Protection Training Puppies & Young Dogs Q&A
|Have a question you can't find the answer to?|
Check out our Leerburg Questions and Answers
with nearly 3000 previously answered questions.
A nice Leerburg male pup at 18 months of age.
I try and answer every question I receive on dog training. I may often come across as a little on the blunt side, (some may call it brash). That is because I consider myself an advocate for dogs and not dog handlers. I am an advocate for common sense dog training and not the latest fad that appears on the horizon. Good dog training is not rocket science. It's common sense.
- One of the most
common questions I get is Our puppy is very mouthy, is always
chewing on us or the kids. What should we do? For this reason,
I have answered this question in several places on my web site.
- Im not sure when to release
the puppy tug/sleeve after my dog counters.
- How do you know that a particular pup
will make a patrol dog, taking into consideration the dog will have
- I have a 4 month old dog that I bought
for personal protection. He runs
under the porch and barks at people when they come. Whats the story?
- Our 10-month old Rott is very friendly
with people, he has excellent prey drive. I bought him for personal
protection. Should I be concerned?
- I have an 8-month old pup that
Ive done off-leash obedience with. Now I want to protection train
her but she shows no interest. What should I do?
- Is it normal during teething for
a pups drive for sack or tug to diminish to a level where it is
- Our 7-month male squirts pee when
we approach it. Is there a problem?
- My 1-year GSD is too friendly, I
want him to be a protection dog. What should I do?
- How long should my pup be trained
in Prey Bite Work before we start Obedience.
- I have a 6-month Doberman that isnt
protective of the house or family. When people he barks at come close,
he runs. What should we do?
- I have a 9-week pup. A local trainer
said he would start protection work
at 3 1/2 months. Should I do this?
- I have a 10-week pup I want protection-trained.
Should I keep people away from it?
- We just bought an 8-week pup for
family protection. We also have an
older dog, (10 years), will it be OK to leave them together?
- My pup is 10 months old. Is it too
late to start protection training?
- I take my 8-month dog to a professional
trainer. He is very rough on her, (flanking her), to get her to show
aggression. Is this OK for the dog?
- I have a 9-month GSD that I bought
for personal protection. She doesnt
seem to have a mean bone in her body. Did I waste my money?
- Can you give me a list of
German commands for my dog?
- Im concerned I screwed up
my 12-month Rott. What should I do now?
- How do I know if my dog would be
good for personal protection?
- Would you recommend a personal
protection trainer in my area?
- I want to train my 5-month Rott.
My vet recommended I neuter it at 8
months. What do you think?
- My 7 month old Pit does not have fight drive. There is
no question that she
would not protect my home from a burglar. What can I do?
- A local training school told me I should use German to train protection
work. They said this would make it easier for my dog to understand.
Is this true and can I train my dog myself with information from your
- How do I determine if my puppy is “sharp”?
- If I take my pup to protection training will I be able to have people come over without putting my dog away? Is there a difference from guard dog and protection dog?
- I am disabled and have a few questions about training my dog to assist me as well as protect.
- This morning using a clatter stick and leather rag and my pup accidentally leaned into the clatter stick, and I hit her eye and muzzle, she didn't whimper or get hurt but her prey drive was gone immediately and she became shy of the leather rag, what would you recommend I do with her?
- What do you expect from a good (working) puppy to show you before you treat him as a mature dog and not as a puppy?
- I plan on training my dog in protection work and would like to understand what (if any) are the differences in the way an e-collar is used for pet owners as opposed to owners training their dog for protection work?
- I wonder whether you could help me out I have a nine month old German Shepherd that doesn't bark. I've tried to get her to bark but all she does is whine. I wondered if you had experienced this problem before and do you have an idea on how to get her barking.
- From one of your articles, I understand that one can't each his own dog to be a protection dog. I found someone to help - does this sound reasonable to you? Do you have a video that will help me learn to choose the right trainer and if so which one is it? Do you know any top trainers in the Southeast that I could call on?
- I have been working my dog through the The First Steps to Bite Training. We have worked our way up to the point where she is staked out and I am swinging the puppy tug in front of her building the intensity of the bite. How do I bring the excitement back and do I need to try another kind of material (like leather) instead of what I am using to make her enjoy biting a little more? I also would like to know at what age do I move her to the next DVD and to a soft puppy sleeve?
- Which videos would you recommend for me start a good foundation first?
- I have a male doberman that I would like to train him to perform schutzhund work. However, my one concern is that he does not seem to have a lot of confidence or a strong defensive drive. Is there anything I can do to improve my dog's confidence and defensive drive?
- I have two German Line dogs and I am hoping you might have a suggestion on refocusing my dog's prey drive to the sleeve. My question is how to get my dog to refocus so he will be ready to bite the sleeve? At the local club they insist on going from rag to tug to sleeve and my dog shows he is not interested in the rag so what now? Do you have any suggestions?
- Now that we've progressed in training, my dog seems to have too much prey drive and can't focus when working on obedience. Should I be working on capping his drive?
Our puppy is very, very mouthy. It grabs my kids, my arms, my pants. What should I do to stop this?
Many puppies younger than 4 or 5 months (especially in working breeds) are very mouthy. They bite pant legs, arms, rags, kids etc. They are not doing this because they are mean. The fact is that 99.9% of them probably have a pretty sound temperament. When a pup does this it is displaying prey drive. If you would like to read more about prey drive go to the articles I have written on my web site on the Drives of Protection Training. Even if you have no interest in protection training you will learn what prey drive is from this article.This mouthyness goes away on its own when most dogs are 4 to 5 months old. But is you have a little 10 week old alligator that can seem like an eternity. Puppies can be taught not to bite the handler or family members by simply saying "NO or PHOEI" and then grabbing them by the scruff of the neck and shaking them. You usually have to shake them until they scream. Often a light shake only makes them think you are playing with them and they growl and try grab you. So if this happens you are not being forceful enough. It normally only takes 3 to 5 times of doing this properly to teach the pup that when you say "NO or PHOEI" it means stop biting. Doing this also helps establish yourself as the pack leader. Dogs are instinctual pack animals. By using your head and a very limited amount of force or pressure you become the unquestionable pack leader. This helps control any later dominance problems with the dog.
People who plan on doing protection training with their dogs are often concerned that shaking to stop ankle and hand biting will diminish the dogs protection work. This does not happen. As long as the handler is doing the things we show in our video Bite Training Puppies there will be no problem. Basically a puppy needs to learn what is and what is not a "prey item." Even in the wild a mother wolf will only put up with this rough play against her for only so long. Then she stops it by shaking the pup by the neck. So what I tell people is that after they have corrected the dog, give it a minute and get out the ball on a string (see my training article on why playing with a ball on a string is important for a puppy), or get the hand towel out and play tug. Let the pup win the tug and drag it off. This teaches him what is prey and what is not prey.
I am not sure when to release the puppy tug or puppy sleeve after my dog counters.
Many people are confused by the counter (repositioning the grip to bite deeper into the tug or sleeve). They wait until a puppy (or older dog) counters and immediately slip the sleeve as a reward for a counter. This is a BIG MISTAKE. If you do this kind of training you will end up with a dog that is very mouthy on the sleeve.You are teaching the dog that if he readjusts his grip he wins the fight. If a dog is a little unsure in the nerves he will become very mouthy very quickly. He will think "I ended the fight in the past by re gripping - so I will re grip now. But wait the helper did not immediately slip the sleeve this time - well ---- I will try to re grip again to see if I can get him to do what he has always done in training - which is let me win the sleeve and he goes away.The correct way to do this is for the helper to watch for the counter. When the dog re grips deeper into the sleeve the helper takes up slack in the leash to set the grip and then takes a few steps on the outer edge of the bite circle to allow the dog to settle into the grip.
If you always do your training in this way the dog will learn to be comfortable in his grip and understand that he must settle into a solid grip to get his prey item (the sleeve).
How do you know that a particular pup will make a patrol dog, taking into consideration the dog will have proper training?
