Discussion in 'The Dog Breeds' started by mrose_s, Oct 15, 2013.
This bears repeating. :hail:
Exactly. I go out of my way to tell people about the issues of the breeds, especially as I seem to have one who is WAY outside the norm for either breed. It's hard for people to reconcile the spinning leaping snapping clothes grabbing pacing biting dervish that she is when she's not working to the quiet dog snoring under the table, but I do my best to tell people that these breeds are not for everyone, nor should you run out and get one because you want a dog that will protect your property or your home or even you.
Don't hate on me for say this... mals are definitely a learning curve. But in working with mals and people who have many mals...
When you see drive leaking (which to me is wasted energy, not conducive to working), some of it is genetic yes (some dogs raised equally are more likely to exhibit these behaviours than others), but most of it is rewarded, whether knowingly or unknowingly.
Some of the management is teaching them how to cap drive in obedience, for sure. And it takes time and maturity for them to learn self control to do this well (and for handlers to learn the proper timing and what to ask for).
But a lot of it is created by accepting it. I am not talking about physically or verbally correcting them for doing the **** you don't like. With some mals the correction can actually be reinforcing (there are dogs that love a good physical fight, or even just any attention), and others might send you for stitches, but mostly this will just drain your energy and get you know where, especially when they are in high drive. The main thing I'm talking about here is don't reward crap. Don't reward stickiness, don't reward half-assed responses, don't reward ambiguity, don't reward distracted responses, don't reward anything that resembles drive leaking while training other stuff. If you get drive leaking crap, don't continue one more step to do what you are doing next (especially work related) as this is inadvertently (and strongly) rewarding the crap that lead up to the next step in the chain. If you aren't having success and you can't get something to reward, you are asking too much in that environment. It is really just that simple. It is foundation. It is training them to listen and think clearly (this doesn't come naturally to many high drive dogs) in a high state of drive. Again this is not about corrections, this is about rewarding them thoughtfully, teaching them that they can get what they want through listening and responding. It's about not tiptoeing around drive and moving so slow so you can manage their reactions. Setting them up to be right, and resetting them if they are doing something you really don't like, not waiting out the bad **** that just compounds for years.
My friend has a mal pup right now that is higher than a kite when it comes to do anything that has to do with bitework. Like choke yourself out in a harness screaming for a bite kind of pup. Explode in frustration on whoever is in the path if he doesn't get what he wants. Part of this was driving building for the sport he is training. We want him to be full of himself confident. But clearheadedness is also important. He is mature enough now at 7 months to start asking him to use his head. Outside of the bitework scene he is learning a pretty nice obedience foundation so it was time to combine the two pictures he knows into "life". So we worked on teaching him to think while amped up. Ask for a sit, something simple, easy to do, easy to gage.
First try, my friend asks for a sit, the dog is glued onto his prize, a bite wedge I am holding, he squeals and lunges to the end of his collar. Oops, too bad for you, no reward marker, toy goes away, turn him around, try again. Try again. Ask for a sit, pup slowly seats his bum down. Goood boy. A bit of verbal praise, all done, toy goes away, turn around, reset him again. Many people would reward here. Maybe depending on the dog I would, but this dog can handle a bit of frustration and has snappy obedience outside of bitework, so I KNOW he knows better. Let's try again. Nice try, turn around. Third try, ask for a sit, the dog frustrated a bit (frustration is part of learning), sits crisply, right away on cue and boom! YES you're right pup, here's reward, what a smart boy, let's savour this. No long intervals of crappy distracted heeling around the toy, no high number or repetitions. We let him win, be thoroughly rewarded for his thoughtful response. Repeat this set up, this time right up next to his wedge, boom he is right again. Long reward, let him really savour this. Ok session complete.
That is just an example of keeping in mind clarity at high arousal and even deliberately training for it. From what I observe in mal owners. Some people do this naturally. Hold high expectations, have good instinct when to give and when not. Some people need to work on this, and make the mistakes and figure it out.
This was long winded and I apologize, but I wanted to give a training example just to show the simplicity of what I am trying to explain now. Whatever working breed you consider, remember they are still a dog, don't put their abilities or shortcomings on a pedestal. No they are not uncontrollable beasts. But you need to be constantly observant. Little training decisions have huge impacts immediately and down the road. If it seems simple, it's because it is simple, but it's not easy to carry out all the time. They are always on so you have to be also. IF observing everything about what's going on with a dog isn't a habit well rehearsed enough to be second nature, it is truly exhausting. That is why they aren't for beginners.
If you are looking for a dog to help reactive dogs I strongly strongly recommend going with a mature rescue that can demonstrate those characteristics (non reactive, self confident, perhaps lower resting energy, etc). They exist in the breeds you are looking at but are not common and the chance of getting a working pup that will grow up to be an ideal dog for your work will be slim. Perhaps look for a working washout over the age of 2-3 (or older to be safe that they are mentally mature, some of these shepherds can be slow to mature).
The one thing I tell people who are considering a malinois (or other likely to be high drive dog) is that you have to realllllly want this, and if you have any doubts at all, wait. They aren't some holy grail of dog training (to me motivating a low drive dog is wayyyy more challenging and frustrating) but they are time consuming to the point I would call them a lifestyle choice, lol.
Good thread guys. Its an interesting read
I guess I need to clarify some things. I AM NOT looking for a dog solely to raise for the purpose of throwing reactive dogs at its it's entire life. Like Adrianne mentioned... I see this as a bonus. Main focus first and foremost is careful, appropriate ongoing socialisation with dogs of known and "stable" (for lack of a better word) temperaments.
That being said - in the coming years as things expand we will probably be in a better situation to be saying yes to the adult dogs that come through rescue that may be suitable for this purpose. However this works out, it's not my main focus but at the training centres it can sometimes be helpful to have another dog around if need be that we can let new dogs approach and discuss behaviour.
... it will be a cold day in hell before you see me with a hound.
Don't think I look at any of these breeds as "easy" dogs in the layman's sense of the word. I am not expecting to get a dog and it just fall into step with me with minimum assistance.
I don't expect to get a dog and not have to take into account a lot of things from day one and have things I need to be working hard on.
I know which breed/line/litter/dog will likely unfold over the next couple of years as I A) am getting ready for another pup and B) am really rounding the corner on Quinn's issues.
But looking at how far Quinn has come in the last couple of years, I can live with issues and I've faced some hard stuff with her. Her genetics are crap. She was timid even as a puppy. On top of this I was terrified of her having a bad experience and becoming dog reactive so she received very little appropriate socialisation.
She ran away with the tug so I tended to train more with food... she does have decent (for a pet dog) drive. But after her extreme reactivity that popped up at 7 months old... it's been a long hard road getting her to reliably go for the tug.
Some of the trainers I know look at her tugging and scoff at me saying she's not into it but what they are looking at is a hell of a lot of work to get her into it.
She's nervy, timid, has very low thresholds and doesn't have the drive to shut out the world.
At 9 months old I first realised we had a bit of an issue. We were at our first seminar and she was crated behind me. Someone started tugging with their dog and she just lost it, barking, screaming, throwing herself against the crate.
Over the next day she proceeded to behave the same whenever she saw a dog tug, run (at any distance away from her - if she could see it she'd just fly out) or even start a heeling pattern because you know... they were working and she wanted in or something like that. I ended up leaving her in my cabin for most of the seminar because even if the crate was totally covered, if she heard a marker word or heard dog feet moving quickly she'd fly into her crate bashing, screaming self.
This turned into the same super reactivity about a lot of motion and dog related things. People throwing/kicking balls, dogs breaking stays, seeing dogs greet each other face to face, a dog being verbally corrected. One day in class she just lost it because there was a kid throwing a washcloth into the air and catching it, she couldn't get her head back on the for the rest of the class.
High-5's were banned in the house until she was 18 months old because if she heard the slapping sound she'd come running from anywhere and jump up and nip before she could think. She dragged the speakers off the computer table once because I was reading an e-mag and when I turned pages it made a weird sound.
