Bitework, sleeve vs suit, say what?

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

Postby plebayo » November 24th, 2009, 11:55 pm

Okay I was wondering if someone could explain what bite work is? What does it mean when your dog has "drive"? I think we have some kind of a protection club here in Oregon because I think they put on a big expo recently and were doing temperament testing among other things.

I would like to learn more about this stuff, is it all schutzhund training? When you guys post pictures of dog's attacking the guys in suits are they trained with a command to do that? I'm just curious about the sport, I think LiLo would have a blast doing something like that, it might actually build her confidence, I don't know that she would do well in it, she's only about 45lbs but it might be fun for her to try? As it is she sure has a good time attacking my dad when I tell her to :P

I wasn't sure what to google specifically to find out information so I thought I would ask here.
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Postby katiek0417 » November 25th, 2009, 11:58 am

There are two "schools" of bitework. Those that do it for sport, and those that do it for Personal Protection. They can overlap, but they don't always.

For example, not all sport dogs make good PP (personal protection) dogs and vice versa....

To do bitework, your dogs typically need 2 drives: prey and defense. Prey is the drive that makes dogs want to chase, hunt, and kill. Defense is actually a drive that has a fear component...it's the desire to defend...

In most cases, you need both in order to do bitework....however, to start, most dogs are worked primarily in prey...at first, defense is only brought out intermittently...

The guys in the puffy suits are called decoys. A skilled decoy will know how to channel the two drives of prey and defense...when you channel these drives, it's called fight (I am of the "camp" that does not believe that fight is a drive in and of itself...I believe that you get fight from the two other drives).

The way I describe it is this: prey drive is going to get your dog to chase someone down...defense is going to keep your dog there when the threat level is raised.

Not all bitework is Schutzhund. Schutzhund (or IPO, for international) is a sport that was originally developed in Germany as a breeding standard test for German Shepherds. It consisted of three parts: tracking, obedience, and bitework. The bitework for Schutzhund is done on a sleeve (the decoy doesn't wear a puffy suit)...Schutzhund has the benefit in that it has been around for awhile...however, Schutzhund also has a lot of pattern training, which personally I don't like (I also hate to track...and I have A LOT of respect for people who do it).

There are other sports, which use the entire suit....ring sports, for example. In the US, the two main ring sports are French Ring and Mondio Ring. Both are surprise-scenario based sports. There are set things you have to do in each of the levels, but the scenarios in which these skills are presented are sometimes different...that's the surprise part of it....I like ring sports because there is more of a surprise aspect to them...

You also have PSA, which is a "whole" suit sport. This is the sport I compete in. Personally, I like PSA b/c it's surprise based, and I feel like there are parts that are more real life. I also feel like the emphasis on tight obedience is a plus, especially when you have a dog that bites.

In Europe there are other sports (KNPV and Belgian Ring), but you only compete in them if you live over there.

For personal protection, the dogs are taught to bite on command when it's owner is in trouble...much of the training is very similar up to a certain point (especially at the beginning)...once the dog is more advanced, the training can differ...

All biting is done with a command. My dogs are taught they don't bite unless that command to bite is given. With any dog that does bitework, it must also have very strong obedience (at least in my opinion, though I know there are trainers who don't put as much emphasis on obedience).

Not all dogs can do bitework. While it can be used to increase a dog's confidence, you must have a decoy that is very experienced. A decoy without much experience working a dog with lower confidence can easily "shut down" a dog...a skilled decoy will know how to work a lower confidence dog without shutting it down, and while still raising it's confidence level.

Hope this helps!
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Postby plebayo » November 25th, 2009, 4:07 pm

Thanks for the information, that definitlery explains a lot!

If I were looking for a group in my area that does something along these lines... how should I search? Like I said I doubt my dog would be amazingly talented at a sport like this, but from what you describe I think she could do it. She has what I would consider a moderate to high prey drive [I've thought Lure Coursing would be cool too!] I can say she likes to defend me anyway... and she defends our property line. She's also very obedient/she wants to do what I want her to do.

