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Old 02-01-2013, 01:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How does one know if their "working prospect" can't cut it?

At what point does one call it quits? I'd especially like to know what these dogs are doing or not doing. Asmit mentioned a peer who had a male who had nothing and a female who had reached a plateau and had been stagnant for a year. What specific behaviors are happening or not?
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Old 02-01-2013, 03:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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What a great question. I almost quit agility with Kyrah a couple times. She just didnt show any drive while doing it and was just about the laziest doberman anyone has ever met! I would take long breaks thinking about it and when we went back she seemed to have a good time. Over this last break of holidays and rain we went back and she almost gave me a heart attack on the dog walk. I dont like her to go fast and she normally doesnt but she did twice the other night. I believe Dexter moving in has boosted her energy/excitement level and drive. Maybe its some friendly competition between the two. LOL
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Old 02-01-2013, 04:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
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BUMP - I hope some working sport people who feel strongly about this will reply.

IMO, one must define for themselves what is "cutting it". I think this is precisely from where so many debates and arguments stem because individuals define that idea of "cutting it" differently, and sometimes to a drastic degree. So a dog that isn't up to snuff for one person may make another person in the same sport happy as pie.

I will also say that I personally wouldn't wash my hands of a dog that was stagnant for a year. I've seen dogs pull through slumps (or leveling off, if you will) like that before. Training is peaks and valleys and sometimes it's a looooooong haul getting out of a valley. Just because a dog seems to plateau from outside perspective doesn't mean that they're not processing things. But sometimes it takes a while. And if the dog is willing to continue working then I wouldn't chance cutting them short by stopping training. Maybe the handler doesn't think they're learning anything, and hey, maybe the handler isn't learning anything, but dogs are always learning. Whether it's to be lazy, or appease their handler with repeated behavior, (both of which, IMO, are handler errors), or whatever. They're learning.

Maybe I'm a softie on my dogs but I am an "A for effort" type trainer in all honesty. I'll work with and try my damnedest to communicate with my dog for as long as they're trying for me. And when they're spent and they need a break, fine by me, buddy. I'm only human and I haven't figured out everything asked of me in life yet either. The old adage "Rome was not built in a day" is fairly appropriate here. It took a few years for me to "get" algebra. Thankfully no one was standing watch over me and deciding I'd had long enough for it to click after the first 3 attempts. Because I was able to "get it" and pass with a 98.9% my 4th try and 6 years after my first attempt. But I had to mature, get my priorities straight in life, learn how to focus, and work to learn it. If I'd had a "handler" deciding I was done 4 years earlier, I'd have never finished my college degree as a double-major honors student. So that's the approach I take with my dogs. They don't have to be a prodigy in the ring. If they'll work with me, I'll do my best to see that they understand what's going on.

I have yet to meet a dog that's not "cutting it" as far as I'm concerned. But I'm not a hard-driving competitor looking to stand above the rest, either.
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Old 02-01-2013, 05:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
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. . . IMO, one must define for themselves what is "cutting it" . . .
Couldn't agree more. Very well put.

The only thing I would add is that, for me, the journey with my dog is the important thing -- because it's being together on that journey that creates the bond between us.
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Old 02-01-2013, 05:46 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I like how BRW put it... I only think the handler can decide what "isn't cutting it"...

I'll use Jones as an example...

Jones is a super soft dog, in practice if we have to do a sequence more then once because he took an off course jump or I "would like to clean it up".... he will shut down... To some trainers I know that "wouldn't be cutting it"... If I correct him with a NO or "EH EH" shut down... I have to be super positive with Jones... I know that wouldn't "cut it" for some people... Honestly I am not a super positive trainer/handler so it is tough for me...
But to me that is just learning your dog, though I would like a "tougher" dog...
Not cutting it is watching his face or mannerisms during actual trials....
If I have to "cheer lead" him over jumps or keep him happy during an actual trial. I know he isn't enjoying it, and I am only doing it for my enjoyment not his.
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Old 02-01-2013, 07:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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What I define as cutting it for my pet dog that was always intended to be a pet, is whether or not they are enjoying it. If they are the MOST happy doing whatever it is they are doing, then I will continue it. In my case, Zeus was not happy doing IPO, but he still loves obedience. So I will trial him in AKC obedience despite the fact that I'm not that interested in it.

For dogs I have seen..... Males who should just be given up on: I actually worked one tonight (ie was decoy for one). I am a 5'2" girl.... not intimidating at all and if I made eye contact with the dog for a split second he would come off the bite. I was trying to work a 2 yo shepherd on a simple bite pillow. He will aggressively guard the pillow and make a huge scene, but after he strikes the bite, his mouth literally just slips right off. If you move the pillow any more than just a tiny 'jingle', he will just let go. Doing a short 'back up' bite, he struck the pillow hard, then just let go and started sniffing grass. The actual decoy tried putting him into more defensive drive vs prey (because the owner said that's how he should be worked), and then the dog just came off the pillow due to a tiny bit of pressure.

