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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Disclaimer-I know next to nothing about protection sports, though they've always intrigued me. I've never had the right dog with the right circumstances to get involved myself, so I haven't learned much about this.
I have a friend who adopted a 1-yr GSD mix. The dog seems like he would enjoy and even be good at protection sports, BUT:
1: He's one. From what I have heard, that may be too old to start in this sport
2: His physical traits don't seem sturdy (for lack of a better word) enough for this, he's a rather awkward pup.
Is there by any chance a way to get a dog like this involved in something similar to protection sports, on a less serious and major scale? I realize of course that this is not the type of sport where inadequate or improper training would be ok.
Ideas for an alternative?
He's trainable, loves to work and engage with his owner, has got a bunch of energy and confidence- and just loves to bite stuff (馃槀). He's picked up very well on basic obedience.
 

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@3GSD4IPO does protection sports, so she can answer specifics.

For alternatives, you could do tracking. It's not as physically intense, but is very mentally fullfilling. And you don't need any special equipment. An old boss did it with his shepherds and they took to it happily and easily.
 
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People who get puppies with the intent of pursuing bite sports alter the early learning focus for their puppy. It's all about building confidence and showing the puppy he/she is invincible!

It helps, but if your dog has the right temperament it's not really needed. Find a IGP (formerly Schutzhund) club and have him evaluated. Puppies are introduced to the sport in age appropriate increments, so no worries there. It's really more about whether or not the dog has the right drives and interest. A good club can evaluate your dog and let you know.
 

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There is also, in addition to tracking, regular nose work, barn hunt, agility, musical canine freestyle, and many other dog sports that the owner can explore. It should be something the owner really thinks would be fun for HER to do, because the dog will only have fun if the owner is into it too.

Of course, a person can try several different ones to see what fits the dog/person team the best. All include good training and fun and activity.

In order to do any sport, or be accepted into any class for a sport, the dog first has to be solidly trained in the basics - come when called, stay, sit and lie down, good on a leash and with other dogs, crate trained and so on. Starting out with a good positive reinforcement only basic manners class would be the way to get going.
 

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There is MUCH to these sports. I do IGP and am also involved in American Schutzhund. There is also PSA and Ring Sport. Interested individuals who are learning need to get involved in a club.

The issue is that many clubs are closed to new people. Part of that is new people require a lot of time and once they realize the dedication necessary to succeed they fade off. Often they realize their dog is not the best choice for these sports. Before they have the handling skills they need they sometimes go buy a really well bred dog only to find out it is too much dog (this can be disastrous).

While your dog might do well I am willing to bet (and I may well be wrong) that you, as a handler, cannot tell fight drive from prey drive or defense drive when any dog barks and appears aggressive! As a club member watching all the dogs work you will eventually learn the difference.

Training any dog in these sports is not a minor thing. It takes hours and hours and years and years to develop YOUR skills reading and handling dogs. Your dog takes about 3 years of training (with you as a beginner with a knowledgeable Decoy) to get to the first level title in IGP (an IGP 1). IF your dog is capable of an IGP 1.

There are three phases to the sport of IGP and American Schutzhund. In a trial each phase you start with 100 points with 70 points passing. Tracking/Scent detection; obedience; protection are the three phases.

Training is a lifestyle. You are at club all day one day a week (Saturday or Sunday). Some clubs you are there one to two other partial days.. usually for tracking and obedience work.

Clubs can be good or not so good. The heart and soul of the club are the Training Director and the training helper. It is hard to find REALLY GOOD training helpers that can read the dog in front of them and work that particular dog.

Your current dog may not be suitable for the sport. He may have insufficient drive, too much nerve or extremely unbalanced drives resulting in poor performance. OTOH he might be just great. Rarely is a dog of unknown or mixed lineage great at these sports (there is a reason they are dominated by Malinois and German Shepherds). A dog's success in these sports has a genetic base!

If you are in the US I suggest you go to United Schutzhund Clubs of America and see if there are any clubs close by. You can also check American Schutzhund or Protection Sports Association (PSA).

There are also Ring Sport training.. and you can google search for those.

Also take a look at Dave Kroyer. Lots of free videos on his site and a subscription is inexpensive at $10 a month.

