SCHUTZHUND - Schutzhund Training
Fight Drive Promotion
Hawk's real start in protection work was with Johnny. What I saw come out
in him then and what Johnny taught me about foundation work, made me
decide to work him only on helpers that can work with fight drive. For the
next year, the only times he was on a field was to watch and bark to maintain
the drive Johnny brought out. Apart from that, I did a little work on the backtie
with him myself occasionally. Dieter was the first helper he worked on after
Johnny, and his style is similar in some ways but more challenging for the
dogs and less oriented in prey. Hawk's guard, strike and grips are extremely
good, in his distance work the launch, grip, and drive are quite phenomenal.
We haven't done any full length courage tests yet, but for a dog that's had less
than 30 training sessions, his work is honestly amazing. It's not that he's a
wonder-dog believe me, it's just very good foundation and taking things slowly.
The biggest thing I learned from Johnny and Dieter is how to affect a dog's
style by changing the helper's style. Helpers fall into a style of movement
that feels right and comfortable for them, but it doesn't always get the right
response from a dog. You think that Quinto's bouncing has nothing to do with
the helper work, but I'll tell you honestly that it has everything to do with your
helper's movements. I've seen it dozens of times and there's a dobe in a club
I visit with the exact same problems now. I talked to the helper 3 weeks ago
and he admitted to me that he was having trouble changing his style to suit the
dog, and he knew that was the problem. I worked the dog on the backtie the
next week and the dog responded perfectly, at the end of the line, no bouncing, perfect focus. It's all in the body posture and movement, and dobes and rotts
are very sensitive to that. I'm guessing it will take several months of work on the backtie to undo this dog's habits, but it will work and it will change his entire approach to the work on the field. Quinto needs exactly the same thing from what you've told me and this is what I'd do:
1.) Put him on a short (4') nylon line to a post. Leave him there alone to watch one or two other dogs work.
2.) Have the helper approach the dog, no eye contact, no prey movements. Dog still alone.
3.) He should fire up because he's already used to the work, but the helper needs to work on building his confidence so he needs to retreat as soon as Quinto comes forward/barks. Then begin working back into the dog, eyes down, slightly insecure body movements, responding to each bark or each lunge forward with a flinch/turn his head away. The dog is still alone.
4.) As the helper works in closer (last 6 feet), he needs to change his posture to a half squatting position, body turned so that his right shoulder is facing the dog and the sleeve is away from the dog. Always small responses to the dog coming forward, shoulder flinch/step back if needed, etc. The picture should be a challenge/threat to the dog from an insecure attacker. The dog is still alone.
5.) When the helper can work into the last few feet and the dog is showing a more determined response, he can start some furtive eye contact, use the whip to make small (insecure) strikes at the ground in front of the dog's feet - always lunging back after each strike, or when the dog lunges forward. The picture now should be a slightly bolder attacker, stil unsure and very sensitive to the dog's defensive actions. Your dog is still alone, go have a coffee or something.
6.) The helper begins to rise up to full height, step by step, rise/fall according to the dog's reactions. This is the final stage and where you're likely to see him fall into his bouncing habit because the picture is becoming more normal. Now the helper needs to turn squarer to the dog, step by step, use the whip to keep him coming forward and responding to the threat, and keep responding to the dog's aggression with small flinches. When the dog is fully at the end of the line, all four feet on the ground, fully focused and challenging the helper - even if it's only for a few seconds, THEN he can have the bite. The very first time you do this the helper can slip the sleeve and run from the dog. After that first time, always approach your dog and take him and the sleeve off the helper every time. Make him carry it calmly, No shaking, kick it out to the helper and leave the dog alone again.
The only time your helper should make any sideways movements AT ALL, is if the dog is feeling overpowered by the approach, is backing away, not coming forward, etc. One very quick zig zag to bring the dog forward, then back to the straight approach. I guarantee you'll see the difference in the dog the first time, and I would work him only this way until his response is correct (at the end of the line, barking strongly, no bouncing) constantly whenever the helper is in front of him.
Here's a photo of showing the half squat approach, the dog would be in line with his right shoulder and he'd flick the whip with his right hand, rocking forward and backwards in response to the dog - like a fencer, thrust/parry etc.
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