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Categories: Protection Equipment , Protection Training - Adult Dogs

Q. My young adult dog is targeting the end of the hard sleeve where the jute has no area of hard casing under it. Is there a way to soften a hard sleeve?
Hi Cindy

I just have a query regarding the bite sleeve with jute cover. My Malinois loves his bite work but we have noticed that he is specifically targeting the jute sleeve where it overhangs the end of the hard arm as this is the area with no hard casing beneath it. He has learned that this is the softest part and has just exhibited re-bite to ensure he gets that part only. Is there a way to soften the hard arm itself? Indy is 16 months of age and plenty big enough to tackle the sleeve, but we think that it may be too hard and that he will end up going for a hand or finger bite only if and when we go to a hidden sleeve.

Any advice would be great.

A. Hi,

I'd actually recommend going to a softer sleeve for a while.

The only way I know to soften a hard arm is to let dogs bite it. Back in the days when I did SchH we would let some of our harder biting adult dogs "break in" the sleeve. We had a big SchH 3 Rottweiler that was always on task for that. :)

By using a hard sleeve with a dog that is not far enough along in bite development you can actually create bad mechanics & set back their confidence for biting. I would not continue using it right now, I would switch to something softer and easier to grip while your dog builds strength and biting skills.

Even with my finished dogs, I spend a significant amount of time letting them bite a softer arm. It's more fun for the dog to bite something they can really dig into and for young dogs, it's very important to let them be successful while they build strength, mechanics and confidence.

Cindy Rhodes

  Response:

Hi Cindy,

Thanks for the reply. Yes you have confirmed what I was thinking. Okay, so lets say I was to go for something like the Level 4 Intermediate sleeve with the Neoprene Sleeve underneath would that be a good combination? And is there a bite puncture resistant component in the intermediate sleeve?

Many thanks

  Follow-Up Response:

Since I'm not sure of your training progression I'll list the steps I use when developing a young dog for bite work:

Tugs,
Then bite pillow,
Then soft sleeve,
Then intermediate or advanced sleeve.

I don't use a hard arm too much unless the dog is going to be competing in Schutzhund. I use a variety of materials (jute, linen, leather) because I want the dog to be comfortable biting any surface.

Whether you need a neoprene sleeve underneath or not really depends on the gripping behavior of your dog. I don't know about being puncture resistant, again, it depends on the dog's biting style and strength. My dog can puncture even an advanced sleeve but he's had lots of bite development and a genetically full and very hard bite. He didn't start out that way, training and proper development paired with his genetics (his parents are extremely big biters) created a very nice finished biting dog.

At your dog's age he was still biting softer arm and leg sleeves, we were building his technique and confidence while allowing him to build his strength.

Cindy Rhodes
  
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