This is a simple answer, "the pedigree." There are a lot of selection tests that can be done on a litter of pups. I show and explain them in my video titled Bite Training Puppies. You can also read about this on my web site How to Selection Test and Pick a Working Puppy. But the bottom line is, unless a pup has the right genetics it does not matter how much prey drive it has or how good the nerves are, it must still have the genetics for "fight drive."This term (Fight Drive) is the most misused term in all of dog training. People simply do not understand it. I hear people saying their 8 month old dog has a ton of fight drive - this is impossible. If you have a question on the exact meaning of the term (according to Frawley) read my training article The Meaning of the Term Fight Drive. A degree of sharpness is one of the things that is missing in most service dogs today. It's also one of the hardest things to spot in a youngster. Service dogs have to be a little sharp. They need to be a little suspicious of people. They need to be sociable but they need to have an edge. Trying to pick this is a pup requires a lot of experience and talent. Sharpness is going to show itself in a pup or young dog as a touch of shyness or even a little sharpness (barking when startled). On the other hand this needs to be balanced by a ton of prey drive. Can a beginner recognize this in a litter of pups? My opinion is "NO" Can someone like myself show a novice what it is? Yes - if the person comes to the kennel about 20 times. Are people welcome at my kennel that many times? NO!!!!!Now, assuming a pup has a good pedigree for police work and passes all of the selection tests that I talk about, there is still the fudge factor involved in raising that pup. People can say that they are going to do all of the training correctly, but this is a tall assignment. There is a fine line between "bite development"and allowing the dog to mature so that it does not become hectic. This is an issue that I have seen again and again. I have been lucky enough to get some really great dogs back from customers who simply did not have the patience to wait for a dog to become mature (18 to 30 months).So the answer to this question on picking a police dog is not a simple task. I wish it were simpler because I think we need better service dogs. The SV in Germany and the AKC in America are destroying the breed by attaching their own artificial requirements for beauty (show dogs) to a breeding program. They fear the thought of breeders breeding too sharp or too strong of a dog.
Last night my police dog and I assisted my sheriff's department with apprehending a felony suspect that was wanted for rape, car theft and gun charges. There were officer safety warnings out on this guy because of his willingness to use weapons and fight with police. He was a survivalist and a weapons expert. We put officers all around the home he was hiding in and then had dispatch call and tell him he was surrounded. With Otis barking his fool head off in a deep ("I WANT TO TAKE YOUR LEG OFF" mode) the guy came out and gave up. I wonder if the pansy ass SV and AKC officials would have wanted to have one of their 4 legged beauty queens behind the tree next to me. Going on a few operations like this would quickly change their mind on what type of dog their organization produced.
I have a 4 month old Cane Corso pup which is an Italian bred dog. This breed that was used for herding, stock protection and family protection. At this points if something is odd to him, he will bark and go underneath the porch and continue to bark as if he was barking out of fear. I chose this breed because I wanted a good protection dog for my family. I don't expect him to guard the house at 4 months old. However, is this a sign of bad nerves or a sign that he will develop into a fear biter. What should I do to develop his confidence and do you have a tape that I can purchase to assist me with his early development. Finally, how do you feel about sending a dog to school to be obedience trained? This will not be a class environment but a one on one setting for three weeks.
Your cooperation is much appreciated.
I am not familiar with this breed or its ability to become a protection dog. I will say that the majority of these exotic breeds that claim to be protection dogs no longer have the genetics to do the job. It sounds like your pup is going to fall into this category.The fact that even though your dog has weak nerves, it may make a good guard of the home. Dogs with weak nerves are jumpy dogs, they are not sound sleepers. Their weak nerves make them quick to bark at night when they hear strange noises. The fact is that 99.99% of the criminals out there are not going to stick around when they hear an aggressive bark. Trust me most criminals don't know the difference between a nervous bark and a strong aggressive bark. They are simply not smart enough to say "This is a weak nerved dog and I can push it around."The best combination for people who really need serious protection is a sound solid nerved male that has had extensive personal protection training combined with a nervy bitch that is quick to bark. A solid nerved dog makes the best protection dog but they are also not quick to alert because they are not worried about strange noises and sounds. So combining a dog like this with a bitch that will wake the male and then offer verbal support is a good combination. I can not answer the question on your dog becoming a fear biter. You have not provided enough information to make that determination. The thing to watch is how your dog reacts to strangers once they attempt to warm up to him. We want to see a dog that will forgive and forget. If the dog continues to try and run from strangers and will not warm up to them - I think you may have a problem. I recommend that you get him out for as many walks as possible. Take him to places where there are a lot of people. Bring along some cheap hot dogs (cut into very small pieces). See if he will take pieces of hot dogs from strangers.
You asked about my opinion on private training. I think the only reason to spend the money on private training is if you have a problem that you can not figure out yourself. I always recommend people do what they can at home where the dog is most comfortable. There are less distractions there. If they run into problems then go get help with the distraction work. See what I say in the description of my Basic Obedience tape.
I have watched some of your videos and am a regular visitor to your web site. I want to train my Rott into a personal protection dog. I am wondering if his temperament is good enough or am I just wasting my time. I realize it is impossible for you to be accurate without seeing him but I was wondering if you could give me some sense of his potential based on the following information.Thor is 10 months old. He has (what seems to me) a good prey drive. He is enthusiastic about playing with old or new prey items. I have a puppy sleeve and when it comes out of the closet he immediately goes for it. His bite is full mouth, but not what I would call real hard. He pulls and tugs with good force. I have used a back tie (like in your video) and swung a tug on a rope and he performs like the dogs in your video, really trying to get it. When he grabs it, I can pull the tug and lift his front legs off of the ground and he will still stay on. Some times he doesn't get a good grip or occasionally gnaws at it and loses they prey item. Usually he does well. I have read some books on protection dog training and tried some of the tests such as the opening umbrella, the hard stare, and he has been to the shooting range with me. I don't know if these are good tests or not, but he has done well at those also. He is very confident and not one bit afraid of strangers usually going right up to them. He is scared of the vacuum cleaner and barks at it. Since I am not experienced, I have only worked with him in prey drive. Today a friend, who is with our local police k-9, came over and worked with him in some defense drive. My friend made some crazy movements while I held him on a lead. Thor studied him for a few seconds and barked, at which time my friend ran away, acting scared. Thor seemed to really enjoy this game and later was barking louder and lunging at him, at which time I praised him. I apologize for the length of this e-mail but I wanted to give you as much detail as I could. What do you think? Is there any way of checking his temperament further? I sometimes wonder if he is too open towards strangers and so on. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
This sounds like a nice dog and you should not worry about anything at this point in time. It doesn't mean that he will be a great protection dog, but it does mean that there is nothing you should be concerned about. I would not be doing any other testing on a 10 month old dog. What your friend did was OK - but that's really all you want to do at this age. The dog is still a baby (kind of a baby HUEY), even though he is starting to look like an adult. He needs time to mature mentally before any serious defense work is done. This can vary from dog to dog. Some dogs can handle good defense at 13 - 14 months, some dogs can't handle it until 30 months and a lot of dogs can never handle it. I would not expect a dog to be aggressive to strangers at this age. If they were it would indicate a problem with the dogs nerves. If a dog has weak nerves, then it is not comfortable in strange places or with strangers. A 10 month old dog that acts aggressive to strangers is going to be a real problem dog as an adult. its going to be a "SHARP DOG," (read my article on the difference between sharp and hard).People become confused about personal protection dogs. They feel that they should always be very aggressive dogs. This is not the case. A good personal protection dog has good nerves. He learns to accept people but react to a given set of circumstances. This can be a command from the owner or an action from another person. The perfect example of this is my police dog. He is very very tough. He has bitten a number of bad guys while working - but he is very good with people. Strangers can come into our office, UPS delivery people can come in un-announced. He will simply go up and meet them. He is excellent with children. He is left in my offices at night - god forbid the fool that tries to break in - he has learned that he can kill anything he catches in the office at night :). This dog has been trained that there is a time to work and protect me or to make an apprehension when I send him after someone. He also knows that there is a time to live a normal happy life. His nerves are good and he enjoys both areas, he is actually a very happy fun dog.
If people could get that one concept through their head they would have a much better chance of developing and training a good safe personal protection dog.
I have an 8 month old shepherd, his mothers side is german and east german. His dads side is some german and some american. I got him when he was 4 months, we have been doing basic obedience like heel , down , stay, etc. He took this really well and is ready to start the off leash side of the training. The problem is that during this time I didn't play with him as I should, and he doesn't like to play much or doesn't show much prey drive. He really doesn't care for a ball too much, he plays tug a war a little with a rope. I think he feels like when we go out together it is work and not play. I would like someday to try a little protection training if possible. I would appreciate any advice or insight you may have.
Thanks a Lot
I really enjoy your pages and knowledge
You have made a very common error with your dog. No puppy that is 4 months old should be subjected to as much obedience training as you have put this dog through. To accomplish what you have with your pup required a lot of corrections. You can not do off leash work with a puppy without corrections. When that happens this young you take the spirit out of the dog. If it had any drive to begin with, its now gone. Puppies that are 4 months old can be taught limited obedience exercises, but they must be motivational exercises (done for a food or toy reward and not because you force them to do it).The odds are that this dog is not going to rebound from this work. Most do not. You can try to correct your mistake by stopping all corrections and going to motivational training where you work on level 10 praise (see my video titled Basic Dog Obedience).
You can also make a serious effort to take this pup for walks on a Flexi Lead and let it regain some of its independence. With that comes a free mind and then possibly the interest in playing. This is an important ingredient for prey work.