Good luck!
 

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There is also, in addition to tracking, regular nose work, barn hunt, agility, musical canine freestyle, and many other dog sports that the owner can explore. It should be something the owner really thinks would be fun for HER to do, because the dog will only have fun if the owner is into it too.

Of course, a person can try several different ones to see what fits the dog/person team the best. All include good training and fun and activity.

In order to do any sport, or be accepted into any class for a sport, the dog first has to be solidly trained in the basics - come when called, stay, sit and lie down, good on a leash and with other dogs, crate trained and so on. Starting out with a good positive reinforcement only basic manners class would be the way to get going.
In IGP your dog will stay in a crate in the car until invited to train on the field. Most people drive vehicles with hatch backs or have side doors they leave open while other dogs work on the field. For hot days we use reflective covers over the vehicle and battery operated fans. Most crates have water bowls in them. You spend a lot of time watching other teams train.

Your dog will come on the field with a flat collar and a prong collar and a 6 foot leash for obedience. He need not know much but you need yo be able to restrain him. First time dog I bring out on a flat collar. The prong is there if needed. Food and a toy the dog can tug are important. Most clubs do use clickers but some only use verbal markers. And that is how you start. I have seen dog with zero training show up for IGP at a year old. In my mind that's fine. You are there to train.

For protection your dog comes wearing a loose prong collar and a padded "agitation harness" and a 10 foot or (better) 15 foot long line (flat nylon). If your dog is large and has not done protection before you need instruction on how to be an immovable "post" that the dog will pull against (there is a special way to hold the line so it does not slip and dog can only lunge a limited distance). IF the dog pulls like a train on the harness you bring them out on the dead ring of the prong so YOU have control. The dog should pull you on the field, once he knows what protection training is about.. and you let him! Too much obedience in a dog just learning squashes drive. Obedience off leash heeling onto the field comes later.

Even for obedience your dog needs to be in DRIVE. Drive can create control issues.. and the trick is to maintain a balance between drive and obedience and how to obtain obedience when the dog is IN drive.

A dog in drive is way different than a pet being walked as a pet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks everyone.
In response to the concerns about time, this dog's owner is a stay at home "dog parent" as their SO works and provides for the household, and they have no children at this time, so they are available to put in the sort of time necessary.
I will give the person a list of the other options you all presented and talk to them about what you said about protection-type sports. Thanks again!
 

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From what I've seen of bite sports, Mondio Ring is the most welcoming to newbies and "off breed" dogs. Even is their dog isn't cut out to do the protection parts, they have an obedience only program.

Beyond that, there is obedience, rally, nosework, barn hunt, tracking, and several other sports that can either become a lifestyle or dabbled in, with in-person and video/virtual options in many organizations.
 
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For protection your dog comes wearing a loose prong collar and a padded "agitation harness" and a 10 foot or (better) 15 foot long line (flat nylon). If your dog is large and has not done protection before you need instruction on how to be an immovable "post" that the dog will pull against (there is a special way to hold the line so it does not slip and dog can only lunge a limited distance). IF the dog pulls like a train on the harness you bring them out on the dead ring of the prong so YOU have control. The dog should pull you on the field, once he knows what protection training is about.. and you let him! Too much obedience in a dog just learning squashes drive. Obedience off leash heeling onto the field comes later.
From @Kensi other posts, I think she believes in positive only training.
 

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Disclaimer-I know next to nothing about protection sports, though they've always intrigued me. I've never had the right dog with the right circumstances to get involved myself, so I haven't learned much about this.
I have a friend who adopted a 1-yr GSD mix. The dog seems like he would enjoy and even be good at protection sports, BUT:
1: He's one. From what I have heard, that may be too old to start in this sport
2: His physical traits don't seem sturdy (for lack of a better word) enough for this, he's a rather awkward pup.
Is there by any chance a way to get a dog like this involved in something similar to protection sports, on a less serious and major scale? I realize of course that this is not the type of sport where inadequate or improper training would be ok.
Ideas for an alternative?
He's trainable, loves to work and engage with his owner, has got a bunch of energy and confidence- and just loves to bite stuff (馃槀). He's picked up very well on basic obedience.
What is the GSD mixed with?
 

