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Discussion Starter #1
I plan on enrolling my German Shepherd to dog protection class/training. However I am a firm believer in positive reinforcement training. For those of you who have had your dog trained in protection/Schtzhund, how did you find your trainer and make sure their methods were what you were comfortable with?

Are their any good books about dog protection/ schutzhund training that are positive?(For further research of course, I'm not experienced or knowledgeable enough to try that sort of training by myself).

Please tell me I'm not being naive in believing a dog can be trained to protect through positive reinforcement and not through negative? I'd ask my breeder ( also a positive believer and the parents of my future pup all in schutzund training) they are waaaay too far from us.

Any advice or shared wisdom will be appreciated.
 

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Go to as many training facilities that you can, observe before you ever take your dog to be evaluated to see if he would be cut out for it. Most protection work I have seen done, the trainer encourages positive rewarding, which is the bite/tug. How old is your dog? Mike Ellis has some good training DVDs, lots that you can do at home to encourage tugging, building bites, etc. What area are you in?
 

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I think a positively trained dog has the potential to outcompete a traditionally trained one.

We've considered picking up a sleeve, just for fun, for our working shepherd mix Moro because she LOVES tug so much. We lift her off the ground, drag her back and forth, slap her sides, she goes bananas. I don't know if we'd ever want to compete, but I think if we did she would be a very strong opponent. Training her positively means that not only is her bite cue very strong (we train a 'take it' and 'can I have it') but her release is equally so, and that is the area that most shutzhound dogs have trouble with and often lose points for.

For them, the most rewarding part of the exercise is the bite, and their handler simply rips them off when the time is up. For a positively trained dog who has learned that the release cue continues the game, even if it's a minute or two later, the results are instant.

I don't know of any trainers who specialize in positive shutzhound, but most of what you need are solid bite and release cues and a tug game. When you have those down you can build up to the dog to contextualize the game to the right gear and start adding distractions (like a moving target).

If you are comfortable enough with positive training, you can always look for traditional videos or training classes that you watch or can sit in on, then deconstruct to be positive.

Keep us posted, I'd love to see someone compete this way :)
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Unless you are a police officer, I'm not sure it is prudent to train an ordinary pet for protection work.

She'll be plenty protective enough of you w/out training, to bark and such if you need her to. Why turn her into a high strung, loaded gun? Particularly as you are relatively new to dog ownership, going for the whole protection dog thing is perhaps not a good plan.

Enjoy raising this puppy. Too many expectations ahead of time, and certainly you will suffer disappointment.
 

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I used +R to train my IPO dog. I think the key here is for you to really understand the principles involved. The second point is NOT to let other talk you into 'correcting' because that's what they do.

I've belonged to several clubs over the years and in all of them it's the owner that trains the dog. Sure, you get a lot of help and advice but ultimately the DH is responsible for how and what they want to teach. The club should just be there to support your approach.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Unless you are a police officer, I'm not sure it is prudent to train an ordinary pet for protection work.

She'll be plenty protective enough of you w/out training, to bark and such if you need her to. Why turn her into a high strung, loaded gun? Particularly as you are relatively new to dog ownership, going for the whole protection dog thing is perhaps not a good plan.

Enjoy raising this puppy. Too many expectations ahead of time, and certainly you will suffer disappointment.
After thinking and talking to my husband about it, I think you're right Tess. It seems personal Protection is very intensive not to mention expensive. I admit it would have been nice to have a dog that's trained to protect me, but most importantly I just want a lovable family pet. As you've said, learning to bark and growl on command should offer enough intimidation. That and the German Shepherd's reputation as a police dog.

I admit I've been encouraged to enroll my dog in a protection program from my dad lol. As soon as he heard I was getting a German shepherd he'd always tell me how he wants to make sure it can protect me. However, as you pointed out, I'm still very new to dog ownership and for all I know, I and Misster Dog may not be able to handle it. I think I'll focus on just enjoying my dog first until I feel experienced enough to consider Shuctzhund as a sport or enroll my dog in training. Thanks for pointing that out.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I used +R to train my IPO dog. I think the key here is for you to really understand the principles involved. The second point is NOT to let other talk you into 'correcting' because that's what they do.