Is it normal during teething for a pup's drive for sack or puppy tug to diminish to a level where they are almost nonexistent? My 5 month old GSD who normally acts like a little alligator, now because he is teething, is only content to retrieve a tennis ball and track. He has mo interest at all at training with the helper or at home with me in sack work. Doesn't even get worked up watching the other dogs work in Protection like he did before he started teething. He used to bark like a madman and pull on the leash to get to the helper. I reviewed my vast library of your videos and though you mention not to let pup take any bites during teething, you need to continue to motivate the drives. At this point in time my pup has no interest in the sack. Any ideas not mentioned in the videos I can use to bring back this drive?Not to veer from this subject but I would like to commend you on the dogs you produce. I train with the breeder of my pup, Landschaft Kennels in Marengo Ill. Another member of the club is Steve Billimack who owns one of your pups, a sable bitch named Elke (I believe her registered name is Dina vom Leerburg.) She is out of your past stud Chucho. This little bitch is awesome and consistently out performs the other club dogs, including the Titled imports. This is a real credit to your breeding program. In April she took High in Trial at the AWDF Nationals and is now being pointed to the USA Nationals.
Yes it is not uncommon for a dog to lose interest in sack work during teething. Especially if the dog has a softer temperament. You would be better advised to lay off all sack and tug work for the period of teething. Some dogs really get hit hard by this. Their mouth hurts, they don't understand what's going on and it almost depresses them. Think of a baby and how much this effects them when they get teeth. They become cranky and colicky. It can be the same with your pup. What is not a bad idea is to wet some hand towels and then put them in your freezer. Let the dog have one every now and then to chew on or suck on. This helps a little. Just have a little patience and things will return to normal.
I have a 7 month old GS puppy who, when he was younger, was harshly corrected several times by shaking the scruff of the neck. At about 12 weeks old the dog bit me while being corrected, I dont know if it was out of anger of fear. That situation was quickly settled with even more aggressive shaking. Now when the dog is doing something that he perceives as wrong and is called to me he kind of cowers and even urinates a little until he realizes he is not going to be corrected and even if he is corrected, seconds later he is back to his normal self. I dont see it as a temperament problem; he gets along great with everyone and other dogs. He doesnt show this submissive behavior to anyone else. He is also doing bite work on the tug which he loves. He also very willing to work. Should I be concerned that his spirit is broke? He doesnt display this behavior to anyone else and he will stand his ground with a stranger if they make any aggressive gestures. Any advice would be appreciated.
There are a couple of things going on here. First, males that are 10 to 11 months are notorious "SQUIRTERS." For some weird reason a great many of them at this age will run up to you and get so excited (or nervous) that they squirt pee. Do not get upset about it. The only thing to do is to ignore it and it will go away. Even though it is annoying.
One does need to learn to gauge the severity of the corrections you give your dogs. Dogs are not dumb. They have excellent memories. While I subscribe to the old adage "that one good correction is worth 1,000 nagging corrections," it also only takes one serious mistake to have a bad setback with your dog. This is most often seen in bite work with young dogs. If a new helper pushes a young dog into defense and then avoidance, that dog can do an about turn and want nothing to do with this work anymore. It can take months to repair the damage done in 2 minutes. I have also been guilty of over correcting a pup for something I don't like. You need to be careful with corrections on puppies.
I have a one year old GSD. He has been obedience trained and is very obedient. My problem is that he is a little too friendly. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked outside or come out of a convenience store only to see groups of strangers by my fence or around my truck petting my dog. I do not want him to be "mean," but it would be nice if he would not make friends so easily. I know that protection training is the best answer, but I don't have several hundred dollars to spend. Do you have any suggestions?
This is a very common question. The answer is that at one year of age we want our dogs to be friendly. A one year old dog that is quick to bark at people probably has a bit of a temperament problem. I call dogs that are quick to bark - "sharp dogs." These are dogs whose nerves are a little thin. They bark in a defensive manner because they are nervous of something they are faced with. Most dogs that are quick to bark at one year are not barking out of strength but out of nervousness. A dog does not develop a strong defensive drive until it starts to mature which is around 18 months of age.
This does not mean that there is nothing that you can do before then. The young dogs need to learn the skills of biting. This is all done in prey drive. You can learn more about prey drive in my articles The Drives of Protection Training. You can also learn how to do this training through my training video called The First Steps of Bite Training. The majority of this early work can be done by the handler and in most cases this is fun for you and your dog.
Hi Ed,You were right about trying to work prey drive after a dog has had defense work at too young an age is truly hard. (an editors note here : see the article I wrote titled Training Defense Before Prey is STUPID!!!).I also found a local training place that has your philosophy in mind while training dogs. But since I have made so many mistakes with my 4 year old Root I feel that I need to start over with a puppy. This fact was sadly made evident to me today. They invited me to their facility today. My dog ranked advanced in obedience, and worked off lead well, but when he was faced with the sleeve he gave a defense bark and approach, but when presented with the sleeve he did not hit it at all. He did not see this situation as a threat enough to bit, My dog was used to my old defensive catcher (helper). He knew that if he did not do his job that he would be flanked or grabbed. The new catcher said that he needs more prey work and confidence. In short, my dog was introduced to defense too early, and never learned to bite and release stress at all because at the time I did not even know what prey drive was. The money that it would take to get him to my liking I can plan for another puppy, and enter competitions with.He is a really good dog, but from my lack of knowledge at the time of his early development I impeded his potential. I need to start over with a puppy. My family is looking forward to another pup and so am I.
I know that it varies from pup to pup, but typically how long should a pup be worked in prey before obedience training should start, so that you do not kill drive?
It is not uncommon for inexperienced trainers to initially work defense in young dogs. This situation was not helped when Godfried Dildhie produced a training video recommending this work which only added confusion to the mess. I get more e-mails than I care to think about from people who have had their young dogs screwed up because of this defensive work being done before the dog is ready.The question on obedience is an excellent question. Many schutzhund clubs promote "no obedience" until the prey work is done. That's because this is what the GERMANS that come over for seminars have always told them. I am not a fan of this concept. We Americans need to recognize the fact that everything that comes out of Germany in regard to dog training is not gospel.In my opinion the way to raise a pup is with motivation. This means motivation in prey bite development and motivation for obedience and tracking. There are a million things that can be taught to a puppy through motivational training. All dog training (no matter what you want to train) involves three phases:
Teaching the exercise motivationally
Take the dog through a correctional phase
Introducing distractions to the exercise
Puppies that are introduced to the correction phase too soon can be damaged. Just like young dogs that are introduced to defensive bite training too soon are damaged. But if a pup is worked motivationally - no damage can be done to his drive level. If anything the work is embedded into his personality quicker and becomes second nature to him.The challenge to the trainer is to think up motivational ways to stimulate a puppy through what the handler perceives as a problem. It's easy to grab a leash and crank on a dog to correct him for not doing something you think he knows how to do. Its a totally different thing to try and think up what you can do to make the dog want to do what you are asking him to do. A good example of this is teaching a puppy to retrieve a toy (or small dumb bell). We make a game out of it. If its necessary to build drive put the dumb bell on a string (like a tennis ball on a string.) To get the pup to retrieve have a second ball or dumb bell. When the pup charges out for the first toy, show him the second toy after he grabs the first. He will charge back to you with the first toy if you put enough emotion into teasing him with the second. The same goes with teaching a pup to hold something (ie a small toy dumb bell) in his mouth. Why not teach him to hold it and when you take the toy away he gets a small piece of hot dog.
These are just 2 ideas, there are unlimited options open to trainers to motivationally train pups and none should reduce drive. The big thing new trainers need to understand is that you do not work a pup for 15 minutes. You work him for 2, 3, 4 or 5 minutes. Wait 45 minutes and then do it again, Make it part of your daily walks. The key is to make a training session not seem like a training session. I hope this puts this issue into perspective.
I have a 6 month old dobe puppy that is a very good dog ,but he is lacking courage. As he gets older will he become more alert and want to defend the family? At this point he barks but if someone keeps moving towards him he wines and runs away. Is there any way to make him develop his courage. Please E-mail me with some advice.
p.s. He has good lines. One of his grandparents was a police dog and another was a schutzhund champion.
