Schutzhund Protection: Training Without Conflict
Most people are now training in the protection phase using mostly prey drive. The following article is for dogs 1 year or older. A lot of the trainers are agitating the dog, then giving the bite and slipping the sleeve, having the handler run in a big circle and stopping 5 meters or so in front of the helper. NOW IS WHEN THE CONFLICT BEGINS. The handler is grabbing the dog by the collar and hanging him while they are stepping on the sleeve and screaming “out”. Once he releases the sleeve it is quickly
kicked out where the dog cannot reach it. Then the helper challenges the dog for the sleeve. This not working through defense drive, it is still working in the prey drive.
The longer the dog is worked this way, the more he becomes imprinted to not release the grip on the sleeve. Later when you want to teach the out, it becomes more difficult and eventually it takes more force. These are the dogs that when they are finished have problems with the outs i.e. slow to release or double commands to out.
This method will start to channel in some drive in defense. It will give a safety margin to dogs that are not real hard. It will make the handlers job easier. It will make the helpers job easier, with a margin of safety to work close with the dog, as it will be in done in a controlled manner. It will start to imprint the dog in a way that he will understand that if he wants to bring more action when the helper stops fighting and locks up and bring the sleeve back to life, he has to release the grip and challenge the helper by barking. He must understand that the out is not the end of session but a way to bring the sleeve back to life , fight the helper and be able to win the prey and take it back to his den (car or crate). This method eliminates the conflict between dog, handler and helper, which often becomes a 3 ring circus.
You build a fenced area. It can be off to the side of the training field. It should be 25 centimeters high and 50X50 with an opening 1.2 or 1.5 meters wide in the rear for entering and exiting. A gate can be used hear if you want to do defense work without the handler inside , at a later time. There should be a stable bench built along the front of the pen and up against the fence. It should be .75 or 1 meter wide and run the entire length of the front section. The helper will be using 2 sleeves and a whip or stick for agitation purposes. I work dogs with a fur saver collar (the long links) and clip the leash on the live ring and then come back to a dead ring and clip the leash again. The collar should be snug so the dog cannot back out of it but it is not on choke. I’ve read other post where it was suggested to use a wide leather collar so it is more comfortable for the dog. My opinion, this is hooey!!! The chain collar is only going to bother dogs of soft temperament. This is protection work. When wide leather collars are used, the dog starts associating it with protection work, the same as he does when he see the sleeve or the helper in scratch pants. When challenged he must come in full drive without training aids. No this will not hurt the dogs’ throat.
Now we are ready to start. The handler comes into the pen about half way and the helper agitates the dog coming in and running back. The handler should let the dog go to the fence and try to bite the helper. The handler should not be talking to the dog or praising or patting him. This only distracts the dog. It is the helpers job to bring the dog out. If this is a beginner dog you can use a young dog sleeve. When the helper knows that the dog is in high drive he puts on sleeve # 1 and goes up on the platform, bends over the fence and puts the sleeve down to where the dog can bite it. He can then pull the dog up slightly giving him a very short fight and slipping the sleeve . The handler takes the dog out the back of the pen while he is carrying the sleeve. The handler doesn’t have to run like a nut case just a fast walk making a circle of medium size and returning to the pen about half way. Still no talking to the dog. The helper starts agitating with the whip or stick and the dog will drop the sleeve and go to the fence. At this moment the handler throws the sleeve over the side fence and the helper gets # 2 sleeve that is behind him. One or two bites in the beginning and the dog carries the sleeve to the car. You should stop when the dog still wants to fight . Put him away frustrated. When a dog reaches his peak in drive you must stop or you will be doing negative training.
When the handler returns to the car or crate, stand and relax. Do not give the dog out commands, just ignore him, he will get tired of holding dead prey and release it. As training progresses the helper can start to stay more up right making the dog come a little airborne to get the sleeve and he can at times lift the dog off the ground. These high bites will make the dog bite hard and full or he will lose the grip. This is just basic build up work and getting the dog to learn a system. The out is not the end of the game. You are not doing true aggressive, defense training but you are at least mixing prey with some defense. The young dog working behind the fence will be more sure of himself. When you are satisfied with this basic work you can take the dog to the training field to start the outs. If there are questions of this article, Please no e mail or PM’s. Address them to the post. There are many other members that can give good input and alternative methods.