Training the Schutzhund Puppy

Weight pull, Protection, Agility, Flyball... you name it!

Postby RedChrome » November 14th, 2007, 2:51 pm

Well, I know that a lot of people are interested in Schutzhund and the workings of it. I recently got a Schutzhund puppy prospect as some know and I have been researching the internet for good articles. This will be the first PUPPY-PUPPY that I start with, Red was 6 months old when we started and already had a lot of Obedience. Now a lot of people say no FORMAL obedience on your Sch. Prospect, What are your takes on it? Like no jumping up, does it really affect their drive to teach them to greet people properly with all 4 on the floor?

Here is an Excerpt off of GSDCA website about the Schutzhund pupppy.
Raising a Puppy for Schutzhund Work.

Puppyhood is the most critical period for the development of the characteristics you want to encourage. Your local Schutzhund club can advise you about nurturing and socializing your growing puppy.

A puppy learns from it experiences, so you want to provide only positive ones. It should be provided with opportunity to explore and investigate new situations and new people, but always in a non-threatening way. Remember that your goal is to build confidence in the young animal. Your aim is NOT to dominate or oppress the young pup.

Exposure to different environments is crucial to the general education of the dog and also to assure it that the world is a safe pace. If something appears to make the dog unsure, give it the opportunity to investigate it slowly, but do not force the issue.

It is imperative to avoid situations where your dog would be dominated by another older or stronger dog, or by another puppy. You also want to avoid having to discipline or correct your puppy and thus dampen its spirit or damage its self-confidence. You can do this by never leaving the pup in a situation where it can cause damage to your valuables or find itself in a dangerous predicament.

The final area of development is that of drive encouragement. The natural behaviors that you want to encourage are playing with the ball, tug of war, hide and seek, pulling toys on a string, pursuing you rapidly when you run away, and finally defending itself, its family and its home. The latter really only shows itself between the ages of nine and eighteen months as the pup begins to mature by barking at strangers or intruders.

It is better to leave for later formal obedience training with a young dog. The character of the puppy is not sufficiently strong to withstand the corrections involved in obedience training. Acceptable manners at home and in the car and “play“ training, like learning to sit for a food reward, with NO corrections involved, is advisable. Real obedience work should begin only after the dog is well on its way in the protection training.

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Postby mnp13 » November 14th, 2007, 2:57 pm

exactly - no formal obedience. I think that means no corrections, keep everything positive reinforcement. This would be where ignore the bad, reward the good would come in - with the exception of behaviors like biting.
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Postby katiek0417 » November 14th, 2007, 3:09 pm

Honestly, we even let our puppies bite...at least we don't correct them for it. For example, we may trade them for something else, but we don't correct it (unless it's plain vicious, like with Rocky...however, as a forewarning, we probably ruined Rocky with all the corrections we gave him).

For the most part, we let our working prospects be "brats" until they are close to a year old. No corrections. However, we do positive reinforcement (with food or clicker) with them to teach them things like sit, down, etc...

Schutzhund trainers used to put lots of obedience on a dog early. What they were finding was that they had dogs that looked "flat" on the trial field. They just didn't look happy to work. And, it inhibited a lot of their drive. They looked to other sports, found that the obedience was just as good, and the dogs looked happy to be out there (tail wagging, etc). The method, was allowing the puppy to be a puppy, work on the bite foundation and fostering that drive....then adding compulsion in later...
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

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Postby mnp13 » November 14th, 2007, 3:22 pm

Honestly, we even let our puppies bite...at least we don't correct them for it. For example, we may trade them for something else, but we don't correct it (unless it's plain vicious, like with Rocky...however, as a forewarning, we probably ruined Rocky with all the corrections we gave him).


Actually, that was what I was thinking of when I wrote it.
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Postby RedChrome » November 14th, 2007, 3:38 pm

Thanks guys, I agree with everything that has been said.