The female I mentioned in my other thread: Has a decent amount of prey drive. She likes working for her dad in obedience (got her BH with no problem), her reward for obedience is a tug. She will engage with her dad non stop like a mad woman at their house. She will engage with her owner pretty well at the training field where it is all fun and games. ie the dog runs around with the tug, comes back to her owner to tug on it, etc. Put her in a harness/collar and she has no interest. She would occasionally interact with the decoy on a tug, but some days she would do nothing. He would try to get her worked up in prey drive then present a bite, and she'd go for it, then just let go like "whatever, don't care anymore". As soon as their started to be requirements for the bite, she was uninterested. She would consistently be on a bite then just slide off and stand there like "oops, oh well."

Basically, failure to interact with a DECOY (not just their owner playing in their backyard), failure to hold the sleeve/tug/leather/whatever, consistently coming off of the bite, acting uninterested (ie never barking, losing interest if not rewarded immediately), never countering well, crappy bite (from genetics), and very poor nerve (goes along with coming off of the sleeve too much).

I saw a dog last weekend on a trip up to getting the dogs worked on another decoy, and it was sad. The decoy tried EVERYTHING to get the dog interested, and he just could care less. He'd sorta watch the puppy sleeve moving around, then just walk around, maybe go visit his handler, maybe go take a single bite from the sleeve, and then just immediately spit it right out and go back to doing nothing. The young female handler was on the verge of crying when she put the dog up. She said he had not made any progress in months and that she was thinking of just giving up.

NOW for me, the requirements for my 'sport' dog is whether or not they could handle the amount of pressure and have enough drive to get a good score, under a good judge, on a strange field, under a strange decoy, while obtaining an IPO 3. I'd be perfectly happy with any dog who could do this

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Old 02-01-2013, 08:08 PM   #7 (permalink)
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brw- since we started a new thread...... What were you going to comment on about agility testing nerve?
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I want to add to this thread but I have to go to bed if I'm gonna make it outside in the cold all day tommorrow. I do think you misunderstood my post on the other thread. I meant SOME( a few select) show dogs can do it. Not that we are likely to see it as the owners have neither the interest or the resources. A shame actually.

I will say that I had no idea people were pursuing bitework with dogs such as you described. Don't the helpers or TD tell them it's not likely gonna work out?
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Cathy43 View Post
I want to add to this thread but I have to go to bed if I'm gonna make it outside in the cold all day tommorrow. I do think you misunderstood my post on the other thread. I meant SOME( a few select) show dogs can do it. Not that we are likely to see it as the owners have neither the interest or the resources. A shame actually.

I will say that I had no idea people were pursuing bitework with dogs such as you described. Don't the helpers or TD tell them it's not likely gonna work out?
Like I said, the people I train with generally will try for as long as the owner wishes. Idk about the dog that I saw on my trip last weekend. It sounded like the dog was doing decently as a puppy and just recently started showing disinterest.

My decoy will flat out say, "The dog doesn't have it" but he still makes it the owner's choice whether to continue or not.

And I've seen a couple show dogs do it, although their general temperament is not the same as the Euro working line dogs that I prefer. I just hate when people suggest that because a dog can do well in agility, it can do well in schutzhund. If someone wants a euro-working line dog to participate in bite sports, why in the world would someone recommend the OP get an AKC show line dog that might come from an agility background? The thought process behind recommendations like that make absolutely no sense to me.

I don't think any schutzhund dog could do agility either. I can think of atleast one male I personally work with that would not even think about doing agility with. He would simply get into drive and bite me if we disagreed on 'terms'. He's just too independent for that and has no 'drive to please'. On top of that, he is thick boned and shorter legged/short stride. I would not even be able to imagine him going around an agility course with any sort of ease or grace.

Like brw said, why are people comparing apples to oranges? Obviously, most people on the forum are show line fanciers and there are many more agility/ob people than bite sport people. That doesn't mean that we should tell everyone they should like akc show line dogs and do agility or obedience just so 'we' (people who recommend this) can see 'pretty pictures'.

If someone wants an agility dog, I would recommend a breeder who consistently produces dogs successful in the agility venue. If someone wants a schutzhund dog, I will always recommend a euro-line breeder who proves their dog on the working field.

On top of that, I will not claim a dog has the requirements to be a good schutzhund dog unless said dog actually has titles to prove it. Same with agility as well. Too many opinions and hearsay yet not enough 'proof'.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:04 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
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brw- since we started a new thread...... What were you going to comment on about agility testing nerve?
I believe agility does test the nerve of a dog. A good agility dog has good nerve. Dogs can be semi-successful in agility with not so great nerve, but they will not be your HIT dogs or your MACH dogs or anything like that.

My interpretation/understanding of good nerve is a dog who doesn't worry, or stress, or have fear about the challenges in front of it. A dog with good nerve is a dog that is calm and certain while performing. They know what they're there to do and they're going to do it. In their minds, it's an open and shut case. Some dogs have it, some dogs don't.

I get the feeling some people believe that aggression or protection instinct equals nerve. But nerve is proven in more ways than just whether or not a dog will stand it's ground against a threat.