There are a couple of points to this question. First, it is evident that you do not know anything about canine temperament and drives. I recommend that you visit the training article section on my web site. Read about the drives of protection training and drive thresholds.My initial comment when I am asked this type of question (which is not that uncommon) is to explain that you would not expect your 6 year old to protect your house, so how can you expect a 6 month old pup to do any protection work? The answer is that it is impossible for a pup to show signs of aggression. The fact is that if a pup of this age is aggressive it has a temperament problem. Dogs that are aggressive at 6 months grow up to be either crazy or very very dangerous to be around. Puppies have to go through bite development to learn to become aggressive when they are adult. You can learn how to train this in my video The First Steps of Bite Training. At 6 months pups should be playing tug of war with their handlers. They should be learning the skills of bite work in a play environment where they do not feel threatened. I compare this to wolf cubs playing rough games. The games they play prepare them for later life. Their games develop the skills they need as adults. The same is true in bite development with our dogs. I teach you how to do this in my training videos. Another point is that you mention that your Dobe came from police and schutzhund lines. In over 20 years of police k-9 training I have never seen one Doberman police dog. There may be a Dobe somewhere that is a police dog but it certainly is not one I would care to work the street with. Since 1974 I have seen less than 5 Dobes that were good schutzhund dogs. My point is that Dobes have had the working ability bred out of them. This started in Germany 17 or 18 years ago when they changed the breeding requirements to allow dogs without a schutzhund title to be bred. So if you want to train your dog in protection work you will need to do everything right. There is no room for error.
The fact is that you may not even need your dog to do protection work. Most bad guys are never going to challenge a fully grown Doberman. The dog still carries the reputation it developed 40 years ago.
I have a 9-week old puppy. A local trainer said he would start to do protection work at 3 1/2 months. Should I do this?
It would be much better advice to spend a little money and purchase 2 videos from me: Puppy Bite Work and The First Steps of Bite Training. The reason for this is that all the initial work in protection work should be done through prey drive, (you can read about this in the article section of my web site). There are too many people out there that claim to be professional trainers that in fact are not. You as the handler need to learn about prey and defense. You can get a foundation in this work from my videos. Once you do this, you will be able to evaluate a dog trainer to at least know if he understands the drives of this work. These tapes will provide you with enough information to do the first 10 to 12 months of work yourself. Then you can go to someone else for help if your dog is ready for it at that time. Some dogs can't go to a different helper until later when they mature more.
Ed, I am raising my puppy to be a protection dog. I heard that you should keep people from petting your dog when you go out in public. My puppy is 10 weeks old and whenever I go out in public everyone wants to come up and pet him and say awh, he's so cute. Should I keep people from petting him? What should I say to these people? What should I do with the pup?
Puppies that are being raised as personal protection dogs need to be socialized a lot. This means they need to experience as many different things as possible. This means you take your dog to different places all the time. Try and think of places where the dog will be a little stressed but not to the point of avoidance. Doing this two or three times a week pays off in spades. Owners can take puppies around people but if the pup has good nerves they should not allow people to pet them. We want the dog to look at the handler as the only person in his universe. I don't ever let people pet my dogs - except if a pup is a little sharp. In that case I will ask people to toss him a piece of meat or a treat. In rare situations I will let them pat the dog to show him there is nothing to fear. But the minute I see that the dog is no longer concerned with strangers this stops. It's important that this concept is clear. If the dog has good nerves then no one touches the dog, if the pup is quick to bark at people then I allow human socialization until humans are not an issue and then the socialization stops.The people that told you to keep the dog away from people do not understand dog training. My advise is to stay away from them for future information. To keep a dog away from everyone is only going to produce an unstable dog, a dog that is unsure of himself and as an adult may be a dog that is dangerous to have around. The goal of protection training is to produce a dog that will protect the handler when the handler is being threatened. A dog that has had little human contact is going to either be shy of people or worse (with training) be very aggressive to everyone. Of course we could consider a dog that wants to kill everything and everyone a person protection dog but that is kind of like a body guard going out and shooting everyone that comes near the person he is trying to protect.
If you want to learn how to do proper training on young pups to get them prepared for future personal protection training you need to refer to my video titled Bite Training for Puppies. You should also consider my video Your Puppy 8 Weeks to 8 Months. The first deals with the first stages of bite training for pups that are 8 weeks to 8 months. The second deals with raising and socializing a pup.
We have an older dog, (10 years). Will it be OK to leave him with our puppy when we arent home?
Absolutely not. If a pup is left to grow up with another dog it will look at other dogs as companions and not people. Pups should be kept separated from older dogs unless the owner is present to supervise. It is OK to take them out together when you are with them (for walks and play) but they should be in separate crates or kennels when alone.
In addition, older dogs tend to try and dominate puppies. This is not the atmosphere we want our future family protector to grow up in.
My pup is 10 months old. Is it to late too begin protection work?
It is not too late to start a young dog in protection training at 10 months. There are many that feel that protection training should not begin until 12 to 14 months of age. I do not agree with that thinking. I feel it is best to imprint the basics of bite training on very young pups, (as young as 8 weeks). But 10 or 12 months isnt too late. To start at 10 months is just fine. The key is to begin in prey drive, (see my article on the drives of protection training), and not work the young dog in defense until it is mature enough to deal with the stress of this training. Pups can learn the fundamentals or skills of bite work at a very young age. If the training is done properly they look at this learning phase as a game. As they mature, (18 to 30 months) the role of the trainer and helper is to change the dogs view of training from something that is a game to something that is serious business. Many many inexperienced trainers destroy the working ability of good dogs by trying to make training too serious way to soon.
A trainer has to give his dog a chance to mature before defensive training begins. If you want to learn how to do this work see my video titled The First Steps of Bite Training.
Should my trainer be flanking my 8-month old, just to get her to bite?
Absolutely not. My advice is to get a new trainer and do not go back to the person you have been using. Flanking (grabbing the dogs flank and pinching) is a defensive move on the part of a helper. It should never be used on young dogs. Eight months is way too young to put a dog (especially a female) into defense. It will destroy her future working ability.If a trainer is using the technique of flanking on a dog of this age he does not understand his job or the drives of protection training. I recommend that you tell him to read some of the articles on my web site about drives and drive thresholds. Even so-called professionals can make mistakes.If a handler does not have access to a competent helper, he (or she) can do the majority of the young dog training themselves. We cover all of this in our video titled The First Steps of Bite Training. In this tape we show you exactly how to take a dog through prey work in a step by step fashion. We also show exactly where a dog needs to be in training when the time comes that you must add an outside helper.
There are a lot of helpers out there (especially new ones) that are qualified to work adult dogs, but should never be allowed to work young dogs. In Europe, it is common that the older helpers with a lot of experience are the only ones to work puppies.
Did I waste me money on my friendly German Shepherd dog?
You can not expect an 8 month old dog to be protective. That is like expecting and 8 year old boy to protect his home. The dog and child are not mentally mature enough to protect anything. A dog that is aggressive at 8 months has a temperament problem. It usually means that they are being aggressive because they are insecure, never because they are strong.What I expect to see in an 8 month old dog is a nice temperament. I want a dog that likes people and does not shy away from things. I also want to see good prey drive. (See my article on the drives of protection training).Just as important as having the right drives, a dog must have the right bloodline. If you have an American bloodline dog, do not expect it to be protective. It is genetically incapable of doing protection work. Expecting an American bloodline dog to protect is on par with expecting you local farm horse to win the Kentucky Derby.
To learn what a dog should be doing at 8 months, refer to my video titled The First Steps of Bite Training.
Ed, we have a female Rottweiler, 12 months old and spayed, who is very very bossy with our 2 year old neutered Australian Shepherd. We have done some protection work with the Aussie and he is terrific at anything we try. The Rottie is still too young for most training, so we are working on some obedience and some bite imprinting. She is not aggressive, but will carry her tug to him and bump him until he walks away or growls, will try to stand off with him when he is approaching us from a fetch, and as soon as she is released from a tug session, she will immediately grab whatever he is holding ( I usually give the two of them 'sitz', 'platz', and 'blieb' simultaneously, walk a few yards from them, and give them 'packin to come after a tug in each hand. after they have pulled a little and I release, she drops her's and goes after his.) How do you think I should handle this? I don't want to squelch her drive, as we have high hopes for her Schutzhund work.What particular training tapes would you recommend?
Thanks again for your time,
The first mistake you have made is thinking that 12 months is "to young" to do protection training. Nothing can be further from the truth. The earlier dogs start in bite development the better. My video titled Bite Training Puppies and The First Steps of Bite Training describe how and why to do this.You need to stop these games with 2 off leash dogs at the same time and get into an organized training program. What you are doing is all unorganized foolishness that really teaches the dog nothing and accomplishes nothing. I don't mean to sound rude - but this is all poor training (if we can call it training).Just a few points, from a very early age dogs need to be worked on a "tie out" not off leash the way you are working. The "tie out" is what builds frustration and drive because you can tease the dog with the sack and tug without letting them get it. They end up just wanting it more. The "tie out" puts control back into the hands of the handler. All these games you play result in you losing control of drive building because the dog just runs around and does what she wants. Never work 2 dogs at the same time the way you are. This is counter productive. If one break command while you are trying to teach the other one an exercise, you have blown the whole thing. It all becomes very confusing for the dogs.You don't need my Puppy Bite Work tape. Thats for dogs that are 8 week to 6 months. Get the other one, The First Steps of Bite Training. This will show you how to set training goals, and organize your training session.
