Archive for the ‘Omorrow German Shepherds’ Category

The main focus of my canine-training, is, and always has been, scent-detection/Search & Rescue and nose work.  Barely 2% of my time is spent with Protection, bite work, or anything of that type.  Yes, we play some fairly aggressive games with our dogs, answering their need to express their “Prey Drive” emotion adequately.  These games involve lots of Tugging games, Goose-chasing, (I balk at calling this “herding” because Hans likes to go straight ahead and make the buggers fly off in a panic, rather than round them up), and occasionally some sleeve work, to keep his skills sharp.  But when you have a large, black, german shepherd, non dog-people will always assume that he is a Trained Weapon of Mass Destruction.  And even if he is, they will have a completely mis-guided, uninformed idea of what it takes for a dog to do protection work.

There will always be that type of person that observes a working dog performing protection work, that say’s, “I gotta have me one of those…”  Not only do such people completely misunderstand the work, the responsibility, and the sweat-equity involved in such training, but they demonstrate their COMPLETE ignorance of dogs.  (By the way, The National Rant Service is hereby issuing a “Impending Rant Warning” for this blogsite effective immediately)

The question that set this off went this way,  verbatim:  “How do you make your dog mean enough to do Attack Dog stuff?”  If this was a one time only, unique question, I probably would have given a calm answer.  Explained the truth behind what we do…but the question, and the assumption, keeps rearing it’s ugly head.  It’s time that it was addressed…

Yes Virginia, there are Mean dogs.  They might also be called “abused” dogs, not-withstanding physically ill or mentally damaged specimens.  Such dogs are to be found tied-out behind garages, shut in cages, or simply abused by ignorant and evil humans.  This is often how members of the “Innocently ignorant” public feel about dogs trained as protectors, or sport dogs.  They must be “Mean” in order to do protection work…(This is where my aneurysm starts).

Let me be succint.  A Dog that is “Mean”, is an untrained dog and has no right to the title, “Protection Trained.”  An owner that goads, teases, or abuses a dog to the degree that it is “Mean”, reactive, or untrustworthy around other living souls, is an evil person.  They are not “trainers”, “Handlers”, or any other sort of “Expert”.  In fact, if you train dogs by being abusive, you are wholly, morally bankrupt.  And mentally deficient in more ways than I can say…Don’t call yourself a Dog Trainer.  Ever.

Now, back to my calm, professional demeanor…

Most trainers of true “protection” dogs are producing dogs that will fit into the mold you could easily call “family” dogs.  These dogs are calm, obedient, social, and love children.  They are also healthy, mentally and physically.  Yes, when so directed, they will do what must be done to protect and serve their family.  But you will rarely see this displayed, because the dog is “trained”.  Normally, I fall back on my own dogs as examples, but this time I want you to meet a dog and trainer that meets these standards perfectly!  The dog’s name is “Valko”.  He is dark sable German Shepherd.  He was trained by one of the finest trainers on planet earth, Mr. Wade Morrell of Ohio.   The dog is sharp and tough, and will fight like a lion under the proper conditions and permission of his handler.  He has earned his “Protection Dog” title.  This same dog, was recently placed into a family, to serve his purpose.  (I’m not using names, because they don’t know I’m using them here.)  The family has young boys, about 5 and 9 years of age.  Too watch this family with this dog, you would be lead to believe that that they’ve owned the dog since it’s birth.  They are, impressively, bonded as a family circle.  No small feat, as this is pretty much the family’s first dog.  The big Shepherd watches over those children with the eye of a Guardian, as well as the parents.  Out in public, the dog is social, even gentle, to new people that are given approval.  “Valko” is obedient to a fault, but retains something that tells you he is still a “Dog”, given to stealing corndogs, and rolling over expecting belly rubs from any available fingers.  Can I give any higher praise to a “Protection Dog”?  I don’t believe it possible…

This short example is just one example of the many finely trained protection dogs out there.  There is no “Mean” about them…Only protective, and very capable of stopping harm to his own.  This is a topic I could write on long, and enthusiastically.  But I’m going to end it on this note:

“Properly trained, a Human Being can be a Dog’s Best Friend”.

