Friday, May 24, 2013

Why IPO? [Schutzhund]

Why are we doing Schutzhund???

Around 2010 a guy with a Cane Corso started coming to our clinic. He was always using German commands so I finally got the nerve to ask him what he did with his dog. He told me they were doing Schutzhund, gave me his card, and invited me to come out and watch them train.The original driving force behind going was that I really wanted to become a police officer, with the idea of being a K9 handler someday, so I thought this would help me have a possible in - in the future, and also just learn about the sport.

The first time I went out, I brought LiLo because she was the more trained of the two. The trainer there was a bit put off by how stand-offish she was and didn't recommend her for the sport because of how insecure she is. I agreed, I had only brought her because Seth at the time wasn't that well trained. They encouraged me to bring him out, so a week later I met them again with Seth.

Everyone in the training group really liked Seth and were really encouraging. He showed a lot of promise in tracking and was doing alright with obedience. We only went to training once where the trainer tried to agitate him. He responded excitedly, but not really defensively. I was debating on full out joining the club, it was only $100 a month which was a pretty good deal, unfortunately they trained pretty far out and also on wednesdays [a day I was working], it just wasn't cost effective at the time to continue on.

After we quit going to training I started talking to a client of the clinic more who has Ibizan Hounds. We met a few times to train and also joined an obedience class together but the class fell through. Regardless of that little mishap - we trained with this friend off and on. I registered Seth with AKC and UKC and took him to a Rally match... the rest is kind of history for him. I settled on the fact that he couldn't be a Schtuzhund dog and didn't think we/I would be getting into the sport anytime soon.

Of course, as fate would have it I ended up getting Seppel in 2011.

I would say from October 2011-May 2012 consisted mostly of basic training and getting Seppel used to living life at my house, living with my dogs, and going to work everyday. I was really lost in terms of what I wanted to do with him. I wanted to try obedience but thought he would never be able to focus. In May of 2012 I joined a Pit Bull forum and met Diane Jessup.

Diane has written several books about Pit Bulls and has also titled several Pit Bulls in the sport of Schutzhund. I agreed to come out to meet her and some of the people she was training with. I felt like it was a really good opportunity to talk to someone who knew the breed. Little did I know just how much her, her friends, and the forum, would change my views completely on the breed - but that is probably a story for another time.

When we went out to train with Diane we discovered that Sepp thought the sleeve was the best tug toy EVER! It was really exciting to have a dog who could actually do the protection phase in Schutzhund, and the driving force was his prey drive. The sleeve was like one giant toy to him.

I've had a couple of people ask me why I'm "teaching a Pit Bull to bite".

First of all, if you want to educate yourself on the sport of IPO[Schutzhund] PLEASE watch this video:

Ultimately with this type of training, I am teaching my dog to be obedient. I am teaching my dog to do as I say, to bite when told to bite, to out when told to out. It's pretty simple that this sport is teaching my dog self control, and is therefore giving me, more control.

A few people have pointed out, not just to me, but to other people on a few pit forums that I am on, that the breed already has a bad image - why add fuel to the fire?

There are a few things I want to say here.

I really don't care if people choose to be afraid of my dog because of the breed that he is. German Shepherds and Rottweilers carried, and in a lot of cases, still carry stereotypes. There are still many people out there who do not like or trust those breeds. Quite honestly, I think it is fair for people to be afraid of powerful dog breeds and I would rather these people continue to dislike the breed because at least those close minded, uneducated people, will not be buying one!

BSL is a really crappy thing, but BSL is not around because everyone is doing protection sports with their Pit Bulls. BSL is around because people are irresponsible or stupid when it comes to this breed. Many bite incidents involve LOOSE Pit Bulls, many bite incidents involve dogs with high prey drive, and many incidents also involve dogs that are human aggressive. A pit bull should never know a stranger. Recently I came across a website that explained some dog fighting[matching?] rules [cajun], I had no idea they even had rules, HSUS doesn't really explain that. Anyway, in these rules the dogs can be pulled apart many times in a fight. I'm not saying no one ever got bit, because there were dogs who were known to redirect on their handlers in the pit, BUT most dogmen did not keep dogs around that were biters. The Pit Bull had to be handleable even in times of stress. We have BSL simply because people couldn't manage their dogs. Everyone tries to blame the media, and while I agree the media doesn't help things - if dogs weren't getting loose and eating people this would be a non-issue!

The last thing I really want to say is that I want to do IPO with my Pit Bull, and future Pit Bulls because it is FUN, and it shows the versatility of this breed. The days of the pit are long gone. Our dogs need a new job, and in my eyes that job is sport: IPO, French Ring, Agility, Flyball etc. as well as Hog Hunting. Pretty much anything that can show off and utilize this breed's prey drive and athletic ability.

On that note I would like to add that the training of a Pit Bull for IPO is a little different than training a German Shepherd. Most German Shepherds are trained using defense. The breed is a defensive breed, bred to respond to a threat accordingly. Pit Bulls are not a defensive breed, so when we train, we're training more with Seppel's prey drive than any actual defense. This is why he has taken to the bite sleeve the way that he has. The bite sleeve for him is a HUGE tug toy. All he wants to do is get our decoy to move, so he can bite the sleeve. If there was no sleeve involved, Seppel would not bite our decoy. What motivates Sepp is seeing the bite sleeve. I'm completely fine with that, I don't need a  personal protection dog. We're doing this strictly for fun and for sport.

IPO is fun because my dog enjoys it. It is so much fun to watch him run across the field "looking for the bad guy". He gets excited when we get out there, he's ready to play, and when we are done, he sleeps the whole way home.Not to mention it translates into other things in our life. His impulse control has improved ten-fold. He's still impulsive, but not nearly like he was when I first got him. Overall I would say he listens so much better than when I first got him, granted time has passed and we've been working together, but I really do think bite work has helped to teach him to be patient, and to listen a little bit better.

Everyone is going to have an opinion and not everyone is going to agree with me. But I hope this has at least kind of informed anyone wondering 'why' we do it. I also hope anyone wondering what IPO is really takes the time to watch the video - it couldn't be said better, this sport really is rather extraordinary.

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