I am interested in determining if my 11 month old male GS dog can be instructed in personal/property protection. I have been reading about bite work, etc, and I feel that I may be too late. I play with him on a daily basis with a "pull toy" he has gone through several rope pull toys, and I am currently using some sort of synthetic pull toy. I am a police officer, and I spoke with a friend from another local agency that does K-9. He suggested that he would get me some burlap to play with the pup. Is there anyway/any product you sell that can let me know if my pup has the "hardness" or "drive" to be a working dog? I have noticed that when he annoys my 6yr old female Rottweiler, she pins him and he submits fairly easily. I think he may be on the submissive side, but I want to be sure. Another example is when I walked into my dark kitchen after work tonight, I didn't say anything, but I walked towards him. He was barking like he usually does when someone comes into the house. The house was completely dark, and he ran away and stopped barking. It was then that I realized that he was scared, I turned on the light to make sure he knew he was in a safe environment. I found him in his crate (I leave the crate door open for him), and he had eliminated in the corner of the crate. It is for this reason that I am not sure if he has the ability to be a protection dog. If I had knew that he was going to react like this, I never would have tried to see how he would react. Can you let me know what you think about this?
A couple of points here: Your dog sounds like he has prey drive. This is very important. If a dog does not have prey he can not be trained to be a reliable safe protection dog. At 11 months the dog is still a puppy. Its too soon to expect very much in the way of defense out of him - which is what you saw when you came into the house. This was an unfair test to do for an 11 month old dog (as you found out.)It is not unusual for a bitch to be the dominant partner in a male female pair. I do think it is a mistake to allow this to happen to the young dog - again another handler mistake. Do not allow the 2 dogs to be together when you are not around. It's OK for them to be together when you are with them to control the female. Do not allow her to dominate your pup.To end up with a personal protection dog is not an easy task. There is not a lot of room for mistakes. You have made a few serious ones here.
If you are serious about training this dog I would recommend that you get a couple of my tapes:
Could you recommend a competent and reputable trainer for personal protection in Wisconsin and/or Michigan?? I ask you because I assume your contact and experience are some of the best in the business. Thanks for your help.
I am sorry I do not recommend trainers that I am not personally familiar with. I also do not network with these people. I work as a Police K9 officer and work with other departments, but I do not know any personal protection trainers in WI or MI that I would recommend. I can tell you that you are walking through a minefield of inexperienced people when you go out looking for a qualified honest personal protection trainer.My advice to people like you is to become educated in the process of this work, learn the training steps a dog must go through. Then when you interview a trainer and ask to watch him work a dog you will see if he is experienced or a WANTABE.You can learn from the tapes I have produced, get:The First Steps of Bite Training explains the importance of bite development and the steps a dog as young as 6 months of age must go through before it can be ready for more serious defensive training. I would suggest that you read the description of this video on my web site. If you are not 100% sure of the drives that I refer to, I would direct you to the articles I have written on this subject on my web site.
The First Steps of Defense is the video that shows how to move a dog from bite development into the more serious work. All dogs that are going into more specialized training (Police Service Work, Schutzhund Work or Personal Protection Work) need to go through this phase of training before moving on. These will take you a long way down the road to learning about this work.
I have a five-month-old Rottweiler, and I called last week to get your videos on basic dog training, and bite training. I am looking forward to advancing his training with these videos. However, I was wondering what affect neutering him will have on his protection skills. My vet said I should get it done at about eight months.
Your vet is 100% wrong. If you want a protection dog you should not neuter the dog until it is 2 years old. The dog needs his hormones as he goes through maturity. Vets, as a rule, know very little about dog training. In fact 99.99% of them know nothing about protection training. You asked the wrong guy.
Sir,Can you help me?
I have a 7 month old Blue Nose Pit Bull who is very timid. I have not taken her to any training except for what i do at the house and she acts very good around everything, she is courageous and very smart but she has no fight drive it seems (maybe I'm just not experienced enough). I play fight in the yard but as far as a stranger coming in there she is very afraid. I dressed real bulky one day at night and went in the backyard she lowered her body as if she didn't know who i was at 1st and when i got close to her she snapped at me in defensive drive and ran away. So i let her know it was me and she came back. But I'm thinking if it was a burglar they could easily yell something and she'll run away. Do you have any suggestions on getting her self esteem up before i start bite training?
My suggestion would be for you to learn more about training, dog maturity and protection training. Right now you do not have a clue.7 month old dogs do not have fight drive. That would be like expecting a 7 year old boy to have fight drive. More than likely a large part of your dogs problems are handler induced.Here are some tapes to get:The First Steps of Bite Training explains the importance of bite development and the steps a dog as young as 6 months of age must go through before it can be ready for more serious defensive training. I would suggest that you read the description of this video on my web site. If you are not 100% sure of the drives that I refer to, I would direct you to the articles I have written articles on this subject on my web site.The First Steps of Defense is the video that shows how to move a dog from bite development into the more serious work. All dogs that are going into more specialized training (Police Service Work, Schutzhund Work or Personal Protection Work) need to go through this phase of training before moving on. Training DRIVE - FOCUS and GRIP with Bernard Flinks is one of my best training videos. It's the first is a series of tapes done with Bernard Flinks (one of the top Schutzhund instructors in the world) This tape is the foundation of Bernard training program It teaches you how to build a relationship of trust and understanding with the dog. Bernard is the only instructor I have ever seen that places so much emphasis on this.The video teaches you to build drive in your dog. Every dog inherits a certain genetic level of drive. This training tape shows how to bring your dog up to its own genetic level of drive. The tape also teaches handlers how to train their dog to focus while in drive. A dog must learn to control it's drive if it is to become a competitive sport dog or for that matter a working dog. We teach the dog that heeling, sit and down are drive commands
and not compulsion commands. Through this training we show how to build a calm solid grip in the dog. We also teach the dog to be comfortable in maintaining a calm grip in the presence of the handler. We teach the dog in the first steps of the OUT command.The information in this training video is the best training program I have seen in 27 years of being around the sport of Schutzhund. If you think you would like to get involved in this sport you need this tape.
You should also read my web site and my web discussion board. My site is 3500 pages and my discussion board has 2800 registered users. You are screwing up this dog and unless you get your act together you will completely ruin it.
Hi,I am interested in purchasing your training videos but I would like to ask a few questions that I haven't seen in your Q&A section before I purchase. I have a Rotty that is 12 weeks old that we bought when he was 8 weeks. He is the sweetest dog and just loves everyone. We purchased him for a family pet as well as for personal protection for our family. Now my two questions;1. I have been told by a local training school that I may consider to attend with my Rotty that he should be trained with German commands thus avoiding confusion to the dog. What is your stance on using German commands?2. I have had dogs all my life from German Shephards to mixed breeds and have trained them all in the basics of sit, wait, no, easy, etc... but my question to you is can I train my dog in personal protection (bite work) just from your videos or do I need to attend instructor led classes?
Thank you for your time,
This training school that gave this information on German commands is confused. They need more training themselves. You can train a dog in pig Latin – the language is not important it’s the training that is important. The dog must understand exactly what you mean. The fact that the command is in German, English, Spanish or whatever language it 100% irrelevant. There are plenty of commands in English to cover the things that you will need to teach a dog.If you want to personal protection train your dog you can and should do 100% of the foundation work yourself. Most of this work is done at your home. This training starts at 8 to 10 weeks and goes to 12 to 13 months. When the foundation work is finished then you need a helper.To do the foundation work you will need:Building Drive Focus and Grip Preparing Your Dog for the Helper
As an owner it is very important that you understand the training steps and drives required to take a dog through bite work training. These training videos will give you that information. But no matter what – after the 12 to 13 month age (assuming you have done the foundation properly) you will have to find someone to do helper work. A lot of PP trainers need a lot of training themselves. They push dogs in defense way to soon. The videos are going to teach you what to look for in a helper, you will understand the training steps and you will recognize a skilled helper or more importantly a BOZO who is going to screw your dog up.
How do I determine if my puppy is “sharp”?
Sharpness, in my opinion, is the tendency to be reactive to stimuli. In the dogs I have experience with seeing from birth to adulthood, the dogs that tend to be sharp and have natural aggression as adults may actually show shy or aloof behavior as pups. Many times they are the pups that get their hair up quickly, bark a little bit too much in response to a new person or situation, or actually appear a bit lacking in self confidence in certain situations. Being patient and having an understanding of young dog development is the key to nurturing a dog like this properly.