"Mean?"  Or well-trained?  Don't jump to conclusions.

“Mean?” Or well-trained? Don’t jump to conclusions.


No subject obsesses dog owners more than how to feed a proper diet to their dog.  Sadly, it’s a subject that causes as many fights and quarrels as training methods.  Facebook has several Raw feeding/BARF pages,(Biologically Appropriate Raw Food), as well as links to other groups and pages.  Some of these pages are quite friendly, and really do seek to help, and discuss the subject.  This one is my particular favorite.  And this is the online magazine that Erica Danow is behind.  I can’t find a more even keeled and informative website anywhere on this important subject

I really have enjoyed the pages that Erica  has set up on FB, as well as her Raw Instinct Magazine website…

Other sites, which I will not dignify with identification, have a “My way or the Highway” approach.  Perfect!!   Just what the Dog World needs…More reasons to fight and carry on…It’s tiresome and really quite off-putting.  But, we still have freedom of speech…at least for the moment.  I’m only going to express my disdain of these websites and pages by NOT MENTIONING their names.  On with the meat of the matter…(Raw meat, specifically, organ meat)

I did not start out as a Raw diet feeder.  And I’m still NOT doing it 100%  My reasons are  probably typical, (Assume whiney voice)…”It’s too much work!”, “It’s Expensive”, “I didn’t have time to visit the butcher…”, “I’m on the road so much…”(We do Search & Rescue work), “I need to figure out what else we can add to supplement…”    You’ve heard these and more yourself, maybe even said them yourself.  Truth be told, all of these things are true…But the more I switch over, the benefits to my dogs are so striking, that it all falls away like chaff.  Let me address these whiney excuses one at a time:

“It’s Too Much Work”-  Oh shut your pie-hole!  Raw meat, maybe a few pieces of sweet potato, (my dogs love them!) a dollop of plain yogurt occasionally, green beans…It doesn’t take any longer than dumping a bowl of toxic kibble into a bowl and then praying that your dog will eat it.  Another surprise I got was the enthusiasm which the furkids attack a Raw meal…Hesitation?  I don’t think so…As you practice and collect new ideas, it becomes simpler and more routine.

“It’s Expensive!”-  Lets see, in my case, two German Shepherds equals roughly two and a half large bags of “Premium” kibble per month.  That’s about $190.00 each month.  Then add in the expense of treating their itchy skin, hotspots, and nasty tartar build up in their teeth.  Add another $300.00 in Vet Bills.  Then, consider the long term medical effects of feeding overcooked, under nourishing kibble, and you can add another $5000.00 to $10,000.00 amortized over 10 years.  With a little creativity and learning, Raw feeding can be done quite nicely for around $200.00 per month.  But that’s me…Some spend more, some spend less. Hey, here’s a crazy idea…STOP Spending $8.00 on a Starbucks Cup-O-Sludge!!  Again, the savings from Vet bills can be substantial.  AND, Your dog will be much happier!

“I’m on the road so much!”   My personal stand by excuse.  Ever hear of a gadget called the Coleman Cooler?  Used by hillbillies with 4th grade educations everyday of the summer to keep beer cold while floating down a river on an inner-tube!  Surely you can figure out a way to use one in your Ford Expedition or Chevy Malibu.  (Maybe not in a Fiat, but why would you want a car smaller than the cooler and with less horsepower anyway?)  They even have these coolers that plug-in to your dash and make their own cold air!!

“I didn’t have time to visit my butcher…”  Oh my sweet, giddy-aunt… Get over yourself and schedule your life in a more adult manner!

“I need to figure out a varied meal plan to make it interesting for the dog…”  You know what?  You’re right.  But between the resources above, and the people who hang out there, and the top-notch writing at Raw Instinct, and the friendly group on Facebook’s “Raw Health”, you should have no problem coming up with something.  Or a bunch of somethings…Hop to it, Jack! (Or Jackie as the case may be)

"Sure it's Raw, but it's still civilized!"

“Sure it’s Raw, but it’s still civilized!”