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Maybe this is just me, but I wouldn't even consider protection sports with any dog except one bred for it. The last rescue I kept and adopted myself I did it because some idiot wanted him for Schutzhund and the rescue group was considering the application because they'd had him some time and no one else had been interested -- small, soft tempered Rottie mix, totally unsuitable. I never saw a rescue that had the combination of confidence and drive for protection work, and I sure wouldn't consider it with a dog that wasn't very well built.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
From @Kensi other posts, I think she believes in positive only training.
Close- I'm LIMA. (as reccomemnded by apdt as well as other organizations) So, when a situation calls for it I don't mind using any certain training technique. But I do my utmost to not do anything the dog finds unpleasant unless I'm totally out of luck in other methods. In my experience and in the research I have read I have found that aversives are very rarely needed in the form or p+ or r-, while r+ and p- have been essential in all my training. Of course these 4 categories don't cover everything, and there's some grey are, but I think you get my point.

While I realize that protection sport dogs and true working dogs are TOTALLY different, I will add this. I'm currently communicating with/learning from a police k9 trainer, as I'm considering switching my focus from pets to working dogs. This trainer- and most others in our area, actually- uses reinforcement as his training method. The prong is used to get the attention of a dog in drive and not as an aversive. If a handler punishes their dog, they will generally receive a reprimand from the trainer. Training is kept fun- it's just a big game for the dog. @3GSD4IPO perhaps you will tell me this is not how it goes in protection sports, as you are the only one I know for sure has done one of these sports. If so, then okay, I do understand that these are totally different arenas.

The dog's exact mix is unknown. We say GSD mix because the dog looks like one and acts like one- we could call it a GSD, but thats improbable, and there are no papers- also he's a bit on the leaner side, but that could change as he ages
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Maybe this is just me, but I wouldn't even consider protection sports with any dog except one bred for it. The last rescue I kept and adopted myself I did it because some idiot wanted him for Schutzhund and the rescue group was considering the application because they'd had him some time and no one else had been interested -- small, soft tempered Rottie mix, totally unsuitable. I never saw a rescue that had the combination of confidence and drive for protection work, and I sure wouldn't consider it with a dog that wasn't very well built.
I totally get where you're coming from. This is why I was also open to alternatives. This dog certainly has the temperament for protection sports, and would love to do it, but he hasn't been looked at by a vet or anyone skilled in protection sports in regards to his build, so this is my primary concern besides his age.
I'd like to clarify I'd never dream of pushing a dog into something like this of they weren't of the right temperament and ability. He will be evaluated by a vet for safety IF they do go the protection sports route.
 

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I totally get where you're coming from. This is why I was also open to alternatives. This dog certainly has the temperament for protection sports, and would love to do it, but he hasn't been looked at by a vet or anyone skilled in protection sports in regards to his build, so this is my primary concern besides his age.
I'd like to clarify I'd never dream of pushing a dog into something like this of they weren't of the right temperament and ability. He will be evaluated by a vet for safety IF they do go the protection sports route.
Exactly how do you know the dog has the temperament for protection sports? What behaviors are you seeing??

So, here is the thing. Not every dog bred for the sport is a good sport dog. A dog in DRIVE in the protection phase is a very different animal than a pet dog chasing a ball.

It is mostly a game for the dog but the protection phase is often a real fight for the dog. My current dog? He has only been worked one time on someone who could bring out the serious side. He was ready to kill that decoy. Prior to this he looked at everything as a game (VERY confident dog who thinks he owns the world and very little "nerve"). A dog with a little nerve will take the decoy seriously. Any dog with high fight drive will take any decoy seriously and WANTS the fight. Too much fight drive the dog is better in patrol or prison work than in the sport. My current dog was changed a bit by the work with that one decoy. He now REALLY powers into the decoy "in case he's like THAT guy he got angry with." He also recognizes a less skilled Decoy and will clearly "take advantage" of that decoy and he thinks it's fun! 馃槼

The other thing to note.. a really good training decoy (rare) can get even a weak dog to work and some look good. A LOT of German Showlines and American Showlines are not good sport/working dogs. You can learn a LOT from such a dog, but you may never title. Good first dog IF you have a good training decoy.