I couldn't have people around because every time they stood up/walked/looked at her she would fly into a barking mess. When she wasn't reacting out of fear she was hiding in doorways and slinking around waiting to get a fright again.
Anywhere new that I took her was terrifying, she was anxious, slinking around and I could tell when out walking she was just shutting me out.
That was pretty much the first 2 years of her life.
It's been a year now that I've been getting some really good advice and taking things a bit differently with her. I've changed a lot in how I interact with her and I'm so greatful for the guidance I've had.
She is very human friendly now, I had to actually teach her not to jump on people because she is so much more comfortable now. She knows a lot of people that she is crazy about and even when meeting strangers she is normally just happy to see them. There are still a few people that she remembers from "her old life" when they were scary but for the most part, her timidity and fear of people is a thing of the past.
Last week we had small class numbers so I ran her in our Advanced class. She didn't break one stay, not with dogs breaking around her, not with people verbally correcting their dogs, not with multiple dogs being recalled around her. When released she drove straight for the tug and held her grip even while moving through the middle of a group of dogs, many distracted and wanting to approach her because she was growling and tugging.
18 months ago she couldn't even grip the tug properly in the presence of other dogs.
Her general anxiety when out in the big bad world has all but disappeared, she always has an ear on me when out and she isn't constantly looking over her shoulder.
She's gone from being snappy and fearful of other dogs to being somewhat dog selective but is re-learning that she can move away when she wants to. Some dogs she loves from day dot, my trainers GSD she tolerates very well now but I don't think she'll ever love him.
I was watching her running with him and another trainers PomX the other day after training and I said that I think with her dog issues the ball has finally started to roll. We talk about creating a ball out of good experiences and then trying to get it to start rolling and get momentum. My handling and dealing with her DR over the last few months has gotten better and I think I am finally starting to see what feels like one of the last "big hurdles" being climbed over.
She still does come running when she hears me turn the washing machine knob but I think we'll have some things forever. She's been an awesome dog to learn from and I have learnt a great, great deal from her and I know I will learn a lot more from her in future.
But considering when I got her my thoughts were on "Easy to train" and "agility" and thinking she would just follow all the rules I had in my head for the timeline of her training, it's been an emotional few years to say the least.
So what I'm trying to say is, I want an "easy" dog in comparison to some of that stuff. And I know a lot (if not all) of that stuff could have been completley avoided through A) getting a dog with more solid genetics and B) just dealing with her first 6 - 12 months in a completely different manner.
I know none of the three breeds being discussed are a walk in the park, and I have no desire to own a dog like that. I ofcourse expect some issues, there always will be when you want a dog that is a bit more "dog", I just don't want to have to put everything old hold for several years again while I undo a big mess I created.
Sorry for the novel, brownie points if you read it.
I have no firsthand knowledge of the breeds in question (other than to know that they are not for me-lol), but having dealt with a reactive dog and going through multiple reactive dog classes and privates I definitely agree with the above. Not many dogs of any breed can fulfill that type of role to begin with, and I think it would be a major gamble to get a pup from a breed like mals or dutchies and expect to raise it for that activity successfully.
I just saw this thread so thought I would add my two cents
We have Mals and GSDs at K9 Pro (as you would know) and we work with both a lot of the time with our clients. I find GSDs tend to be harder to the handler but don't have as much drive as Mals, mals have more drive and tend to be more handler submissive. The natural handler submissiveness of mals that suits me more than GSDs.
I like how Mals are smaller and generally have more prey drive, I believe our Mals will equal or surpass the drive of any other dog. Regarding using them for reactive dogs - I would bring Wisdom out as a distraction for clients and their reactive and aggressive dogs several times a week. I don't get her to interact with the other dogs, but she will do heel work and stays around them. She doesn't miss a beat.
I think regardless of if you go with a WL GSD or Mal both dogs require a lot of work and commitment, having a Mal has been a huge learning curve for me, but I could never have any other breed now, they are so addictive and just the best dogs to work IMO! Like any dog choosing the right lines are critical. Feel free to PM me if you have any Mal specific questions, regarding the lines we have here. We will have a litter hopefully due later this year which won't be good timing for you, but I'm happy to answer any questions you have