Bitework for the newbie - Page 3

Pedigree Database


by Koots on 07 December 2019 - 11:12

Long ago, I had a Bouvier pet dog from a BYB. He was my first ever dog, although I had done some training of neighbour's dogs and lots of dog walking for other people. This Bouvier was oversize, and gentle as could be with children - they could feed him the tiniest morsel of food and he would take it ever-so-gently so as to not even touch their little hands with his teeth. One time while walking him at the off-leash beach park area, a little child ran up to him, squealing with glee and wrapped her arms around this massive dog's neck. My dog just stood there, patiently accepting this greeting, then gave the little girl a gentle lick on the face (her face was at the dog's head height). All this is to illustrate how gentle he was with little ones.

But, if a skateboarder or jogger went by too close to us, he would lunge for them, and bark/growl. I knew we had to do something to control this aggression, before he bit someone. It was at that time that I found out about schutzhund from research into dog training - this was well before internet, which makes research for resources much easier. I went to the schutzhund club, and was immediately fascinated and attracted to the sport. With schutzhund bitework training, my dog learned that I was the one to determine when he was to display aggression and/or bite - I got control of his protective tendencies.    I worked on control and obedience with him (as well as tracking as that is the sport), and through this sport, he became a much safer dog in public, never once displaying unwarranted, uncommanded aggression once trained.

In short, doing sport work with my Bouvier made him a safer, more controllable dog - one that I could count on to obey me and not be a liablilty in public.    I realize that the OP does not have the same initial concerns as I did with my dog for doing sport work, but with PROPER TRAINING the results of having a dog that is controllable and predictable are the same.

by ValK on 07 December 2019 - 12:12

Koots, you're talking about obedience, when OP ask about bite work (protection) which affiliates with development of aggressive
attitude of dog toward human.
obedience in such case applied not to prevent violent behavior of dog but to control level of aggression, which already in process.


by Koots on 07 December 2019 - 13:12

Valk - the whole point is that bitework, IF DONE CORRECTLY and with CONTROL, will not make a mild-mannered dog dangerous, but can make a dog who has potential to be dangerous, not.

...mentioned to me that getting your dog into bitework changes the dog, or changes the psych of the dog. Is this true?

I am giving an example of gaining control in a case where it was needed to teach the dog when, and where it may display aggression.   The PSYCH of the dog was not changed, he was still as gentle with children as before, but he was not a liability towards joggers, skateboarders afterwards.    

This dog's sport training made him a better dog in public.   

He told me that he likes my dog the way he is because he's a big sweetie -albeit challenging me a lot lately- and that by getting into bitework may make him more on edge and my daily interactions with friends and family will have to change. 

....So my question is I was wondering if there is some truth to that. Or as long as obedience is solid and I am watchful then it won't be such a big change.

The dog challenging the OP is a sign that the OP needs to gain CONTROL of the dog.    I doubt that bitework, done correctly and with CONTROL, will make the dog 'on edge' with the need to change daily interactions with family and friends.

As others have stated, the crux is to get the PROPER training for THIS dog, training that takes into account the temperament of the dog and does not push the dog into a bad situation for the dog.


by Atreus on 07 December 2019 - 15:12

I want to thank everyone so far for their input. It’s going to take some time for me to get through it and sink it. And will continue to read and follow

He’s challenging me because he is only 10 months at the moment and I am consistently working hard every day with training keeping it fair for him and me. Some days are tougher than others but I’ve been veeerrryyyyy lucky with him so far in terms of temperament. I may not get him into the sport right away perhaps wait until he’s a year or so.

My biggest concern was if he will change as in be more aggressive but with everyone’s input so far, it’s been really helpful in making a decision even though I haven’t decided 100% myself yet.


by Koots on 07 December 2019 - 16:12

Getting into the sport at any time in the dog's development will help you learn to effectively train your dog, increase your bond and form a great 'working' relationship. Plus, the fees for a club are usually considerably less than going to a private trainer - so it's a win-win.

by Gustav on 08 December 2019 - 06:12

I don’t necessarily subscribe to the thinking that the “training “ will make him more aggressive or likely....but I have seen many dogs that as they mature from adolescence into maturity become more assertive or even aggressive depending on the competence of ownership/handling. Often to the novice this cannot be seen at early age, but astute experienced people can see it in the dog as a pup.
Lastly, the lack of boundaries by owners/handlers can allow this to proliferate, but it was always in the dog, likewise with good training or boundaries the same dog may not exhibit these traits unless provoked.

by Hired Dog on 08 December 2019 - 07:12

Gustav, perfectly articulated sir and what I tried to convey to the OP. Sound training with proper genetics do not make a dog dangerous, non experienced handlers and crappy training do.
If the OP is interested in sport, by all means, join a sport club and learn and have fun. If your goal is real world protection, find a trainer that has done this before with measurable results and go that route. Best of luck.


by Koots on 08 December 2019 - 09:12

He’s challenging me because he is only 10 months at the moment

This is the reason that heeding advice from Gustav, Hired Dog, apple and others here will help you.    In order to prevent problems and establish your leadership role with your dog, GOOD training help and direction will make your dog a better companion.    Done properly, bitework with control/obedience work will not make your dog dangerous or a liability.    This is all contingent of course on the dog's suitability for bitework, and how the training is done.    Some dogs are not suitable for bitework, but that doesn't mean that a person can't work on their relationship with their dog through training in other disciplines like obedience, tracking, scent work, etc.

by Rik on 08 December 2019 - 13:12

well, just a suggestion from someone who has had varied "line" GSD for a few decades.

get involved, do training on at least a club level, you will figure out what some very experienced people are saying here very quickly.

advice is good, and should be followed when from proven trainers, but can never replace your own experience with your particular dog.


by ValK on 08 December 2019 - 14:12

koots i'm not objecting you in general.
it's just doesn't make any sense to overcome dog's challenge against handler via working out dog's aggressive attitude toward human :)


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