Building Drive in Obedience

Discussions over the last few years regarding the protection phase center around active and reactive aggression. In these discussions the importance of having a dog initiate the work is generally agreed to by most.

The concept of having the dog initiate the work is seldom discussed regarding the obedience phase even though the same basic principle should apply equally as well.

Most handlers fall victim to the dog reacting to the handlers stimulation be it motivation or compulsion. The dogs learn to wait or they expect to wait for the handler to give a signal before anything good or interesting happens. The dogs are often stressed or tentative in the trial situation because the handler is unable to provide help for the dog to come into drive without losing substantial points for handler help.

To have a dog sustain drive throughout the extensive Schutzhund obedience routine it is important to have the dog able to stimulate the handler into work. This concept must be cultivated in the early development of the foundation work.

The young dog can be taught that action starts when it loads up. A simple exercise such as tying your dog up to a fixed object, leaving it alone and returning to the dog only when it barks, teaches the dog that it can control situations by being active. This calling the handler back exercise leads the team into obedience exercises.

The start or sit position can be utilized in the same manner. Having the dog loading in the sit/start position is utilized by many handlers to sustain drive throughout the obedience routine.

When a dog loads in the start position, it is compelled to remain quiet and correct without suppressing the drive, and then is released for heeling or retrieving, the work has the explosive and energetic drive that everyone loves to watch.

Lance Collins is a Canadian judge and President of the German Shepherd Schutzhund Club of Canada. He has conducted seminars in Canada, USA and Germany. He is the 1992 Canadian SehH3 Champion and in 1993 placed fourth in the World Championships in Holland.

Lance is a member of the West Coast German Shepherd Schutzhund Club and breeds German Shepherd Dogs under the prefix vom Haus Bergblick

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