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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello,

I'm looking for some clarity in training a doberman for schutzhund. I've been doing quite a bit of research and I there is a schutzhund club near me in NorCal, but I'm hesitant to join because they have are quite biased toward GSD and Malinois; feeling those are the only two dogs suitable for Schutzhund and protection work.

I have 12 month old male doberman I acquired from a friend 2 months ago. He had already gone through som obedience, but I want to train him for schutzhund.

After reading and watching some of the videos from Leerburg, I'm a little lost. First off, I understand the idea of working a dog in prey and building drive; not wanting too much obedience early on because it can interfere later with other work and that the proper way to train obedience is to train it utilizing the prey drive and focus.

However, I have a few questions.

1.) If you're not suppose to do too much obedience because it can hurt later training in prey and defense, how do you approach daily life outside of training (i.e. walking your dog and not getting dragged down the street, mischievious behavior and wanting to get into things their not suppose to, or constantly in your face and space 24/7 when not crated or out on a walk). -What is the proper way to handle such?

2.) In light of so much writing and suggestions about only using positive training, how is one suppose to approach corrections for misbehaving?

3.) Where do I start with my training for a 12mo old doberman and what are reasonable goals? -Does everyone strive to get their dogs titled by 18 months or is there some other intermediate goal?

I would appreciate any sound advice and coaching on this matter. As I've said before, I understand the philosophy behind buildin drives as such; I just don't have a firm understanding of how we are suppose to properly address daily life issues with our future shutzhund dogs, and what I should be doing towards training with mine.

Thank you for your input in advance.
 

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I have 2 dogs currently enrolled in Schutzhund. In our daily life, they are first and foremost, family pets and should adhere to the rules and boundaries we set forth. I would train them at home and give them corrections like any normal dog. It can be a stern "No" or a quick correction delivered via a prong collar to get the message across. The goal is to get them to understand I do not agree with their behavior.

Obedience is very much a part of the Schutzhund sport and as you already know, we get the dogs to work out drive rather than compulsion. The concept is such that the dogs perform the routines because they know if they do it right, they are rewarded for it (i.e. lots of play time with ball on a string which build drives and high drives = high focus). A dog that performs an obedience routine out of drive looks 10 times better than a dog that just does it because he was told to. Essentially, I would recommend you to visit a Schutzhund club and see firsthand how this is done. It can give you further insight into the training methods of this sport and how it is applied.

The titles and age of which the dogs are allowed to trial are as follows:
BH - Companion dog, traffic sureness (at least 15 months)
SchH1 - Novice Schutzhund (at least 18 months)
SchH1 - Intermediate Schutzhund (at least 19 months)
SchH3 - Master Schutzhund (at least 20 months)

Dogs are only allowed to trial once they have reach 15 months of age and at the SchH1 level, the minimum age is 18 months. Other than that, it is entirely up to you to set your own goals and how long you'd take to achieve them. We are hoping to get our dogs their BH and SchH1 titles next year as they are too young to trial this year.

I hope this helps a little bit and good luck with getting your dog into Schutzhund! :)
 

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I work two dogs in schutzhund - my AmStaff mix and now Naavi (though she just does baby stuff) - and I definitely use correction; both during training and at home though considerably less with Naavi than with Cassius (5mo vs. 4yrs).

There is absolutely nothing wrong with teaching your dog manners as long as you're not cowing it into a state of total submission on a daily basis.

And remember, after correction comes praise - when the dog either stops doing what it wasn't supposed to be doing or gets a position/exercise correct.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
@Brazen- Thank you very much for your response. I greatly appreciate it. Your response provides much clarity and a starting point for me with my doberman. There seems to be a lot of grey areas where there is no real voice about what to do. I've read so many posts and online articles about corrections and how many people discourage corrections until the dog is older, but they provided no framework about how to deal with normal mischievious puppy behaviors. Its that thing of you don't want to ruin the dog before you've even started. When it comes to obedience, I've read that prey drive and bite wor comes before obedience and so some people seem to let the dog develop its own mind until training comes about. Your response though fills in a lot of the unasked questions I had as well.

