Vae Victus

Classical Musings on a Modern World - Politics, Military Analysis, Dog Training, and More

Name:
Location: Chicago, IL

I am a consultant from chicago where I live with my wife, our dog, and two cats

Friday, September 16, 2005

A welcome weekend

After another week of work, the weekend is upon me. I'm almost too tired to comment today, with two conference calls scheduled for this afternoon.

We took Jacque to see his trainer last night. As I've discussed previously, we are training him in a dog sport called French Ring (something the French use to test their dogs for military and policework).

A quick note about his training. We are NOT training him to be a vicious dog or even to bite (all dogs already KNOW how to bite). Instead, we are teaching him control and the techniques to do a sport routine like French Ring and to know that he can go into combat with an attacker in a real or street situation and win. In many ways, we are simply using the genetics and characteristics that a German Shepherd is supposed to have. He goes to his sessions a happy dog, anxious to work, and when we return home is a VERY happy dog.

Even though he is biting a sleeve and in some cases is effectively fighting the handler in stressful situations, he is very clear headed and social. We recently had a dinner party with 11 adults and 4 toddlers in our home. He was great with everyone there and handled the children gently and quietly.

So now that the disclaimer is finished.. back to last night's training session...

As he is now mature enough to handle the pressure, we have also started to use defensive training as a way of making him harder and stronger during his bitework. In general, there are two things that cause a dog to bite a man wearing a suit or a sleeve - prey or defense. Prey is the same as a dog who wants to chase something that is moving, and the same as a wolf hunting a rabbit. They see it move and want to get it. It is instinctual and dogs have different levels of prey. Although, a good trainer can get the most out of a dog's prey drive.

Defense is very different in that the dog is reacting to what it perceives to be a threat. This is why the dog must be mature (e.g., you wouldn't as a 12 year old boy with a little karate training to fight for his life) and the dog has to have the genetics to do this work.

Strangely enough, Jacque works VERY well in defense. Even better than he does in prey. I'm not sure if it is just the genetics (many German Shepherds have a good defensive drive) or if it is that he is smart enough to realize that the prey work is nothing more than prey. Even his bitework is when working in prey improves after he has had a little defensive pressure put on him in a training session. He bites fuller, harder and more confidently.

In last night's session, we put a muzzle on him so that the trainer could get close enough to get in his face without getting bit. The trainer did this, agitated him, and then we took the muzzle off and did two scenarios. In the first scenario, I gave Jacque his warning command, "Reviere". When he hears this command, he starts to bark and knows that a threat is nearby. The trainer then attacked us head on - coming toward us. The trainer was wearing a hidden sleeve so that that Jacque would act as if it was a real attack (if he wears the big sleeve, Jacque realizes that it is a game). We then made him let go or "aus" and did the next scenario.

This one was where the trainer was at the other end of the room and after I gave Jacque the "watch" command, I sent him on an attach or "packen"

At the end of the session we did some sleeve work and tried to get Jacque to switch from defense to prey while working. He made some progress and went out of the room with the big sleeve firmly in his grip. All in all a good session. If we get more regular work, he should get his French Ring Brevet and be in good shape to start training for Schutzhund next year.

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