Okay, I’ve allowed myself to blow off some irreverence in this post, and you’ll notice that I’m NOT giving specific advice on WHAT to feed, or when, or how.  Please, make these resources the place for solid information.  You’ll develop your own Raw Feeding program eventually, that works for you and your dog.  You’ll find people there that make mixes of their own, you’ll find those that really go back to nature in a big way.  For instance, twice a month my dogs get freshly killed chickens, (One per customer Thank You!) feathers, beaks, and feet included.  They love it, and their health displays it!  For the squeamish, there’s a lot of alternatives.  Pick what works!!beefliver

I want to Thank my friend Dharma GSD for first getting me on the ” Road  to Raw” (Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, 1945)   My dogs health has been all the better for it, and our Vet really hates us!

"I'd build a fire and cook this, but I've got NO thumbs!  RAW it is!!"

“I’d build a fire and cook this, but I’ve got NO thumbs! RAW it is!!”

When it rains, it pours…

In the writing of German Shepherd Adventures, my most important activity is researching, learning, and applying what I learn.  Testing, Proving, and vetting every statement.  An honest writer, dog-trainer, or scientist will do all of these things with due diligence.  When research conclusions are presented, they should be based, not on popularity, pre-conceived bias on the writers part, or, in the worst cases, financial interests.  An Honest researcher will know as much, or more, about the idea’s and techniques that he is criticising than he does about the technique he defends with such fervor and supposed expertise.

Let me repeat that:   An Honest researcher will know as much, or more, about the idea’s and techniques that he is criticising than he does about the technique he defends with such fervor and supposed expertise.

The old axiom about three dog-trainers only agreeing that two of them are dead wrong, belies the notion that we are all open-minded to other opinions.  In fact, this applies to so many things beyond dog-training that the mind reels.  Ever listened to a Presidential debate?  Both sides will always agree to join hands across the aisle, in a spirit of bi-partisanship, “as long as we do things my way…”

This continue’s to be the state of dog-training.  Facebook, web-sites, and blogs are virtual battlegrounds of scorched-earth policies, and declarations of “Our side wins!” Because one side  shouts louder than the other.  Most of the warriors are faceless, and probably haven’t used a real name online since they first learned to access Facebook.  But they are the virtual spear point when someone opines something that they have been programmed to disagree with so vehemently. Others will infiltrate pages that they disagree with, and begin to attempt covert operations from within, feeling that they will change someones mind thru argument.  The subject may be Operant conditioning, Alpha theory, Cesar Millan, or whatever else the argumentative personality wants to ignite…The only real objective is to make themselves famous, (or infamous) as being the “Expert” on their method.

Don’t mis-understand me, I’m as guilty as anyone of being critical of other training methods. And occasionally the debate has been worthy of consideration.  I welcome debate that reasons and educates.   And that is exactly what has led me to institute a new policy here, and on my Facebook pages.  Let me repeat something before I illuminate this policy:

 An Honest researcher will know as much, or more, about the idea’s and techniques that he is criticising than he does about the technique he defends with such fervor and supposed expertise.

From this point on, I will continue to develop my “Communicative Approach” method, and sharing details of my evolution as a student and practitioner of “Natural Dog Training.”  You should realize that I’ve been thru and practiced any method I may criticize or question.  They have been vetted.  They have been weighed.  They have been measured.  And they have been found wanting. For my use…I don’t mind that you disagree with me, just don’t be disagreeable about it!!!

I am now pursuing a method that makes sense, works, and feels right for me and my dogs.  Go find yours.

Therefore, I will now hold to a  standard that requires any debate, argument, or criticism you want to post here or on Facebook, to follow this protocol.

First:  Prove that you are familiar and have practiced the method you are criticising for enough time that you can constructively do so.  That means, “explain to the readers what the technique is” that you are questioning.

Second: Don’t list your Academic Accolades as evidence that you are above other dog trainers in the area of intelligence.  Degrees only prove that you managed to get out of bed and show up for classes.  I know, I have them too.

Third and maybe most importantly:  Don’t begin your argument by stating that your method is best because…Without observing Protocol # 1 First.

