The Stick Attack (Stokstellen)
Bob Neijts is a Dutch friend of mine. He has had
15 years experience in the KNPV training and is an avid follower of the
sport. The KNPV stick attack is much different than the "stick hits"
in schutzhund. The KNPV is more difficult for the dog because the stick
hit comes before the bite and not after the dog is biting. This article
gives you one mans ideas on the Dutch methods for training this exercise.
Stopping a man defending himself with a stick.
Before you start training this exercise your dog must
understand basic obedience. Also you should have started the first steps
of bite work. As soon as your dog understands this it is time to start
with the Stick attack.
I will first explain the right way this exercise has
to be done:
You have to come to the judge at the start of the exercise
with your dog off leash (at least 25 meters.) The judge will explain
everything to you and you have a last chance to ask questions. When you
to start the exercise the judge will signal the judge at the point where
the helper is (app. 100 meters away). The exercise is normally done in
the woods in a lane ending in an open field. The judge near the helper
gives the helper the signal to come out of the bush. Then the helper
appears and he is facing the dog and handler and raises his arm with
At the sign of the judge the handler gives the command "Stop police",
he has to repeat this once. His voice has to be so loud that it can be
heard by the judge standing next to the helper. At the signal of the
judge he will send the dog after the helper. When the dog is about 25
away the judge at the start fires a gun. The gunshot may not distract
the dog. When the helper hears the gunshot he will make a left or right
turn onto the field and out of sight for the dog. When the dog arrives
at the field (the handler is running after him) and approaches the helper
at about 25 meter, the helper will turn around facing the dog and will
hit him with the stick before the dog can get a bite. The helper is not
allowed to aim at the legs or head of the dog. The hit preferably has
to be given straight over the back of the dog. At the same time the helper
will scream and try to chase the dog away. The dog has to bite and stop
the helper. The dog may not be afraid of either the hit with the stick
or the voice of the helper. The dog is not allowed to try to get the
stick! As soon as the handler arrives he has to stop at the judge and
signal he has to give the dog a command to out. When the dog outs he
has to guard the helper. At the signal of the judge the helper starts
at the dog and give him commands trying to chase him off. The dog is
allowed to bite the helper. If so the judge will give the handler a command
out the dog. Then on a signal of the judge the handler places the dog
behind the helper and again at the signal of the judge he starts a transport
with the dog guarding the helper. The judge will point out the direction
where to go. On the signal of the judge the handler stops the transport
and walks up the judge, leaving the dog to guard the helper. Then the
handler has to stand behind the judge. At the signal of the judge the
helper tries to escape and run away. The dog has to prevent the helper
from running away without a command of the helper. On the signal of the
judge the handler outs the dog and again at the signal of the judge the
handler may pick up his dog. The dog has to heel properly for about 25
meters before the exercise ends.
Photo by William Van Vugt in Holland
In my explanation of this exercise I will leave out
the part about the transport. The training of the transport is (although
it is done together with the rest of this exercise) a chapter of its own.
In a separate article I will explain the training of the transport in
general and all the different transports in particular. If you train the
basics right the rest is easy to add.
When you know your dog will bite and is able to hold
his grip for a short time you have to start to train the dog where to
bite. In the KNPV we prefer the upper biceps of the left arm. Always
work the dog on a long line. The helper is at this point the only one
The handler stays stationary with the dog app. 1 meter in front of him.
The helper will approach the dog and offers his left upper biceps to
the dog. He has to turn his underarm to his back and bend over a little
so the dog can get an easy bite. The handler has to prevent the dog from
biting in the leg of the helper! The helper has to turn his head away
a little to protect himself from an accidental bite. If necessary the
handler can lift the dog to make him bite at the right spot. As soon
as the dog
bites in the helper has to stand up straight and move his upper body
a little to make the dog hang on. The dog has to learn that as soon as
lets go he loses his prey! So when the dog outs without a command the
helper has to step back immediately and agitate the dog from a few meters
so the dog will try to get a second bite. If the dog is not to tired
you can repeat this part.
When the dog has a good bite you have to make him out
on command. Don't act too fast, give the dog the pleasure of the bite
but act before the dog really gets tired and outs by himself. If you
your dog to out in different situations, like playing with a ball, eating
food, etc. and repeat this again and again you will see that this will
help you even when your dog really loves to bite. When you have a real
hard dog who doesn't want to out on command don't start by pulling the
leash like a madman and hitting him but wait until he gets a little tired
and gets a weaker grip. You can also pull him up that far that it will
be difficult for him to breath and as soon as he gasps for air you have
to pull him back away from the helper. Always give him the command to
out. So what ever you do always simultaneously give him a command! Don't
make the mistake to run at your dog and punish him very hard when he
hangs on after you have given him the command to out. If you do this
will learn quickly and keep an eye on you and as soon as you move in
he will let go and move out of the way. This will do damage to the way
is guarding the helper. Instead keep him on the long line walk up to
him slowly and use your voice and if necessary a harder correction to
After this part of the exercise the helper once again
screams at the dog. To built up the confidence of the dog you let him
run after the helper and chase him off without giving the dog the chance
to bite. This will be the same during the first months of training.
From the start of this exercise the helper has to build
up the pressure by screaming and raising the hand with the stick as a
threat. It has to start as a sort of game, so in a playful way but as
increases the helper has to build up the pressure. The helper has to
know exactly what he is doing and always be careful. While still in training
the helper does not actually hit the dog with the stick. This part is
only done with an advanced dog. Even then not every training session!
