Training effect on a PD

  • As I headed to a training session last week with my dog bouncing all over the back of my SUV I couldnt help but wonder why he looks so forward to his training.........if it is supposed to be as real as possible.

    Is it because he just flat out likes to fight? Because he gets to bite something fighting back? Is it the high he gets from the intense exercise? The praise he gets from me? Does he look at this as a game that he and I do as if we're going to a football game? Should I be doing this if he looks at this as entertainment?

    Don't get me wrong-he'll definitely bite for real but I have to be honest and say that his senses are super heightened to movement and body language when he is working. His adrenaline is flowing through his veins like a rushing river in anticipation of a fight with a decoy.

    If training is to be real as in as close to real as possible then the very nature of training as a routine becomes less real the more it is done-even biting equipment. It has me thinking-once the dog is proven, could training have the opposite effect? Would it be better to allow the dog to live out its life as a companion and only test the dog in the home and in quiet places based on secnario work only?

  • ''A good PSD is the one with a taste for blood''
    This is a quote from my old man

    We like to think we can convince our dogs that lives are on the line everytime we train with them but ive come to accept that the reality is much diferent. Most of the time the dog realizes, at least to a point, that the ''real deal'' isnt that real.

    Dogs evolved alongside humans and have come to be masters in body language to a point where fooling them is nearly impossible. Let me ilustrate my point, while finishing Med School at my University I was dating a Vet tec and more than often I would come along for some of her clases. One day I got to see something quite interesting, they placed diferent dogs in a 3x3mt plywood cubicle and just outside the ''cage'' then placed a walkman and played at 20db a heartbeat at diferent paces. As the heatbeat started some dogs would pay atention to it and some wouldnt but as soon as the track changed pace to a fast beating sound, all the dogs would react, some with exitment, some with fear and even with agresion.

    My point being that dogs can pick on cues we cant even begin to suspect, this is why reenacting a ''real heavy'' situation is nearly impossible

    Thas being said, I dont think a well planned agitation session is detrimental to a dog in any way. Even if you dont fully sell the situation, at the very least you are letting the dog master and gauge the way he attacks, muscle memory aplies to dogs as much as to us. Also it helps the dog to blow some steam and improves the already existing bond between you and your pup :)

    ''Nothing bonds men like battle does''
    Am paraphrasing here, dont really remember where I heard that one

    PD: Sorry for the long post :(

  • Good post Brody. I too have thought about this many times. I have been taking Hoss to a group class since he was four months of age and he really looks forward to the work. He has fun, gets a hell of a work out, socialization and even a couple bites. But that's it. He knows it is not for real and there is nothing you can do to him while he is on that field short of physically hurting him to convince him otherwise. So I put no expectations on him ever taking any thing away from that class to help him become a better PD.
    Once the dog is considered a finished PD IMO a true to life scenario here and there backed up with a good agitation session is all that would really be needed to ensure the dog is still sharp and keep him on his toes.

  • it's a fine line.

    considering training humans for combat sports or baseball. I think most coaches know there is such a thing as over training which is counterproductive.

    we have two top football coaches here, the week before the final;

    one makes his team play an all out game against the equivalent of multiple teams to give his team a beating before the real match, he thinks it gives them an advantage.

    the other takes his team in a secluded natural environment and does visualisation exercises and something that resembles yoga, he isolates them from all social and other media and does anything to get their minds OFF the game.

    depending on how you define PPD but if you want those demo style dogs that sit outside the shopping centre being petted by kids then springs into action when the mandatory black bad guy mugs the young female owner then you should train regularly.

    if the dog has the right genetics to do the job and you have raised it, trained it and proofed it I think regular training of bite work will just dull the dog.

    if the dog is given regular "real" scenarios that the dog believes is real then I think you would eventually end up with a dog dead of psychosomatic illness.

    the good thing about intelligent training of high prey dogs is each session the dog will get better and better and more enthusiastic such that the pressure it can take will be indistinguishable from a real fight...and the dog will love it and be even more amped next time....a defensive dog?


    they are both successful, who is right?

  • The answer to the first part is easy. Is the behavior really that different from taking the dog to the beach or the park? The dog is anticipating the activity and is excited, his drive makes him so. Biting/fighting and the satisfaction that comes with it is probably highest on the dog's list of "fun" activities, and the excitement level is directly proportional.

