Archive for the ‘Training’ Category
Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
Around 15 million U.S residents take part in hunting every year. Each hunter has the goal of killing their game with as little error as possible, so that they can easily find where the game has landed. Regardless of how skilled of a hunter you may be, everyone will eventually make a bad shot. When the less than perfect shot is made, the deer will become wounded and most likely wander off. This makes it difficult to recover the animal, especially if the hunter can not visually see the path or blood trail that it took. The best thing that you can have when you find yourself in a situation like this is a trained tracking dog. German Wirehaired Daschshunds started off as the predominate breed for tracking dogs, but other breeds like the Labrador, German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois and Basset Hound have been just as successful. It is a matter of personal preference as to which dog breed you chose to use a a tracking dog. The most important thing is finding a dog with a great sense of smell, intelligence, and a desire to please their owner.
A well trained tracking dog can recover the wounded game hours, or even days after the shot has been fired. Once you have given up on the trail you have been following and have decided to bring in a tracking dog, make sure to mark the last blood sign first. It is important not to start your dog at the place where you lost the blood trail, mostly because this spot will be covered with human scent in your attempt to find the next spot of blood. So even though it may be time consuming, it is always a good thing to start your dog yards off the visible blood trail and possible even at the very beginning. This will also help your dog to become familiar with this individual deer scent. A well trained tracking dog must learn how to follow day old lines of wounded deer and ignore the fresh scent of deer that may have recently passed the trail. Remember that the dog could get lost because of the blood and deer scent that the you have on your shoes. If the dog is having trouble slowly lead the dog on a 50 or 100 yard radius, carefully watching them because the dog may find a new drop of blood that has not been spotted before. Continue searching until the dog finds the deer, and make sure that you give the tracking dog a lot of praise. Please understand that success is not always guaranteed, but your chances of finding the wounded game will definitely be enhanced by having a tracking dog.
Do realize that almost all dog breeds have some natural hunting and tracking ability but we find that the Labrador, German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois and Basset Hound have the greatest sense of smell, intelligence, and desire to please their owners.
Friday, October 29th, 2010
As dog trainers ourselves, it is easy for us to figure out what to look for when finding a good dog trainer. We will tell you the secrets in finding the best dog trainer for you and your puppy. Since here are a huge number of dog trainers out there it is hard to tell which one is right for your puppy, we will do our best to help you figure out what to look for and what to stay away from.
First be aware that there technically isn’t a certification required to be a trainer. Anyone with a sense of entrepreneurship and money to put an ad in the paper can become a “dog trainer”. So we recommend asking for references, as it helps to know somebody that had a good experience with this trainer. Ask about his or her qualifications, what type of training they focus on (obedience training, house training, etc.), their knowledge of dog health, and knowledge of breed characteristics. It is important for your trainer to know about your breed as no two breeds are alike. You would not want to take your German Shepherd puppy to someone that has only trained say a Pomeranian before. Just as you wouldn’t want to go see a foot doctor for a heart problem.
Remember the saying that you get what you pay for doesn’t always apply. We are not saying that the dog trainer with the highest price isn’t the best, we just want you to be aware that there are a lot of dog trainers out there that have lower rates and that are extremely qualified to train your German Shepherd puppy.
Lastly trust your own instincts, if you are not comfortable with the dog trainer there is a good chance your dog won’t be either.
Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
The most important thing to remember when choosing a dog training school for your German shepherd puppy is that not everyone you come across is reliable or completely qualified. When you start looking for a trainer, look around and ask for recommendations from your vet, the ASPCA or even your breeder.
Once you find a possible candidate, ask them questions. Ask about their background, years of training, techniques and if they are certified as a business. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you’d like, you deserve to have your questions answered. It is always good to see what you’re getting yourself into before you make any kind of commitments. So once you find a training school, ask to attend a class first, if they do not let you, keep looking! When you attend a class observe as much as possible, watch to see how the trainer gives instructions and how your German Shepherd responds to them. Watch to see what kinds of equipment they are using and also how they are handling the dogs.