@Christina&Crew- Thank you as well for your response. It provides additional clarity on the element of corrections. Your reponse is greatly appreciated also. Your response leads me to ask a secondary question on corrections:

Does anyone have experience to say whether the traditional idea of corrections (i.e. leash w/prong collar) vs. positive training only (i.e. a correction is defined as the word "nope" in marker training, or simply withholding a reward until the dog performs the desired action, or crating them for 20 minutes) yield better responses? In the case of my doberman who is now approaching 13 months, I find it to be a 50/50. Some days you can say "nope" until you're blue in the face and get nowhere because he is dominant and a bit opinionated as to be expected to some degree from a teenage doby. In those cases, a leash correction seems to be only thing to get his attention.

Other days, he is so in tune to me that if I ask him to perform an action and he doesn't, he will keep trying his bag of tricks until he does what I ask and expecting reward for it.

Thank you for your input again.
 

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@Brazen- Thank you very much for your response. I greatly appreciate it. Your response provides much clarity and a starting point for me with my doberman. There seems to be a lot of grey areas where there is no real voice about what to do. I've read so many posts and online articles about corrections and how many people discourage corrections until the dog is older, but they provided no framework about how to deal with normal mischievious puppy behaviors. Its that thing of you don't want to ruin the dog before you've even started. When it comes to obedience, I've read that prey drive and bite wor comes before obedience and so some people seem to let the dog develop its own mind until training comes about. Your response though fills in a lot of the unasked questions I had as well.

@Christina&Crew- Thank you as well for your response. It provides additional clarity on the element of corrections. Your reponse is greatly appreciated also. Your response leads me to ask a secondary question on corrections:

Does anyone have experience to say whether the traditional idea of corrections (i.e. leash w/prong collar) vs. positive training only (i.e. a correction is defined as the word "nope" in marker training, or simply withholding a reward until the dog performs the desired action, or crating them for 20 minutes) yield better responses? In the case of my doberman who is now approaching 13 months, I find it to be a 50/50. Some days you can say "nope" until you're blue in the face and get nowhere because he is dominant and a bit opinionated as to be expected to some degree from a teenage doby. In those cases, a leash correction seems to be only thing to get his attention.

Other days, he is so in tune to me that if I ask him to perform an action and he doesn't, he will keep trying his bag of tricks until he does what I ask and expecting reward for it.

Thank you for your input again.
when it comes to truly training SchH, with your dog, you will use all the tools in your training tool box to achieve the goals you wish to achieve, this will include rewards based training combined with correction, You must first be absolutely sure that your training is solid enough that the dog absolutely knows what the command means and when they do it they get rewarded, whether that be with food or playing tug, But if they know the command and fail to do it, then you utilize a correction, so they know they must do the command given, and then once they are doing it, you reward. Its all about balance with your training.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
@Pitts-Thank you! That makes perfect sense! Your mini profile says you are a trainer/handler. In your club, at what age do dogs join? I've heard some people say right at a year and others don't enlist their dogs into a club until 15-16 months.

Also, is barking at people and dogs considered a good behavior? I recently read post on a blog online where the author encourages you to praise the dog for any barking or "forward" response they exhibit towards people they don't know because that "forward" drive will be used when it comes time to learn sleeve work and later defensive drive work? Any opinions or experience with that idea? Thank you again!
 

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@Pitts-Thank you! That makes perfect sense! Your mini profile says you are a trainer/handler. In your club, at what age do dogs join? I've heard some people say right at a year and others don't enlist their dogs into a club until 15-16 months.

Also, is barking at people and dogs considered a good behavior? I recently read post on a blog online where the author encourages you to praise the dog for any barking or "forward" response they exhibit towards people they don't know because that "forward" drive will be used when it comes time to learn sleeve work and later defensive drive work? Any opinions or experience with that idea? Thank you again!
I am a competitive Schutzhund handler and trainer, and have been for many years.

People in our club and most that I have known or know, usually let dogs be brought out as pups as young as 3-5 months. They are usually only played with using a puppy rag, etc, to help them become more self assured, and increase they prey and toy drives.

