Broad Questions

  • Hi all, I'm a complete newbie. I have tons of experience training retrievers, but this game is new to me. I've found lots of conflicting information out there. I've got a few broad questions that hopefully I can get sorted out. My puppy won't be in my possession until mid March, so I'm not in a bind or anything. Just trying to absorb as much as I can so I can develop a game plan. Feel free to keep answers breif and concise, your time is valuable!

    I'm familiar and comfortable with marker training. I've seen its beauty in many retriever puppies.

    This dog will be a Malinois puppy purchased from Ruidoso Malinois in NM. My main goal is to have a well behaved / highly obedient dog that can go with me anywhere, and protect me / my property if the need arises. I love dog sports, so this will be just as much as an activity for me as it is for my dog. I live in Nicaragua, and I'll have access to a warm body for a decoy, when the time is right, but he'll have zero experience in decoymanship <-- submitted to Webster's.

    Please keep in mind that I know lots of these questions won't apply until far into the future. I'm just trying to get clarification so it all makes sense as I'm reading.

    1. E-collar pressure: When, how, and why is it used? Direct or indirect pressure? Do PD trainers "collar condition" just like retriever trainers? What is the average age range that the collar is introduced?

    2. What are some MAJOR bullet points which differentiate sport dogs and protection dogs? I understand things like decoy and bite sleeve recognition are huge factors, but what are some do's and dont's in the training regimen of each?

    3. Would a dog trained in personal protection be any more (or less) likely to bite someone at an inappropriate time, as compared to a sport dog. Assuming equal quantity and quality of training on each. The last thing I want is an "accidental bite".

    4. I'm fortunate in that I have tons of time to play with and train my pup. I've always started basic obedience and marker training the day after puppy arrives. Usually I transition to formal obedience (pinch collar with light pressure if necessary) around 4-8 months of age, depending on maturity level. I've gotten a wide range of input on this topic, ranging from "the same as You've always done it" to, "don't teach the sit command until 10 months of age (or older)" What do you guys do? My gut tells me to teach the basics at a young age, and plan on formal obedience starting at an older age (as compared to retrievers).

    5. I have a male and a female lab currently. Both are fixed. The Mal breeder recommends I take a male since there's a higher likelihood of the two females "getting into it". I don't let my puppies interact with my grown dogs unsupervised until at least 10 months of age. Sometimes up to a year. My female is very submissive, yet confident. She gives appropriate warning signs to dogs who get in her face (inappropriately), and usually goes avoidant. She will occasionally snap if the approaching dog persists, but has never connected. I was wanting a Mal female, mainly because they're a bit smaller, but the breeder has almost insisted that I get a male. Any thoughts?

    6. Do protection dogs ever see a bite sleeve? Or should it always be concealed?

    7. About what age do you guys let your dogs start biting (sleeves, legs, decoys, etc). What is used to indicate that he's "ready to bite"

    Any book recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

    I have a ton more questions, but I'm sure you're sick of reading by now.

    Thanks for your time, standing by.

  • Welcome to the group Brandon, always nice to see a dog trainer interested in proteccion training. Most sport dog trainers tend to be apprehensive about crossing that line :thumbsup2:

    Let me start by telling you that those are lots of controversial topics XD

    And before the brawl starts am gonna chip in with some advice. My experience with Mals is limited in comparison to the GSD but I can still tell you that this is no ordinary house dog.

    One of the highest drives in dogdoom, very intense dogs they are. Remarkable intelligence, speed, stamina, pain tolerance and the heart of a true herder =) Of course this comes at a price...

    One of the things ive seen in Mals is a concerning lack of control from their handlers, especially inexperienced trainers, this is due to the combination of ULTRA high drive and intelligence the dog posseses. He will detect a situation, resolve what to do and do it before you even realize there IS a situation.

    So here it is, your main concern right now should be CONTROL, obedience and socialization must be prioritized if you plan to have a functional PPD. I usually start OB at 6m but you are a seasoned trainer and should have no problem to asses when your dog has reached enough maturity to start OB

    There is plenty of time for bite work, so in the meantime pick a copy of KMODT (I think we have a PDF somewhere in the forum).

    Good luck buddy!

  • Thanks for the reply. I'm pretty sure I have a thorough understanding of the Malinois, it's drive, postivites, and negatives. And honestly, I'm excited about training a dog that's highly driven. I'm sure it will be a challenge, and that in itself is exciting. Retriever training was a fun place to start, but it lost its allure. I like dogs that are trying to figure me out as fast as I'm trying to figure them out.

    You mentioned starting obedience at 6 months of age. Is that formal obedience or basic obedience? Example: that's when you start a dog on marker training? Or that's when you start with pressure (negative punishment)? It would almost be impossible for me to wait 6 months to teach a dog to sit in exchange for a treat. Usually my pups get all their food one morsel at a time, each in exchange for an action. They typically don't even know food comes in bowls until they're about 10 - 12 months old.

    Any feedback welcome!

  • Depends precisely on yr goals, and you should have that clearly mapped out.

    If you want flashy comp style obedience you start as they come out of the womb and you tolerate lots of punk behaviour. Some top comp obed people I know have obnoxious ass hat dogs cos they don't want to jeopardise anything that goes to a specific look and style.

    If you want rock solid but basic obed and don't give a shit if yr dogs rear is 1 smidge out of alignment when comes to a screaming front then you train different.

    Biggest thing IMO is socialisation everywhere.

    There are many different ways to own a dog.

  • Am just gonna elaborate on Pete's comment...

    Markers and food can be used as soon as the dog pops out of the womb LOL

    But any serious correction (Formal OB) should be witheld until the dog has reached a decent level of maturity (6 months for most dogs) As a trainer, its your job to asses the dog and decide when to start on compulsion

    My forte is KMODT but I dont mind working with markers or food. Ive come to accept that Koehlers doesnt work with 100% of dogs, there are very few exeptions that should be allowed to test alternatives and as serious trainers we should learn to detect such dogs

    I know everyone is telling you this but you should read KMODT before your pup arrives :thumbsup2: