Dobermann in Schutzhund

The most important considerations in training dogs in Protection are the drives and the nerve threshold of the particular animal. The Dobermann is most often a dog with a more defensive or lower nerve threshold. A Labrador, for example, is a dog with a high nerve threshold, and little or no aggression. The lower threshold was bred into the Dobermanns for many generations and for good reason. Around the world, the Dobermann is considered a first rate home companion/protection dog for this very reason. Their intelligence, combined with the ability to recognize a threat makes them excellent companions and protectors of man. In Schutzhund training, the courage test calls for a dog with more of an offensive, rather than defensive, attitude. In other words, the dog should be excited to chase his prey and catch it before it gets away. A more defensive dog is best at preventing entry into his territory; thus the term "territorial aggression." There are few dogs which look more impressive behind a door, or staring out a window than a Dobermann. They were specifically bred to protect man from man. Usually, and with little or no formal protection training, once mature, they will protect their master in his home, his yard, or in his vehicle. Sometimes, however, what makes them great at performing one task, presents a problem for them when they are asked to perform another. Specifically: the long distance attack! In order to successfully train Dobermanns for the long distance attack, or Courage Test, we have to change their thinking. Anyone who has ever owned or trained a Dobermann knows very well that they are a thinking breed. Lower threshold dogs get aggressive easily with very little stimulation. So, we can begin right away to channel their drives into prey. Because the Dobermann responds so well to agitation, it's important not to over stress them with civil agitation. Continuous defense leads to avoidance. The helper must become the dog's friend. Just like a sparring partner in boxing, the dog must trust the helper. On leash, the Dobermann bites impressively because his handler is beside him and he feels secure. The further the dog gets from his handler, the more unsure he becomes. This is typical of all lower threshold type dogs. What we must do is make the dog feel safe at progressively longer distances from the handler, by taking the defensive threat out of the situation and, by making the dog excited to chase his prey and take it from the helper. In the trial, the helper comes straight towards the dog in a threatening manner. In training, 90% of the time, the helper must back up and try to get away from the dog. When the dog bites, the helper, the helper as well as the handler, must praise the dog to teach him that there is no chance for him to be hurt. The dog always wins his prey. The long line is an invaluable tool for this training. It acts as the umbilical cord, connecting dog and handler. When practicing long distance bites, the handler runs with the dog, holding the long line. Approximately 20 feet before the dog reaches the helper, the handler lets the line loose, but does not let go. Once the dog bites the sleeve, the handler pulls on the line and the dog feels the handler is close by. Of course, the line is attached to a flat, buckle collar or to a harness, and not to a correction collar. In this way, the dog learns to bite as confidently at long distances as he does on the leash. This training improv