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The Art of Picking a Puppy for Schutzhund IPO Sport DogTraining
For a working dog to earn a prestigious Schutzhund title, he must excel in obedience, tracking and protection.
So, how can you determine the ability of a playful, young puppy for such a demanding specialty?
If for example, you have a litter of Doberman puppies, you notice as they grow from week to week, that they have different personalities and positions in the group.
The bigger pups get to the food dish first. Some like to instigate play fighting and some are "barkers". Some puppies are more reserved and some are curious to explore. Observing their play behaviors is good way to start assessing the pups potential for Schutzhund training. You must trust your breeder to represent their puppies honestly and accurately and trust that they have spent the hours and hours of observation required to make puppy aptitude determinations in the first place . There is an aptitude test that is available to use as a guideline for testing puppies. It scores specific criteria based on a scale of 1 to 6.
Even before testing a puppy, it is important to examine his physical structure because physical soundness is necessary for the rigorous training. When a puppy is around 8 weeks old, testing can begin.
The first test is for Social Attraction. It indicates confidence or dependence. The tester moves away from the pup and kneels down, then calls the puppy to him.
The tester is looking for the puppy to come to him readily, tail up and may even paw and lick at the testers hands.
The next test is Following Attraction. If the tester walks away from the puppy, and the puppy does not follow, it shows a degree of independence.
The puppy should follow, tail up and may even get underfoot. This shows interest in the tester and a lack of fear. Restraint shows the degree of dominant or submissive tendencies.
The handler should kneel down and gently roll the puppy on his back and hold him for 30 seconds. No struggle and avoiding eye contact shows the pup to be too submissive for Schutzhund training. A better result would be for the puppy to settle, then struggle a bit, then settle again with some eye contact.
Social Dominance can be shown by gently rubbing the puppy from head to toe while crouched beside him. He may try to dominate by jumping and nipping. A less desirable response would be the puppy rolling over and licking the hand of the tester.
For Schutzhund trials, a working dog must be accepting of dominance by his handler while in a position of no control.
To test a puppy for this characteristic, bend down and cradle the puppy under his belly with fingers interlaced. Lift him just off the ground and hold him for 30 seconds. This test is called Elevation Dominance. A potential problem result would be if the pup struggles fiercely, bites or growls at the handler. He should be able to relax.
A Retrieving test demonstrates the willingness of the puppy to work with a human. There is a high correlation between the ability to retrieve and successful guide dog, obedience and field trial dogs.
Touch Sensitivity can be evaluated by taking the webbing on one front paw between finger and thumb and pressing gently. While squeezing the toe, count slowly. Stop as soon as the puppy shows discomfort. A higher count shows a lesser degree of sensitivity to touch.
It is possible to determine the Sound Sensitivity of a pup by standing a few feet away and hitting a metal pan with a big metal spoon. If the puppy looks, locates the sound and walks toward it to investigate, the puppy will not be jumpy or easily startled.
A final test is a Sight Sensitivity test which demonstrates the degree of intelligent response to a new or unfamiliar object. A string is tied to a large towel and yanked across the floor a few feet in front of the puppy. Some puppies will attack and bite the towel and some will look curiously and investigate. A pup that barks and tail tucks or runs away will not be a good candidate for Schutzhund.
This is a general overview of the criteria used to evaluate working breed puppies for Schutzhund training.
There is really no perfect score as each handler will have his own preferences in what he wants in a puppy and what characteristics are important to him.
An important factor not scored by a test is a good connection between puppy and handler. A trusting relationship between the two is crucial because of the intense training required to achieve a working title at all levels. A trusting relationship also insures the puppy will want to please his handler so they will be able to work well together toward the same goal. Schutzhund training is a long term commitment between dog and handler to achieve excellence.
Submitted by Joseph M Sabol.
TESTING MILITARY AND POLICE K9 CANDIDATES
IN EACH LITTER WILL USUALLY BE A MILITARY/POLICE TYPE PUPPY NOT FOR SALE TO FAMILY HOMES!
It seems logical that before accepting a dog for police service the candidates instincts and drives should be tested for the qualities and performance we expect to utilize. Of course the vendors/owners have their tests and guarantees but why waste training time and money to return a dog and start over. Included on this page are a couple of other Trainer's tests, many of which I use. But the ultimate testing for me occurs at NIGHT, without equipment, in an area that is new to the dog.
The dog is on a long line 30' attached to a leather collar, walking by a hidden person in an enclosure, a rattle-can makes some noise. The long line is held short, about six feet, until the noise then the line is released and held at the end creating the effect that the dog is free. Does the dog startle, recover, investigate, ignore, scent the person, bark. The can is rolled out after a time, is there any interest. The dog never sees the person, this is an environmental stimulus test. I like to see scenting and interest ignoring could be avoidance. Important: the line must always be loose at the moment of the stimulation so the dog feels free.
This is the big one for me. I have seen Sch3 dogs take off running, luckily they were on a 30' line.
These test are continuous, the dog is walking again held short ready to release. A shiny plastic garbage bag has been attached to some bushes with a 30' long line and as the dog approaches someone shakes the bag. As soon as the bush shakes the dog is released from the short line; hang onto the end of the 30' line, you may be surprised. The dog should startle then recover. Usually there are two of three behaviors acceptable. The dog barks at the bag, maybe moves closer to investigate or the stronger dogs move forward and bite the bag. Some dogs will go into avoidance and not recover, some will not come back to investigate, some will be at the end of the 30' line; not good candidates. Again, some may show no response, pretty dull instincts; not a good candidate.
Continuing on the walk the line is held short again. After some time a person jumps out from behind a bush and pops open and umbrella and the line is released. The dog should startle, recover, and begin to bark. Strong dogs may attack so be careful how much line you allow the dog to have. The umbrella is tossed out to the side, does the dog investigate. The person jumps back into the bush, then starts playing hide and seek from one side of the bush to the other. Does the dog switch from defense to prey, barking at the person. Again, some dogs will avoid behind the handler, may bark but be unwilling to engage; not a good candidate.
Another deal breaker. As you can see, no equipment has been used to stimulate the dog in these tests, and it's dark. Finding a fenced area a person approaches the dog in a threatening aggressive manner. The dog should be barking, showing aggression on a tight line. The persons runs behind the fence, then along the fence away from the dog. The dog is released to pursue the person. The dog should stay with the person running back and forth along the fence, barking at the person, then the person shows some aggression towards the dog through the fence. The dog should remain aggressive towards the person. I have seen dogs be aggressive at the start but when the person was running down the fence they did not pursue; not a good candidate.
These are a few of the tests I perform, I also look for open stairways and slick floors to test the dog nervous system and instincts.
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