How would you address a puppy jumping up? I do NOT want to discourage him from jumping but others may not like it. Would you just teach him a sit with posistive reinforcement and di it that way? Obviously nobody putting their leg up to him when he jumps, right?
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Postby katiek0417 » November 14th, 2007, 3:42 pm

On November 14 2007, 2:22 PM, mnp13 wrote:
Honestly, we even let our puppies bite...at least we don't correct them for it. For example, we may trade them for something else, but we don't correct it (unless it's plain vicious, like with Rocky...however, as a forewarning, we probably ruined Rocky with all the corrections we gave him).


Actually, that was what I was thinking of when I wrote it.


Yeah...see, Rocky was vicious...most of what you see in a working puppy isn't vicious...it's just play. Rocky was doing it b/c he wanted to kill us. Like I said, though, looking back, that's probably what made him so fearful...

So, it not only made him fearful (and not want to work), it also made him fear aggressive...
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

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Postby mnp13 » November 14th, 2007, 3:51 pm

On November 14 2007, 14:38, RedChrome wrote:Thanks guys, I agree with everything that has been said.

How would you address a puppy jumping up? I do NOT want to discourage him from jumping but others may not like it. Would you just teach him a sit with posistive reinforcement and di it that way? Obviously nobody putting their leg up to him when he jumps, right?


In my opinion, someone putting their knee up when the dog jumps isn't really a "correction" any more than the dog charging to the end of the leash and getting snapped back by the collar is a correction. It's kind of a "wow, it sucks when I do that" experience.

If you don't want to do the knee thing, turn your back on him when he jumps, but pet him when he has four on the floor. It will probably take longer, but it will work.
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Postby RedChrome » November 14th, 2007, 3:55 pm

OK, the knee thing was concerning as I didn't want it to diminish his drive.
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Postby mnp13 » November 14th, 2007, 3:58 pm

On November 14 2007, 14:55, RedChrome wrote:OK, the knee thing was concerning as I didn't want it to diminish his drive.


right. Greg or Katrina will have to answer that one, the above is just my perception of what a "correction" is and is not.
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Postby katiek0417 » November 14th, 2007, 4:09 pm

On November 14 2007, 2:58 PM, mnp13 wrote:
On November 14 2007, 14:55, RedChrome wrote:OK, the knee thing was concerning as I didn't want it to diminish his drive.


right. Greg or Katrina will have to answer that one, the above is just my perception of what a "correction" is and is not.


Personally, if I don't want a put to jump, but don't want to correct it, I just hold out my hands and block it...they eventually figure it out...if they do jump on me, I don't touch them, I just walk the other way...

However, I don't mind when my dogs jump on me...I actually teach them when it's okay to jump on me...
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

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Postby RedChrome » November 14th, 2007, 5:00 pm

See, I have no problem with my dog's jumping on me but since I will be taking him a lot of places, he will need to learn not to jump up on people.

So, I'll use the turn the back method or ignroing method. I just want him to be a superbly confident dog and I don;t want to RUIN him. 8)
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Postby katiek0417 » November 14th, 2007, 5:38 pm

On November 14 2007, 4:00 PM, RedChrome wrote:See, I have no problem with my dog's jumping on me but since I will be taking him a lot of places, he will need to learn not to jump up on people.

So, I'll use the turn the back method or ignroing method. I just want him to be a superbly confident dog and I don;t want to RUIN him. 8)


You can have people "train" him to sit when he meets people...then just let him jump on you...

Use a command when he meets other people, and jumping on you...
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

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Postby pocketpit » November 14th, 2007, 6:32 pm

I think corrections are okay but much of it depends on the personality of the dog, the behavior involved, etc.
I do overall believe in not pushing for formal obedience and putting too much pressure on a young dog. Most of the training I do with puppies involves teaching behaviors with food or toy based rewards. Corrections are not made for performing incorrectly. What I do correct for are behaviors that I feel I definitely would like extinguished in an adult dog. Bearing in mind of course that you are working a bite sport so that behavior would obviously be handled differently (IE using redirection onto a toy or tug rather than discouraging biting all together).

