DEBATE: APBT's in Protection Sports

Weight pull, Protection, Agility, Flyball... you name it!

Postby amalie79 » November 27th, 2010, 2:39 pm

I'm no trainer, and I don't really have much interest in protection work (I have no problem with it for responsible, knowledgeable folks, I'm just more interested in other dog activities for myself)... But in light of the points Michelle just made, and in light of the other thread going on about breeding out DA or other "undesirable" traits in pits, I had a thought, and it's really just a thought. I don't know how I feel particularly about this topic, but it's interesting.

Anyway, "gameness" is an integral part of traditional pit temperament. An important part of protection work, if I'm not mistaken, is not just the attack but being able to reliably call the dog off. If you're dealing with a traditionally game dog, can you really trust it to reliably call off? Obviously, individual dogs are different, but speaking broadly here... Fighting dogs who were HA at any level (even reactionary) were culled, if I understand this correctly, because people needed to be able to get in the pit and pull the dogs off each other. Physically pull them off. Not obedience train them to call off. A dog that doesn't give up by its very nature, might not be a great candidate for bite work, certainly not for the amateur. Considering the discussion in the other thread about working a dog in the manner that it was bred to work (ie, maybe not have JRTs actually hunt rats in the house, but gear them toward hunting simulation activities or those competitions where they go through series of tunnels and go to ground to find a bait animal. I can't remember what that's called), it seems like safe, reliable protections work goes against what a pit bull is prone to do.

Does that make sense? Like I said, I know each dog is an individual-- Robin was attacked by another dog and she tried to run away, so... they're not all the same obviously, but for the sake of discussion...
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » November 27th, 2010, 3:14 pm

Gameness can't be tested by protection work. Many people will say that gameness can ONLY be tested in the pit. So gameness has nothing to do with being able to be called off a bite. Also, a lot of dogs approach bitework as fun and games. They're serious about it, but have fun. DemoDick had Inara biting a sleeve within just a few minutes - she thought it was the greatest game of tug ever. She would have outed if I'd told her to. A lot of it just comes down to obedience training.

Also, I know we like to believe that all HA dogs were culled back in the olden days, but I find it really hard to believe that if the dog was otherwise an outstanding prize fighter that they'd remove it from the gene pool because it bites. I like to think they would, but I'm not holding my breath.
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Postby TheRedQueen » November 27th, 2010, 3:15 pm

I don't do protection sports, but I do train a strong tug drive into my dogs...for flyball. And I have reliable outs on dogs that latch on hard to whatever is put in front of them and told to bite. (all without compulsion, btw).

Anyway...no matter the breed, if the dog won't stop/out/quit when told to do...needs more training, or the dog needs to find a new job. I have herding dogs, and I have herded with them...and they have to call off livestock when told to do so. I had a basset hound that was a great rabbit hunter...even though she only tried an official hunt once (placed 9th out of 30 field bred dogs)...she was trained to call off of wild game. I don't think it's a pit bull problem...but just an individual dog and handler problem. Michelle and Riggs come to mind...she stopped doing bitework because Riggs wouldn't out on command/cue (I hope I have that right, since I'm using you as an example, Michelle! lol )
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Postby mnp13 » November 27th, 2010, 3:50 pm

Malli wrote:
mnp13 wrote:Pit Bulls are not the same to train in protection sports as herders, the harder you fight them the harder they fight back - it's the fundamental nature of a combat breed. I can't count the number of times we choked Riggs off of things, or tried to correct him to out. It's an exercise in futility with a dog that truly isn't going to give up... or will eventually get fed up enough with the treatment to return the favor.


This is my other main concern.


It's a MAJOR concern for all of the people who have trainers who don't understand the difference between herders and Pit Bulls. I was one of them, the people I trained with had no clue how to deal with a Pit Bull, and unfortunately Connor and Riggs had to put up with that. Thankfully, they are none-the-worse for the wear, but there were some unpleasant training sessions.

amalie79 wrote:If you're dealing with a traditionally game dog, can you really trust it to reliably call off?