Agility does not test a dog's protection instinct by any means. But it does test a dog's nerve. Agility dogs are set up at the start line of a course they haven't ran before. There is no standard course design for Novice A that the dogs get routinized in performing and that they know what to expect. The handler has walked the course perhaps a couple times before their class starts but the dog doesn't see it at all before they're sat at the start line.

You ask your off leash dog to ignore all it's surroundings - all the strange dogs and people, the new building or field they may never have been in before, new equipment they haven't been on (different clubs have different brands and kinds of equipment - some teeters drop fast and some are like molasses, some dog walks shake like they'll collapse, some A-frames are metal and BANG when the dog climbs them), the judge they've never met standing in the middle of the ring staring at them, the stewards they don't know sitting inside the ring on chairs watching for equipment to fix, the people just outside the start line tugging with their dogs and getting them amped up, the smells of treats ringside people are giving out to their dogs, doors opening and closing, large fans blowing in the summer, or the venue being so cold in the winter that you see your breath inside...all of it. You sit your dog at the line and ask them to ignore everything but you while completely unrestrained.

Then you release and take off at a dead run expecting your dog, while all worked up and driving hard, not to leave you. They have to remain focused and attentive to your every slight cue - voice, shoulders, forward motion, eyes (they do watch your eyes and if you're looking the wrong place - they'll go there).

Not only all that, but they have to remember second upon second how to execute every piece of equipment you're guiding them to at a run. They have to anticipate how to maneuver everything in close quarters at a run, without doing something erratic that may injure their self.

I can't speak for everyone else and their dogs, but when I sit Fiona down at the start line and ask her to ignore the entire world around her, that's asking a lot of her. To communicate to her, "I don't want you to engage ANYONE OR ANYTHING around you because you have a job to do." when she's surrounded by hundreds of other people and dogs...and she's off leash...the fact that she can do that in her curious, watchful, suspicious, alert little head is nothing short of amazing to me. And then I ask her to run in high gear ignoring all of that and running over equipment that may be wobbly and noisy and drops beneath her feet...and on and on and on.

A dog with weak nerve can not handle that kind of environment; some shut down, some are highly reactive, some put in a little effort but visibly have a lot of anxiety and stress, some will go through the motions but if something unexpected happens they back off the equipment or refuse obstacles. The dogs who show up knowing they have a job to do with full intentions of doing it in-spite of any curveballs the day may throw them - that's a dog with good nerve. They are resilient, confident, and have a calm and certain determination.

It may not be the display of nerve the working crowd enjoys and prefers to see, but it is still a display of the dog's nerve. (In my humble opinion. LOL)

ETA...Also, I'm not suggesting that any good agility dog will also be a good protection sport dog. But I don't think it's always due to nerve problems. I believe differences in drive and temperament can affect a dog so that even one with good nerve may not necessarily be a good protection sport dog.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:49 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I think the answer to this depends on the handler, the dog, the circumstances, etc. I personally would not put a lot of time in with a dog that did not show a lot of promise. I think one has to read the dog to some level. It helps also not to have rose-colored glasses. In some cases it might help to know the lines of the dog (though in the Dobermann world this may be kind of rare).

This brings to mind a member of our club who about 9 months ago was very frustrated with her working line GSD. He was just kind of goofy.He was coming off of bites, dropping the sleeve, did not take the helper seriously, etc. Our TD can read dogs better than anyone I have ever met. He is a hardcore trainer who will re-home a dog in a heart beat if he does not think it is cutting it. He just kept telling the handler (who has titled 3 past dogs to Sch3) to give it time. Now that dog is one of the most serious dogs around. Very hard, very driven, solid nerve, great bites, fabulous aggression. If the TD did not know the lines however this dog would have gone to a pet home.

For me if the dog did not have the drive I would give up earlier. I think with working line Dobermann's it can be more difficult to read their nerve. There are some that have to be conditioned to things, but end up taking as much as one can give, though the drive has to be there to start or you have nothing to work with to develop a foundation. I think this is the sign of a great Dobermann. I think a problem can be in the breed that people do not ask enough of them. I am not saying that a bunch of NA show line dogs could be strong Schutzhund competitors, it is just not there. However I think more dogs that were bred for it could be better if more was asked of them. Unfortunately too many Dobermann people make excuses for the dog, do not demand enough, and try to treat them as though they were "special".

I did give once work with a puppy for a period of time. It showed almost no prey drive in the 8 months I tried to work with it. For me, my time is too valuable and the sport is just not enjoyable if the dog does not bring it. It went back to the breeder and they were able to place it in a great pet home. i think the dog ended up being a lot happier because it just was not cut out for it and really just needed a pet or Euro show home.

2 years ago when I was working both Cairo and the male I bred (Ace vom Rosamburg), it became very clear that Cairo was far better. Better drive, more balanced drive, much more consistancy and just lived and breathed protection work. I had a long talk with the TD and decided to discontnue working Ace. I came to the conclusion I would be more likely to be successful if I focussed on one dog. I gave him to my daughter to dabble in the sport with. At over 4 years old the last several times he was worked he showed a lot more. However it still would not satifsy me if I was working him.

