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Belgian Ringsport & Service Dogs

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The history of the Belgian Ringsport 

by Guy Verschatse

The oldest defense-dogsport in the world !

 

Belgium is a small country in the center of Europe. It's surrounded by 3 larger countries: in the west by France, in the east by Germany and in the north by Holland. The size of Belgium is 30.513 square kilometers, what's about the size of the half of Tasmania, or the size and shape of South Carolina. You need 3,5 hours to cross the country. Belgium, as a complex small country who's existing out 3 different "Canton's": Flanders (Dutch speaking group), Wallonia (French speaking group) and the East-Canton (German speaking group),  is known for his beer (± 450 different beers), his chocolate and also for being the capital of the "European Union" (E.U.). The seat of the E.U. is in the capital of Belgium, in Brussels. 37% of the Belgian households have a dog (after France, who is the highest in Europe, 38%). Belgian history

The very first dog show in the world took place in Belgium, on friday 28 May 1847 in Tervueren near Brussels !

Belgium was also the founder of the "Federation Cynologique International" (FCI) who was founded in 1911 by 5 countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Holland and Austria. The seat of the FCI is still in Belgium, about one hour from Brussels, in Thuin near the French border. The head-office of the Belgium dog world is the "Koninklijke Maatschappij St-Hubertus" (SRSH/KMSH) who is seated also in Brussels. It was founded in 1880, one of the oldest dog-clubs in the world (the English Kennel Club was founded in 1873).

Belgian Bloodhound

The Belgian Ringsport, the beginning: 

Belgian Ringsport is the oldest and one of the hardest defense-dogsports in the world. It is completely dominated by the Belgian Mechelaar ("Malinois" in french). Ringsport is also closely related with the Belgian Police/Gendarmerie/Army forces as most of the service dogs are bought or trained in the B. Ring-cirquit.

About 800 till 100 before Christ, in Fore-Asia, the first written proofs of dogs used for war, where found. They where very big fighting-dogs who where very important for the army's in that time. Kyros, King of Perzians, was the first to let all his dogs wearing a panzer or harness to fight together in the frontline of the battle. He, together with other conquerors has brought big dogs into Europe. The Romans have used about 200 before and 200 after Christ also dogs for several reasons. They had two types of dogs: the heavy build, mollossoide type and the lighter, more elegant type. From that time on, the dogs where bred and used for a certain aim. The heavy Mollosser was used as weapon in battles, the lighter type was used as herding-guarddog and also preferred by the later poor farmers for two reasons: they where more efficient to help with the cattle, and they where cheaper to feed. Centuries later about the years 1500 some dogs where used to guard the frontiers, in England to catch cattle or horse thieves, later in America to track runaway slaves.

In Belgium about 1700 was the first time they used dogs to help the city guards. These dogs where not trained, they only companioned the "policeman". Also between 1700 and 1900 a light type of dog was used for herding sheep's. They where middle sized, very intelligent and fast dogs. Al colors and coats where present. This is where the real beginning starts, because the "Belgium Shepherd" is at the foundation of the Ringsport…

Some people (read "non-policeman") began to give demonstrations with their Belgian Shepherds around 1880. One of those men called " Edmond Moecheron". He is called the "father of the Ringsport" it was him who was the first to get success with his demonstrations of "police-dogs". He was famous in a short time and a lot of people came to watch his demonstrations. Together with his 3 Belgian Shepherds (Dax, Nic & Miss) and his Helper, he became an attraction on hippodromes, bicycle-events, circus and all possible fairs. Newspapers wrote sensational articles about him, and soon several others began to copy his numbers. The whole meaning for this was neither the sport nor the art, but very simple: for the money. It was pure business, attract as many possible people around your "ring" (a closed area) and get money out of them. He, and many others ha given demonstrations everywhere in Belgium, France, Holland, etc… on one of this events Mr. "E. Van Wezemael", head-commissar of the police of the city of Ghent has seen the capacities of the Belgium Shepherds and there trainers. He has followed with big attention the training of those dogs and formed in 1899 the first police-dog-school, also in Ghent. He found out those trained-dogs where useful for the nightly patrols of his policemen. He even wrote a book about the use for police dogs and soon the interest of all parts of Europe and America followed him. Several countries send delegates to see and learn the training methods, such as France, England, America, Brazil, Congo, etc… even to buy these trained dogs. In 1903 the first trial of Ringsport has taken place in Mechelen (Malines) Belgium. The program was not well defined but each team showed what they could the best. The first real definition of Ringsport trial was signed in 1908.