Reputable trainers prioritize the welfare of the dogs and will not use harsh or abusive handling methods. This is completely unnecessary and can also be counter-productive. Be wary if the trainer promises that a specific problem will be resolved, because they should not guarantee complete results. Instead, they should promise to try their very best to help you and your German Shepherd dog to the best of their abilities. Also pay close attention and make the judgement if the trainers main priority is training dogs or making money. More than anything the trainer you choose should have a genuine love and devotion to dogs.
Thursday, October 7th, 2010
Proper obedience training is important for any working dog. Sit, heel and down are standard exercises which any well trained dog will know, but for trained protection dogs, obedience doesn’t stop at basic exercises. Many intermediate and advanced obedience exercises are a combination of two or more basic exercises. Two examples of this are the “sit in motion” and “down in motion”, which are essentially a combination of either heel and sit, or heel and down.
The “down in motion” exercise essentially goes as follows: the dog is instructed to heel by the handler. As they move together, the handler instructs the dog to down. The dog immediately stops heeling and enters a down stay, as the handler continues walking. While this may sound fairly simple, untrained dogs will often be confused between the down command and the heel command, and won’t be sure which action to take. Obedience is about having your dog consistently and confidently performing the expected actions, time and time again. The “sit in motion” exercise is identical, except for it uses sit in place of down.
Training for this exercise, like training for most things, should be down in small steps. It is very important that your dog know both the hell and the down command separately before you try to combine them into a down in motion. Start by only taking a couple of steps before and after the down, and gradually work your way up to longer distances. As you do the training, consider having someone nearby to aid you. Many dogs will want to continue heeling after the down command, and clever dogs may even sneak in a few steps while your back is turned after the down. Having someone nearby will help you to ensure that the dog is acting as instructed while your back is turned.
The “down in motion” exercise is commonly included in dog sports such as Schutzhund. The obedience exercises in many dog sports offer excellent examples of the basic obedience requirements of protection dogs or guard dogs as well. However, it’s important to remember that dog sports are only sport. While obedience exercises are useful in a wide number of scenarios, advanced protection training for personal protection dogs should never be done in the context of sport. If you want a true protection dog, it has to be trained for real protection, in the real world.
Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
Humans and canines have had a long history together that stretches back for thousands of years. The domestication of dogs was a long process that likely began with wild canines following groups of nomadic humans in order to scavenge scraps of food from them. As ancient nomadic tribes developed into agricultural societies, they began to realise the potential to use the natural behavior of dogs to their advantage. Thus, herding dogs came into existence, and the first working role of canines in human society was established.
Although similar techniques can be applied to herding a wide variety of livestock including goats, sheep and cattle, the term “sheep dog” or “shepherd” is the most commonly used term to describe herding dogs. The roles of herding dogs can differ depending on the circumstance. In some instances, the dog is required to move the livestock by “driving” them; in others, the role of the dog is to keep the livestock from wandering too far from their grazing area. Regardless of the precise role of the herding dog, it remains that the act of herding plays off of the natural predatory instincts of the canine. Of course, many breeds of dog have lost these instincts over thousands of years of being bred for other roles. However, any dog can be tested for herding instincts in order to determine their suitability for work as a herding dog.
It should be noted that while both are often referred to as “sheep dogs”, there is a difference between dogs that are trained to herd versus dogs who are trained to guard livestock against natural predators. To add to this confusion, some dogs are expected to perform both roles. For a guard dog, the guarding instincts for which they have been bred will make a good fit for guarding livestock. However, many guard dogs today are taken from traditional shepherd breeds such as the German Shepherd, or Belgian Malinois. Dogs from these breeds are likely to still have strong herding instincts, and may be a good fit for herding livestock.
