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Discussion Starter #1
Berlin is 14 weeks old, and is a VERY stocky little pup. 36lbs already, massive paws and big thick legs. He is going to be a big boy.

I am working with a trainer that runs a local club, and the people do a mix of schutzhund and ring. I have always wanted to do schutzhund, but my trainer brought up the thought that Berlin might be a good ring dog because of his bite so far (he will grab a leg and hold on for dear life). Of course he's very realistic that Berlin is 14 weeks old and could grow up to be anything, OR NOTHING. Right now we are doing a mixture of play with both a puppy sleeve and a leg sleeve, just some drive building, then marker and place board training.

The biggest training difference he has me working on, we are doing the recall back between the legs like would be done with Ring. He says even if we don't do any sports it is a great recall position because then I am in complete control of his surroundings, and I like the idea of that.

Any experience doing Ring with a GSD, especially a larger male? I never planned on having a GSD that could easily reach 100 lbs. My trainer owns mals personally, and a lot of the club members have mals, so I don't know if that changes their opinions? A few of the GSD owners noticed us training the recall on Sunday, and made comments that they would NEVER do Ring with their GSDs because of joint concerns. I did ask my trainer about it, and he said as long as we keep lean with good muscle mass it shouldn't be a concern, just keep an eye on him and give supplements.
 

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As long as the dog has sufficient working structure, there is no issue with a GSD doing ring, or any other sport. As your trainer said, keep him at lean working weight and you should not have any problems.

I have seen many larger dogs that are surprisingly athletic for their size. You certainly do see more Mals and Dutchies in the ringsports, but don't let that discourage you. A good dog that can do the exercises is a good dog, regardless of breed. I've seen some Rotts doing ringsport that would surprise you with their athleticism.
 

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I'm not one that thinks a GSD of any size can do all sports at a high level indefinitely, but generally I don't think of the protection sports as ones that concern me. It's easy enough to not repeatedly do exercises that could put more strain on a large dog. My dog is not even a big GSD but we rarely do full long bites. Now if you were talking about flyball or agility - sports where the dogs are always moving very fast, there is a ton of repetitive motions, pounding, jumping, etc - then I would be concerned but the protection sports aren't really trained this way and have a lot of variety to the training. You don't have to do 100 long bites three times a week to know that your dog will commit on a long bite, but in flyball or agility I'm quite often doing the same thing 100 times, several times a week and have to be more concerned with the size and structure of the dog I'm working.
 

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IMO the biggest issue with large dogs tends to be the jumps. Not the dogs ability to do them, but the impact of landings. The FR palisade has no ramp and is a forward and return jump. Even with lighter dogs and encouraging proper technique this breaks a dog down over time. See too many 6-7 year old FR mals that click when they walk and have arthritis. Even with the mondio jumps, if you jump the dog too much it will deteriorate. I know a small (45#) MR3 female that OFA'd excellent/elbows normal, spine and shoulders perfect at 2yo, by the time she was 6-7 re-xrayed dysplastic with obvious damage to the spine and shoulders. Now some of that was her being very fast on her entries and getting jammed up by decoys, but the handler jumped her *a lot* (and regrets it) it is possible for dogs to seriously injure themselves falling off the palisade or landing poorly on the long jump.

Once the dog understands the exercise and has good technique you don't need to jump them too often at max heights.

Other than not overdoing the jumps, limit long sends in the bitework on exercises where the dog could get jammed, and make sure to work with competent experienced decoys to reduce the chance of the dog getting jammed. In FR the esquives help to lessen the risk for bad catches/jamming the dog, but a fast dog with good technique can still jam itself up on those spectacular entries.

My current competition dog for mondio is an 85# american bulldog. He is capable of jumping the max but in training I only take him up to max a couple times a month. I do show him the jump height we will do in trial several times the week before we compete but keep the jumps low/short in training. For the bitework I do mostly short distances unless working with very experienced decoys. He will be 5 in July, we are trialing at level 2 and he does not show much physical wear aside from slightly worn canines. Actually just got back from a pretty good showing at the Nationals - 2nd place MR2, Decoy's Choice, and Best Escort MR2. So while he is not a huge dog, he is big and still doing well in a ringsport.





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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you very much for your input!

I think I am lucky, my club just had a trial and the judge stated our decoy is one of the best in the country. A few of our mals are very hard hitters on the long bite so a good decoy is a MUST.

Another woman said she only has her GSD do jumps at the correct height during competition and right before.

Do you have experience with using carpal wraps during training to help with some support?

I will keep an eye on jumps for sure.

Btw we do mondioring, not french if that makes a difference. Jump is still a flat 4.5 meters though correct?

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I would think the shoulders and spine are at a greater risk when jumping and landing. The carpals are supposed to help absorb impact when jumping so I wouldn't want to restrict them too much.

I think if you train correct jumping technique (agility people) you will only need to work full heights a few times before a trial. The technique is the most important and the dog can judge the height. Nikon's feet clear by the same amount whether he's jumping 10" in flyball or 40" in Schutzhund.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Someone recommended to start walking him over ladders to teach him to recognize and use his back legs. Anyone have experience with that?

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At this age I wouldn't recommend any repetitive exercise. For me the best thing to develop confidence, distance judgement and agility are good walks on the woods ;)
 

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I am doing ring with rogue, but she is a very small shepherd. The jumping exercises are not done often enough for it to negatively impact him. Your biggest things you want to focus on with a puppy in ring sports is getting the dog comfortable with everything. Being touched all over during bite work, working around loud noises, weird objects on the ground etc. build his confidence to the sky and make him bomb proof. I wasn't able to start socializing rogue to these kinds of things right away as a pup and now we are back tracking to help her overcome touching issues and surface issues.