I guess I'm just kind of looking into things that would be fun to try with her. When Seth matures I want to do Therapy work with him, LiLo isn't social enough to do that haha.
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Postby furever_pit » November 25th, 2009, 5:45 pm

Great explanation Katrina!

About the Schutzhund, I want to second that it is totally pattern-based. IMO that is the worst part about it because I think that some dogs learn to anticipate what is coming. But, what I personally LOVE about Schutzhund is the obedience because you can find some dogs with some super flashy and super tight OB. Tracking is also more fun that Katrina wants you to think. LOL

Would you mind explaining to me how the fight drive comes from the prey and defense drives? You're more than welcome to send a PM, just not something I have heard before. Also, I wasn't aware that PSA had more strict OB than the ring sports, but I don't know a ton about either of those disciplines to be honest.

Plebayo -- You can start by looking at DVG Schutzhund and see if there are any affiliated clubs in your area. Not all of them will necessarily be listed tho so keep your ears open. Maybe find some bulldog breeders in your area who also compete in these sports because they will know about the trainers and groups that aren't on the internet. Also, I would recommend keeping a wide search area -- I travel 2 hours each way to get the best possible Schutzhund club I have found. GOOD LUCK!!
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Postby katiek0417 » November 25th, 2009, 9:43 pm

PM sent!

And, it's just me that gets tired of tracking...I know people that love it...I just get bored very easily (severe ADHD)...so whenever I track I want to crawl out of my skin...

I do agree, however, look for clubs near you...look for decoys and training directors that have experience with pits...and that you feel comfortable with!
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

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Postby furever_pit » November 26th, 2009, 11:51 am

Aww, I was just yanking your chain about the tracking Katrina. I guess I have pretty dry humor.
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Postby RedChrome » January 21st, 2010, 11:52 am

My GSD does both Suit and sleeve, he was started on a sleeve and then moved to a suit for leg bites etc. Now, we alternate suit vs. sleeve. I'm training him in Schutzhund for titles and PP for something different. There are no FR clubs here nor PSA style clubs so we do what we have available.

I have noticed that when he does a B&H, he does good, gets frustrated after a few barks and then makes a go for a leg bite. We have worked him out of this fairly well now. Transitioning can lead to little snags like that one in some cases BUT not all.

Schutzhund is very pattern based and in the case of some dogs like mine, not fast enough so you have to work harder to keep the dogs attention.

I like tracking, so don't mind doing it. lol lol Although I really do wish that there was a FR club near me though or a PSA club.

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Postby mnp13 » January 21st, 2010, 2:19 pm

furever_pit wrote:About the Schutzhund, I want to second that it is totally pattern-based. IMO that is the worst part about it because I think that some dogs learn to anticipate what is coming. But, what I personally LOVE about Schutzhund is the obedience because you can find some dogs with some super flashy and super tight OB.


There are many videos out there of dogs doing routines without handlers OR decoys on the filed...

and doing bark and holds at empty blinds.

Is Schutzhund easy? No. But when you and your dog become a blind slave to a pattern to the point where the dog can dog the routine with no people on the field what exactly is the point? All you are proving is that the dog is highly trainable.

The other major downfall is that at a certain point, even a very weak dog can get used to a pattern and pass.
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Postby furever_pit » January 21st, 2010, 9:47 pm

mnp13 wrote:There are many videos out there of dogs doing routines without handlers OR decoys on the filed...

and doing bark and holds at empty blinds.

Is Schutzhund easy? No. But when you and your dog become a blind slave to a pattern to the point where the dog can dog the routine with no people on the field what exactly is the point? All you are proving is that the dog is highly trainable.

The other major downfall is that at a certain point, even a very weak dog can get used to a pattern and pass.


Wow. I did not know there were videos of such things...or even that such a thing happened. :shock:
And you're right, Sch is not easy - I hope I didn't imply that it was. If it were, Dylan would have titled by now. lol

And now I'm running over to youtube to find such videos. haha.
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