Archive for July, 2010
Thursday, July 29th, 2010
French Ring Sport is a dog sport that originated out of France in the early 1900′s. It shares a common history with Belgian Ring Sport which also originated around the same time, and the two sports are very similar. The purpose of French Ring Sport, like many dog sports that have come out of Europe, was to test dogs for their character and suitability for work and breeding. Since then, the rules have been changed and refined into a proper sport.
Dogs competing in the sport perform exercises in front of judges who award them a point total based on their performance. Regardless of which title the dog is competing for, it will be awarded a rank of Non Classe, Bon, Tres Bon or Excellent, corresponding with less than 60%, 60-70%, 70-80% and over 80% point totals. However, only dogs that achieve a score of over 80%, and a rank of Excellent, will qualify for the title and be able to compete for more challenging titles in following years.
Before a dog can compete for proper titles, it must pass an introductory test of obedience, intelligence and character known as Brevet. Just as with full titles, a dog must obtain a score of 80% of higher in order to pass and move on to full competition. After the initial introductory tests, there are three levels of French Ring titles simply known as French Ring 1 (FR1), French Ring 2 (FR2), and French Ring 3 (FR3). Each title tests obedience, agility and protection with FR1 offering the least difficult exercises and FR3 being the most challenging. Unlike most dog sports, dogs must compete twice for each level, in front of two different judges. A dog that has passed the first judging in FR1 is considered to be Level 1, while a dog that has passed both is considered to have the full French Ring 1 title. The same is true for both FR2 and FR3.
Unfortunately, while French Ring Sport is commendable as a sport, it is a far cry from real-world protection work. Whether you have a German Shepherd, Dutch Shepherd or Belgian Malinois, it is imperative that you train it for the work it will be doing. Training a dog for sport just isn’t good enough for real protection dog or guard dog work.
Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
Schutzhund is one of several European dog sports established in the early 1900′s as a way of testing the capabilities of working dogs to ensure that only the best were bred and allowed to work in police and protection dog roles. Having originated in Germany, the German Shepherd dog is the breed of choice for the sport, although other breeds such as the Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherd are permitted to compete.
In Schutzhund, dogs compete to earn titles which are awarded for sufficient performance various trials and exercises. Based on their score, dogs are given grades of excellent (V), very good (SG), good (G), satisfactory(M), unsatisfactory(U). During the protection exercises, dogs are also graded on their nerves and ability to handle stress. For this, judges award the dogs a grade of insufficient (nicht genugend), present (vorhanden) or pronounced (ausgepraegt).
Before a dog and handler may compete for Schutzhund titles, preliminary trials must be passed. Three certificates are offered at this level: Begleithunde (BH), Wachthund (WH) and Ausdauerprufung (AD). However, only a BH certificate enables a dog to participate in more advanced Schutzhund trials. The BH certificate shows basic obedience while WH is intended to test low-level watchdogs, and AD is simply a physical endurance test.
Once a dog has obtained the Schutzhund BH certificate, it may compete for proper Schutzhund titles. The basic title is the Schutzhund 1 (SchH1) which tests tracking, obedience and protection. There is also a Schutzhund 2 and 3 title which offer the same basic tests, but with intermediate and advanced levels of difficulty. There also obedience (OB1-3) and tracking(TR1-3) titles, again offered in three levels, which focus purely on either obedience and tracking.
Even though Schutzhund was originally intended to train and test dogs for their ability as a working police dog, its adaptation into a sport has made it somewhat ineffective for this purpose. One should always remember that Schutzhund is just a sport. If one wants a true German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois protection dog, one must train for real world scenarios; this includes working in water, and targeting the weapon hand, neither of which are covered by Schutzhund.
Thursday, July 22nd, 2010
Koninklijke Nederlandse Politiehond Vereniging (KNPV) is a popular dog-sport based out of the Netherlands. The name literally means “Royal Dutch Police Dog Association”, and it was founded in the early 1900′s as a way of testing the ability of dogs for their suitability for breeding and work as a police dog. As with any sport, the rules and exercises are clearly defined to ensure fairness among competitors. After over a century, the rules and titles involved in KNPV have changed and grown considerably, but the basic concepts remain.
In KNPV, a team consisting of a dog and its handler compete to obtain varying levels of certification. Points are awarded or deducted based on performance in various exercises, and certificates are awarded to dogs who are able to obtain a high enough score. The most basic title in KNPV is known as Politiehond 1 (PH1). Competing dogs must first obtain this title before attempting any of the more challenging titles, and in Holland, a dog must have this title before it can work as a police dog. Obtaining this title involves completing exercises in obedience, scent work, water work, and protection. A score between 302 and 347 out of 440 possible points is enough for the dog be awarded Certificaat A, which lasts for one year. A score above 348 awards the dog a full PH1 certificate, and a score above 402 awards the dog a Certificaat Met Lof (certificate with honors).