The 1908 trial held in:

•  walk "of leash" near his owner : 20 points

•  retrieve of an object shown by his owner : 5 points

•  guard a object that belongs to his owner without presence of owner : 5 points (see pic below)

•  jump over obstacles : 10 points

•  jump over a hole or canal : 10 points

•  defense of the owner : 15 points

•  he attacks Helpers who are pointed by his owner : 10 points

•  he saves a object out of a pool pointed by his owner : 15 points

Total of 90 points.

This first National Championship Ringsport was held after WW1, on 3 October 1926. There where 9 competitors: 5 Mechelaars, 2 Groenendales and 2 Bouvier de Flandres. Since than the program has changed several times but all of these exercises are still, in one way or another, present in the modern trials. Meanwhile France has his own Ring-program (French-Ring) and Holland: KNPV.

In the beginning of the 90's one of the most known Mechelaar-breeders in Belgium Mr. Luc Vansteenbrughe kennel "des Deux Pottois" was one of the inventors and promoters of the international ring-program "Mondioring". Mondioring is a mix of Belgium-, French Ring, KNPV and SCHH. It also has 3 levels and has every year a world-championship held in a different country. The first world championship "Mondioring" was held in Belgium in the year 1994. The 4th W.Ch. Mondioring was also held in Brugge, Belgium on 3&4 October '98. A total of 35 dogs where Mechelaars, 2 German Shepherds and one Tervueren. There were competitors out of Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, USA, so perhaps the Mondioring will have a future such as the IPO/SCHH-program.


 
Note Belgian Ring: Belgian Ringsport

In 1926, under the name "Grand Prix of Belgium", the SRSH/KMSH (Societe Royale Saint-Hubert) organized its own championship for the first time . The first winner was the Mechelaar bitch SADI (LOSH 13537 alias SADI WORTHY - LOB 10794). Because the SRSH/KMSH doesn’t recognize the affix of the KCB, the dog was registered under another name by the SRSH/KMSH. The same story with SAMOX (LOSH 20606) which obtained the second place. His name by the KCB was SAM du THIRIAU (LOB 10280) belonging to O. Durand. SAMOX was a son of the famous SNAP.

From 1926 to 2000, always a Mechelaar won the "Grand Prix of Belgium" with the following exceptions : 
a) the Groenendael NEROLO (LOSH 22277) won in 1929 ex-aequo with the Mechelaar BOBY de BRUYERE-FRAIPONT (LOSH 20859). NEROLO won also the title in 1931 before BOLLUX (LOSH 32278 - alias LUX de GALLIFORT - LOB 12534)
b) the Tervueren XAVIER (LOSH 141222) won in 1952.

The best results for another breed than the Belgian Shepherd Dog, was the second place of the German Shepherd  SWITO (LOSH 61915) in 1935 and the Bouvier de Flandres VUW (LOSH 135650) obtained also a second place in 1952. VUW was a black Bouvier also called "Bouvier de Roulers".

Won the title minimum 3 times :

METTEKO (ALSH 21704) in 1967, 1968, 1970 and 1971.
CLIP (LOSH 412720) in 1981, 1982,1983, 1985 and 1986.
JUL (LOSH 537353) in 1990, 1991 and 1995.
NIVER des TIGROUS (LOSH 643560) in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

Note Mondioring: Mondioring

The Mondioring (International Ringsport) is a working dog sport with new rules from different national rules taken from the working dog sports in France (French Ringsport), Belgium (Belgian Ringsport), Holland (KNPV) and a little bit of SCHH from Germany. 

Mondioring is tested in 3 progressively harder levels, earning the degree Mondioring I (MR1), Mondioring II (MR2), 
Mondioring  III (MR3), with level III being the hardest.
The Brevet is the entry-level test of obedience and protection work, to assess character, courage, trainability, and suitability for work.