I've belonged to several clubs over the years and in all of them it's the owner that trains the dog. Sure, you get a lot of help and advice but ultimately the DH is responsible for how and what they want to teach. The club should just be there to support your approach.

Out of curiosity, how did you get started? I've been told that lessons and training can be very expensive and it's a long-term training program.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I think a positively trained dog has the potential to outcompete a traditionally trained one.

We've considered picking up a sleeve, just for fun, for our working shepherd mix Moro because she LOVES tug so much. We lift her off the ground, drag her back and forth, slap her sides, she goes bananas. I don't know if we'd ever want to compete, but I think if we did she would be a very strong opponent. Training her positively means that not only is her bite cue very strong (we train a 'take it' and 'can I have it') but her release is equally so, and that is the area that most shutzhound dogs have trouble with and often lose points for.

For them, the most rewarding part of the exercise is the bite, and their handler simply rips them off when the time is up. For a positively trained dog who has learned that the release cue continues the game, even if it's a minute or two later, the results are instant.

I don't know of any trainers who specialize in positive shutzhound, but most of what you need are solid bite and release cues and a tug game. When you have those down you can build up to the dog to contextualize the game to the right gear and start adding distractions (like a moving target).

If you are comfortable enough with positive training, you can always look for traditional videos or training classes that you watch or can sit in on, then deconstruct to be positive.

Keep us posted, I'd love to see someone compete this way :)
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I think as Tess pointed out, I should wait until I get more experience in dog ownership before considering Schutzhund or protection training. I think Schutzhund would be a fun sport for my dog. I'll try to get some connections and learn more about it. Who knows? Maybe a few years from now I'll be competing lol. Thanks for the input :)
 

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Good decision.
With a shepherd, your problems are going to be raising him to be friendly with strangers and friends. You won't need to encourage the protective aspects. You'll likely need to mellow them.

Sheps tend to be "sharp" in the first place, sometimes even "shy-sharp" which is even more of an issue. That means that the dog can be nervous around people they don't know, and reactive to them in an aggressive way.

Work on making him a family friendly, easy going pet. That's the goal. I suppose I've linked you to my two favorite puppy books already?

Amazon.com: Before and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog (9781577314554): Dr. Ian Dunbar: Books


Amazon.com: The Puppy Primer (9781891767135): Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., Brenda Scidmore: Books
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Good decision.
With a shepherd, your problems are going to be raising him to be friendly with strangers and friends. You won't need to encourage the protective aspects. You'll likely need to mellow them.

Sheps tend to be "sharp" in the first place, sometimes even "shy-sharp" which is even more of an issue. That means that the dog can be nervous around people they don't know, and reactive to them in an aggressive way.

Work on making him a family friendly, easy going pet. That's the goal. I suppose I've linked you to my two favorite puppy books already?

Amazon.com: Before and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog (9781577314554): Dr. Ian Dunbar: Books


Amazon.com: The Puppy Primer (9781891767135): Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., Brenda Scidmore: Books
Thanks for the heads up.

and yep! I actually have a copy of Before and After Getting Your Puppy and in the process of reading it :) After I'm done reading it I'll probably get Puppy Primer.
 

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Yeah, the Puppy Primer is actually my favorite. It really "sets the tone" for the puppy raiser.

What I'm most concerned with for you, is being overly ambitious with expectations for your pup. You are putting so much thought and preparation into this, which is super, but also carries the danger of huge disappointment. Your puppy is going to be who he is, not who you expect, and accepting him for who he is, will, I think, be your challenge.
He'll be naughty a lot, won't listen a lot, may have genetic personality traits you don't like and need to work on training around, and so forth. This is the way puppies are. Its kind of like kids. You get what you get, and then you go from there.

With someone like you, who is doing such a fantastic job planning, with that comes the weight of expectations on the pup. It reminds me of the father who buys his 1 year old son a football, and has the kid enrolled in football camp and dreams of the kid getting a football scholarship to Notre Dame, all before the kid has even had time for his own interests and personality to appear. In the end the kid turns out to be scrawny, and wants to play the violin instead.