A clever dog will like a good boxer try to avoid the hit and move out
of the way. This happens when you hit him every time you train this exercise.
The helper has to threaten the dog with the stick and
when the dog bites he has to move his arm like he is hitting the dog
but just touch the dogs back very softly. The threat is more important
the actual hit. Later on in training the game gets more intense and rough.
From the point where the dog bites in at the right
place with a firm grip it is time to increase the distance from where
your dog attack the helper. You have to make your dog chase the helper
for a short distance, holding him back while you hold the line. You encourage
the dog with your voice and just a few meters before the helper you let
the dog go to enable him to plan his attack and get a good firm bite.
Never let go of the line but keep contact with your dog and praise him
when he is doing well. Don't go too fast here. Do not increase the distance
too much at once because this will make is easier for the dog to make
mistakes. The actual attack, like running after the helper, make a good
a good bite and hanging on is more important at this stage. Every time
you train this exercise you will work on all the new aspects along with
the distance and making the dog out on command.
This is the time to add another aspect to the training.
When the dog knows where to bite and when he outs on command it is time
to make him guard the helper for a short period of time. In the beginning
maybe 30 seconds. Later you can increase the time. You have to spend
enough time on this part of the exercise. When a dog sits in front or
behind the helper they very often try to get another bite. They jump
up to the helper and with the slightest movement of the helper they bite
again. Sometimes they keep on biting. Just short, not really hard bites
but enough to lose all the points. You have to make clear to the dog
that he is only allowed to bite when the helper really screams at him
or even better only when he is trying to run away. (This means the dog
does not have to bite when the helper gives him verbal commands and tries
to chase him off). To keep the dogs attention you can stand next to the
helper and tap on his arm or shoulder. Also the helper can make little
movements. Be careful otherwise the dog will bite again.
Don't prevent the dog getting a bite by only keeping
the leash so short that he is unable to reach for the helper. Keep
grip on the leash so you can pull him back if necessary and use verbal
commands. Use your voice. Make it clear to the dog that you won't allow
it and if necessary correct the dog. Praise and corrections are
the most important instruments in dog training. A good way to make your
stay behind the helper and to be able to give him a correction
is by having the helper step over the long line with one foot. When he
stands over the line with his legs just a little apart and you stand
of the helper you can pull the line so tight that the dog is only able
to stand or sit right behind the helper.
Actually this step keeps on coming back in every training
session. You have to build up the capability of your dog guarding the
helper along with the dog learning the other parts of this exercise.
At this part of the exercise an assistant trainer is very important.
the dog will focus on you when he gets a bite and when you give him the
command to out he can stand on the other side of the helper and the dog
and give the dog a correction when necessary. The correction can be given
with a long line or maybe with a whip or something. One thing is for
sure that he has to know what he is doing. He has to add something to
command and not act by himself.
When the dog is able to perform correctly at a distance
of about 25 - 30 meters you can start to build up the pressure again.
At this point the helper can start to walk into the dog when he attacks
instead of almost standing still. If the dog doesn't have a hard attack
or to built up his confidence and drive you can make the helper walk
backwards. The helper first shouts at the dog and raises the hand with
and than runs away from the dog. At about 25 meters he turns around and
faces the dog but instead of running towards him he walks backwards.
This will give the dog the feeling that the helper is afraid of him and
to attack him even more. He will attack harder and faster and bite with
From this point on you slowly increase the distance
and make the helper come in harder. Again don't lose focus on the guarding
of the helper. Because the distance between the handler and the dog is
bigger the dog can get the feeling that he can get an extra bite without
being punished for his behavior! So make sure the dog does everything
well before you increase the distance. This is the same when the dog
doesn't want to out!!!
It is time to train your dog to stay at the start until
you give him the command to attack. Actually you start this part of the
exercise from the beginning but now you have to demand more obedience
from your dog. You have to make clear to your dog that even if he sees
the helper running away he still has to wait for the command. This requires
You can start by having the helper appear in front
of you and you heel the other way instead of giving him the command to
This asks for a lot of training and patience. Repeat it again and again.
Keep the dog on the long line and correct him every time he disobeys.
Now you have come to the point where the transport
comes in. Like I have said, I will explain the training of the transport
in an separate article. It is time to put all the pieces of the puzzle
together and start to train the exercise in the way it has to be done
at the certification trial. I mentioned it more than once. Don't go too
fast with this exercise. The better you train all the different parts
the better it will be in the long run. Like the start, a good and firm
bite, to make your dog out, to guard the helper, etc. will all come back
with all the other bite-exercises. So spent enough time and train it
Let your dog grow and get strong. Don't start this exercise with a dog
that is too young. The dog has to be mature to be able to stand the pressure
of this exercise.
While writing this exercise I experienced that, although
I have trained this exercise hundreds of times, it is very difficult
to cut it into different training steps. Different parts of the exercise
are trained at the same time but on different levels. I have tried to
give the right order of the training steps. You have to know your own
dog and know his weaknesses. I have noticed very often that dog handlers
don't want to see or hear about the weaknesses of their dogs. Realize
that a 100% perfect dog does not exist and work on the weak spots of
your dog. Make his good qualities even better and polish the weak aspects
until they become acceptable! This will show your qualities as a dog