The first MR-trial took place in 1987 in Belgium, Tournai.

Since the 1th January 1995, the Mondioring trial-rules are under the law by the FCI.

Bodo v Schloss Hexental in conflict with Yurri Demeulemeester

Myself, I am a possessor of the "one and only IPO-Schutzhund-program", but all my dogs have been trained on the Ring-biting-suit also, to be complete…We do have several dogs from our breeding who are competing in Belgian Ring, French Ring, Mondioring and KNPV.

Copyright by Guy Verschatse

Belgium

 

 

 The Rottweiler as Service-Dog 

-Pro's and Contra's for the Rottweiler as Service-Dog use.

Pro's, the Rottweiler is: 

the most impressive working-dog (preventive intervention), the most self assured and stable dog and by this calm (for long inside shifts ideal), the most powerful biter (intervention), a excellent tracker (rescue, narcotics).

Contra's, the Rottweiler is: 

a "one man dog" (is not suitable for multiple handling), a slowly maturing dog (needs minimum 1.5 years to be useful), expensive as a puppy (price is important for State and business), a very powerful dog (not ideal for Explosives and Narcotics), a calm dog (not ideal for fast outside interventions) and he bites too hard (higher medical costs for the victims).

-Different Service-Dogs.  Police K9 

We have different type of Service-Dogs. Service-Dogs are mostly used by  Police, Security, Army and Civil Protection (Firefighters, etc...). The most common types of dogs are used for detection of Narcotics (Drugs), Explosives, Rescue, Dead victims, also for Intervention- Preventive- and Guarding purposes.

-What treads are needed ?

First of all "extreme preydrive", preydrive is the key to all bite-, tracking- and retrieve work. We need this tread for Narcotics (dogs trace drugs to find their toy), Explosives (dogs trace explosives to get their toy as reward), Rescue on living people (dogs trace victims to get their toy as reward) and Intervention (bitework is build up over preydrive).

Second is "self assurance", the dogs must be self assured against all kind of situations such as traffic, all kind of slippery floors, stairways, doors, elevators and gunshots (imagine a Policedog who runs away when gunshots are fired).

Third is "sharpness", the Service-Dog must have enough sharpness to keep the guarding- and defense instincts. To conquer eventually obstacles in his shift. Most of the situations demand a medium sharpness, only serious intervention as for Army and Jail purposes demand high sharpness.

Fourth is "alertness", a too high self-assurance results in a lower alertness. Low alertness is better for Rescue and Nose-work such as drugs and explosives. High alertness is better for the intervention use, as long the danger of "no focus" is not there. Some dogs/lines seems to have the trait to see everything, except this what the handler wants...

Fifth is "hardness", all dogs must have enough hardness to resist the stress of their work. Intervention dogs need extreme hardness to go out there alone in hostile situations. Hardness is OK as long they are "trainable", remember dogs who have extreme hardness need very strong corrections.

Last is "health", good health is a must for every working dog ! Some "showline breeders" seem to forget this...

-Why is it important to maintain these treads ? 

Because these treads are the basics for all Utility breeds.

-Why must we keep selecting on Service-Dog qualities ? 

The Rottweiler was saved by his Police-Dog ability back in 1910, his previous task as herding dog made him useless as the herding of cattle ended in the modern times. Most of the herding dogbreeds were saved by their utility as guard and defense dog. It is very important that our breed is still used by State-authorities for the positive image. And also as safety for not being banned. 

-What is the recent selection ? 

Recent selection is mostly done by Clubs, Army and individual breeders. Most of the clubs select too much on sociability and not enough on working drives. Their interest in working ability is too low and mostly the show qualities are important. This is not healthy for "the total Rottweiler"... A good start to improve the genepool's working ability would be the introduction of the old ZTP routine for the "Working class" on conformation shows. This is done for a long time in the GSD/WUSV world, the morning of the actual show each dog entered in the "Gebrauchshund klasse" has to do a KKL (read old ZTP) routine. The dogs who fail cannot enter the show anymore. We must understand that no extreme test are done, just the minimum to pass a test of this kind.