As for barking, I think that in the right circumstance it is useful, but you should limit it, for example if the dog barks at a person walking by your home, you encourage it and reward the bahavior with a good dog and affection, then difuse the situation with play or some other reward. This teaches them to alert but once you know and step in, that its ok to back off. It will help you in both competition and real life. after all you have to balance both of those for you and your dog.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
@Pitts Thank you agan! Your advice and information is very helpful to me. Is that you and your dog in the picture under your post with the title Matrix? If so, thats a very nice doberman. Can you give me some pointers and direction for a 13 month old doberman as to what I should work with him on? Right now I take him to the park in the evenings and work on his prey drive with a bite tube on a rope and him on a 30ft lead. I also work on some basic obedience and want to get him into learning track, as well as the long stay, long sit, and long down.

One other question I have has to do with socialization. I know that the schutzhund dog needs to be level headed and have good nerves-neither cowaring and scared, nor inclined to bite at everything. As part of socialization with your schutzhund puppies/dogs, do you allow your friends or kids in the neighborhood pet them. What is good socialization practices for a schutzhund puppy/dog and what is bad socialization practices? Thank you again for your responses.
 

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@Pitts Thank you agan! Your advice and information is very helpful to me. Is that you and your dog in the picture under your post with the title Matrix? If so, thats a very nice doberman. Can you give me some pointers and direction for a 13 month old doberman as to what I should work with him on? Right now I take him to the park in the evenings and work on his prey drive with a bite tube on a rope and him on a 30ft lead. I also work on some basic obedience and want to get him into learning track, as well as the long stay, long sit, and long down.

One other question I have has to do with socialization. I know that the schutzhund dog needs to be level headed and have good nerves-neither cowaring and scared, nor inclined to bite at everything. As part of socialization with your schutzhund puppies/dogs, do you allow your friends or kids in the neighborhood pet them. What is good socialization practices for a schutzhund puppy/dog and what is bad socialization practices? Thank you again for your responses.
Yes, and no, the dog in the picture is My male doberman Yes, but the person in the pic is the decoy, and not me. Thanks for the compliment, He is a very nice dog and is doing well, and he is only 20 months old himself.

as for the work your doing with the prey drive, I would say thats excellent, its great to build that prey drive and it truly helps you in all aspects of the sport, including the obedience. I would suggest a flirt pole though to make it easier on you, you can grab one from any feed store, its just a buggy whip, and you tie your toy on the end of it and move it around with it, it makes it easier on you when playing the prey game. Also, I wouldnt use a tug during this type of play, but rather a Ball or a Kong on a rope, I say this because you want the dog to learn to target a tug in the center, but if its used during play like what your describing, they will grab usually at the end, as thats what they can get to easiert.

As for socialization, Yes I have socialized all my dogs and can take them anywhere, I take them in pet warehouse stores, hardware stores etc, and if someone wants to pet them, I put them in a sit position and instruct the person the right way to approach and pet them.
 

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Great Thread! I've picked up alot reading it. I would also like to ask a few questions. My dog is 9 weeks, what can I do to build his prey/play drives? He seems to want to play with the ball and string and likes tug of war but sometimes just seems to lose interest after 5 to 10 minutes. He loves to chase us in the yard though, and that never seems to go away. His protection drive is starting to build as he has now begun to bark at the neighbors (that he can't see because of a fence) and other dogs when he hears them. Should I encourage this? How? Any advice you can give on what type of training I should do and not do with a 9wk old is apprecaited. Also any advice on building the proper drives.
 