I think the idea behind the "no correction" theory is to make a dog that is happy to work and a dog that is comfortable working independently of it's handler. If a dog is over pressured in the obedience department I've found they often have a harder time working a decoy/helper when the handler is at a distance. They lack confidence and the ability to make their own decisions because they don't have their "leader" there to back them up or tell them what to do.

They key is not that making your dog sit when greeting people is bad, it's that your approach to creating that behavior has to be done correctly. Either using shaping behaviors, ignoring bad behavior but rewarding good, a very small correction coupled with a huge reward for a correct response, or a combination of theories as long as the end result is a happy, confident dog that enjoys working. If you can couple that with lots of socialization and exposure to the world beyond the range of a six foot leash you should have a good start.

It's just my outlook on things though and I'm not an "expert" nor to I know everything. I enjoy questions like yours that get people talking about training theories since you never stop learning :)
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Postby GregMK9 » November 14th, 2007, 8:43 pm

I think everyone has given some good solid advice. One thing to keep in mind is you can also over do motivational obedience in a young pup. Since dogs are creatures of habit and you are essentially creating a habit by teaching a young pup in order to get what he/she wants he/she must sit. As the dog becomes an adult it's in the habit of sitting to get what he/she wants. This can and will carry over into bite work. The first sign of confusion rather then bite, the dog is more likely to sit then bite. In Schutzhund it may not be so bad because everything is B&H then bite. But if your not pattern training then it can cause problems.
I compete in a surprise scenario sport and I clicker trained my female starting at about 4-5 mos b/c she was out of control. Very strong foundation. However, when competing if she can't get to the bite right away she goes into a B&H. I can tell you from experience it's not fun to smoke a trial only to lose and not title b/c your dog didn't do what she was suppose to in one scenario.
I let my pups be pups till about a yr. old just working proper bite foundation till about a yr old for this very reason. I forget the exact time line, but early on everything a pup learns is imprinted while the pup's brain is still developing. I prefer to use that imprinting period to teach the pup that biting is fun as well as let the pup use this time to develop it's personality.
Even though I know puppy's are resilient, I don't put a knee up on a pup for 1) fear of hurting them, and 2) I really don't want to discourage them from jumping B/c later on in life the dog is going to have to jump on people to bite as well as jump obstacles and such. Instead, if I don't want the pup on me at that particular time I just put my hands around his muzzle and push him down till his feet hit the ground then I stroke him and speak calmly. Hopefully he settles down. If not, then I put him in his crate.
Even with biting! I don't really discourage it b/c that's what i want him to do. I haven't had a pup yet that didn't eventually grow out of it. If it gets too bad, again I just put them back in there crate.
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Postby katiek0417 » November 14th, 2007, 11:29 pm

On November 14 2007, 7:43 PM, GregMK9 wrote: Even with biting! I don't really discourage it b/c that's what i want him to do. I haven't had a pup yet that didn't eventually grow out of it. If it gets too bad, again I just put them back in there crate.


Greg brings up a very good point here. Most of you don't know about Rocky, though I have confided in a few of you regarding Rocky.

Rocky was a result of a breeding between Jue and Asja (Greg's top competition dogs). He was hoping to get Jue's replacement from this litter. However, when he announced the breeding, he received 5 deposits, and Asja had 5 puppies.

He was aware of the fact that he would not be getting a pup out of this litter. Four days after the pups were whelped, something spooked Asja, and she proceeded to start kill her pups. We stepped in, and saved Rocky from the brink of death. We hand-raised him.

We kept him in an area of the kitchen baby-gated from the other dogs. One day, I was bringing in Kaiden (who, at the time was ~5 months old weighing 50 lbs), and Rocky got out of his enclosure, growling, latched onto Kaiden's back, and started shaking. He was acting more like a dog aggressive pit bull (no offense to all of you). We laughed it off as him having a ton of drive, which was phenomenal. Two days later, he did it again, at which time, I picked him up (so I could get him off of Kaiden), and he redirected. He bit my breast and split it open. He was 5 weeks old.