The Austrian Army has a complete genepool of Service-Dog-Rottweilers, they breed conform their own needs and rules and still have the true working Rottweiler. They give no credit in health and working drives at all. However the Austrian Army is a unique case, most other Army and Police forces buy ransom useful adult dogs.  Austrian Army Kennels

The most important selection is done by the breeder himself, they have the most power to create and maintain a certain type or bloodline. Whatever some clubs are thinking, the breeders are responsible for the reputation and quality of a breed ! They make a country stand or fall... A respectful breeder will select on the right treads, will stay critical for his own dogs and will create a own (unique) genepool.

-How far is this Sport- and Breedtest-selection changed from the original Service-Dog needs ?

Benno v Schloss Hexental in conflict with Jacques Dupas

Very far ! Most Breedtests are not testing one of the most important needs for service use: the preydrive. The tests are designed to make our Rottweiler suitable for the crowd, to make him a fashion dog. They want to reshape the original dominance and natural defense-drive (not aggression) into over-sociable, brainless fashion dogs. The once so precious diamond is loosing all his sharp peaks. 

From the beginning of the defense-dogsports around 1918 till about 1990 the trial routines were very useful as Service-Dog selection. Germany used the so called Schutzhund competition as base of the breeding-selection for dogs as the GSD, Dobermann and Rottweiler. However recently these sports (Schutzhund and IPO) try to combine treats who are extremely difficult to combine. The reason of this is the pressure of the society who wanted to ban all defense-dogsports. The concerning comities changed their rules very slowly into more "acceptable for the society" which means less dominance and more punctuality. The recent top winning sport dog is a medium hard, low dominance, very tractable "robot".  

-Selection of Service-Dogs.

Companies who test, buy & sell potential Service-Dogs have the same uniform requirements: 

 

General Behaviour

Should be generally alert, free in temperament.
Able to be taken by the leash by stranger and walked around.
Should have no reaction to the gun of large calibre.
Should have no problems with slippery floors, stairs , sliding doors etc.

Physical Condition

Dogs should be in good weight. Skin should not have any irritation, hotspots or broken hair. Vaccinations should be up to date.
No broken teeth or gum infection. Missing teeth and incorrect bite are acceptable.
Ears should be clean and free of infection and parasites. The tip of the tail should be covered with hair and not soar.
The dog should be moving freely, no lameness before and after conclusion of the test.

Prey Drive

Dog should be tested in - and outside of buildings.
He should retrieve rubber ball, plastic pipe and metal pipe. If the toy is thrown and gets out of sight, the dog should try very hard to retract it. If the toy is put under or in a container he should try physically to get to it.

Temperament Evaluation

Will be tested in and outside of buildings that the dog is not familiar with.
Handler holds the dog on six foot (+/-2 m) leash, a stranger will approach the team. The stranger will move slowly but will not agitate in any way nor will he show any reaction to the dog's action. Once the stranger is close enough, he will be moving in a threatening manner toward the dog. The dog should stay confident and show that he would bite the stranger if he could reach him. The stranger will not wear any equipment that could be associated with agitation, nor is he carrying a stick or whip.
The procedure is repeated with a sleeve held behind the stranger's back. In the end phase the sleeve will be presented and the dog should actually engage. The bite should be firm and hard, fullness of the grip is not important. During the bite the dog will be threatened with an object (not hit). This could be water jug, stick, plastic bag etc. If the dog stays on, the stranger gives the sleeve to him.
After the handler separates the dog from the sleeve, the stranger takes the sleeve and walks away. At a distance of 50 yards (+/-40 m), the dog will be sent. The stranger will turn against the dog in a threatening manner walking toward the dog. The bite sleeve is carried in normal arm position, to the side. If the dog shows that he would commit to a bite the sleeve will be presented. The dog is to stay on the bite until the handler approaches. The dog should not show avoidance toward the handler or the stranger at any time.
 

Note from a Swedish friend: A very good test to see if dogs have the right nerve construction is following evaluation invented by Norwegian Army/Police. When they travel around to buy adult dogs for their duty services, they cannot do very complicated and long tests. The essential needs for their purposes have to be tested in a short and easy way, without using many tools or help.

They take the dog and his owner to a small road in the woods. The owner has to take his dog there on leash and waits without saying anything to the dog. 20-30m further in the woods is sitting a person hided under a blanket, important is that the dog may not be able to see him from the road. Then when everything is 100% quiet, the decoy starts to break wood pieces over & over again. When the dog starts to react on this the handler let's his dog go into the dark wood and see if he has the guts to go up in front of this decoy (who's not saying anything,  just keep on breaking wood). The owner has to stay on the road and cannot encourage or help his dog in any way. The dog must be able to go inside of the wood and try to handle this test without support from anybody.
This seems so simple, but extremely many dogs cannot handle it ! They can't handle this "simple" test alone...

-The Belgian Ringsport-selection. 

The Belgian Malinois was made true selection of Ringsport. After one century of Ringsport competition he turned out in the dog he is today, this without any Breedtest nor Breed Suitability Test. The Ringsport selected which animals would be bred and which not. Only the winning males were used for breeding. Hip- nor Elbow X-rays were taken because the Belgians felt that if a dog could jump daily 2 m high and 4 m far for several years, he must have sound HD and ED. This way of thinking was not so bad as when we compare the healthy and useful Malinois with other working breeds such as GSD and Rottweiler. The German system of selecting is by SCHH, breed survey's and Koerung's. When we see how we lost the working capacity of our breed it should make us think. Nowadays Dogtrainers are desperate to find the suitable competition dog, Police Officers massively choose for the Malinois instead of the Rottweiler and GSD. Maybe we've forgotten the real essence of what is important and what's not... 

Copyright by Guy Verschatse

Belgium

 

Thoughts on today’s Working Rottweiler

Following questions can only be answered from those who are knowing the genepool in many different countries worldwide. A few of us have the luck to see other parts of the world, not as a tourist but as a Rottweiler enthusiast. What is the general opinion about the state of today’s Working Rottweiler ? Where is the best potential as far as Working Rottweilers ? Where are the next generations of working champions going to come from ?
We can answer these questions from 3 different views: the view of the Breeder, the view of the Buyer (read: Trainer) and the view of the “Advocate of the Devil”…

-The view from the Breeder.

For where I personally have been and seen (some parts of Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Portugal, Bulgaria, UK, Norway, Canada, USA, China, Malaysia) is it 5 past 12...
The most impressive dogs I've seen were in Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Norway.


Especially USA and the “land of the rising sun” (Asia) are paying too much attention on show and exterior to have serious success on the working field. That’s why almost all of their good competing dogs are imports.
The other countries I've spoken from seem to mix everything, which results in a mix of all kind of bloodlines and types. The training quality and motivation of the trainers are also from very high importance, no good trainers, no good dogs.

In my opinion Switzerland has the most working lines overall, they use only exclusively German working lines, however none of the Swiss genepool seems to stick his head up on international trials... I have no answer for that, maybe it’s a lacking of interest for commercial business, who knows.
Austria had the best working bloodlines till about 15 years ago, from than on they became more commercial and commercial means: correct "show". Before that the politics of the Austrian Club/Breeders were anti-commercial. I remember writing letters (before the internet area) to all Austrian breeders asking for buying a puppy or information on their pedigrees, no response came back. It was after repeating the same letters, some answers came.
I think Germany has on this moment still the best working dogs, remember over there they are still trained "the old and hard way". pincollars, corrections for everything, force, etc.
I blame the "Positive Reinforcement Method" for creating a genepool of softer dogs, maybe with more play (prey) drives. At least something positive... A dog trained the "traditional way” needs more power to stand the stress and corrections, than a dog trained the positive way. What you see is what you get !
Breeding has nothing to do with the talent or the way of training of the owner.