If we all practiced this way of doing things, it will cut down on meaningless and stupid arguments.  It will certainly cast by the wayside, those who are militant or just like to start arguments for the sake of arguing.  It will reveal those people who have something valuable to contribute.  It will thoroughly vet those have walked in other people’s shoes on their journey thru dog training/behavior, and have a thorough understanding of the journey.  Such people are “Helpers”, “Mentors”…not just angry purveyors of biased opinion.  Maybe within a few months of everybody trying this approach, we’ll all be able to engage in civil dialogue…Maybe we’ll all flap our arms and fly to the moon together.

But it’s how I’m going to approach the debate from now on.

  German Shepherd Adventures is not a commercial site, and I do not sell advertising.  However, when I come across a book, DVD, or other item that I think is of interest to dog owners, I’m all over it!  I don’t receive compensation for any of it…

  Since the snow is flying nearly everywhere, this was something that we saw that just charmed us completely!  A very talented Crochet Artist by the name of Hope Lozzio has produced something so original that we just had to share it, and make it available.  Look at this German Shepherd fans!!!



  Hope owns “Awe Stitch” crochet products, and has an eye for the unusual.  She’s even managed to do Star wars Storm troopers and Minions from “Despicable Me”.    If you want to wear your German Shepherd on your Head, this is the place to visit:!/photo.php?fbid=473165726052241&set=a.473165659385581.94899.100000764541275&type=3&theater


The hats are very high quality and cost approximately $30 and shipping will be required.  Hope is really talented and might even be pressed into custom work, maybe even other breeds???  You’ll need to contact  her on Facebook!!/MoeJoesDesigns

Just another cool product that I’ve seen myself!!!!!


I have been a fairly tenacious advocate of training early, training often, and training with intent.  My dogs began training the day they came home at about 8 weeks of age.  We began with the basics, Sit, Go Potty, No Bites…you get the drift.  Shortly thereafter, I began Scent work training.  Within 6 months, we also mastered most of the CGC tests, even though the test couldn’t be taken at that age.  Everywhere we went was a test of behavior, obedience, or socialization.  Many of the books that I read strongly encouraged that “Time for training must start early, you have very little time, hurry, hurry, hurry!!!”   One of the most desperate sounding was Ian Dunbar, who seems to believe that dogs stop learning at 9 months old.  Fortunately I have learned that the mind-set and methods of Dunbar and his followers is  incomplete, and based on questionable conclusions.  Dogs can learn everyday of their life, and they do.  There’s a better way, and “Science” backs this conclusion.

I wish now that I had focused more time and attention on interactive “Play” between us during the first year.   I was fortunate in this:  My style of training was (and is) more centered on “fun” than most others.  I love watching the dogs just being dogs, chasing toys, chasing each other, playing tug-of-war with various items, digging for hidden rewards, and wrestling with me on the ground.  There is one central reason that PLAY is so important to the development of your puppy.  This ingredient will affect your relationship as a team for the life of your dog.  What is this ingredient?

           You Must Be The Most Interesting Thing In Your Dogs Life.  

Are you naturally drawn to an employer that piles work on you every minute of everyday?  Your dog, especially puppies up to about a year old, are hard-wired to Play.  It’s a combination of Exercise (or Stress Relief, a topic upcoming here) Discipline (Time to “release”  the toy) and Affection(rolling around on the floor letting the dog search you for a toy, or playing Tug are Rewards!!)  Your dog will celebrate every time you walk into the room because YOU=Playtime!!!!   This developing focus on you will create a dog/human team that are completely in tune with each other.  There will never be a problem with a distracted dog, because YOU, (Not food treats, and certainly not Clicking) will be the center of his world.

