Can you tell me what I should be doing with my 1 year old Dobe to help bring out his defense drive?
Dear Ed --
I just wanted you to know that your training tapes were very helpful and my Doberman has turned out to be an awesome dog. He's great around people, has a tremendous amount of prey drive, and is doing very well in beginning defense. I really owe a tremendous amount to your videos -- my trainer is amazed at how fast my dog learns and how much foundation I had laid in his early puppy-hood. I give the credit to you.
I have a question my husband asked and I don't know the answer to. I haven't asked my trainer this either -- he's been very good with my dog and I trust him, but not enough to risk screwing up my dog's psyche.
Is there a command that you give a dog, besides "watch him," that steps up the dog's threatening posture -- i.e., growling, etc., before an attack? I'm probably showing my ignorance here, but when you live in a place where there is a high crime rate it's nice to ward off any attackers before they push the envelope. My son's best friend moved here from Oregon two months ago and was mugged at knife point during broad daylight last week. He was just walking from the beach to the store in an area that's not known to be dangerous. Hence the question.
My dog has a lot of nerve and is not a fear biter -- doesn't do a lot of growling in bite work. He's still a young dobie -- just over a year -- and I've chosen not to push him in defense. We set up a scenario for the first time last week where I was standing by my car with the back door open and told my dog to stay. The agitator was wearing a body suit and walked behind me several times before making an aggressive move toward me. At that point I gave my dog the command to go for him and he flew out of the car and grabbed the guy by the arm. He did the drill perfectly. We did it two times and the second time I actually noticed my dog bare his teeth and growl. I think that was the first time I'd seen that reaction.
We have an older dog that's a Schutzhund 1 GSD from Germany that we train side by side with and I think Ruger actually studies him to figure out what he's supposed to do next. Uncanny.
Anyway, didn't mean to bore you. Thanks for all your good advice.
Nice to hear the tapes helped. There are a couple of issues here.
1. Be very careful about working a dog (especially a Dobe) in defense at one year of age. Dobes are usually defensive as a rule. They are very intelligent and if you make a mistake in training they are not going to forget it anytime soon. So keep working the dog in prey. The only defense I would be doing would be at night. Take the dog out for a walk. Walk into the wind - have a helper hide up wind. As you approach, have him rattle the his keys or money in his pocket - if your dog’s ears go up give any command you like - i.e. “Hey you in the bushes - my Dobe has a thing for your ass,” (just stick to the same command - BAD GUY also works :)) The guy steps out make a few threatening gestures - not too much pressure - just enough to set the dog into barking - do not make him bark a lot before the guy runs off - you chase for 20 feet and praise your dog. You will get 10 times more effectiveness than what you are doing now. You may want to consider my tape on Training Personal Protection Dogs.
2. Unless it is done properly, too much bite work in a suit becomes prey work for the dog. The simple sight of the suit will put the dog in prey drive. After the dog has learned to bite the suit - I do not believe that it should be used that much - only for testing.
3. Start to consider getting the dog used to wearing a muzzle. So when it is old enough to do muzzle fighting it will be used to having it on.