Tuesday, August 17th, 2010
Hundreds of years ago dogs were only kept on farms, and were not permitted within the confines of city life. Today, it is a very different story; dogs are seen accompanying humans in all places and filling a variety of roles in human society. While different dogs perform a variety of different jobs, they all have one form of training in common: obedience training. Obedience is the key factor that has allowed us to integrate canines into our society so effectively. Without obedience, there is no control, and without control, your dog cannot reliably perform its job. Schutzhund emphasises the importance of obedience training in all of its exercises. Sch3 titled dogs are required to show exemplary obedience. Unfortunately, other sports such as KNPV allow for obedience that is just good enough to pass. While protection work and agility are certainly very important, obedience should always come first.
Unlike protection work and tracking, which take advantage of the natural tendencies in canine behavior, obedience training is very unnatural for a dog to learn. Because of this, training obedience can be very stressful on a dog if not done correctly. When we deliver our personal protection dogs, we tell all of our clients to perform quick ten-minute obedience exercises with their dog each day. This not only improves the dog’s obedience, but also helps build a strong bond and sense of leadership between the handler and the canine. In a ten-minute training session, the dog should be able to complete a sit, down, come heel and stay, about 20 times each. Keeping the sessions short and quick helps reduce the stress on your dog. Remember to use a strong and commanding voice during these exercises. Done five times a week, this becomes 100 repetitions of each command; over a month, it becomes 400. Keep doing the math, and you will find that this leads to a happier, more balanced dog with very strong obedience.
I am very fortunate to have the luxury of walking my dogs each and every day on the street. I walk my dogs at least five miles a day, and not a day goes by that I won’t someone won’t pass us with their own dog. Although my dogs don’t pose as a threat to those who walk past us, people always react the same: they immediately stop, and tighten the lead. This reaction is the exact opposite of what one should do. By doing this, one only builds suspicion in their dog. One must use common sense when walking their dog. This means having a loose lead and to have movement, not to stop. Remember: a loose lead shows control, a tight lead shows no control. To some, this is common sense, but common sense is often not so common.
Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
The burger bite, meaning “live bite” in Dutch, is a very serious bite to train and test in the canine world. We at Command Control K9 test all of our protection dogs before we deliver them. One would be very surprised by how many personal protection dogs there are in the world that will not take a burger bite. The majority of the dogs that we test are equipment orientated. This is fake security; even if one uses a new hidden sleeve, the dog can smell the jute. We all know that a criminal does not come into your home with a bite suite on. We at Command Control K9 have no interest in a dog that is fixated on the sleeve or bite suit. It may look good in the sporting world, but it has no purpose in the real world.
To test for a burger bite, one must be a very experienced decoy, also known as a helper. This is not something one would fool around with. I’ve seen too many people get seriously hurt with these exercises. To do the exercise properly, the decoy/helper will take an old, thin phone book and wrap it around the forearm with duct tape, then take an old sweater, or jacket, and slip it over. It is very important that you not only use a lead, but also have communication between the decoy and the handler.
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
The Koninklijke Nederlandse Politiehond Vereniging, or KNPV, is one of the most popular dog sports in the world. Handlers put an incredible amount of time and effort into training their dogs to participate in KNPV, and often do so strictly out of enjoyment, and passion for the sport. Once a dog has received its first title, known as KNPV PH1, the handler has a choice of either continuing training with the dog in order to attempt to gain more specialised titles, or to sell the dog as police protection dog.
While KNPV was originally created in Holland as a way of training and testing potential police dogs, the reality is that the training a dog receives for KNPV isn’t sufficient for real work alongside a police officer, or as a personal protection dog. The dog essentially has to be re-trained in order for it to make the transition properly.
The first step in re-training a KNPV dog for personal protection is to fill in any gaps in obedience training. While KNPV dogs are taught to heel properly, many are never taught to sit. Training for obedience takes time and patience. It is best to start slowly, leaving the dog in a “sit-stay”, and only taking a few short steps away. Gradually work up to greater distances and more distractions.
