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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