Prong collars are used to bring a dog UP in drive. Same with E collars. Both are also used as aversive corrected devices. A dog in drive is a different animal. Corrective devices need to be used at the lowest effective level to get results. A dig on an e collar should NEVER vocalize when stimmed (same with the prong collar).

To really know whether or not this dog is a possible sport prospect you need to find an IGP club with a good helper and see what he says. To start/test this dog you will need to buy or borrow an agitation harness and a long line. It may take more then one visit. Grips (which are genetic) must be full and not chewy.

Remember too that the dog must have enough hunt drive to track and enough pack drive to partner and focus in obedience.

Can you share a photo of the dog?
 

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Can't say w/o a photo..
And I still would like to know "what behaviors" make you think he would be good in protection phase of dog sports.
 

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I was hoping it was KNPV line, GSD x Malinois
Yeah, but what are the odds lol!

Remember too that the dog must have enough hunt drive to track and enough pack drive to partner and focus in obedience.
This right here is where I'd start with this dog! Chances are his obedience is nowhere near where it needs to be, and tracking can take considerable time and training! If the dog can't do these things well, he'll never do well in IGP, or any other protection sport for that matter! There are no, and have never been any PSA 3 GSDs...
 

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Just an added note:
K9 training for Police work is very different than training for sport. A good patrol dog is not usually a good sport dog. Most Police K9 handlers are policeman first and dog handlers second. Many are NOT good dog handlers and some are in it more for the prestige.

A good K9 patrol dog has fight drive and if in a fight might have to be choked off a suspect no matter what the training was. I have seen dogs with this sort of fight drive and once engaged in a fight they will escalate it if they can.

Police that take their dogs to demos and to schools often do NOT have the best K9's for patrol work and I know some who actually have another dog they use for demos and schools because the Patrol dog is not up for petting, kids and the rest.

Remember this: A patrol dog is part of the equipment an officer uses. That dog is there to preserve the officer's life first and foremost and may give up its life to that end. In many cases that patrol dog actually saves TWO lives by engaging with the suspect. The officer is saved by the dog engaging and the suspect is saved by the dog neutralizing the suspect.

Last, in Germany where the German Shepherd was developed and where the dogs do work has just passed a bunch of Animal Rights laws that have essentially removed patrol dogs from the streets. Handlers and trainers are no longer allowed to use a Pulling collar or aversive techniques in either in training or in work on the street. This legislation was written by someone who has an agenda as opposed to having knowledge.
 

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I worked with law enforcement and K9 officers for years. I have not experienced what you state at all. The dogs know the difference between work and rest. They live in homes with the officer and his/her family with no issue and still perform their jobs with amazing abilities. They are taught without aversive techniques and still do their jobs and save their partners and subdue their suspects. They are also able to visit with people when not working. I have personally had them in my office for hours during staff meetings, etc. Some are more hyper than others - usually the young ones - but they are not unable to interact with civilians during the course of their day.

I remember attending a breed club event once. They were so thrilled because they got a "police dog trainer" to come and speak. Someone asked him how to get a dog to stop digging. His answer was:

Fill a hole the dog dug with water. Shove the dog's muzzle into the hole and hold it there. The dog will struggle - a lot. When the dog stops struggling, don't let it up - it's faking. Wait until the dog starts struggling again. When the dog stops struggling for the second time, release it. "It will never dig a hole again."

This is the type of aversive training used by many old school police dog trainers. This is the type of abuse to which such legislation is putting an end. This is outdated nonsense and cruel to an extreme and the idea that you must use such aversive techniques to teach a dog to "protect you" is misguided in every sense.
 
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This is the type of abuse to which such legislation is putting an end.
The legislation banned "pulling collars", which without having read the actual law, I take to mean dominant dog, choke, and prong collars. Nothing in it addresses drowning a dog in a hole... And IMHO, that's EXACTLY what's wrong with such legislation! You can't legislate ignorance or cruelty away. All it did was effectively suspend a large portion of working police dogs, and will likely result in many other dogs being euthanized for behavioral issues that cannot be effectively treated with cookies and sausage...
 
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