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Our puppy Anja is 12 weeks old and we plan to start her puppy obedience classes next week. My concern is if teaching her to heel in obedience will effect my being able to get her to trot out in front of me in the conformation ring. I have shown other breeds before, but this is our first GSD. I have never had a breed that was shown moving out in front of the handler before. I want her to have good manners and get some socializing at the classes, but I don't want to do something that will confuse her when it comes time to show. Any advice would be appreciated!
 

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I think GSDs should be smart enough dogs to learn more than one thing ;)

Really it's all just training. People get caught up worrying if they teach X will it conflict with Y or Z but the truth is everything you teach your dog to do could be a possible conflict with something else. No one worries that if they teach their dog to sit, the dog won't down any more. Or if they teach down the dog will no longer stand. Those commands all contradict each other, since the dog can't be sitting and downing or downing and standing. But even dogs with very basic training usually learn those things early on and at the same time.

So the answer to your question is, teach your dog to heel and to move out. Use different cues, body positioning and even different equipment. Keep the training very positive and fun for the dog. Work on both things separately but start teaching both from the start. And you shouldn't have a problem with doing both obedience and conformation.
 

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If you use different collars for different situations it really helps the dog know what it is supposed to be doing. I use a different collar and leash for Rally than I do for regular walks or stricter obedience. Just use different commands and different body language. GSD's are smart enough to figure it out.
 

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If you use different collars for different situations it really helps the dog know what it is supposed to be doing. I use a different collar and leash for Rally than I do for regular walks or stricter obedience. Just use different commands and different body language. GSD's are smart enough to figure it out.
I think that's an excellent idea. I know that's what we do for other dog 'sports' like a harness for tracking, etc.
 

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Good luck... I've had a problem getting my girl to gait in the breed ring. I've made looking up at me (for Obed. heeling) very high value in her mind. I had a very nice judge take time with me last fall, bottom line was "Lady you've got a pretty girl here but do yourself a favor and get a prof. handler." She's 13 months old now, her breeder wants to see her when she's 2yrs old, untill then we are doing agility, herding and obed. And having fun......
 

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Good luck... I've had a problem getting my girl to gait in the breed ring. I've made looking up at me (for Obed. heeling) very high value in her mind. I had a very nice judge take time with me last fall, bottom line was "Lady you've got a pretty girl here but do yourself a favor and get a prof. handler." She's 13 months old now, her breeder wants to see her when she's 2yrs old, untill then we are doing agility, herding and obed. And having fun......
Teach her to go to a target (great for all sorts of training). You can teach her to pull you to the target (to get heads up I have used a traffic cone and a tennis ball). Teach one corner at a time and shortly she will be pulling you around the ring.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you everyone for all of your advice. I really appreciate it and I will keep you all informed of our progress.
 

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Thank you everyone for all of your advice. I really appreciate it and I will keep you all informed of our progress.
I have had dogs that we were showing in both at the same time - even sometimes the same show. It's not a problem - use a different collar as some said already and esp. - just teach them a different command, I.E. Heel and Go for example.

If you like you can also teach the dog how to double handle nicely (if you have a volunteer to run around the outside of the ring) with a different command.
 

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I think some of how this goes is dependent on the temperament of the dog and the training methods used.

For sure, I have been admonished not to do obedience with the pups who are going to go into the conformation ring. Not sure how much I go for that, but I have considered why this admonition occurs.

I have a sweet girl who almost naturally assumes a heel position and looks up at me as we walk. When I show her, this does tend to happen. If I were to enforce heeling position with her, it might be a bit of an issue. So for her, I agree to allow her to be trained to pull out first and then other behaviors can be trained. She does not tend to "heel" with others handling her. It is her default position with her chosen person though... kind of nice!

If a person is using corrective means to teach heeling, I think this might also cause some issues at least at first. In the corrective styles I have seen, the dog is corrected for getting out of heel position. This makes them tend to not want to leave heel for fear of getting whammied.

I teach the basics of obedience in a positive manner, so there are few corrections. For this reason, I don't think my training would cause too much conflict with the conformation behaviors. It is all just training and "behaviors" to the dog. In this approach, the behavior that is most highly and frequently rewarded is the one that is likely to be offered, so I would take care to keep that balanced.

I had a female who was so full of power and heart that I could always count on her to pull ahead. With a dog of her temperament and with the training style used, very little confusion occurred. Even if they get confused at first, it all can be worked out if handled well.

It all takes training and conditioning. With time and experience, they figure out what goes where in the situations.
 
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