After completing PH1, it is up to the handler to decide whether or not to continue training for a more advanced title. Possible titles are Politiehond 2 (PH2), Object Bewakinghond (ObjBW), Speurhond (SpH), and Reddingshond (RH). PH2 includes the same exercises as PH1, but at a more advanced level. ObjBW is considered a specialised Guard Dog title. It includes many of the same exercises as PH1, but does not include water work, and has a stronger focus on guarding. SpH is a very specialised title that focuses on complex tracking and scent work exercises. The exercises are judged harshly, and only about 20% of dogs attempting this title are able to obtain it each year. Finally, RH is a specialised title that focuses on search and rescue operations with exercises that simulate the rescuing of a drowning person, or a person trapped under rubble.
KNPV is both incredibly important in maintaining the quality of working breeds such as the German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois, as well as promoting standards for the training of police dogs, protection dogs, and guard dogs. However, as honorable as the sport is, one should always remember that KNPV is just a sport. A true protection dog should be trained for real world scenarios, and not for sport.
Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
The guard dog has a long history of working with humans. In fact, guarding livestock was one of the first working roles given dogs. Since then, the work of a guard dog has expanded to include guarding property, personal belongings and even families. Given the importance of these things, one should always strive to have the best dogs from the best breeds watching over what’s important to them. However, there has always been debate over which dogs are best for the job.
Before aeroplanes and automobiles, transportation was limited. This lead to a wide variety of different breeds being developed in many different regions, all for the purpose of creating the best guard dog. Today, the world feels just a little bit smaller, and the same breeds that used to be found only in very specific regions can now be found all over the world. What many people don’t realise is that the breeds themselves have continued to change over the years. In the world of canine breeding, genetics can change dramatically from generation to generation. Many breeds that were once excellent guard dogs have now been given the role of house-pet as they were unable to keep up with the strength, intelligence and nerves of other breeds. The best breeds for use as a guard dog today are the German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd, in that order.
Of course, one cannot assume that any dog of a favorable breed will be suitable for work as a guard dog. Every dog is different, and choosing a suitable guard dog happens on an individual basis. However, the basis of a good guard dog is good genetics, and the German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd have some of the best bloodlines, which have been fine-tuned for years to be the very best.
Thursday, July 15th, 2010
KNPV is a lot closer to real protection work than many other dog sports because it comes the closest to mimicking real scenarios. One scenario seen in KNPV that isn’t seen in other sports is the presence of water in the environment. In the real world, a police protection dog must not only be able to swim, but must be able to do so with speed and efficiency in order to engage a target across a body of water, or to rescue a drowning person from a river with strong current.
KNPV uses two exercises to test a dog’s swimming ability. In the first exercise, the dog is instructed to swim across a canal with a minimum distance of 15 meters, wait at the other side, and then return to the handler when instructed. Unfortunately, while it is admirable that KNPV would include water exercises, this exercise does not come close enough to a real scenario to be effective as training for a true protection dog. In the real world, the dog will be sent across a body of water in order to perform a task, such as engaging a target. To have the dog sit and wait for a second command to be given on the other side of a river is absurd, and wastes valuable time. The dog should be trained to swim the distance and engage the target with one command.
In the second exercise, the dog is instructed by the handler to retrieve a large object in the water, approximately 7 meters out, and bring it back to shore. Again, it is admirable that KNPV would include this exercise, but it is still not close enough to the real scenario. The most important thing a dog could be bringing back to shore in this instance would be a human life. To depend on a dog that has only been trained to haul an inanimate object in calm waters to save a living human being is simply unacceptable.
The bottom line is that KNPV is just a sport. Whether you’re training a Belgian Malinois, a Dutch Shepherd or a German Shepherd as a police protection dog, it must be trained for the real world, using real world scenarios and real danger. There is simply no substitute for true protection dog training.
Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
KNPV is a term that comes up often when speaking of working dogs, and with good cause; KNPV is one of the most challenging and well-respected dog sports in the world. Between 800 and 1000 dogs get their KNPV PH1 title each year. Of these, only about 5 will be German Shepherds. KNPV titles can only achieved in Holland, where the sport originates, and the vast majority of competing dogs will be Holland’s favoured breed: the Belgian Malinois. For a German Shepherd to achieve a KNPV title is an extremely difficult task that requires a hard dog with strong nerves. KNPV also requires a dog that is intelligent, loyal and sociable as well.
Training a dog for the KNPV PH1 title takes dedication and commitment. Training normally takes been 2-3 years to complete. To train a dog for this long, with the level of intensity required for KNPV takes a true love for dog sport and dog training. Training German Shepherd puppies or Belgian Malinois puppies must begin at a very young age.
While KNPV is the closest dog sport to real protection work, one should never forget that it is just a sport. However, KNPV forms the basis of breeding standards in Holland. Only the best dogs make it through to achieve a KNPV title, and the litters bred from KNPV titled dogs are ensured to have the strength and nerves required of true protection dogs. Very few KNPV dogs are female, as the best females are always held back for breeding.