NOTE...this is where you need to know your bloodlines and know the different phases pups go through on their way to adulthood. Handled incorrectly, these dogs can grow up to be either very nervous (if unjustly corrected for showing these behaviors)or complete monsters (if inappropriately rewarded at the wrong time).
There are MANY pups that show all the things I listed above who simply have poor nerves, but the pups I have experience with go through phases as they grow up that if misunderstood can ruin the dog.
If I take my pup to protection training will I be able to have people come over without putting my dog away? I want him to protect us but not have to worry if my neighbor or friends come over. I was told that you can train them to look at you to see what to do when someone comes over. My neighbors and good friends will knock and I will say come in and I would not want that to stop. Is there a difference from guard dog and protection dog?
If your dog has good nerves, stable temperament and excellent training you should be able to control the dog when people come to the door. In my opinion, a guard dog is a dog that is kept behind a barrier to keep people out of an area, no matter who that person is. A protection dog is a dog trained to protect the handler or home and is directed by a person. These are MY definitions and other people may have different ideas on this topic. I suggest you take some time and read through our free articles. Here are a list of videos we recommend if you wish to train a personal protection dog.
- Raising a Working Puppy Building Drive & Focus with Bernard Flinks The First Steps of Bite Training The First Steps of Defense Training Personal Protection Dogs
- Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs
I hope this helps.
Mr. Frawley, I have spent hours and hours devouring all that is available on your website!! Totally outstanding. I am a disabled person, was gifted a pure breed GSD pup. I am doing obedience work with him. Very smart and eager to work with me. No issues thus far. Sit/down/stay/heel are all going well. He is just shy of 5 months now. I will be taking him to triple crown here in Texas when he is about 8 months old. They have a trainer there who has worked with service dog partners (not billed as SD trainer, but has experience) and they will do a one on one program until Drausi is totally trained.
I have two questions.1---Drausi went to the vet for usual checkup, I told the vet his intake was lacking and was having to bribe him to eat even boiled chicken. Well they did the usual check up and declared him perfectly well. He was at that appointment 18 lbs. In three weeks went back again for his next scheduled visit, told the vet something had to change as Drausi was just not right to me and something is obviously bothering him physically. So he did some X-rays, all clear, but his fecal test showed hook worm. We treated him with the medications and he is back to eating again. (was 32.6 lbs at that visit) Sorry to be so long winded, just want to be clear in what the issue is. Prior to his getting worms, he was a nice even dog in structure. Not fat at all, could feel ribs nicely but more thick overall.
Since the worms he is so thin, you can almost SEE his ribs most of the time. And at the withers he caves inward clearly. Looks like he was a rescue instead of a fine dog!! His parents/grandparents are the typical GSD and well defined. So not a hereditary bony thing going on. And since he was so nicely shaped prior to the worms, I assume that he is genetically not at issue. His coat is very shiny and healthy, eyes clear, nothing to indicate malnourishment. IS there anything I can do to increase his weight and fill out more?? He eats about 3 cans of Iams puppy Large breed as well as Iams dry kibble (maybe 2cups total mixed in) 2. I want to know if you think it is compatible to work with a trainer to not only have him be my service dog, but also a protection dog. Level 2 is what I was thinking. This world is so full of folks that are up to no good, for me to go out by myself in a wheelchair can be risky.3. (sorry said 2) What videos would you recommend at this time for Drausi and I to use? As I said earlier he is doing well with basic command sit/stay/down/heel/leave it/off/up I have purchased a set of books/cds called Teamwork (was written by a disabled man and his partner who both train service dogs) Of course we are refining refining refining....sit means sit no matter where, etc........that is just a matter of time and work. Both of which we can and do do! But I want to have the very best for Drausi. He is going to be giving his life in service to me, and I want to be sure we do the very best by him in all areas!! I am a bit overwhelmed on what to buy/use to continue his training. I am also interested in Schutzhund down the road. I think that it would be a fun thing for him and another thing I can do for him.So there it is. LOL. Sorry to be so long winded in my email. But as I said I want only the best for Drausi. He is a great dog, from champion lines and breeding------so the raw material is there. And he is very willing to work with me and seems to have fun training. Thanks in advance for any advice. And I read your info about suing you in your home state, that is just such nonsense, I realize you are giving the advice you give to so many on a purely take it as is basis and will not hold you to any accountability for any guidance you can offer. I can't imagine someone coming to your site and gleaning FREE EXPERT advice and tips and have the audacity to turn around and try to sue if THEY botch the job!! After all, the owner is the one who is ultimately making the choices to follow or not and thereby assumes full responsibility on the outcome with their dogs.
San Antonio Texas
I'll try to answer your questions here.
1) I would get him off of Iams, it's one of the worst quality dog foods out there. We have a section on our website on feeding dogs.We advocate a raw diet, but there are other alternatives that are much better for your pup than Iams.2) Without evaluating a dog in person, we can't have any way of knowing if he is suitable for protection and service work too. With the right training, if his temperament is good I don't see why he could not do this.3) You don't mention how old Drausi is now, but here are some videos to get you started.
- Clicker Train your own Assistance Dog
- Basic Dog Obedience
- Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet
- Raising a Working Puppy
I hope this helps!
Hi Cindy, sorry to bug you, I need a little advice, I was doing some imprint work with my 4 month presa canario this morning using a clatter stick and leather rag, and as I was doing exaggerated movements with the clatter stick my pup accidentally leaned into the clatter stick , and I hit her eye and muzzle, she didn't whimper or get hurt but her prey drive was gone immediately and she became shy of the leather rag, I'm not sure how detrimental this could be, what would you recommend I do with her, so that I haven't lost any of my work with her (such as stopping training, or to continue,) I study yours and Ed's videos daily but I couldn't find anything in the bite training DVD that covered this.
Your help and advice is greatly appreciated
HI BrentI would recommend backing up your training and go back to drive work WITHOUT the clatter stick for now. Once her drive level is back up to where it was before, then see if you can have someone else make a bit of noise from a distance away with the stick. Don’t get too close and if she doesn’t seem to be bothered by it the next time move it closer, etc….. I wouldn’t use it around her body or head until you are absolutely sure she is neutral to it. We do not want the dogs to be worried about the stick OR the prey item. If necessary, use a different prey item (soft towel or ball on a rope) Be aware that your puppy should begin teething at any time now, so you don’t want to be doing a lot of tugging at this time especially if this is a sensitive dog.
I hope this helps.
Hello EdMy name is Sharon,I work in the Israeli swat in puppy program for special forces.We have few malinois puppies in different ages, and we have some disagreement between us about the best age to put real pressure from a decoy on the puppy/dog,I'll be glad if you can answer from your experience with puppies and young dogs, what are you expect from a good (working) puppy to show you before you treat him as a mature dog and not as a puppy.What are the cues we need to see to say it's not a puppy anymore, and we can treat this young as a mature dog.
Thanks a lot,
I don’t believe that there is any one quality you need to see in order to begin working the puppy as an adult dog. I want to see confidence in all areas of the puppy’s interactions with his environment and with people. In training, I want to make sure the dog is working in bitework with a full grip and only moving forward. Around the house, I want to see the dog becoming territorial and I like a puppy that walks around with tail UP all the time, acting like he owns the place. A submissive puppy or a puppy that doesn’t have a lot of natural self confidence will need more foundation work to be successful as a working dog (in our experience).
It’s really a hard question to answer in an email. I hope this helps.
Cindy, I recently purchased the E-Collar for Pet Owners video. My plan had been to use an e-collar at about the one-year mark, after achieving a firm foundation in basic obedience. However, when reading the Discussion Forums a user alluded to a difference in the way an e-collar is used for a pet and protection work. I plan on training my dog in protection work and would like to understand what (if any) are the differences in the way an e-collar is used for pet owners as opposed to owners training their dog for protection work. Thanks in advance for taking the time.