    As for the 2nd part.. You have to define the dog's purpose; is it to be used offensively, defensively, or both. If the dog is to be used offensively like a patrol dog, you can expect it to go into drive the moment you take him out of the kennel. Or with a more tuned in dog the moment you get a call and start driving faster than usual. To this end a dog anticipating the training session makes no difference as far as the exercise being productive.

    If however you want a defensive dog, then what's most important is his reaction from a relaxed state. It's harder to find a decoy that will work your dog this way. If the dog is to be deemed %100 reliable, you will literally need to coordinate with the decoy to break into your house at 2 in the morning. I categorize this kind of situation work as "experiences" rather than training, in the sense that you're not expecting a progression from the dog as you would with regular training sessions. Rather letting him react as he would naturally after the aggression training has been completed, and letting him understand that this can happen and his reaction is the correct one. You can't fake this work with a dog that was trained in prey, it just looks ridiculous. Because it's so difficult to get this right, finding a decoy that understands the work and is willing to do it, many people settle for defensive dogs that are overly sharp. Staying power in a fight and offensive work is mediocre, but at least you're sure they'll react when the shit hits the fan unexpectedly.

    There are dogs that work well offensively and transfer over to defensive work without much specific training. But these are really exceptional dogs and are hard to find if they're to be stable on top of everything else. This is the kind of dog I want to own. But most likely we have to settle for a little less in one area or another. Personally I'd rather take a strong dog that's easy to work in offense, and try to put suspicion in him. I find that coming at it from the other direction ie. starting with a really sharp dog, doesn't satisfy my criteria for offensive work. Having done bitework for many years it's just depressing for me to own a dog that does mediocre bitework. However if I felt that I, my family or my property was in real need of protection, I may change my tune if I can't get a decoy to make my dog sharper. In this case a dog that's naturally alert and ready to engage will buy me the time I need to wake up and grab a weapon, better than a dog that does great bitework but is so self assured it will be neutral to a stranger coming into your house in the middle of the night.

    Sergio, from a decoy's perspective it's very clear to me when the dog is taking the training "for real". It's not difficult for me to make it happen, not sure if I raise my heart beat subconsciously or what. But on a more simplistic level, a hard whack with a leather leash will make most dogs believe it's on for real. Other than that I can tell when the dog is on the edge, it can't be on the edge if it thinks it's a game. For example Chad's young bitch in the video he just posted, for her the situation is very real. You can tell from her vocalizations and posturing.

    Peter, I had a grappling coach that used to do the first thing you mentioned, he'd put the guy about to go into competition against several opponents one after the other, to the point he had nothing left. I always thought it's a poor approach not based on any valid psychological principles. The approach of the 2nd coach IMO is the correct one. At that point all the training should have been done, there's no more time to make improvements, might as well relax the body and mind so reactions come more naturally and correctly. I found a few times after taking a break from grappling, I'd come back in worse shape endurance wise but better because I shed all the excess baggage I acquired through continuous training. I'm talking about reacting in an effective way that a situation calls for, rather than trying to force myself to implement techniques that my particular body type and psychology is not suitable for. This is not to say one should quit training altogether after acquiring a foundation, just train intelligently.

  • Solid post Dan,

    Being a former athlete in multiple international sports I 100% subscribe to the second notion. A rested body and mind is always more capable because of the balancing between parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.

    On the midnight break in I've only done it twice with the desired results but I do wonder about how the intruder acts towards a dog as a way of throwing off the dogs response. I know due to the barrier effect that a man attempting to enter a doorway or window would get nailed without hesitation. The quiet break in and a slowly approaching intruder is what I wonder about. If the man is passive and acts friendly to the dog will he still get the same agression level from the dog?

    Also a scenario that is difficult to get a decoy to test for that I have always wanted to do is the return to car attack. In cooler weather (spring, fall, winter) I bring the dog with me to work and keep him in the back of my SUV. I do this because he likes to go with me everywhere and it's a good break from his routine but also it's good peace of mind to know that if I was in a parking lot and trouble started he is a button press away from being released. I would love to have a decoy meet me at one of my work locations and do a mock attack just to keep him sharp....guess I can always dream.

    At the end of the day I guess there's always going to be a way to test a dog. As my experience has grown I have a better idea of what is realistic to expect and what isnt. At times they can appear machine like but I have seen good dogs have a bad day and just not that willing to engage. Guess that's why most of us keep "back up" close by.

  • but at least you're sure they'll react when the shit hits the fan unexpectedly

    This right here is my definition of a good PPD, I dont ask for much more and Im not willing to settle for any less.