Seeing these dogs in other countries didn't change my opinion on the Working Rottweiler, it only changed my hope fore finding a better genepool in a strange country. I had high hopes to find better or ultimate dogs/bloodlines in one of my journeys, but i came to the conclusion that it is right before my eyes: Western Europe !
Maybe the health and endurance of the Scandinavian bloodlines mixed with some harder, taxable, tough blood from over here would give the best results...
I'm seriously thinking about it ! I had a nice opportunity from a interesting female owned by the President of the Norwegian Rottweiler Club and our stud “Bodo v Schloss Hexental”, but I was too blind to see. She had one of her best litters ever, she told me afterwards.
Maybe next time, there are a few breedings coming up from hopefully interesting females. (this is also a wink to you breeders with the right females). I think that the future of the working Rottweiler is in Scandinavia, especially in Norway and Finland.
future will tell... hopefully I'm wrong.

The Scandinavians have a very healthy population, they were the first to examine HD/ED, they have statistics of most of their genepool, many generations back. The reason why they have such a healthy genepool is maybe an insurance thing, they have some sorth of “health insurance for dogs”. This forces them to buy from “perfect healthy” parents. This and the type of endurance sports they practice over there, makes their Rottweiler different from type as the Western European Rottweiler.

-The view from the Trainer.

When a “coutry” like Scandinavia gets more time, most other countries will have a hard time to beat them, because dogsport has changed and they practice exclusively towards this new type of judging. It’s about time that people start to see that there’s a lot going on in the recent dogsport-world: certain ways of new training seems to become more popular as other. The Judges nowadays like to see a controlled, happy and friendly dog. There are many potential Working Rottweilers al over the world, there is just something wrong in the training. Sometimes you can get much more out of your dog than you ever know, it’s just the right type of training who will make the Rottweiler perform at top level. Breeding is giving and taking, so is training. We need Rottweilers with the drives to compete over and over, a Working Rottweiler has to sport and get results, that’s number one. The “Positive Reinforcement System” (clicker) is the key to top performing Rottweilers. The right training is more important as the bloodlines.

-The view from the Advocate of the Devil.

Why became the Working Rottweiler a “rare” breed ?

"Working" is not only dogsport ! Dogsport is just a part of working. Dogsport was ment as a artificial test to maintain the working qualities in working dogbreeds. I personally find that SCHH is not the "only thing”. Remember the Ringsport is the selection of the Malinois. Doing both would be ideal, or a mix of both.

Uran du Detroit Lancaster, the best Belgian Ringsport Rottweiler ever in conflict with multiple Belgian and Worldchampion Mr. Bruno Misselyn


If breeders of working dogs would only select their breedpool from the "positive trained and top scoring SCHH dogs" (clicker dogs), the working dogs are as good as dead !!!
The score is not so important as being impressed by the power of the dog. A good dog must display power: a quality that should never be overlooked or dismissed when making breeding selections. A good sportdog may not necessarily be a good producer and vice versa ! There are several examples in the past. As long as the owners are honest about the “real” qualities of their dogs when using or promoting them for breeding, there is no real problem…

Sport/reality vs breeding of Working Rottweilers.


Where is the power and resistance/countering gone in the recent SCHH sport-bitework ? Silent guarding with give me, give me look on the dog’s face and a tail wagging around telling everybody that this is pure preydrive. The dog is staring at the sleeve, the Helper could walk away leaving his sleeve on the ground. The dog would still "guard" the sleeve. These are the signs of a Sportdog, but not of a workingdog !

The problem starts here: nowadays the judging of sportdogs is totally different compared to 15 years ago. In the old days the figurant had a bamboo stick, now it’s a padded softstick, pincollars were all over the place, now pincollars are forbidden. When a dog showed some kind of reservation (read: aggression towards strangers), nobody cared. When a dog had a heavy “out”, nobody cared. The sport gets further and further away from the real business, the new training techniques prefer a following, social preymonster.

I´m especially against silent guarding and all of these positive stuff (clicker). I mean if we “help” the dog to pass the tests with these “tricks”, we are going in the wrong direction. A dog should be able to pass a test without tricks.
Training the “old school” with pressure, aggression and corrections, the control and definition may be not so good in trials, but the dog is really strong and he´s not there for playing. He’s there for real, that's what we should prove the audience and Judges. Our dog his qualities, we are just there to give the commands.

Real life workingdogs, the Militar or Police want a dog to have enough aggression because it is a necessary tool to have in training and of course in the real world when needed.

Impressive image of an Austrian Army Dog out of the famous Kaisersteinbruch Kennels.