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Old 02-01-2013, 11:16 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I will give our GSD as an example.

We got Jack the GSD when our old Great Dane passed away. I had Eva and was working in sport and starting to trial. I was having a blast. Hubby would come to training nights every week and watch all of us new sport people dragging around our dogs with a deer in the headlights look (steep learning curve...).

After a while, he would start to "help" by giving some constructive criticism. Yea.

Well, he at least seemed interested in the sport so we started looking around for something for him. He wanted a Mal for looks, but after a lot of discussion of living arrangements and how I just didn't think we could take the temperament of a lot of Mals, we settled on a young 8 month old male GSD. His father was a multi SchH3 dog that was also a retired police dog of a SchH judge (VERY hard dog), and the mother was a SchH1 import.

The breeder in this case was a member of our SchH club but clearly didn't know how to socialize a litter. Jack's litter was raised in a barn and nobody ever came over and the breeder never developed anything. He was kind of skittish but we decided to try as we were realistic in thinking that hubby wouldn't really want a very dominant dog to start out with.

Hubby started trying to bond with Jack and started taking lessons with basic obedience. For those that know us, my hubby is only a converted dog person. He is a natural cat person. Jack was a tough cookie for him. Lowish drive... Somehow. Soft. Lowish food drive... Lowish play drive... for my husband. Hubby and Jack didn't click. He wouldn't really play with hubby, wouldn't really engage with hubby. They didn't mesh.

Honestly, I am not sure where Jack could have gone in sport. He worked fairly well for me in ob. He was a total wash in protection. Low prey drive and he had no courage or fight. Shockingly actually considering his pedigree. Shows how not everything that looks good on paper actually works out.

So, we were faced with a pet. Jack would not be anything more for us. For a while that was ok. Pets are good. Gave hubby something to tool around the neighborhood with. I hated the fact that he charged the glass when even a car would pass by. Lol, if someone actually charged him he would for sure cut and run.

But, as time went on I think I started resenting him. He and I never really had a relationship. From the get go, he was hubby's dog that I had to feed. Yes, he worked in ob for me, and would bite a pillow and play tug, but we weren't bonded.

For me personally, it was a decision about what expectations I had and what he could realistically offer. All our dogs are house dogs and are treated as pets. Jack, though I felt that I was treating him inadvertently as a second class citizen in the house. He didn't really bond with either of us. And he couldn't be the sport dog hubby or I wanted.

Jack now lives with a 73 year old widow on 40 acres of almond trees. After her husband died, she was worried about being all alone in an orchard with pickers and sometimes just random people walking about. Jack was a perfect fit for her. Good in the house, but barks like a demon if someone is near. Soft, though so she can easily handle him and good with her little tiny dog.

For us, because he didn't work out the way we hoped, and because I think I began to resent him for it, we made the decision to rehome him.

Originally, hubby had the notion that if an animal crosses our threshold, it shall live with us forever regardless of what is best for the animal. After long discussions about what would be best for Jack, we finally decided to change how we looked at things.

We still see Jack occasionally, as the 73 year old woman is the mother of a friend. She loves Jack more than any other dog she has ever had she says. The match is perfect.

Hubby has no more interest in sport, and doesn't come out to training anymore.
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:27 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Another thought to finish that statement. I think it all depends on what the owner ACTUALLY wants versus what the dog can realistically give.

If someone were to want to dabble in sport, but REALLY wanted a nice and well behaved pet, then perhaps wash the dog from the sport, but find something else that is more suited to the dog.

If someone truly wants to excel in something that the dog just isn't capable of, then I don't think it is fair to either try to force the dog to do it (usually to the frustration and disappointment of the owner) and I don't think it is fair to have a dog matched in the wrong home.

For most dogs, there is a well matched home out there.

Another example I could give is a co-owner of mine. Even though I post a lot of Atom, he doesn't live with me. He lives with John. John started sport with a BYB female (WZ) that he got from someone in this state that claims to breed for sport. Lol, that could be another thread... We call her Angle Fish even though that isn't her name because she is super tall but sooooooo narrow and fine. She looks like an Angel Fish or a freakishly big fawn.

For two years he tried with her. The ob was there, she had some prey drive too so at the low levels she would play the game. She didn't have a strong enough temperament though and not enough drive to overcome her nerves and anytime the helper faced her directly, she would run.

John tried and tried hard to help her gain confidence. No dice. She just wasn't cut out for it. When I had my litter out for some socialization at the club, John started wandering over. Who doesn't want to snug puppies?!

After sitting down with the TD and a number of our more experienced members, he washed her. Now, she was the only dog in his house at the time, so washing her out just meant that he stopped forcing her to do protection. He got her BH and now she hangs out at home and keeps his wife company while John works Atom.

So, moral of the story is that "washing" a dog means different things in different scenarios. I don't begrudge people who rehome dogs that aren't suitable for them, and I don't begrudge people who change their focus with a dog or just live with their newly dubbed "pets".