I’ve written about what follows in “German Shepherd Adventures” a couple of years ago, and it raised eyebrows in some.  That’s okay by me, because I’ve seen the results of my practice.  I’ll repeat what I wrote then for the benefit of those who may have missed it. The most important game you can develop properly with your dog is a good old-fashioned game of “Tugging”.  I know, I know…Many of you are of the belief that this creates an aggressive dog, .  You believe that you are developing a dog that is capable of dangerous reactions. You may believe you are creating a “reactionary” dog… You are, in fact, doing just the opposite.  Notice this quote from  Jean Donaldson, a positive training maven, writes that tug games “are not about dominance and they do not increase aggression. These are myths.”  (Quote from this source-(

You are in fact, creating an “Outlet” for your dogs “prey” instinct, while using the natural, inborn inclinations of your dogs “Hunting” instincts to relieve , (Here it comes…) stress. To quote Kevin Behan in “Natural Dog Training”, –Many parents may be nervous about this whole notion of prey instinct. We are not creating the prey instinct: it is already there. We are channeling it into an appropriate activity. This way it is not as likely to go where it does not belong, such as after a child’s hand. Otherwise, you are leaving it up to the dog to decide what he wants to do with his prey instinct.

Okay, I’m springing something new on you.  The idea that your dog has stress, and is better off with an effective way to release it.  That’s going to be the subject of another post.  Energy and Stress, and your dogs “Natural” state of being a “Predator”, are going to be major subjects in the near future here.

As part of the Communicative Approach, Tugging games build a bond between Handler and Canine.  During these games, your dog’s focus is %115 on YOU!  Remember, a tug toy, rag, or sleeve is a lifeless object UNTIL you pick it up!  Then you become the life of the party!!!  The practice will soon eliminate distractions, and improve recalls, and obedience.  I have always played serious tugging games with my protection dog “Hans”.  Without really knowing “Why”, or “How”, I’ve raised an obedient, focused dog.  Looking back, I realize that we bonded over this type of play.

Now, for my heretofore failure, and its recent resolution:  Our young female GSD, “Holly”, now 18 months old, was slated specifically for Therapy work, and as an experimental “Cancer Detection Canine”, (A newly developing study.) from 8 weeks of age.  My wife would train her, and I’d promise to not teach the pup to tug, chase me, or anything else resembling “aggression”.  Holly did fine for about the first year, earning CGC status, passing TDI training, and doing well.  But she never quite earned our trust in “Off-Leash” activities, such as fetch.  She suffered a lack of “Focus” being easily distracted at times.  Outside, her “recall” was questionable, but inside was fine.  She seemed “bored” while working my wife opined…CarolAnn actually became very distressed over this lack of enthusiasm, and Holly’s lackadaisical response to obedience while unleashed.  She actually “borrowed” a friends Vizla, to make her Care Facility rounds for two weeks while we investigated this occurrence.  Well, of course, Holly became despondent and a little destructive at home.  Some how we were not fulfilling her needs, while we were protecting her status as a Therapy Dog.  All bad things.  Hans had never been thru anything like this in his training, and we were searching frantically for answers.  Thinking that “Physical Activity” was the missing ingredient, we enrolled CarolAnn and Holly in Agility training.  In good portion, it helped.  Holly does well, has no fear, and loves to burn off steam.  But her “focus” on her handler was still an issue.  It was during this period that picked up on “Natural Dog Training” by Kevin Behan, and the work of both Lee Charles Kelley and Neil Sattin (found here:

What I read and digested was very similar to the way I had raised and trained Hans.  Different terms were being used to describe what I was developing on my own somewhat lacking method, but the same spirit was there.  We decided that I would recreate with Holly, what I had done with Hans.  “Pushing”, a training technique that “Natural Dog Training” emphasizes is one such example.  I called it “Keep Away” with a high-value item.  (There’s a lot more to explain “Pushing”.  Check the link above, Please)

I also introduced Holly and CarolAnn to Tugging Games.  My wife at first resisted mightily, being wisely aware that Holly had grown some impressive dentition.  I began to play tug with Holly everyday for a week, which is more time than needed.  Within that time, her behavior turned 180 degrees about!!  Her recall reminded me of a Sparrow missile inbound…I pushed her training to things she had been taught NOT to do, such as giving Dad a Big stand up hug as she saw Hans do everyday with me.  Holly was shortly going after an Arm-sleeve with a gusto that belied her hitherto somewhat (Bored! Unfulfilled!) gentle nature.  But the fuzzy little phoenix was rising from her own frustrated ashes…Everything changed about her behavior.  I chalk it up to fulfilling her natural instincts.  Period.

