO
I get that but can tug play vs. no tug play really make a difference in the actual work of the dog? A bit off the original topic, sorry. It seems that a real dog knows the difference. To me, when I play tug I am playing a game with my dog, nothing more nothing less. That's all I see it as, and I *think* all my dogs see it as. I don't really see any of it carrying over into our protection work. I don't try to do "protection" or "bitework" with my own dogs, in any fashion. I don't even use tug for developing bites/grips. If a dog likes to play tug, then that's what I use for fun and a bit of exercise. I don't do it with my "Schutzhund dogs" because we do Schutzhund or anything like that. Heck I play tug with my cousin's Coton (little fluffy white lap dog). Is playing tug really going to develop a dog into a prey/play dog? Or, is a dog that is genetically more prey/play more likely to enjoy playing tug?
 

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Well I just started a new puppy that will be a schutzund participant when she gets old enough. She is turning 5 months old next week. I do/did the following:

Established who the alpha dog was

taught sit

taught stay

taught come

taught to walk easily on a leash and primarily on left side

taught "no"

put a soft piece of leather on a pole and tied together with a strong nylon string and played with her chasing it to build drive and confidence. Let her catch and win some and even let her "pull" it out of my hands and pull away.

play with a bigger tug and let her bite, again letting her win at times to build drive and confidence and if done correctly, help develop a full bite

Be careful on "tug" games as long as puppy has their baby teeth so as not to put hesistancy to bite later.

take a couple of balls and have her retreive and bring back to me. Will move up to a puppy sized dumbbell when adult teeth come in to get her familar with one. Have her bring ball back thru my legs for future "heir"

lay some short food tracks for tracking foundation.

take her everywhere, truck, pet store, where pet classes are going on (have a friend that conducts these year around) walk downtown (small town), walk around the outside of Walmart, have her follow me on stairs, let her go all over home for smells, hardwood, carpet, etc. She did a 20 minute down while a puppy class was going today (brags).

Try to make it as much fun as you can and good luck. Be sure to keep sessions short since a puppy has a short attention span. I do 3-5 short sessions a day and then immediately put her up in her day kennel to let her reflect on what we did. I always end on a good note. Be sure to praise when your puppy does it correctly and praise as soon as it's done so the praise is related by puppy to what it was doing to earn it. You want the puppy to be happy and want to work. Good luck and have fun.
 

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I get that but can tug play vs. no tug play really make a difference in the actual work of the dog? A bit off the original topic, sorry. It seems that a real dog knows the difference. To me, when I play tug I am playing a game with my dog, nothing more nothing less. That's all I see it as, and I *think* all my dogs see it as. I don't really see any of it carrying over into our protection work. I don't try to do "protection" or "bitework" with my own dogs, in any fashion. I don't even use tug for developing bites/grips. If a dog likes to play tug, then that's what I use for fun and a bit of exercise. I don't do it with my "Schutzhund dogs" because we do Schutzhund or anything like that. Heck I play tug with my cousin's Coton (little fluffy white lap dog). Is playing tug really going to develop a dog into a prey/play dog? Or, is a dog that is genetically more prey/play more likely to enjoy playing tug?
I think it has more to do with the drives the dog is engaged in regardless the activity. Working/playing in a routine state of prey drive tips the balance in that direction as the dog matures. So the question I am looking to answer Cliff....is how to develop the SchH pup with an eye on balance?....focus on training in obedience and avoid prey/aggression until they are older?
 

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Lies,
I understand what YOU see when you play tug, my perspective is what does the dog see and develop. I don't know if you are doing Sch training or not right now, but if you are; have your dog do a revier on the helper in the blind and then have the helper throw the sleeve away and tell me what your dog does? (Hint: the dog should be reviering the helper not the sleeve) I'm just curious.
Also sorry for going off topic but it does relate to the assumption that tug playing leads to aggression or bites...Agh!!!
 
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