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Crazy Doberman's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-09

How old do puppies have to be before they start Schutzhund training. I was talking to a friend the other day, and when I told him that I got a doberman, he told me to start schutzhund training right now. At 8 weeks? What?! I'm kinda confused right now...

KevinK's picture
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Joined: 2010-07-15

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If you want to be competitive, you need to start early, and do it right.  If you don't know how to do it, make sure you have a qualified trainer.  Down the road, it is very, very difficult to fix mistakes, as opposed to teaching it right in the beginning.  Serious sch. dogs are many times raised differently, with lots of drive building, confidence building, etc.

Is your dog from working lines?  Not all dogs will be suitable for sch training, especially if they are not from working lines.

As soon as you get him home!!!

Start with his tracking. In the morning when there's still dew on the grass, walk a big circle (about 15 feet in diameter) placing a small piece of cheese, liver, weiner or pieces of his kibble in every foot step. Do this when he's hungry. Just let him find the food on his own. Teaches him that there's a reward within your scent track. No scent no reward. Over time start making big esses.

Get him a puppy tug toy (a leather puppy bite rag is great for this) and tie it on the end of a thin rope (cloths line like) and let him chase it around and catch it. Gently play tug o war, letting him have it after a few seconds. Never jerk it out of his mouth, you don't want to cause any mouth pain at all but if he lets it go make him chase it some more then let him catch it, tug o war. Teaches him to bite and hold on to his toy which will one day be the sleeve. This will not make him aggressive.

EVERY TIME he looks you in the eye, treat him!!! This will one day turn into attention on YOU. Carry treats in your pocket so you won't miss a glance. Everything is reward based. Absolutly NO corrections of any kind at this point. Do it right, reward, Don't do it right, move on. 

Don't forget to socialize him. Expose him to EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY (after his vaccines are in place) so that nothing is new or strange. Read up on the sport, find a club.

A schutzhund puppy is a wild child puppy. You want that exuberance. There are alot of things that a schutzhund puppy gets away with that most puppys don't but when you get to the 7, 8, 9 month stage, he'll be better behaved than 99% of dogs his age on the planet and happy to be that way.

Yes, start now!! with his introduction into the sport.

Gunny

Crazy Doberman's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-09

Ok, Wonderful! I already know a VERY reputable trainer who is in Germany right now. I got a schutzhund training book so that's also taken care of...

Yes, this Doberman comes from working lines. Actually, the breeder showed us her lineage. Lots of police dogs. One even had 6 different competition titles- including a BH and Shutzhund 3.

Kyros's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-20

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So, at 6 months, I missed the opportunity?

cuddlbug00's picture
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Joined: 2012-03-06

Great info gun_slinger!!! I always wondered how everyone starts out their schutzhund dogs! I really really want to do schutzhund with my next dobie.

amandap's picture
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Joined: 2012-02-23

Did I miss out on the opp too? Magnum is 5 months old now. He is in intermediate training classes with a lady who has done all kinds of Dobie traning (as well as countless other breeds). His classes should end in two weeks and then I am taking a break for the holidays and then will be back at it for the advanced.

I think different clubs and trainers do things different ways. In the club I train our  leader is also a Schutzhund judge who prides himself in the tracking part of it. He is EXTREMELY particular how the tracking is started and the way it was described above is not what he would allow us to do. Im not saying this to criticize at all just letting you know that all clubs do things differently and the training varies from trainer to trainer, club to club. It is harder to fix things than to have the dog learn things properly from the beginning. The important thing is to find a club to start with and ask their opinion on what to do and not to do.

I'm going to mention this again my dog is from total show lines I bred this litter with the intention of doing Schutzhund with the dog I kept. As a breeder I wanted to show that show lines could work with  correct raising and training. While raising my litter I did things to build there drive and confidence which is so important. My male I have now shows great promise with the sport and loves it. There is not one of the puppies from our litter that would not have made it with what I'm doing today. The important part of what Im trying to say is it is possible if you know what your doing to raise and train a dog correctly to do the sport regardless of Euro, working, or show lines. It is all in how they are raised and trained "FOR THE MOST PART" there are some that show little to no working capabilities. I do think what is done in the whelping box plays a huge part of it as well as breeding good stable stock.