Only the people who are facing the decision are the ones to make the right call.
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:14 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Another thought to finish that statement. I think it all depends on what the owner ACTUALLY wants versus what the dog can realistically give.

If someone were to want to dabble in sport, but REALLY wanted a nice and well behaved pet, then perhaps wash the dog from the sport, but find something else that is more suited to the dog.

If someone truly wants to excel in something that the dog just isn't capable of, then I don't think it is fair to either try to force the dog to do it (usually to the frustration and disappointment of the owner) and I don't think it is fair to have a dog matched in the wrong home.

----------------------------------------------------

So, moral of the story is that "washing" a dog means different things in different scenarios. I don't begrudge people who rehome dogs that aren't suitable for them, and I don't begrudge people who change their focus with a dog or just live with their newly dubbed "pets".

Only the people who are facing the decision are the ones to make the right call.
Case in point: Ilka. I have fallen in love with AKC obedience and rally. Ilka, not so much. Okay, she's managed to get a BN an RE, and 2 legs of her CD. However, she is not the ideal obedience dog (that's an understatement). Okay..... I've retired her from AKC obedience and rally, but not from life. We are going to try coursing. I am going to work toward a BH, becuse she loves tracking, and I would like to try IPO tracking with her. Even if we never get to that point, however, her main purpose in life is, and always has been, to be my pet.

Does that mean I've given up on AKC obedience and rally? Nope, I've got Leo (okay, so I got her by accident), and while she probably will never set the obedience world on fire, she also doesn't have Ilka's issues, and I think will make a decent obedience dog.

Maybe in a few years, I'll be shooting for HIT and HC, but for now, I'm happy with a Q. Would I like to have a HIT/HC OTCH/UDX level dog? Sure, but I'm not going to be disappointed if I don't get there. My dogs are first and foremost pets, and anything I accomplish with them in competition is icing on the cake.
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:41 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Brw-thanks for the explanation You said it well, and I certainly agree with your points!! I can think of many dogs who would not be able to perform their at 100% capability level under the pressure of an agility trial.

I will say though, some dogs can be conditioned to perform well even when they are actually feeling uncomfortable. The bitch I am working now is not very environmentally stable due to lack of exposure. BUT her foundation since being a tiny puppy was completely focused based. So if I take her to a new location, she is actually comfortable if I ask her to do her job (ie obedience) and is less comfortable just wandering around. When she is uncomfortable, she hyper focuses on me because she feels strength from me. It is not uncommon at all for us to draw crowds out in public, and as long as I continue working her, she is fantastic. If I stop working her, and then she just has a group of people staring down at her and/or trying to reach over her to pet her (cough cough grope here like most people try to do), she will then show her uneasiness.

Point being, you can not always determine nerve level by watching a simple performance and some dogs can learn to work through it. In her case, she works through pressure better than she does without pressure. I think some of that borders more into the overall temperament category and whether she is a 'hard' or a 'soft' dog. She is very far from a soft dog who in that situation might just shut down, but she does not shut down, has a high threshold for corrections, etc, and does not seem soft at all, simply under exposed.

OK getting off track.

Rosemary- I agree with you as well about everything else just being 'extra', but hypothetically if you really wanted an OTCH dog and you spent years researching which dog/breeder to go with, would you feel the same way? Would it be more disappointing then[i] if you purchased the dog with every intention to do well? Even worked your butt off for a couple years only to find out the dog would never accomplish that with any trainer?
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:50 AM   #16 (permalink)
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John started sport with a BYB female (WZ) that he got from someone in this state that claims to breed for sport. Lol, that could be another thread... We call her Angle Fish even though that isn't her name because she is super tall but sooooooo narrow and fine. She looks like an Angel Fish or a freakishly big fawn.
LOL, I thought you were talking about the breeder - that you called HER Angel Fish. Until you got to the "freakishly big fawn" part. Then I clued in.
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:55 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Brw-thanks for the explanation You said it well, and I certainly agree with your points!! I can think of many dogs who would not be able to perform their at 100% capability level under the pressure of an agility trial.

I will say though, some dogs can be conditioned to perform well even when they are actually feeling uncomfortable. The bitch I am working now is not very environmentally stable due to lack of exposure. BUT her foundation since being a tiny puppy was completely focused based. So if I take her to a new location, she is actually comfortable if I ask her to do her job (ie obedience) and is less comfortable just wandering around. When she is uncomfortable, she hyper focuses on me because she feels strength from me. It is not uncommon at all for us to draw crowds out in public, and as long as I continue working her, she is fantastic. If I stop working her, and then she just has a group of people staring down at her and/or trying to reach over her to pet her (cough cough grope here like most people try to do), she will then show her uneasiness.

Point being, you can not always determine nerve level by watching a simple performance and some dogs can learn to work through it. In her case, she works through pressure better than she does without pressure. I think some of that borders more into the overall temperament category and whether she is a 'hard' or a 'soft' dog. She is very far from a soft dog who in that situation might just shut down, but she does not shut down, has a high threshold for corrections, etc, and does not seem soft at all, simply under exposed.