I think an ecollar is an exceptionally versatile tool and for some reason people get all confused on whether to use it on working dogs or pets, etc...I use a prong collar or a leash on my dogs the same way whether I am doing obedience or protection. Same with an ecollar. You want to dog to understand what it means when you use it and then use it fairly and consistently. Most people use it as a punisher, instead of as a tool to help guide the dog into the proper behaviors. My leash and collar are there for guidance as well as restraint and correction, same as the ecollar. I think if you follow the dvd, and always use the lowest level stim possible to get the desired results (no matter what the results are) then you will do fine. I start my dogs on the ecollar at around 4 or 5 months old, to reinforce basic everyday things. By the time I would ever be using an ecollar to incorporate corrections in protection work my dog would have a very clear understanding of what the collar means and how to follow my voice commands so it should be a very easy and clear way for my dog to learn. It's really nothing more than an invisible leash. My intent is not to inflict pain, but to give the dog information as we work together. I don't believe in waiting until the dog is already trained or a certain age to start using the collar. I feel that if the dog gets used to wearing the collar from a very early age and you remain consistent in it's use it will accelerate your training tremendously. (at least that's been my experience with my last 3 dogs I have raised from puppies) My current pup (now 8 months old) wears an ecollar every day and his working level is around 14-16 with low to medium distractions. Most people can't even feel level 14 (on a Dogtra 200 which has 127 levels) if they put the collar on their hand. This is a super high drive puppy with a pronounced lack of body sensitivity, but he understands the collar so I can use a very low level to communicate with him. I've noticed as his understanding has increased, I can use a lower level on him. (working level used to be consistently around 19, which is still pretty low) I hope this helps, I kind of got off on a tangent. :)
I wonder whether you could help me out I have a nine month old German Shepherd bitch but unusually for a German Shepherd she doesn't bark now. I've tried to get her to bark when I give her her food or before I sent her off for her ball but all she does is whine. I can't seem to get her to bark at all. Sometimes she does have the odd outburst of barking when she is playing with my mum's pup, but when that is is when I'm not about or when you go to the back door to praise her for barking she shuts up. She hasn't played with the pup for a while as she was only 5 months old when I bought her you see so she has matured a little now. I wondered if you had experienced this problem before and do you have an idea on how to get her barking. Thanks a lot. Patrick
p.s. I like your work with protection and shutzhund. I think it is amazing and I've read all your points on different dog drives i.e. prey drives defense drives fight drives and avoidance drive. I think im just getting the understanding of it as I've read it over and over again about 20 times.
She may be too young to display territorial barking. I wouldn’t worry about it too much at only 9 months old. I have had good luck teaching dogs to bark by putting them behind a fence and teasing them with a ball or toy they REALLY like, if they even make a small noise I say YES, open the gate and play with them using a lot of praise. You can also use food for a very food motivated dog. If you don’t have a fence, you can tie the dog by a harness and restrain them that way. Do the same as I wrote above, if the dog makes a ‘woof’ (no matter how small) then say YES and go to the dog and play (or feed). They get the hang of this really quick. I hope this helps.
Hi Mr. Frawley,I have ordered and watched some of your video training DVDs and enjoyed them very much. The information is very straight forward and easy to understand. I'll be buying more as time goes on and my 9 week old puppy starts to mature. I have looked on your web site and read many articles you have written. I understand from one article that one can't each his own dog to be a protection dog. You can't be the good guy and bad guy for the dog. While my dog is far from the time when he will need to go to a pro-trainer I have already been doing some research to find one who can help. The problem is that somebody in my position really has no idea on who to hire. A search online reveals many web sites that train their own dogs for sale. But, finding someone to test and possibly train my dog in protection work is very hard.This week I spoke to a person in Kentucky who has 28 years of experience in K-9 training. He sounded really competent has many certifications. He said he would need to see the dog at about 10 months of age to test him for bite work. He asked that the dog be trained in basic skills and commands at that time. If the dog is ready and if he is a dog who could do this work he says the training is 8-12 weeks at about $200 per week. Does this sound reasonable to you? Do you have a video that will help me learn to choose the right trainer and if so which one is it? Do you know any top trainers in the Southeast that I could call on? I think I have a good prospect in this dog and I don't want to goof up when I choose a trainer to take it up a notch .I know you have probably heard this same line of questions a million times, but any help or answers would be great and truly appreciated. Thanks,
p.s. I love your posting on You Tube about the living situation for our military people on bases. It is really is a shame that we ask so much of them and can't provide a decent place to live. I'll be writing some letters and hope others will also to see if we can help fix this mess. Thanks for caring and thanks to your son for a great job in helping us stay free.
Michael,I often compare raising a dog to raising a child. You can teach your son the foundation of fighting. The only thing you can’t do is fight your son in a manner where he feels like he is in a real fight where he can get seriously hurt. That he has to learn is a real fight if he is attacked.You can and should teach your dog the foundation of protection work. This is all done in prey drive. You cannot work your dog in defense – where he feels seriously threatened. Your job in finding a good trainer is to first educate yourself on the process so you know enough to separate the skilled honest trainers from the unskilled – or worse – con artists.With this said you can learn much through my dvd’s Here is the list I would recommend you study . Notice I said study and not watch. No one can watch these dvds and come away and say they are not ready to make a decision.
The last two are not DVDs that you can do yourself. I also recommend that you read the eBook on my web site about my philosophy of dog training. In it you will see that I NEVER recommend sending your dog off for training. Not ever. It’s a terrible idea. Think about this from the standpoint of your dog. He loses his pack leader, he loses his family pack. He has no idea if he will ever see you again. They he is pushed into defense where he feels like he is fighting for his life.The good dogs can survive this but most do not come out a better dog. They come out a mental wreck. I don’t know who this trainer is – but if he were worth his salt he would have talked to you about this.The way to do this is to find a trainer that will allow you to come to his facility and he will work your dog while you handler the dog. You will then be an important part of the process. By studying the dvds you will also know enough to recognize correct training . You will be able to discuss the work that is going to be done before it’s done and then determine if the work is good or bad.Be very careful here. You tread on thin ice where the mental health of your dog is in the balance.In the end you should add these dvd’s to your list:
I have been working my dog through the DVD (The First Steps to Bite Training). We have worked our way up to the point where she is staked out and I am swinging the puppy tug in front of her building the intensity of the bite. she has been doing so well at this that I have been considering introducing a helper to work the tug. Today I took her out to have a training session and she did well on two bites and countered good;but after these two bites she lost her desire to bite and counter and seems like to me she lost interest,almost like she got board. I stopped at this point just in case she was getting to an avoidance point. I brought the ball out and she got fired up like she usually is (high drive dog); then after playing with the ball about 15 minutes I laid the tug out to see what she would do. She bit very poorly and just laid it down. After this I put her in her kennel and I walked away. My question is how do I bring the excitement back when this happens and do I need to try another kind of material (like leather) instead of what I am using (old type feed sack) to make her enjoy biting a little more? I also would like to know at what age do I move her to the next DVD (the first bite on a sleeve) and to a soft puppy sleeve?
- 9 month old female german shepard
- good temp,stong prey drive, not working in defense drive yet (not ready yet)
- chez and german blood line crossed-father works with security company and mother is a narcotics dog.
- only recent changes in dog, she just went through her first heat.
I think for this dog you may be trying to do too much.
If she’s good with two bites, then give two and then frustrate her and put her away but don’t give any more bites. I think you should NEVER get the ball out and play right after she shuts down in bitework. Since she appears to like the ball more than the tug, by doing this you are teaching her that you will bring the ball out when she doesn’t feel like biting the tug. Then by bringing the tug out after she has played for 15 minutes, you just reinforced that the tug isn’t any fun.
15 minutes is way too long to keep a dog out playing anyway, especially a dog that is not showing the interest you want.
I’d put the ball away and replace it with a tug or sack. , any fun and interaction she gets is with you and a tug toy of some kind. Find what she likes, you may have to try several different materials before something trips her trigger. Use that until she’s crazy for it (like she is for the ball) and then introduce other materials like jute, leather, linen, or whatever.
I wouldn’t worry about moving her along in training until you get her biting the tug anytime and anywhere that you present it.
You may want to tie the tug on a long line or buggy whip to add more prey movement in it also. This can really help a lot.
Dear Mr. Frawley,
My name is Chris Srackangast and I have been a student of your website for many months now. I had a dog that I trained about twelve years ago using the old Command Performance by David Dikeman (yank and crank). It worked beautifully and I always had a well mannered dog that everyone loved. He tolerated kids but did not especially love them. HE obeyed me and knew the rules and I got lucky in that regard. I did not realize though that I broke his spirit with my harshness. (I got exposed to protection training from what I will call a back yard trainer who thought it was cool that he could teach an animal to be vicious.) The way he treated his dogs was the way I approached treating my dog. Zero tolerance for any deviations from the regiment. My dog however, was not suited for that type of emotional harshness and I above all did not know what I was doing! To this day I have regrets about how I treated my Sheppard lab mix. (On one occasion he snapped at me for trying to play with his bone…I was 22 and in a very hard training program in the navy; I chased him around the house on all fours just like a dog snapping and snarling. I am admitting that was a very stupid thing to do, not because he was a big dog and dangerous; he was just a pup. But because I think it made him respect me or rather feared me. Later in life he grew to respect me but I had to mature a little myself and calm down a bit.) I am a strong advocate of crate training and never had any problems house training my dog.