Thursday, July 8th, 2010
Despite the best efforts of a handler to keep his or her protection dog clean, infestations of fleas, ticks or lice are sometimes inevitable. Luckily, lice is fairly uncommon among dogs in North America. However, the possibility of infestation still exists, and it is important to know what to look for, and what steps to take in the event that your dog does get lice.
While lice is commonly known as a human affliction, the type of lice that affect dogs is different, and cannot live off of humans. Just like fleas and ticks, dog lice can cause intense skin irritation and often carry serious diseases. However, unlike energetic fleas, dog lice move slowly and cannot jump or fly. While dog lice is different from the lice that affects humans, the symptoms and methods of treatment are largely the same. A dog with lice will scratch noticeably often, and will often be distracted by the irritation of its skin. Upon parting the dog’s fur, you may find small white particles attached to the strands. These particles are eggs, and are the tell-tale sign of a lice infestation.
Luckily, lice in dogs is fairly easy to treat. An insecticide spray or bath is often enough to rid your protection dog or guard dog of the infestation, although your veterinarian may recommend that you dog have its fur shaved. If you have a German Shepherd puppy, or Belgian Malinois puppy, you should consult your veterinarian for treatment advice before using insecticide sprays or baths. Finally, your dogs bedding and brushes should be replaced in order to prevent risk of reinfection.
Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
Despite the name, ringworm is actually caused by a form of fungus. Over 35 different species of this fungus exists, but only about four can cause ringworm in dogs. Of these four, Microsporum Canis is the most common. Ringworm is very contagious, and can be passed from dogs to humans. The risk of catching ringworm is especially high in young children. Infection can be spread by direct contact with an infected animal, or by contact with the spores which can live in sheets and carpeting for several months.
Ringworm can take as much as two weeks to develop into visible lesions after initial infection. The fungus grows within hair follicles in the skin, and causes hair in the infected area to break off at the root. As a result, ringworm infections often manifest in dogs as circular patches of missing fur. Many cases of ringworm can be identified by examination under ultra-violet light. However, only two of the four species of fungi that cause ringworm will fluoresce. The most accurate test is to have your veterinarian perform a hair culture on fur from the infected area, although this form of testing can take 2-3 weeks to perform.
If left untreated, ringworm will spread and cause painful sores, but once identified, infection can be treated fairly easily through anti-fungal medications. Unfortunately, ringworm is much more difficult to remove from the home, and reinfection will occur until remaining spores are dealt with. After an infection, it is recommended that you destroy and replace your dog’s bedding, brushes, and other objects which frequently come into close contact with your dog’s fur. Items that cannot be destroyed can be soaked in a mixture of hot water and iodine, and rinsed with water and diluted bleach. Clean the house thoroughly, and have carpets and upholstery steam-cleaned.
While ringworm is not often a dangerous or life-threatening illness, its persistence can make it difficult to deal with. In a guard dog, the skin irritation caused by ringworm can have a detrimental effect on concentration and overall performance. Weather you have a German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, or Dutch Shepherd, it is important to check your guard dog regularly for signs of ringworm and other signs of skin irritation. Do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian if you detect any signs illness.
Thursday, July 1st, 2010
It is believed by many that a cold and wet nose is a sign of good health in a dog. While this is true to an extent, the health of your dog is not so black and white that it can be determined from a simple touch of the nose. A protection dog cannot speak, so it is up to the handler to look for other signs of good or poor health.
Concerning a dog’s nose, it is not necessarily true that a dog with a warm or dry nose will always be sick, nor is it true that a dog with a cool and wet nose will always be healthy. In many mammals, humans included, the purpose of the nose is to help clean and condition the air we breath in order to reduce the stress on our lungs and passageways. To a certain extent, the moisture from a dog’s nose helps humidify the air that they breath in. However, this humidifying effect has much more to do with the inside of your dog’s nose than the outside. Truthfully, the primary reason that a dog’s nose will be wet is because dogs frequently lick their noses.Certain breeds of dog, such as the bulldog, often have dry noses due simply to the fact that the dog’s tongue cannot reach its nose. Similarly, your own dog’s nose may be dry during certain times of the day when less licking occurs, such as while it sleeps. Neither of these cases indicate a dog that is sick or unhealthy.
However, many dogs avoid licking their noses when they become ill. While a dry or warm nose by itself is certainly no indication of sickness, it may be one symptom accompanying a number of others, such as lethargy or difficulty breathing. As a general rule, you should always consult your veterinarian if your dog shows any other signs of illness, regardless of whether its nose is wet or dry. In rare cases, your dogs nose may not only become dry, but will begin to crack or produce sores. Excessive dryness lasting more than a day, or the appearance of sores on the nose should both be examined immediately by your veterinarian.
Whether you have a German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, or Dutch Shepherd, knowing the signs and symptoms of sickness in your protection dog is the most important step in ensuring it a long and healthy life. When in doubt, you should never hesitate to seek the advice of a trained and licenced veterinarian.
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