Correcting bite-work in KNPV dogs is extremely important. In KNPV, a dog is allowed to continue biting as long as the decoy moves, so having the dog correctly release on command is essential. Start by having the decoy stop moving when the release command is given, and gradually begin adding more movement in order to associate release with the given command rather than the level of movement. Upon release, a KNPV dog will have been trained to guard the decoy. In a real life situation, this is unnecessary and may interfere with the police officers’ attempts to subdue and handcuff the apprehended criminal after the release command has been given. It is important not to immediately correct the dog for behavior it has been specifically trained to do. This will only create stress and anxiety in the dog. It may be necessary to put the dog on a long lead, and calmly pull the dog out of guard after a release. Being able to call off the dog is also very important.
Finally, a KNPV dog must be re-trained to correctly track and search. A KNPV dog will have already been trained to track human scent from the ground, but must be re-trained to do article searches, and to indicate at the article rather than mouthing it.
Whether you’re training your German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois to be a guard dog, police dog or personal protection dog, it is important to remember that KNPV is just a sport. Working in the real world requires training for real world scenarios.
Thursday, June 10th, 2010
In today’s world, the risk of cancer is incredibly high. Thankfully, society has been working harder than ever in the effort towards cancer prevention and treatment. Considering the importance behind early detection of cancer, the thought that a canine might be able to detect early signs of cancer by scent alone is extremely promising.
The idea that a dog’s sense of smell might be powerful enough to detect cancer took off after a victim of skin cancer noticed their canine repeatedly sniffing and showing an interest in a skin lesion, which turned out to be melanoma. It is well known that certain breeds of dog are able to detect certain chemicals in the air in quantities as low as parts per trillion, and considering that certain cancers release specific toxins not released by healthy cells, it may be entirely possible for a dog to detect cancer. Over the past 4 years, there have only been a couple studies testing the theory that a dog can detect cancer in a patient. While both studies have had promising results, showing a rate of accuracy as high as 88%, they were both only preliminary tests, and used only a small sample of the population.
Regardless of whether or not a dog is actually able to detect cancer by scent, it remains that any type of sniffer dog must be specifically trained for that purpose. However, the incident that originally sparked interest in cancer detection brings up an interesting point about dogs, such as personal protection dogs, that work closely with their owners; canines are incredibly in-tune with the health of their handlers. Whether or not your German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois has been specifically trained to sniff out cancer, there is a good chance that it will recognize and respond to any kind of illness.
Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
Dogs bred and trained to be guard dogs or protection dogs are often among the strongest, most agile and most intelligent dogs in the world. While these are all necessary traits for a working dog, it means that your German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois guard dog is far more capable of escaping its dog crate than a standard house pet.
The act of escaping confinement is usually not out of a dislike for the crate itself. Canines, by nature, feel safe and secure in confined places, and often enjoy relaxing in their crates. However, escaping the dog crate can become somewhat of a game to your dog. It is a self-rewarding experience that your dog will repeat. In the event that your canine escapes his crate, it is extremely important that you take immediate action to prevent further escapes. If you move your dog directly to a more secure crate after repeated successful escapes, it may injure itself in an attempt to escape the new crate.
The weakest parts of a crate are the hinges on the gate, and the latch. If your guard dog has escaped its crate, it is most likely that it has done so by pulling on the gate to bend the hinges, or by knocking the latch out of place. In both cases, a more expensive aluminum crate will be much harder for the dog to escape from, but more important than the crate is ensuring that the dog’s behavior is corrected. Securing the gate with cable ties, or bungee chords will make it more difficult for your dog to escape, and can be implemented immediately after your dog’s first escape, or sooner as a preventative measure. Positioning the crate with the gate against a wall or solid surface can also help prevent further escapes. It is important that your dog associate the crate with a calm and relaxed state of mind rather than an energetic or playful one, and removing the reward of escape can help accomplish this.
Purchasing a more expensive crate may prevent further escapes, but it may also cause your guard dog to injure itself. With proper training and reinforcement, your German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois will view the crate as a place of sleep and relaxation rather than a challenge or game to be overcome.
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