So go out and play with your dog.  Learn to play Tug safely, and properly.  Again I will provide some links below for this purpose.  The result will be Focus Focus and more Focus from your dog, and the end of many behavioral problems!!!!

My beautiful, Natural Trainee, Holly...

My beautiful, Natural Trainee, Holly…

© Robert W. Vaughan and German Shepherd Adventures {2010 to Current} Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert W. Vaughan and German Shepherd Adventures  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

That title sounds angrier than I intend it to be, but I feel the need to discuss something that persists among my German Shepherd family and Friends…It’s dangerous for your dog, and serves no purpose to you.  What is it?

Stop worrying that your German Shepherd needs to gain weight and be the biggest canine on the block!!!!  Stop trying to find a dog-food that will pack on weight!!!!  Chances are GREAT that your 6 month old puppy is growing at a natural rate!!!!  Your Veterinarian is the best judge of your dogs  weight and growth.  (I know it’s fashionable in some circles to scoff at Veterinarians advice, but please don’t fall into that trend.  That’s another rant, totally.)

It feels great to shout that out to the world, but I wish that more people would listen to the advice.  I know that some won’t, but if I can help anyone to understand this I will be pleased.

This rant, and make no mistake, it is a rant, (Bordering dangerously on becoming an episode of pure Raving.)  has a greater purpose.  Stop making the German shepherd something he was never intended to be!  Von Stephanitz developed a working dog that needed to move well, and do so all day!  Bigger dogs begin to fall short of these traits!

When a Veterinarian looks at your German Shepherd during an examination, he or she expects to see a male  dog between 23 and 26 inches at the shoulder.  He or she also anticipates a standing weight of between 65 and 80 pounds.  (For the metric world that’s 60 cm to 65cm in height, and 30 to 40 kg in weight)  For Females 21 to 24 inches high (55cm to 60 cm) and 50 to 70 pounds weight (22 kg – 50 pounds)  Some dogs are bred to parents that may be taller in stature, by 2 or 3 inches.  A small deviation in weight is normal.  But breaking the 100 pound mark is unnecessary!!!

And then there is that foolish game called “My Dogs Bigger than your dog!”  I’m sure it happens in many of the large breeds as well, but many German Shepherd people are definitely guilty of it.  If you went to a grade school on the first day of a kindergarten class, and all the new parents were standing by comparing their children’s weight, we’d be horrified.

“Hey! There’s my son Brandon…he’s already at 88 pounds and he’s only 5!  His mother and I wanted a big boy, and we sure got him!”

 “Oh yeah?  Well there’s my Susie over there, and she’s over 100 pounds already!  She’s an eating machine!”

Yes, that’s what it sounds like when people get on Facebook or Twitter and start railing on about how “Big” their puppy is already!  The German shepherd should be judged on it’s athleticism, it’s stamina,  it’s lithe and strong frame wrapped in muscles like steel cables.  Not on what I call, “Fat-Assery”.   I’m coming on strong here I know.  But too many finely bred dogs are under-exercised, over-fed, and condemned to shortened lifespans because so many believe they can create a larger dog.  You dog will become whatever genetics has bequeathed to him or her.  Let that make your dog whatever it will be, and stop making size the end- all-be-all.  If you believe that size alone will be impressive, or a deterrent to bad people, you are wrong.  Most dogs that do protective work, or patrol work, are lean, strong, and agile.  “Fat-Assery” is the polar-opposite.  German shepherds are not Middle Linebackers.  They’re Defensive Ends and Wide-receivers.  Strong and fast.  For a short time, at about 18 months old, my GSD “Hans” was at 105 pounds.  I noticed that he was struggling thru practices and callouts.  I realized that it was my fault for believing that my dog needed to be large.  He wasn’t Unfit, but he needed to be exceptionally fit.  We took immediate action, and I now keep him at 85 pounds, which is truly “Rocky Balboa” fit for his height.  When my dog keeps going strong, and larger GSD’s are falling off the trail because they’re too heavy, he’s King of the World.