If the SCHH people and specially the breeders don’t need (or don’t want to use) aggression anymore, where are we going to find the working dogs in the future ? Military, Border Patrol and Police have their own tests and training, but they don´t do any breeding what so ever (except for the Kaisersteinbruch-kennels in Austria). They just need about a few hundred new dogs every year. All of these working dogs are bought from civil breeders, the same breeders that we bought our sportdogs from. Same lines, same qualities and same parents.

If we don’t stress and train them in maximum limits and just go for the preymonsters/easy to handle kind of dogs, what then ? 5-10 years and all of the aggression capability in our dogs is gone ! Would you want to work with this so called social and loving dog as servicedog in the real world ? Not me.

Loose some points over the power and drive should be OK. But that doesn´t mean that we should not try to maintain perfect technical level. Often aggression-drive gives problems in the control phases and some other things. But that is not the dog´s fault or mistake. It´s the trainer’s mistake. It’s up to the handler to get the maximum out of the dog. If he cant handle it, than he’s not the right handler. This is an important issue for the breeders, to know who made the mistakes.

A sportdog and a workingdog should be one and the same ! This is the bottom line of all working breeds.

The Positive Reinforcement Method and the “danger” of it.

There is a big difference in “reactive” and “active” dogs. Clicker dogs are waiting for the click: Reactive. They bite after the click. Where is the dominance and aggression ? When they bite, they just do their job, no countering, no thinking, no nothing!
Click, preybite and fun !

The clicker makes reactive dogs (especially with food !).

On the other hand they say that the click is not helping the dog and the use in the bitework is only to have better control, the click is the announcement to the actual reward. This means when your dog does something that you want (by himself or by command) he gets his reward. By this he will repeat this behavior.  So you click and “send” him to bite, not doing what you want means: no reward, and that exactly is the “punnishment” for the dog , especially when you have a dog who is longing to bite. For the rest you can work the dog or raise him in bitework the way you want . Thing is that the dog gets no corrections anymore. No correction, no stress, no stress, no taxability test, no taxability test, watering down of the drives… It is a given fact that when dogs are not tested in their original task, the drives (or is it the breed) watering down. After a few generations it’s just a look-alike anymore, a fake copy…

The positive reinforcement method means technically:

Classical examples, aka Pavlovs test: "Bark">Click>Bite.
Aggression >BARK (with dominance)>Move>Bite and counter with dominance, can also be done "Bark">move the sleeve>bite...preybite.

With the clicker (or the positive system) you can make the dogs more correct and you can also make weaker dogs better looking. What you see is not what you get.


As for the bitework, the clicker is not making the dogs more friendly or softer. It just makes the dog more reactive. The rebel type of dog is not preferred. Dominance and aggression is not tested or used.
My experience is for "the traditional training type" of bringing the dog in high defense and aggression during the bitework (whip), that the dog cannot canalize the requested as good as in lower aggression. With other words: a dog who is hysterical cannot learn and must be corrected very strong to learn something. Which takes more time + pressure = stress.

There is also a limit on these drives , all the drives who are too high will give conflicts somewhere, and on the other hand a dog cannot have drives enough. However the more drives, the more talent and experience the trainer needs.

Helmut Raiser (the Godfather of SCHH video’s and books) does obedience over preydrive (learning to use aggression in obedience because it gives a great boost).
He doesn´t like to see food training, because the dog is doing it for the treat and not for the handler ! Someone could say that that’s the same with the ball or preydrive in generally. I´m saying no is not ! Why ? Because of the corrections and "force" in this reward.
When it´s done right, the ball is not the reason why they obey the commands. Its a packdrive thing, a way to lower the stress but also authority.
How do you see the difference? General outcome and tail ! When a dog does serious obedience (not by positive stuff), the tail is not wagging around ! Fun and obedience should be the same in the early stages. We should strive that our dog does obedience everywhere and anytime, without clickers, balls, pincollars or any other device or toy...
The tail and ears tell you everything. SCHH guarding, impressive and serious bark, no tail wagging means real business. The tail wagging around and having fun (read: preydrive "barking") barking for points is nowhere near active aggression or dominance.
Point here is that, why should the technical performance be more important than the dog's natural drives ? Are points more important than the dog it self ? When you go to see a SCHH trial, do you go there to see the dogs or the handlers and their skills of training ? We should strive to see good dogs, not good handlers. Although they walk hand in hand.
I prefer in any given day a great dog and poor handler and not the other way around. Purely based on breeding issues. IPO and SCHH are meaningless sports if they are done wrong (read: I want to win any possible way I can. My dog suck’s, I don´t tell it to anyone. I´m such a good trainer that I can hide all his faults)...