I believe the most important thing to start with puppies are the developing the toy drive. Continuing the confidence building as well as developing toy/prey drive is key. gunslinger gave an EXCELLENT idea for building the toy/ prey drive that is so important. This is really KEY in the beginning! The toy that you use for this should not be something that they are allowed to play with casually or without you. It is a high reward toy and the most fun thing that they are going to be able to play with. Puppy always wins the game of tug this also builds the confidence. When mine were little and we started the tugging I would play slap their sides sometimes using a rolled newspaper. Note they were never hurt but it was all in play, it made them more intense and into getting that darn tug. I also use my hands over the head touching and lightly tapping all over the body this helps to desensitize them for the rough play ahead.

Another important thing is to never let them be afraid of things. Your reaction to your dogs reaction of things is equally as important. Puppies go through fear stages naturally and it is so important that you dont coddle them and help them approach things with great confidence! If mine as puppies shy from something immediately I say lets go see with a happy confident voice. I treat them as they approach whatever it is we are checking out telling them good lets go see. Now the minute mine here the phrase lets go see it brings excitement to them. Confidence is so important!  

5 and 6mo are not to old to start but it is important to note that you could have diminished some of the prey/play drive and the confidence so strongly sought after with previous training.

At 8 weeks old your puppy will be to young to take to a training field and do much of anything, but YOU should go to a club and meet the people ask questions and see how they build the drive with toys. Start the right way and you will be happy you did later. In my opinion building drive and confidence properly is the key to any Schutzhund foundation.

 

BTW gunslinger you mentioned 6,7 8 mo they should be better trained than most LOL. My wild child is finally getting more under control and he will be 3 in a few weeks.

RND again congratulations on Romeo's BH. Jax will be going for his this coming March. He'll be 23 months then. I'm sure I'll have a picture with the same look on my face as you did...lol.

To all of those who asked if they are too late at 5 and 6 months? IMO, I don't think so. It's better to start very young but with propper training techniques, I don't see why not. Like RND said, find a club and go talk with them. Watch them train, ask them questions. It's well worth looking into.

Gunny

 

talisin's picture
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Joined: 2011-02-25

I have a question concerning this training, it's more for reference knowledge than anything else - for those with experience in this type of training - is it possible to have this high drive for toy/prey and still have a dog that is ok with small dogs and/or cats in the home??? this has always been a question of mine and now working with rotties in rescue we are getting some beautiful rotties in and some have some extensive training - so far not in Schutzhund but I know the day is coming and I would like to know your opinion of small animals and this type of training... Thanks!!!

Yes it is, it is all how they are raised. If they are raised in the home with them and they know their boundries and what is expected then it is not a problem. Mine lives with a chihuahua.

talisin's picture
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Joined: 2011-02-25

Thank you!!! gotta love those chihuahua's hahahaha.......that's good to know makes me feel much better and adds to my knowledge base.....

Anubis23's picture
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Joined: 2012-08-28

Talisan my boy is a schutzhund work in progress, we have been doing it for a while. He knows the difference just by the way the helpers are working with him between home and the 'work field' in fact before I started this training he was a bit of a hellian with everyone and everything. Now he has this outlet once a week or so and he leaves my cat alone and is very good with my nieces. Schutzhund itself is designed to raise these dogs the way they are supposed to be with capped, controlled drive and to the dog it is basically a big ol' game of tug. It builds confidence and courage and teaches the dogs what to do with all of these 'feelings' that would otherwise be seen as lashing out or aggression in the future. It was and still is intended really to be partly a breeding or specimin test for these types of working dogs. There are a few rotties in our club and we love them. They develop a little slower than German shepherds and they are primarily defense dogs like dobermans which is why they need a skilled, trainer that won't treat them like a shepherd or they break. I've seen it it's not fun. 

 

Schutzhund is a very fun sport and has kind of taken over my life! If you are interested in it I would say give it a try it is loads of fun and it builds happy, balanced dogs when done right. If you are looking for a trainer ask them if they know how to train and work with defence primary dogs. Shepherds are prey primary and there is a difference in the way they learn and need to be treated. And when these dogs are treated like prey dogs or shepherds they will melt into a pile of pudding and it's just easier to do it right from the beginning. I am sure your rescues would love playing the game and always winning! 

 

Anubis23's picture
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Joined: 2012-08-28

Crazy doberman,

You can start as early as you can and it's never too late either unless they physically can't do it. 

At a young age they are just going to have fun, build drive and confidence that the dog will need and is harder to build later. But when done from the beginning as the dog slips into it's teen years you will really see that confidence come out and no one wants or needs a fearful or insecure dog. So even for pet dogs I think it's good for them. Because the fears and insecurities they learn young will not manifest until about 7 months to a year and by then it's a much bigger problem. But if you want to compete and start early you will be very happy at how fast your dog will progress assuming his training is done well.