The reason I am telling you all this crap is so you will have a little ground work on me. I have since had to put Nico down almost a year ago and am looking into another dog. I am buying a very dominant breed called a Cane Corso and want to do things differently this time. This includes teaching my two boys how to handle a dominant breed. (Almost every Sheppard owner has tried to talk me out of getting this type of breed and as I started hanging out at the Schutzhund clubs I realized that that was not for me nor was it for the breed of dog I am planning on getting.) Nothing against the sport but I realized early on that it was mostly a big game to the dog and the owners of the dogs truly believed that their brave Sheppard would protect them at all costs! I am not even educated enough in the sport or in protection work. But I feel I could look at the dogs eyes and see their demeanor when not in training mode and tell that they were not the real deal. I was disappointed.
Now Cane’s are known for their dominance and bravery but they can be chicken just like any other breed. They are known for being independent but having a high prey drive to please their master’s. This is important for me to know because I learned they can get their feelings hurt easily. They do not respond to a harsh command like a Sheppard would and keep their self confidence as well; at least not from a young age I am told. I have researched this breed and spoken to countless breeders as well as the bloodlines amongst arena. I have discovered there is a lot of politics involved and I hate it. But I know what I want and believe I have found a breeder that will produce a litter that will give me what I want. (I was not impressed with the bitch however I was very impress with the father.) The bitch was skittish around strange people and my children but confident when let out to play with other dogs, where the Sire was strong and confident in all accounts.
What I am interested in is this:
1) A well rounded confident animal that knows the difference
between friend or foe and would be actually able to protect my boys and not run at the first sign of aggression but also not easily intimidated into a fight with a less secure dog.
2) Choosing the best male pup in the litter to accomplish the above for protection work and family pet. (middle of the road is ok… I have to feel confident that as long as my boys know the rules the dog will be safe around them and their friends)
3) Learning to raise a good dog by encouraging his confidence and not breaking his spirit.
4) Last but not least I would love to buy all of your videos but like a kid in a candy store I only have about one dollar. I am looking at your “Bite training puppies,” “Your puppy 8 weeks,” “Establishing Pack Structure,” “Basic Dog Obedience,” “Training Personal Protection,” ”First Steps of defense." I know not to do this too early in the pups training but I strongly feel a good education is a good foundation. “How to raise a working pup,” “The first steps of bite work” and “the power of clicker/marker training.” I would love to buy all these at once but one; I cannot afford them all at this time especially since I would not be getting a pup until Feb. of next year, and two; I do not want to purchase videos that would be redundant on the same key points.
Which of these videos would you recommend for me start a good foundation first?
Please forgive the lengthiness of this email, I know you are a busy man,
The first comment I would make is to think twice about buying a puppy out of a skittish female. Not only does the mother influence the puppies genetically she influences their view of the world for their first 8 weeks. I think a good, stable and confident mother dog is paramount. I would NEVER take a puppy from an insecure female no matter how much I like the male. The fact that this female was worried about strange people and children is a huge red flag to me. Ed wrote an article on how to pick a puppy.
I recommend that you go to the web site and read the articles on “Ed’s Philosophy of Dog Training” “Groundwork to Becoming a pack Leader” and “Training with markers” I believe you will not only learn something about dog training, I hope you will also adopt the same philosophy on dog training.
If you are interested in personal protection, you most definitely want to work on obedience as well as building a foundation for protection.
These are the videos I would recommend for a puppy.
When your puppy is a bit older (say a year)
And once the bite development is complete and the dog is becoming more mature (usually around 24-30 months for most dogs)
I hope this helps.
I have a male doberman that is about 10 months old. I would like to train him to perform schutzhund work. He has a fairly strong prey drive and is extremely attentive to me, always trying to please me. However, my one concern is that he does not seem to have a lot of confidence or a strong defensive drive. I tested him by having a neighbor creep into the yard while I held the dog's leash. The dog was very interested and watched him, but he did not bark. When the neighbor got within striking distance of the dog, the dog backed up and stood next to me hoping that I would get involved. Is there anything I can do to improve my dog's confidence and defensive drive?
Your dog isn’t ready for defensive work. You can actually crush a dog’s confidence permanently if you do the wrong type of thing when he’s not ready. Many dogs aren’t ready for defense before 18 months, and it can be late as 30 months. I compare it to a teenager who is pretty good at boxing with his dad being expected to fight in a dark alley against strangers.
The best thing you can do is build his prey drive and teach him the mechanics of the work he’ll need yourself. Don’t push defense on the dog, he’ll let you know when he’s ready.
I have two German Line dogs, one a Tom Vant Leefdaalhof grandson and one with Fero Hemmelreich, Troll and Xato Nachbarschaft and others. Because I made many errors before getting your videos and attending a Flinks seminar, I am hoping you might have a suggestion on refocusing my dog's prey drive to the sleeve.
When they attended the Flinks seminar at eight months and 13 weeks Flinks said the Leefdaalhof grandson was a great, great puppy and could it was up to me how far I took him...the other pup at first appeared to have little prey drive (level 4) to Flinks when he played with him with the flirt pole. (I knew better) until he got me to play with him w/ flirt pole, then he said maybe 7, we don't even know because his drives had never been developed. Later he would not play with Flinks at all. When I showed how he chased his favorite toy ( a partially deflated basketball) the whole crowd and Flinks said WOW..because he was very driven and took a huge full bite as he literally attacked the ball at very high speed and held it with a full grip. After watching him with this toy they thought his drive could even be a 9. Sometimes he does this with hackles up even though he is alone in his own yard when he attacks the ball. My dog also rushed into Flinks when he grabbed the flirt pole out of my hand (Flinks said he liked that) because he thought Flinks was bothering me by pulling on what was in my hand. Even though he did not bark or growl, (he rarely does that deep barking unless he sees someone hiding or acting strangely) I knew if I had hit Flinks or he me, my pup would have bitten him. My question is how to get my dog to refocus so he will be ready to bite the sleeve. He is totally uninterested in rags and tugs because I never used them when he was young. He bites this ball and a rubber frisbee and will hold on even if he is raised off the ground onto his hind legs. I release when he counters. He is actually far more prey driven than the other pup Flinks thinks is great. He is the one that wants to go and go and go and won't eat if he can bite that ball (He does chase and retrieve balls but his thing is to BITE fully into that basketball). Still, at the local club they wave a rag and he just ignores them. Oh, Flinks also said YOU have to do this work because he works for you, not just for food and not for the toy. I don't THINK he has anxiety with other helpers (he did let a few strange folks from the seminar pull on the basketball while he held on) but he seems totally uninterested in playing with others especially with the tugs/rags. Also, when he was younger my son tried to play with him (in all the wrong ways) with a puppy sleeve and he would rip the sleeve off and want to keep biting my son. I think he thought son was prey, so I told my son not to do this any longer. Anyway, at the local club they insist on going from rag to tug to sleeve and if my dog shows he not interested in the rag so what now? He hurls himself into that basketball, he bites it, shakes it, won't let go (unless I out him) under any distraction, noise, stick etc and he is biting it with a full full mouth. He does bark at the helper when the other dogs are doing bite work. Even though folks at the seminar said he does have a high drive after all and I can use his frisbee and basketball to get him ready no one at my club will do anything with me until he goes after the rag and tug and he just won't. (I think because he gets a lot more satisfaction from the bite on the partially deflated ball) Do you have any suggestions? I thought of trying a bite wedge on a string and eventually putting the sleeve on the string what do you think? If I don't solve this I am stuck.
I have to title this dog because I do not get full breeding rights to him unless he gets Sch titled and he is clear of the DM gene, so I do want to breed him. After both are titled I want to just protection train them if they have the right fight drive. The Tom grandson's daddy is Sch3 and a certified police K9.
Thanks so much and because of your videos I am not making the same mistakes with the younger pup (probably lots of different ones :() I am trying to be the handlers my dogs deserve.
Thanks so much for your wonderful work!
I would definitely try the wedge on a string, or even a big tug (at first) you will also need to get the Frisbee and ball out of the picture so he learns to satisfy his drive on the other items. If you still offer him the other items, he will be less likely to want the tug, wedge, sleeve. Also, get him playing with the tugs and stuff at home before you try to do this at your club, it may just be too much of a distraction for him right now. Don’t give in and pull out the old toys, because then he’ll just learn to hold out for his preferred items.
Love what you guys are doing over there, new videos are great.
Here's my question, I have an 11 month old GSD, and we started doing our protection work about 1 month ago and having a lot of fun with it, but when we try to work obedience now it seems I have to get him worn down before I can even start to get him to focus. It seems his prey drive is almost taking over all the obedience training I've done with him.
I just watched a video from Michael Ellis about capping is that what I need to start working on?
Thanks for your time.
I think you have skipped a few crucial steps in getting this dog engaged. He’s pretty young and I would recommend going back to basics and teaching him engagement and then how to play with you as outlined in:
You can’t really work on capping if you can’t get the dog engaged with you.
I hope this helps.