In the nearly two years I've been on this forum, you are the most pre-planned, most organized, having the highest expectations for your pup, of anyone I've seen, by an order of magnitude. So perhaps you get what I'm saying. ;)

Just relax and be realistic. He's going to be a poopy, tinkly, naughty, mouthy, shedding, destructive little monster who won't come when you call him. That's what a normal puppy is like. :) :p Hopefully he'll grow up to be a reasonable family pet, who only has a few behavioral problems to work on, but its highly unlikely he'll be a schutzhound champ, or the dog who saves your life from a mugger, or the disney dog who tells you Timmy fell down the well.

And finally, in case it sounds like I'm being too hard on you, I want to encourage you and compliment you on all you are doing to prepare. If we could take a bit of what you have, and turn it into pixie dust, and sprinkle it around a bit on people who so casually get a puppy then have no clue, the puppy-world would be a better place. I think the world of folks like you. But there is such a thing as too much preparation, and too much expectation, in terms of the trouble you'll get yourself into.
 

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When you finish with the puppy books, this is the next one to read.
Probably the most impactful book I've read in terms of helping me to understand my dogs, and get the most out of them in terms of desirable behaviors.

Amazon.com: Don't Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training (9781860542381): Karen Pryor: Books


I think one thing to do with all your energy and enthusiasm about this puppy, is to become a voracious reader. More reading and learning, and a bit less dreaming about what he should be like, will really help you when the poop hits the carpet, so to speak! ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yeah, the Puppy Primer is actually my favorite. It really "sets the tone" for the puppy raiser.

What I'm most concerned with for you, is being overly ambitious with expectations for your pup. You are putting so much thought and preparation into this, which is super, but also carries the danger of huge disappointment. Your puppy is going to be who he is, not who you expect, and accepting him for who he is, will, I think, be your challenge.
He'll be naughty a lot, won't listen a lot, may have genetic personality traits you don't like and need to work on training around, and so forth. This is the way puppies are. Its kind of like kids. You get what you get, and then you go from there.

With someone like you, who is doing such a fantastic job planning, with that comes the weight of expectations on the pup. It reminds me of the father who buys his 1 year old son a football, and has the kid enrolled in football camp and dreams of the kid getting a football scholarship to Notre Dame, all before the kid has even had time for his own interests and personality to appear. In the end the kid turns out to be scrawny, and wants to play the violin instead.

In the nearly two years I've been on this forum, you are the most pre-planned, most organized, having the highest expectations for your pup, of anyone I've seen, by an order of magnitude. So perhaps you get what I'm saying. ;)

Just relax and be realistic. He's going to be a poopy, tinkly, naughty, mouthy, shedding, destructive little monster who won't come when you call him. That's what a normal puppy is like. :) :p Hopefully he'll grow up to be a reasonable family pet, who only has a few behavioral problems to work on, but its highly unlikely he'll be a schutzhound champ, or the dog who saves your life from a mugger, or the disney dog who tells you Timmy fell down the well.

And finally, in case it sounds like I'm being too hard on you, I want to encourage you and compliment you on all you are doing to prepare. If we could take a bit of what you have, and turn it into pixie dust, and sprinkle it around a bit on people who so casually get a puppy then have no clue, the puppy-world would be a better place. I think the world of folks like you. But there is such a thing as too much preparation, and too much expectation, in terms of the trouble you'll get yourself into.
I agree with you 100% Puppies are very much like kids with unique personalities. Even after meeting the parents of the pup the puppy may even have a completely opposite temperament. Heck I was bratty as a kid and my parents had their share in disappointed but eventually I shaped up really well on my own. I fully and humbly admit I have gotten carried away sometimes in all the excitement of getting my dog. In some ways I wanted to prove to my family that I was capable of raising a well behaved dog through positive reinforcement and not through Cesar Millan's ways. However I do understand (but it always good to be reminded) to not carry high expectations and expect to be disappointed sometimes. I like your dad analogy.:p I will accept Misster Dog for who she is and work with what works for her (or he, is that's what I end up getting).