Around the same time, he got incredibly food aggressive. We started to correct him for it. We figured a good scruff is what Asja would do, right?

When he was 9 weeks old, I was brining him in from outside, and he bit me in the face.

We continued to correct him for biting and being aggressive.

Well, fast forward 10 months to now. We now have a dog who is a POS. I love him with all of my heart (after all, I did 90% of the handraising), but I can't deny what he is. He is incredibly fear aggressive, but, unfortunately, if you fight back, he comes in harder out of the pure want to kill. We have a dog that will never work. We have a dog that can never live anywhere other than with us. We have a dog that we have to constantly be vigilant around b/c we never know when he's going to come after us. I'm not afraid of him, but I try to always be alert of signs that he will "lose it." Yes, this dog has come after both Greg and I. It doesn't happen often, but it has happened when he has gotten scared.

So, it turns out that Greg got his Jue x Asja puppy after all, right?

I know people think that correcting puppies, especially working ones, for biting isn't a big deal. Greg never felt that way, until Rocky came along. I can promise you that he, nor I, will never make the same mistake again.

You don't realize what some of your actions can do. I have seen several dogs in our club who are introduced to the puppy sleeve, and won't bite if there's an arm in it b/c they were corrected for it as a puppy. It was wrong then, and it takes a while for them to figure out that it's now okay.

Take Greg's advice, use a crate if you get annoyed with things your pup is doing. Don't correct it. If you do...well, the pup could be fine. Then again, he might not be. Don't learn the hard way.
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Postby RedChrome » November 15th, 2007, 12:01 pm

Katrina and Greg- Thank you SO VERY much for your advice and expieriences. Like I said Red was started at 6 months and had extensive OB training and she is an American Staffordshire Terrier. I have owned a GSD before but he was just a Pet, he was natrurally protective but still just a pet and I was 14 when I had to have him PTS for Bone cancer. I know that a GSD is different and want to raise the pup right as not only is he going to be my Sch. dog but I'm hoping, fingers crossed, my PP dog as well.

So What I'm hearing is no physical corrections? Try redirecting him with a toy or IF I get sick of his annoying little butt, put him in the crate, Right?

I mean ultimately I'm getting the same advice here as my training group is telling me. I learn a lot off the internet and then discuss it with them and see what they say and then take my own opinion out of it.
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Postby luvmypitties » November 15th, 2007, 12:02 pm

On November 14 2007, 10:29 PM, katiek0417 wrote:
On November 14 2007, 7:43 PM, GregMK9 wrote: Even with biting! I don't really discourage it b/c that's what i want him to do. I haven't had a pup yet that didn't eventually grow out of it. If it gets too bad, again I just put them back in there crate.



You don't realize what some of your actions can do. I have seen several dogs in our club who are introduced to the puppy sleeve, and won't bite if there's an arm in it b/c they were corrected for it as a puppy. It was wrong then, and it takes a while for them to figure out that it's now okay.

Take Greg's advice, use a crate if you get annoyed with things your pup is doing. Don't correct it. If you do...well, the pup could be fine. Then again, he might not be. Don't learn the hard way.


Roscoe is a perfect example of a dog with drive, not Mal drive but he has drive, that was corrected for biting as a puppy. Roscoe was extremely aggressive when he was a puppy. At 5 weeks old he wanted to kill us, he would come at our faces and everything and it seemed to be out of nowhere. Sweet one minute trying to kill us the next. People laugh when you say it is a 5 week old puppy, but the puppy is serious about killing something! We corrected him, scruffed just like mom would do and used a command 'no'.

Now Roscoe is a wonderful dog, great house dog, very sweet no real aggression issues at all but he wont bite the sleeve when it is on Greg's arm. Thats my fault but again I didnt know I wanted to do this kind of work with him way back when either. But who knows what kind of drive he could have if I didnt correct him. But I do think biting in puppies is self limiting, they grow out of it. Now its on you to be patient with it all.