OK getting off track.

Rosemary- I agree with you as well about everything else just being 'extra', but hypothetically if you really wanted an OTCH dog and you spent years researching which dog/breeder to go with, would you feel the same way? Would it be more disappointing then[i] if you purchased the dog with every intention to do well? Even worked your butt off for a couple years only to find out the dog would never accomplish that with any trainer?
I think you and I are talking about 2 different things. Nerve is something genetically inherited and you can not train or exercise that out of a dog.

What happens when that dog who is wonderfully focused is faced with the unexpected? Her nerve - whether good or bad - will come straight through. So you say she's fine as long as she's working but it a crowd comes to stand over her, she's uneasy again. I don't consider it good nerve when the dog can only do her job for just as long as her environment is predictable and unthreatening. What if you asked her to down-stay and then 5 strangers walked up and stood near her, staring at her? Can she still "perform" with a crowd in her space?

Again, I agree that some dogs can learn to work through weak nerves so long as they aren't presented with any surprises. A dog with weak nerves can run an agility course, as long as everything goes as planned. But a dog with weak nerves will have a come-apart on the course if they fall off the dog walk. You won't see a weak nerved dog shake that off like nothing happened. A dog with good nerve will, even if they've sustained injury from the fall.

And I don't think soft or sharp entirely or necessarily indicates nerve. I've known soft dogs with good nerve, but they're soft in that it doesn't take much to get your point across - they're hypersensitive to their handler, not soft like they shut down. And I've known nerve bags who are sharp as hell because they constantly feel threatened by their surroundings even though, in reality, maybe there's nothing to be threatened by or scared of. There are sharp dogs with good nerve and sharp dogs with poor nerve just as there are soft dogs with good nerve and soft dogs with poor nerve. But temperament and drive also play a part in how those attributes present themselves in each dog.

Now, I can't tell you what you can or can't see when watching a protection sport dog train and trial. And I won't begin to pretend that I know as much as you about the sport in which you train because I don't train in that sport. But I can tell you what I can see when I watch a performance sport dog train and run. And I'll tell you, I can see the nerve of a dog - good or bad - through agility. Maybe you've not been able to and I'm not trying to diminish your experience in the sport. I can only relay what my experience with it has been.

ETA...And again, protection and agility just aren't even close to being the same thing and I'd not recommend someone buy a pup with agility pedigree to train protection. But protection sport is NOT the only way in the world to evaluate nerve of a dog.
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:30 PM   #18 (permalink)
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If she is working ie was told a command, she will continue to perform it unaffected by outside forces. In your example, if I told her down and had people close in on her, she would be ok. If I gave her to someone without a formal command and then had people close in around her, she might not. She does not show nerve problems WHILE working because she is so focused and I'm not sure yet if it is actually nerve or just lack of socialization. If it is the latter, then my story is completely irrelevant to the discussion of genetic based nerve.

I also said at the end that I had side tracked from nerve to talking about hard/soft as they are unrelated.

I do not think protection sports are the only way to test nerve. Simply interacting with a dog, watching it interact in different evironments and seeing how the dog overcomes challenges in ANY way all attribute to evaluating a dogs nerve.

As far the exposure vs nerve thing. I do not expect a young dog to something completely new and strange and be perfectly fine with it. I want to see how the dog works through the new obstacle, and how quickly it takes for the dog to over come it. Ie if a puppy jumps because they knock over a trash can for example, the puppy might be spoofed at first, but if it then recovers like "oh wow why did I think that was scary" I wouldn't say the dog has poor nerve. A poor nerved dog might then refuse to get near the trash can etc. bad example but that's all I could come up with right now haha I hope hat makes sense.

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Old 02-02-2013, 02:01 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Rosemary- I agree with you as well about everything else just being 'extra', but hypothetically if you really wanted an OTCH dog and you spent years researching which dog/breeder to go with, would you feel the same way? Would it be more disappointing then[i] if you purchased the dog with every intention to do well? Even worked your butt off for a couple years only to find out the dog would never accomplish that with any trainer?
Maybe if I was the super-competitive sort, I might feel differently. In fact, I plan on looking for a likely obedience prospect when I look for my next dog (hopefully a Dobe). However, since I prefer to rescue, any working ability is still just icing on the cake, since my main goal for my pets is just that, that they are my pets.
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Old 02-02-2013, 02:52 PM   #20 (permalink)
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For my own personal dog I don't think I would call it quits unless the dog had a physical reason they couldn't be doing something, otherwise I would endeavor to work through whatever training/nerve issues they had because I only have one dog, so if I call it quits with that one dog, then I no longer have any hobbies I tried to minimize the risk of facing this situation when I got Elsie by being quite picky about what sort of temperament I was prepared to live with, I am not the sort of person that will visit a litter of puppies and have to take one home, after working in boarding kennels and meeting thousands of different dogs, as well as running lots of training classes the puppy novelty wears off (sort of... still want the JRT/Dobe....!)
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Old 02-02-2013, 04:24 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brw1982 View Post
I believe agility does test the nerve of a dog. A good agility dog has good nerve. Dogs can be semi-successful in agility with not so great nerve, but they will not be your HIT dogs or your MACH dogs or anything like that.

