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Military dog training from 1961

798 Views 5 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  BigBlackDog
It's amazing how much dog training has changed over the years...

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I was watching that video, as a soldier was going through the sit, heel, stay commands...belting out the commands like fire cracker pops.

I have a golden retriever named AU. I've always spoke softly to him when teaching him to sit and such. I also taught him a few hand signals, so I don't even have to say anything if he's looking at him and say I want him to sit.

One day I took him into a thrift shop which allows animals inside. A truck going by in the parking lot had 2 dogs in the bed and they aggressively started to bark at AU. This really stressed AU out. I was using the back entrance to the thrift shop and when you walk in, there is a nice kind of empty space there with a few rows of book cases to the left.

I brought AU in about 5 feet, and he was panting heavily, due to the stress/excitement of those dogs, and he had walked around me, messing up the leash, as I had let it go slack when I got inside. I just wanted him to settle down a bit before I took him into the main part of the store.
I got the leash gathered up some, but it was still not taught by any means -- and I gently told him to sit, so he could just calm his brain a little and settle down..and cool off a little in the air conditioned building.

AU was still pretty excited and a little stressed and didn't listen to me the two times I told him to sit, he was still looking this way and that, and trying to see out the glass doors too.

Then suddenly this skinny upright tall woman who had to be close to 70 years old, appeared from between a row of bookcases and marched over to me.

She tells me...
"You're doing it all wrong! You Need to be Firm with them!" And she looks at AU, and in that same kind of STERN voice that soldier in the clip was using -- she points a finger at AU and belts out "SIT!"

AU stood there and then his tongue snaked out and licked her finger. LMAO.

If you ever want to know how important you are, just try to command someone else's dog to do

I then said "AU" and he looked at me and I gave him the hand signal to sit...which he promptly did. I told the woman about the hand signal.

Her only response was a dog should Sit the first time it's told and I needed to work with him some more. :p

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Has it really though? Yes, there may be some new lingo and focus, but I see people using their variations and leanings from the clip all the time....from the harsh to the positive, the focus.on the team to being different. Their saying each dog is an individual like.people and our accept the dog in front of you. The focus on structure and temperament--well built, sturdy, and heart--though the biggest piece of interest was that the dogs from the beginning evaluations were 1.5-3 years old. You see folks evaluating police and military puppies much younger--6 weeks in some cases!
Just the barking of commands, and repeating them so much made me chuckle. But I almost spit out my coffee when the guy said attack!

I started working with German Shepherds just a few years after that video was made. And I can tell you, we never did any of those things! In particular when doing bite work ALWAYS used a word that the average person would never guess!

As for police and military evaluations of puppies, the earliest test I'm familiar with is done at 7 wks, but even that didn't prove to be very reliable (volhard PAT).

Even with dogs selected for training at 1-3 yrs of age have around a 65% failure rate.
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This is true, though waiting until the dogs are older gives them more of a chance to develop imo than just deciding their viability as young puppies. Though you do sometimes just know.

I think you mentioned evaluating a litter at least once? If so, did any of the resulting adult dogs surprise you?
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Generally speaking, it is pretty widely believed that genetics only accounts for about 35% of an adult dog's behaviors; 65% being due to nutrition, environment, personality, cumulative experiences, and training.

Puppy evaluation tests can show a bit about personality and genetics, but as mentioned there are several factors in addition to that which shape the outcome of any puppy.

My long winded way of saying yes, many of the puppies end up surprising which is why the VPAT is less frequently used these days.

One I can think of in particular, was such a soft, mellow puppy, I was sure he'd make a good couch potato later on, so he was sold to a pet home. By 2 yrs old he started showing more tenacity than his owners could handle and was rehomed to a police department, where he served with distinction for years.

I've also seen it go the other way. A puppy who is bold and head strong with strong possessive instincts - which are typically great things to see for a sport or police candidate - grew up to be pretty timid and reserved, and was washed out of training and rehomed as a companion dog.

And that "could" be genetic or it "could" be nutrition, environment, personality, experiences, or training, or a combination of all of them, who knows...

I totally agree with your statement about sometimes you just know. I trust that feeling more than any puppy temperament test, and have had a much higher success rate doing so over the years.
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