And a side note.... I never believe Katrina about the Rocky horror stories til I saw it myself. He comes off as a sweet dog and I love him a lot, but he gets spooked and its over.
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Postby babyreba » November 15th, 2007, 12:41 pm

i kinda think, to some degree, a dog either has it or it don't . . . if you have a pup that's not confident or has weak nerves or just isn't all that sensible to begin with, no matter how little training you put on the dog as a pup, that weakness is going to come out at some point down the line. and you're gonna have to work on it. i guess you can hope to diminish the issue through careful handling as a youngster, but i would think that basic, simple obedience shouldn't have such a profound effect that it'd wreck a pup. if it does, i'd wonder whether there was something underlying in the pup to begin with that was problematic--a temperament issue of some sort.
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Postby RedChrome » November 15th, 2007, 1:51 pm

On November 15 2007, 8:41 AM, babyreba wrote:i kinda think, to some degree, a dog either has it or it don't . . . if you have a pup that's not confident or has weak nerves or just isn't all that sensible to begin with, no matter how little training you put on the dog as a pup, that weakness is going to come out at some point down the line. and you're gonna have to work on it. i guess you can hope to diminish the issue through careful handling as a youngster, but i would think that basic, simple obedience shouldn't have such a profound effect that it'd wreck a pup. if it does, i'd wonder whether there was something underlying in the pup to begin with that was problematic--a temperament issue of some sort.


I see what you are saying here as Red had pretty extensive obiedience WAY before we ever got into Schutzhund. She was 6 months old and she is a dog that would die on the schutzhund field, her heart and spirit are too big for her body. (She has poor rear angulation which has led to a partially torn ACL that is better with therapy but she will never be able to compete. I let her work a little bit, 1 or 2 bites on saturday's but that's it ans only because she loves it so much.)

Her OB work didn't affect her drive and I had to show them the spay certificate so that they'd believe that she WAS spayed. Becasue she has more drive than any spayed bitch they've seen as well as one that had in their opinion TOO MUCH obedience before doing the bitework. Red will go till she drops and NEVER has too much. I worry about her physical limitations as she would go forever.

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Postby katiek0417 » November 15th, 2007, 3:39 pm

On November 15 2007, 11:41 AM, babyreba wrote:i kinda think, to some degree, a dog either has it or it don't . . . if you have a pup that's not confident or has weak nerves or just isn't all that sensible to begin with, no matter how little training you put on the dog as a pup, that weakness is going to come out at some point down the line. and you're gonna have to work on it. i guess you can hope to diminish the issue through careful handling as a youngster, but i would think that basic, simple obedience shouldn't have such a profound effect that it'd wreck a pup. if it does, i'd wonder whether there was something underlying in the pup to begin with that was problematic--a temperament issue of some sort.


I don't totally agree with that...I've seen awesome puppies go downhill when corrections were added too early, and I've seen so-so puppies explode when they get older...

Nisha and TJ are perfect examples of both sides of the spectrum.

Nisha was CRAZY as a pup. Pick of the litter. Hanging on to the rag at 5 weeks of age. Ask Michelle, she saw her as a baby. Well, around 5 months old, I started to take her to another trainer (in addition to Greg) who was big on obedience before bitework. He put her in a pinch collar. All of a sudden, her drive started to go downhill. She didn't want to bite the sleeve (she was already on a sleeve at that point)...she didn't want to do anything. I took a step back...and she's back ot being crazy. She doesn't get spooked, can handle hard stick hits, can handle jugs of rocks over her head, tarp being thrown around her...

On the other side, you have TJ. He was sold as pet puppy. After a year, he was brought back because he had a ton of energy. I recently showed him in the Level 3's of PSA.

You can very quickly ruin a dog by correcting it. I've seen it many times, unfortunately. And some people aren't as lucky as I was with Nisha.
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