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Great Thread! I've picked up alot reading it. I would also like to ask a few questions. My dog is 9 weeks, what can I do to build his prey/play drives? He seems to want to play with the ball and string and likes tug of war but sometimes just seems to lose interest after 5 to 10 minutes. He loves to chase us in the yard though, and that never seems to go away. His protection drive is starting to build as he has now begun to bark at the neighbors (that he can't see because of a fence) and other dogs when he hears them. Should I encourage this? How? Any advice you can give on what type of training I should do and not do with a 9wk old is apprecaited. Also any advice on building the proper drives.
One thing you have to remember is that a nine week old puppy has the attention span of a gnat. LOL. playing tug for five to ten minutes is great with a dog that age, I would suggest to use a small leather or burlap rag and hold it in both hands then let him bite in the middle of it and just play some light tug, let him really pull and then let go and let him win, then get really animated and playful and get him to come back to you to start tugging again. Now before he tires out and gives up you should stop the game with him winning, you let go and let him have it, then get a high value treat and trade him for it and put it away. But be careful not to pull too hard as their puppy teach could be pulled out and cause pain, and this will set you back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
@Pitts Ok. We have a few feed stores nearby. I will have to check that out. If you're training session is say an hour, what is the ideal make up of that session between bite (or in the early stages prey work), obedience, and tracking? Do you have any recommendations for getting started on tracking? Also, what is a good number of hours per week one should put into their schutzhund work?

In reality, or in your club, is it common for dogs to get their titles at the respective 18,19, and 20 months of age for each schutzhund level, or is that just a relative number?

How about dog parks? the disease element aside, are dog parks or your dog playing with the neighbor's dog ok for schutzhund dogs?
 

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@Pitts Ok. We have a few feed stores nearby. I will have to check that out. If you're training session is say an hour, what is the ideal make up of that session between bite (or in the early stages prey work), obedience, and tracking? Do you have any recommendations for getting started on tracking? Also, what is a good number of hours per week one should put into their schutzhund work?

In reality, or in your club, is it common for dogs to get their titles at the respective 18,19, and 20 months of age for each schutzhund level, or is that just a relative number?

How about dog parks? the disease element aside, are dog parks or your dog playing with the neighbor's dog ok for schutzhund dogs?
first off NO DOG PARKS. ok with that said,
as for training time, I personally train every day, I do something with the dogs daily, Usually I track four times a week early am or late dusk, and atleast an hour of obedience, then we train with the club twice a week, and work on all three. I would suggest to work atleast three days a week on tracking and work daily on the playing with your dog.

as for ages to get titles, it depends on the dog, dont be in a hurry, just have fun with your dog, and when they are ready you will get it. as for Dobermanns, you have to remember they take a long time to mature, so dont be in a hurry.
 
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Thanks Dale. Your right, they do have the attention span of a gnat! I will get a puppy tug and start him on that. I work for a PD with a K9 unit and will try to get him some work with them as well, once he gets older. I was thinking when his ears are done being posted, about 5 or 6 mos of age, hopefully. Does this sound right to you? His adult teeth should be in by then. Do you know of a good club in central Jersey I could look at? I will definately buy the book you recommended.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Outside of the schutzhund field, do you utilize a helper or do you reserve the prey work only for club meetings. I also checked out some of the leerburg videos. In one video, Ed Frawley discourages you from contesting a prey item on your own dog. Do you find that to be the case with your work; that you only contest prey with a helper?

What are some good starting points for initial tracking lessons?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Speaking of clubs, is there much difference between working in a SchH club versus a DVG working club?

Also, I was wondering about the lineage of dobermans. In the GSD and Malinois community, you hear a lot about lines from the U.S. and lines from Germany; Lines from Germany being better suited to SchH demands. Are doberman bloodlines plagued with the same issues as other breeds; a deterioration of the working ability due to American breeding influence, or are they still more in-tact?
 

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Thanks Dale. Your right, they do have the attention span of a gnat! I will get a puppy tug and start him on that. I work for a PD with a K9 unit and will try to get him some work with them as well, once he gets older. I was thinking when his ears are done being posted, about 5 or 6 mos of age, hopefully. Does this sound right to you? His adult teeth should be in by then. Do you know of a good club in central Jersey I could look at? I will definately buy the book you recommended.
The ear posting can take differing amounts of time, I am no expert on this one, I think some of the breeders and show people may have better insight on this one, but once his adult teeth are in, you can start working a little harder with the tug, and really start to work on prey and toy drive.

as for a club in that area, I would suggest looking at DVG AMERICA Main Menu, to find a club in your area, you could also try United Schutzhund Clubs of America - For the German Shepherd Dog
either of those sites could give you some insight into clubs in your area.

Glad to help.
 
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