While I have lost the URL of the below information, I have retained the author’s name so that he can have  proper credit for the work.  I believe it was from the Purina website at one time, but that has been lost to me.  Read it please, and understand that this is for the good of your dog…

Effects of obesity in dogs – by Tom Osterkamp

Studies and experience have determined that the negative impacts of obesity on dogs include:

1. A compromised immune function

2. Abnormal glucose tolerance

3. Acute pancreatitis

4. Greater risk for anesthetic and surgical complications

5. Heat and exercise intolerance

6. Cardiovascular disease

7. Greater risk for osteoarthritis

8. Decreased median life span

Of particular interest is that by restricting caloric intake and maintaining a lean body condition we can increase median life span and prevent the manifestation of chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis. In overweight dogs, osteoarthritis changes appear earlier in life, are more severe, and require more medication compared with their restricted-fed siblings (Mlacnik et al., 2006). Since osteoarthritis is one of the primary reasons for retiring working dogs, these results indicate that it may be possible to extend the working life of our search dogs significantly (perhaps 1 to 2 years) by restricting caloric intake and by providing sufficient exercise to keep the dogs fit.

Take the time now to look at a chart I’m sure you’ve seen before.  These are of course, meant to indicate an Adult dog.  Please consult with your veterinary professional for sub-adult and puppies.

That’s the end of this ranting for now, please accept it as friendly advice and for the benefit of your four-legged buddy.  Do Your Best For Your Dog, And He’ll Always Give You His Best In Return!!!!

Understanding how your dog was, and is being trained is vital.  Let me repeat that.  Understanding how your dog was, and is being trained is vital.   I’m being diplomatic here, because many of my friends, readers, and accomplices are doing exactly what I’m going to ask you not to do.  And, yes, they do it successfully, because if you go to the length of sending your dog away for training, you are probably getting someone very skilled.  Your dog (or puppy) will come home trained.  But what have you missed?  And, more importantly, how will you continue the dogs training?

In the Search & Rescue disciplines, handlers train with the dog they will handle.  In my experience, handling someone else’s partner is like picking up a brand new pistol and trying to shoot a perfect score on the range using the first 13 shots ever put thru the weapon.  It’s just not possible.  You don’t know the weapon, or it’s idiosynchrosis yet.   Only by personally using the gun will it finally give you the results you want.

Suppose two different Olympic Ice-skaters, trained individually for twenty years, suddenly decide they will compete together.  They decide to meet the Tuesday before the Olympics and work together for a couple of hours.  Will they come home with a Gold medal?  Silver?  Bronze?  No way.  They haven’t practiced together.  They have no clue how the other skates, reacts, or moves.  Individually, they are flawless, even poetic.  But becoming One on the ice, is earned only with time and discipline…

If you send your dog away to the finest Clicker-trainer for training, you will soon learn that your Timing is very different.  If you choose a more natural training approach, you will find that what you believe to be natural, may not reflect the Trainers approach.  If you choose Relationship based training, (as I hope you do)  you will find that the trainer you spent $500.00 with has a great relationship with your dog, but you have nothing.  And that’s the shortcoming of not being involved with your dogs training.

Learning with your dog takes time, effort, and discipline.  There are no shortcuts to success.  Learning together creates a trust and a connectivity with your dog that transcends ANY amount of outside influence.  Many have experienced having a dog trained separately from them, that simply will not respond in kind.  Think again of the ice skaters…

Sit down, lay out a plan for training that fulfills your Goals as a TeamDon’t plan it in a single linear path without possible detours.  Your dog, or you, may not be best suited for your original plan, so be ready to allow your goals to evolve.  For instance, you may have goals of titling a ScHIII schutzhund dog.  But training, and the advice of a good Trainer, may reveal that your dog just isn’t suited.  BUT, that dog may prove to be a Scent Following maniac…Pursue whatever the dog does best!!!  Make something of the situation!!!  Hands on Training, together, side by side with your dog, is something you will never regret…



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