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Yes mondio vs french ring does make a difference in the jumps, primarily the palisade. The mondio palisade has a ramp on the back and is a once over, not forward and return. The ramp makes for much less physical stress coming down off the palisade. A failed attempt -falling off- can still injure the dog but even in competition if you see your dog will not make the jump you can catch them.

The jump height in mondio are: hurdle 1m, 1.1m, 1.2m. I believe Brevet you jump at .8 or .9, I don't do the Brevet I go right for MR1 so not 100% sure what height. Level 1 you can only do 1m, Level 2 and 3 full points is 1.2m, less and you take a point loss but you do have the option.

Palisade 1.8-2.3m. Level 1 only 1 height, 1.8m. Level 2 full points is 2.1m. Level 3 is maximum for full points 2.3m

Long jump is 3m, 3.5m, and 4m. Level one is 3m, Level 2 is 3.5m, Level 3 is 4m.

In Level 1 you can chose any one of the 3 jumps. In Level 2 the hurdle is mandatory and you chose either the palisade or long jump as your second jump. Level 3 all 3 jumps are required.

And, of course, I don't recommend jumping your little guy yet. I wait until a dog is 6mo and then I am only teaching the concept of the hurdle which is kept at 6 inches. I don't start teaching the long jump or palisade until about a year old, and just the concept of climbing for the palisade and jumping the wipe for the long jump.

As has been mentioned, it is important to expose a pup(in a fun/positive manner) to all sorts of things. Even pups that are genetically sound with solid nerve still need to see different things as even if they are not startled by it, it can easily distract them. Starting early with engagement and focus work in a variety of environments is very beneficial, as well as going over, around, under, through(etc) different distractions/accessories/props. It is equally important to not overdo it and do too much too fast.

Which club are you in, out of curiosity? I assumed you meant FR as mondioring is generally referred to as mondio, FR is often just called ring. Always great to hear when new people get involved in the sport! Have fun!

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you very much everybody :)

With berlins training - a majority of work has been on focus, puppy bite sleeves and other puppy bites with a lot of physical stimulation during. Place board work and touch work with the bucket. Slowly introducing the heeling stick. We have started working on "come" in the last week, on the place board with a straight return sit immediately in front of me. Whistle recall has been great.

My biggest hurdle now is he just stops. Either while on the bucket or place board or in a parked position between my legs - he'll just wander off before being released. So working on very short sessions.

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czech gsd here is getting her ring 3 soon she is small though compared to a lot

can long bites hurt a larger dogs teeth if the dog is a bit over weight?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
czech gsd here is getting her ring 3 soon she is small though compared to a lot

can long bites hurt a larger dogs teeth if the dog is a bit over weight?
Teeth would be the least of my concerns with an overweight sport dog.

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Being overweight is not good for any part of the dog, but I shouldn't think it would specifically affect the teeth on a long send. If the decoy is experienced and the work is safe, stress on the teeth should not be much more than normal just from being overweight. Teeth get worn from the work over time. Bitework is stressful on the teeth no matter what. Many dogs break canines, even smaller lighter mals.

In my breed of choice there are issues with small/thin weak teeth prone to breaking. I make sure to select dogs and bloodlines known for having better/bigger teeth. Not as much of an issue in the herding breeds.


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I just mean a few pounds over weight just not in tip top athletic shape as before or compared to the mals. The long bite comment scared me a bit because I do this with a very experienced decoy sometimes, no sleeve just jacket. The dog is 88 pounds should be around 84. I did not even really notice other people started to make fun of her. I saw some of the other mals teeth are worn their k9s. They all have ring titles. I wonder if its from chewing or if its from hard core training?
 

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I wouldn't think 4# would be a problem :) I was thinking 10 or more pounds on an already very large dog, like 110 when the dog should be 100. 84 is a very good size for a bitch!

My concern on long sends is the greater potential for a dog getting jammed. A fast, hard hitting dog can get jammed on short distances too, my bulldog took a decoy down from 3m away lol but I see it mostly on long distances. Yes teeth can be broken when a dog gets jammed, or a million other ways during bitework.

IMO, the primary stressor on teeth in ringsports comes from those quick single tooth or canine only snags during esquives. The more speed the dog has gathered or the bigger the dog is the more stress on those teeth. In the mondio escort, a fast tricky decoy trying to take meters the dog may only be able to get one or two teeth in on the escape attempt, example at Nationals my guy got a two tooth snag on an escape attempt over the obstacle(barrels) and the decoy's momentum drug him over the obstacle. That's 85# on two canines. It is most certainly not the decoy's intention to hurt the dog during the escapes but it happens. Teeth do get broken in various situations during bitework, can happen during any of the exercises.



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Everyone else has summed it up pretty well...you just need to be smart about it. I train with FR people a lot, and one thing I"ve noticed is that some (and this goes for SChH people too, not bashing ring people here) do things over and over and over....and over. I cringe when I see them do some of the jumps so frequently.

As an aside with ring...remember it's few and far between. Something to consider...even if it seems fun it won't necessarily be easy to go out and do stuff.
 

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I did Ring Brevet and Campagne and was ready for Ring 1 and then the club folded - with Kilo who was always athletically fit , but a good solid dog Carmspack Kilo

this is where conformation is important .

the long jump over the ditch requires a good back , a good shoulder opening -- confidence because an insecure dog is not going to open up and give full extension . A roach back won't allow for the straightening out and flex that the spine needs .
Pasterns and feet , ligament and cartilage integrity.
 
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