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Categories: Schutzhund Protection Work

Q. My dog gets frustrated with the bark and looks for places to redirect his bite sinCe he can't get to the sleeve. He has nipped me before. Any advice?
My dog and I just passed the BH test and are now training for Schutzhund 1. A problem I am encountering is this: my dog doesn't bark easily at the bark and hold, so we went back out of the blind to build the dog's drive to bark through the helper standing in front of the dog cracking a whip while I am holding on to my dog. The dog starts barking and wants to go for the sleeve, but can't right away because he is supposed to sit and bark. But he gets really frustrated and starts to look around for things to bite at...and I am close of course. A few weeks back he nipped at my knee very lightly and today he started turning his head around repeatedly but half-heartedly and I just moved out of the way. If he had wanted to really bite me I am sure he could have.

The trainer I work with says this is normal and all dogs do this at the beginning of Schutzhund training because they are frustrated that they can't bite the sleeve, so they re-direct. I, however, am worried about this. What if this behavior carries over into everyday life. If we walk down the street for example and he barks at another dog or anything else, I will obviously hold him back. What if he decided to re-direct his aggression to me then? Or is this unlikely. I realize that you don't know my dog or me, but I am new to the sport of Schutzhund and would just like to know if I should be worried about this behavior, as I don't want to make my dog more aggressive through Schutzhund training.

Thanks for any advice you can give me.


A. Why not put this dog on a back tie, so you are not close enough for him to redirect his frustration?

All dogs do not do this, but some dogs do. You could also work on the barking with the dog behind a fence, and once he gets good barking going open the gate and let him run out for a bite.

There is more than one way to accomplish this, and many ways to set it up so the dog doesn’t have the option of biting you or anyone else until he figures out the exercise.

I also would make sure your helper is not making the dog bark too long at first, a couple strong barks and he should be rewarded before he gets frustrated. Varying the length of time he barks before the grip makes a better performance in the long run, just like varying your rewards in any other exercise in dog training during the learning phase.

Without seeing your dog, I can’t know if your dog is really being aggressive here or just loaded up in prey. I would think that on the street he is not going to feel the level of frustration that he does during bitework, so I would not expect him to react in the same manner.

If your dog is barking at other dogs on the street, then it’s an obedience and respect issue and that has nothing to do with bitework.
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