The way I'm approaching puppy raising is to try and get as much information as possible and lay it out in front of me so I can get a closer look on what to expect so I know what do do. But in actually application I'll just go with the flow. Misster Dog can even be a ballerina is she wants to and I promise I'll still love and accept her :p

I guess I'm lucky that I have some practice with my cat. Ideally I would have loved for him to be a lap kitty or be buddies with my parent's elder cat but I discovered that's just not his cup of tea. I still love him either way. Let's hope I will be a reasonable dog parent when it's time for puppy. Thank you again for looking out for me Tess, it's always good to have reminders of where I could fall short.

Yay, more book links. I've been meaning to pick Don't Shoot The Dog up as well. Just have to wait until my monthly budget resets lol. Bless Amazon for cheaper prices!
 

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You will be a wonderful puppy parent. No worries there. I actually think it is good to intellectualize like you have been doing. Read, read, read and read some more. It really does help.

Authors worth reading.
Dunbar,
Pryor
McConnell
Donaldson

Those are starters. We have a book list somewhere.

Indeed, you can and you will, do a great job with a puppy doing it the PR way, not the Cesar way. We are here to help too!

And I'm sorry I cannot seem to get the gender right on your dog. ;)
 

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One more thought. This puppy may actually be exactly what you need in this stage of your life. It sounds like she symbolizes some breaking free from some parts of your early life, and finding a better way (not to discount the good parts of your family of course.)

Buck says "Horses are a mirror to our souls."
(dogs are too... I've found...)

Watch this trailer, then get the movie and see the whole thing. Watch it more than once. There is a lot there that applies to dogs equally well.


Buck says "... it'll make you better in areas you did not think related to horses."
I would say the same thing is true of raising a puppy and learning to work with a dog. You will learn things that will make you, and your life, way better, in ways you did not think had anything to do with dogs.

Well, you see my signature... ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
This puppy may actually be exactly what you need in this stage of your life. It sounds like she symbolizes some breaking free from some parts of your early life, and finding a better way (not to discount the good parts of your family of course.
You know what? You got me lol. Getting puppy has a lot of meaning to me and in her I feel like I'll be a better person and watch myself grow with her. :) thank you for the inspiration! (and authors recommendations) I'll have to check out that movie sometime :)
 

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;) You'll LOVE the movie. :)
 

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Out of curiosity, how did you get started? I've been told that lessons and training can be very expensive and it's a long-term training program.
I simply transitioned from other sports into schutzhund. I went to several clubs as a guest for several weeks and when I found the people I liked I joined.

I didn't see it as very expensive. In Schutz clubs, other than the membership (the same as any obedience course), you do your own training and the members are there to help you with advice and as helper/decoys.
 

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I simply transitioned from other sports into schutzhund. I went to several clubs as a guest for several weeks and when I found the people I liked I joined.

I didn't see it as very expensive. In Schutz clubs, other than the membership (the same as any obedience course), you do your own training and the members are there to help you with advice and as helper/decoys.
LOL I was just about to make a thread about this! I'm looking into getting my dog into Schutz/french ring sports and I found a couple clubs near me but I wanted to know before I contact them is what does your dog need to know for joining a schutz club?? Does he need a solid obedience background or do they help you work on that as well as protection work??
 

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LOL I was just about to make a thread about this! I'm looking into getting my dog into Schutz/french ring sports and I found a couple clubs near me but I wanted to know before I contact them is what does your dog need to know for joining a schutz club?? Does he need a solid obedience background or do they help you work on that as well as protection work??
I suggest you first go without your dog so you can see and talk to the people without a distraction. Remember that unless you are going to a club that trains your dog and are paying for a trainer, most clubs are like minded people who are helping each other. You will do the bulk of the training. Many members come in with pups so the dog doesn't have to be trained.

They'll eventually want to see the dog to check that the temperament is suitable for working before accepting you as a member.
 
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