Should the best dog win the trial, or the best handler ? This is also a VERY important question for the breeders ! You don’t breed the handler…

The thing is that the relationship between the handler and the dog must be correct and optimal. You can get good heeling and good obedience without having a good relationship, we see it a lot within these positive trained dogs. But then the handler is counting on the dog to be tricked into thinking that at any moment the reward (ball or food) is coming. It is better to know that your dog is going to give you good obedience for the simple reason because you gave the command. That is true obedience that will never let you down, but maybe will result in a lower score.
There is a difference between being the person that controls the rewards, and being the true handler.

Relationship is more important than balldrive, fooddrive, or any other motivator. In this I mean that the handler is the dominant half of the team, that the dog is totally submissive to the handler's wishes in every way shape and form. The ball, toy or food are just devices to release the stress of this type of relationship. The reward is just a manner in which the team finds success through pack team work. The handler being the leader in the pack.
If a dog is more attracted to the handler than the ball (or any thing else) then the relationship is correct. An example is if you throw the ball away, the dog should bring the ball back to the handler and not run around with it. When you see this in a relationship, you know that team has a good relationship (bond). You don't have to have this type of relationship to do good obedience, but it sure makes you feel extremely confident when you enter the field with this type of relationship. You don't have to worry about distractions or other people clicking...

Resume:

The “Traditional way (Raiser) of training” shows the real inside of the dog, test and taxes him in most important drives.

The “Positive way (clicker) of training” shows more of the qualities of the handler and don’t use all his drives. It’s definedly the most dog-friendly training, however it does not guaranty the necessary drives to maintain a working breed.

Competitions like Ringsport, Mondioring and KNPV are till this moment free from “positive way training”, maybe we should introduce more studs or females who practice these “reality sports” in our breeding programs.

Baldur v Schloss Hexental demonstrating the typical inside-arm bite of the Dutch KNPV Program.

Bodo v Schloss Hexental at his Mondioring 1 exam.

Copyright by Guy Verschatse

Belgium

 

 

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Pictures:

 Mollosser wardog, 200 bC

 

Edmond Moecheron, "father" of the Ringsport

Belgian "Apache" (Helper) from the early beginning (+/- 1900)

 

"Matin Belge", extinct Belgian "Rottweiler equivalent" who was used to pull heavy artillery 

 

German Shepherds as "Polizeihunde" in 1936

 

US-Army K9-unit in Normandy 1942 

 

Belgian Ringsport during the late '60's

 

Lars v. Alt-Mengenich

Lars v. Alt-Mengenich, Belgian best Belgian Ringsport-Rottweiler from 1994 till 1996

 

Über v. Schloss Hexental

Über v. Schloss Hexental (Igor v Muthmannsdorf x Queeny v Schloss Hexental) the only Rottie in Belgium to compete the Belgian Ringsport in 1998

 

Vmax v. Schloss Hexental (Igor v Muthmannsdorf x Saaike v Schloss Hexental) during KNPV-training.

 

Branko v Steenhove, highest scoring Rottweiler in Dutch Ringsport (KNPV PH1)

 

Xanto v. Schloss Hexental (Janko v Herrenholz x Uschi v Schloss Hexental) during his extreme Policedog-training for the Belgian Gendarmerie

 

Belgian Special Forces today

 

Scene on the French Mondioring Championship in 2000

 

Zoran v Schloss Hexental during a  Policedog training 

 

Pasco vd Traisenwiese during a French Ringsport trial

 

Bill de la Tour Dominante, first French Ring 3 Rottweiler ever

 

Author demonstrating a antique Russian army bitecoat 

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