My interpretation/understanding of good nerve is a dog who doesn't worry, or stress, or have fear about the challenges in front of it. A dog with good nerve is a dog that is calm and certain while performing. They know what they're there to do and they're going to do it. In their minds, it's an open and shut case. Some dogs have it, some dogs don't.

I get the feeling some people believe that aggression or protection instinct equals nerve. But nerve is proven in more ways than just whether or not a dog will stand it's ground against a threat.

Agility does not test a dog's protection instinct by any means. But it does test a dog's nerve. Agility dogs are set up at the start line of a course they haven't ran before. There is no standard course design for Novice A that the dogs get routinized in performing and that they know what to expect. The handler has walked the course perhaps a couple times before their class starts but the dog doesn't see it at all before they're sat at the start line.

You ask your off leash dog to ignore all it's surroundings - all the strange dogs and people, the new building or field they may never have been in before, new equipment they haven't been on (different clubs have different brands and kinds of equipment - some teeters drop fast and some are like molasses, some dog walks shake like they'll collapse, some A-frames are metal and BANG when the dog climbs them), the judge they've never met standing in the middle of the ring staring at them, the stewards they don't know sitting inside the ring on chairs watching for equipment to fix, the people just outside the start line tugging with their dogs and getting them amped up, the smells of treats ringside people are giving out to their dogs, doors opening and closing, large fans blowing in the summer, or the venue being so cold in the winter that you see your breath inside...all of it. You sit your dog at the line and ask them to ignore everything but you while completely unrestrained.

.

A dog with weak nerve can not handle that kind of environment; some shut down, some are highly reactive, some put in a little effort but visibly have a lot of anxiety and stress, some will go through the motions but if something unexpected happens they back off the equipment or refuse obstacles. The dogs who show up knowing they have a job to do with full intentions of doing it in-spite of any curveballs the day may throw them - that's a dog with good nerve. They are resilient, confident, and have a calm and certain determination.

It may not be the display of nerve the working crowd enjoys and prefers to see, but it is still a display of the dog's nerve. (In my humble opinion. LOL)

ETA...Also, I'm not suggesting that any good agility dog will also be a good protection sport dog. But I don't think it's always due to nerve problems. I believe differences in drive and temperament can affect a dog so that even one with good nerve may not necessarily be a good protection sport dog.
This is a great explanation of the agility environment. Also, this thread just goes to show that temperament, drives, nerve is so multi-faceted. It's a shame that more people can't train in multiple venues just to get a better rounded picture but it's hard enough to do one, I know.
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:24 PM   #22 (permalink)
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If she is working ie was told a command, she will continue to perform it unaffected by outside forces. In your example, if I told her down and had people close in on her, she would be ok. If I gave her to someone without a formal command and then had people close in around her, she might not. She does not show nerve problems WHILE working because she is so focused and I'm not sure yet if it is actually nerve or just lack of socialization. If it is the latter, then my story is completely irrelevant to the discussion of genetic based nerve.

I also said at the end that I had side tracked from nerve to talking about hard/soft as they are unrelated.

I do not think protection sports are the only way to test nerve. Simply interacting with a dog, watching it interact in different evironments and seeing how the dog overcomes challenges in ANY way all attribute to evaluating a dogs nerve.

As far the exposure vs nerve thing. I do not expect a young dog to something completely new and strange and be perfectly fine with it. I want to see how the dog works through the new obstacle, and how quickly it takes for the dog to over come it. Ie if a puppy jumps because they knock over a trash can for example, the puppy might be spoofed at first, but if it then recovers like "oh wow why did I think that was scary" I wouldn't say the dog has poor nerve. A poor nerved dog might then refuse to get near the trash can etc. bad example but that's all I could come up with right now haha I hope hat makes sense.
I agree with the statement in bold. Definitely.

Also, I didn't see that the dog you referenced was a pup still. I agree and wouldn't expect even a pup with good nerve to totally ignore something unexpected. Particularly in that case it's about recovery/resilience and willingness to approach or ignore with repeated exposure, IMO.

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It's a shame that more people can't train in multiple venues just to get a better rounded picture but it's hard enough to do one, I know.
I wish this, too! I train in obedience, rally, and agility and I've been wishing I could fit in tracking consistently too but I just can't. I've also been invited to meet up with a GSD working group not terribly far from me but, again, with what free time? I need about 7 extra days in my week to do all the dog related activities I'd like to!
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:32 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I really want to get involved with some sort of bite-sport, if only there was a club on my island! I met some SchH guys at the tracking seminar, along with an SAS dog trainer and a KNPV trainer... Very interesting talking to them! Someone that does SchH needs to move to CHCH... It's very pretty here! Asmit? I already have a volunteer helper, he just needs training....

