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March 8, 2012
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Canada's Got Talent - Angela Ewtushik and Rally

Canada's Got Talent - Angela Ewtushik and Rally

March 8, 2012 | 3 Minutes, 32 Seconds

Leerburg Q&A
Ask your training question

Question: Your DVDs have set us up with a wonderfully trained dog. We're debating on doing more with our dog, but I'm not sure if I will be able to maintain such a high level of training long-term. Is it a bad idea to play tug, get her into bite work if I never plan on having her go to the level of meeting a handler?


First, my wife and I wanted to thank you for providing us the information in Your Puppy 8 Weeks to 8 Months DVD and Obedience training DVD for setting us up with a wonderfully trained dog for life. The training has been fun and rewarding, so rewarding we are debating on doing more. We have a high drive female Doberman that just turned 17 weeks old yesterday. I have been interested in protection work and Schutzhund competition but we don't have any good trainers locally. Also, I am not sure if I will have the time to maintain such a high level of training long-term. I would like to get my dog involved in something as she seems to get bored easily. Is it a bad idea to play tug, get her into bite work etc. if I never plan on having her go to the level of meeting a handler? We did get her for companion/threat deterrents. I would just like your opinion if it is wise to begin any of this work without intending to have the finished product as she is a pet first. If you think starting bite work isn't the best thing for my situation and my dog, do you plan to make a DVD that teaches a command where the dog will put on an aggressive display? Is this covered in any of your DVDs?

Thanks for your time and sharing your expertise,

Cindy's Response:

I teach all my dogs the foundation skills for protection through playing tug even if I never plan on going any further (with our little Border Terrier pup, for example).

It’s a great bonding exercise, it’s great exercise and teaches the dog self control. Doing these activities with the handler is a lot like a kid taking karate lessons, it’s good mental and physical discipline that teaches mechanics & skills. 

I’ll list the videos I’d recommend below (keep in mind that your pup is starting to lose her baby teeth right now, so her mouth may be sensitive). We don’t recommend playing a lot of tug with teething pups, they can have a negative association with the game if their mouth hurts.

The Power of Training Dogs with Food - PERFECT work for the teething period!
The Power of Playing Tug with your Dog
Advanced Concepts in Motivation
Foundation of Puppy Bite Work
Teaching Protection Skills Without a Decoy

As for teaching the dog to put on an aggressive display, Ed wrote an article about that.

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes

For more questions on this topic, see our Q&A on Raising a Working Puppy.


We get a number of Q&As every week, if you would like to read this weeks's Q&As, click here and check out the 'Recent Questions' section!

Have a question for Ed & Cindy? Try the Leerburg Q&A Search. If you can't find the answer to your question by using our search engine, you can email Cindy here at Leerburg at cindyr@leerburg.com. If you have your spam filter on, make sure you set it to receive our replies!!!

Customer Comments

On Leerburg's Puppy Q&As

Hi Cindy,

I’ve been reading some of your Q&As about puppies. I have to tell you that you are so right that a pup being attacked by another dog can have dire consequences. My almost-4-year-old Doberman came from a breeder who took great pains to socialize him to be a very confident, almost unphaseable boy who loved all people and other pups. He was a dream of a puppy. Not knowing any better at the time, I took him to a puppy class when he was about 12 weeks old. He was great for the first couple of classes. Then the instructor brought her very large, intact Rhodesian Ridgeback to the class so the puppies could have contact with an older dog. For some reason, this adult dog focused on my Spencer, chasing him aggressively until my poor puppy was cowering under a chair. All this happened in a matter of seconds before I could rescue him. After that, Spencer was aggressive towards less confident puppies and became quite a menace. I worked with him diligently for over a year to overcome this setback, because he could not work as a therapy dog if he was dog aggressive. He has such a sweet temperament, loves to work and to please, and he now can get along with any other dog and shows no aggression. We have just started competitive agility, and he has no problem at all being around hundreds of other dogs in a confined space. Of course, I am very careful about who he plays with and NEVER take him to dog parks, except to stand outside the gates and reward him for paying attention to me and not the other dogs. I didn’t realize that the Ridgeback incident was most likely the cause of his problem until I found your website about a year and a half ago. I now warn anyone with two ears about dog parks and refer them to your website. I also advise friends who have gotten new pups to NOT take them to classes until they have already obedience trained them themselves. That is what I did, unintentionally, with my first Doberman, and she ended up being as close to perfect as a dog could be.

Thank you for all you do for the good of dogs. I hope Ed is recovering from his knee surgery and that you all are recovering from the fire and tragic loss of your pet.


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