When working with other peoples dogs to compete with I am a lot more fussy than I would be with my own dog, because I don't have the time to put into someone else's dog. I won't work with a dog that isn't toy driven.
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:01 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I will throw in my 2 cents if the hotel internet will cooperate. I started out in Agility with Morgan my first dog/dobe (a rescue) who wasfound in a parking lot at 12 weeks old, she is now 9.

Morgan has always been super smart, eager to please, and not really thrown off by much,I have always been her biggest handicap. When we would practice at home my A-Frame would wobble at full height (home made, unlevel yard) and my teeter was wobbly if she hit it at full speed. She knocked the teeter over a couple times before I got the weighting on it correct, A-Frame wobbling, no problem. She has fallen off the dog walk several times, gotten tangled in the chute, no issue. The only thing we ever had an issue with was at one USDAA trial, theUSDAA tire is smaller than the AKC and this was before breakaway tires. It wasn't secured well and several larger dogs knocked over that first day. Morgan managed to hit it so she got caught and the frame fell on her, but she got up and wanted to finish the course. The rest of the weekendshe wouldn't do the tire in that ring, the tire used in the other ring, no problem, same withthe tire at home, training, and trials. Turns out that tire was smaller than regulation.

When I started taking Ricky Bobby to Schutzhund training every week I decided to let Morgan come along, she had neverhad any formal training but tugged like a mad woman. She went on the puppy sleeve no problem! Full grip at 9 years old, loves the game, whip crack riles her up, she has a blast.

Sister is a totally different dog than Morgan. Sister is Morgan's half sister/niece (long story short, tracked Morgans breeder by dumb luck, ran DNA, she matched up. Greeder knewI was a tech and calledto giveme Morgan's "infertile" sister Raven who wasbeing returned, ha not so infertile 8 puppies andlost the mother)

Sister was bottle raised by my mother and myself, Morgan stepped in as a surrogate to bathe and discipline the puppies. Sister was well socialzed, training classes, eager to learn, sharp as a tack, but ADD as all get out. Trained her in agility, went to our first NADAC trial and she was playigwith me until she spotted the ring crew. She ran over barking her head off, normally a happy and social girl, this should have been myfirst hint. I pulled her from the rest of her runs that day at the urging of a rude judge who threatened to report her as a vicious dog if I insisted on running her again.

Later that week Sister was doing the dog walk at home with me and Morgan came up the other side blocking Sister. When Sister was stopped she started shaking making the entire dog walk shake. As puppies all the equipment was set lowso they could play on it, it was something that had always been there, andshe would do it for me but that is when I saw she did it solely for me where as Morgan loved it. So we stopped agility. Sister was also playing with a ball in the house once, shook herhead to kill it and whacked her head hard against the couch. She wouldn't touch a ball for a year, will pick them up now but not play with them. When I took her to schutzhund training she wouldn't play withthe puppy rag, no tug, nothing, just pure avoidance. She wants to work for me but people tend to be too much for her, so we do obedience at home, she likes going to shows but wants to stay in her crate but gets super excitedwhen the car is being packed for a show. I didn't expect her to do anything on the considering her performance inthe ring but thought I would try.

Point of my novel (sorry guys) is that agility can test the nerve of your dog BUT not to the extent of working sport, imo. I also believe that to some extent nerve and hard/soft are related. I think a dogs upbringing and environment can contribute to it being hard or soft but I do believe at a base level the two are connected, but that is my opinion based on my limited experience in the dog world.
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:39 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Quote:
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At what point does one call it quits? I'd especially like to know what these dogs are doing or not doing. Asmit mentioned a peer who had a male who had nothing and a female who had reached a plateau and had been stagnant for a year. What specific behaviors are happening or not?
Afraid of the stick, popping off the bite, travelling on the bite , disengaging the helper, showing signs of extreme stress, lacking intensity, a negative change in behaviour regarding bite work.

In my club i have dogs that I coddle and cater to for bite work. They are the owners only dog or the owner is unwilling to get a proper prospect, etc. I can and do work these dogs, some will need crutches to get to a brevet, some professional ring 1's-dogs just not suited for the sport.

For myself, I am not aiming for the bottom, or to play or even get a feel. My aim is the top and to be the best of the best. If a dog does not have the capabilities to get to ring 3 it will make someone else a fine dog but not me.

This is not my hobby or just something I do. It is my passion and outside of my son and family, my only passion.

There are a lot of dogs that will bite, play tug even bite a sleeve or suit. However on their terms. If a dog will not bite thru stick hits, a decoy groping them, feet touched, body pushed around, hands over their eyes - it is not a dog that will excel in ring and it can go. A dog with limited endurance, can not work in protection for more than 15 mins, is gone. I need a dog that will work for 30-45 mins hard hitting bite work, escorts, running blinds, face attacks, basket guards for no less than 30-45 mins and multiple sessions a day, 7+ days in a row. If they can not do 45 mins in training they will have a hard time at ring 3 in trial which is 45-60 mins on the field.
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