Apples and oranges. The "out" is obedience, no different than an out from a toy. My point was that you can't teach a combat breed by fighting with it. Did Riggs out by choking him off? Yes. Did I choke him off until he was blue in the face (literally)? Yes. And I got fed up with it. I know people who have other breeds where you tell them out, they don't out, you choke them off once and the issue is pretty much gone. The understand that if they don't, there are consequences that are unpleasant, and decide that outing is much better than the alternative. Riggs, not so much. I could choke him off 10 times in a row, he'd just get tired faster each time because I was repeatedly choking him... not because he was letting go faster because he was obeying. In his mind, I was "fighting" him, and that is the "gameness" thing - I could choke him to unconsiousness and he wasn't giving up the object (ball, stick, decoy... whatever). Most dogs have self preservation, a "game" dog doesn't - because self preservation tells anything to stop before they get hurt.

I was not referring to "fighting" in the respect of the decoy working the dog. Connor will out from a decoy who is actively yelling, moving, etc. It's a lot of work to teach, but most high level dogs will do it. You teach them to listen and obey even through the elevated level of drive. This is done by outing off of a quiet decoy, and when that is reliable, you have the decoy move a little bit, then more, then more... etc. Until the dog will drop off no matter what the decoy is doing.

In the DSO, there is one scenario (glasses glasses) where the decoy infront of you is yelling and waving a stick around, but the decoy you're supposed to send the dog on is next to you being quiet. If your dog goes for the active decoy, you have to get him off and redirected to the quiet one - it's not easy, but it's just higher training.

TheRedQueen wrote:Anyway...no matter the breed, if the dog won't stop/out/quit when told to do...needs more training, or the dog needs to find a new job. I have herding dogs, and I have herded with them...and they have to call off livestock when told to do so. I had a basset hound that was a great rabbit hunter...even though she only tried an official hunt once (placed 9th out of 30 field bred dogs)...she was trained to call off of wild game. I don't think it's a pit bull problem...but just an individual dog and handler problem. Michelle and Riggs come to mind...she stopped doing bitework because Riggs wouldn't out on command/cue (I hope I have that right, since I'm using you as an example, Michelle! lol )

Yup. I had had enough of the endless fighting with him over outing. I am 100% positive I could teach an out with two decoys and consistent training... however, I don't have two decoys so have stopped with him. It's not worth the battles and the hard feelings between me and my dog.

Hope that all makes sense, there are a ton of "layers" to it, let me know if I'm need to clarify, it makes perfect sense to me, but I'm a little :crazy2: lol
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Postby Pit♥bull » November 27th, 2010, 4:01 pm

mnp13 wrote:but I'm a little :crazy2:
:spit: I couldn't resist
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Postby amalie79 » November 27th, 2010, 6:51 pm

Dogs that just-don't-quit no matter what is in front of them can be considered "game" for this discussion in my opinion.


That's something Michelle said in the other thread about DA-- I think Erin also referred to is as tenacious and drivey. That's the definition I was going for-- an "everyday" sort of "gameness," not actual pit fighting gameness. Probably should have been more specific. It was really just a hypothetical, though. I'm sure there are dogs of every breed who can handle protection work and follow the handler's commands perfectly-- I also wasn't suggesting that pit bulls can't be obedience trained-- that would be ridiculous. I just thought it was interesting that gameness was defined as "just-don't-quit" in the other thread, and a lot of folks were adamant that it was a critical component to the breed, but in protections work, there needs to be some willingness to comply. I'm curious as to whether, if a working dog in an actual protection situation, not just play/practice competition, might find the event to be so intense that the gameness comes out and overrides the commands. :| :? I was really just throwing it out there as an outside person reading both these threads and seeing interesting correlations.

I also didn't mean that all HA dogs were culled in the old days-- I just know, at least from what I have read and been told, that it was a somewhat common practice, certainly not 100% compliance, and it would definitely make sense that winners would stick around regardless. I just meant that when the "just don't quit" part came out in the pit, it would seem to make sense that the handlers would use a command to call them off if they could and not risk getting in the middle of things, but rather they had to physically pull them apart, maybe because that drive was so strong... ?? On the other hand, not a lot about dog fighting makes sense, so it's probably silly of me to try to project "sense" and logic onto it. :neutral:

Eh. Like I said, I know it's individual to every dog and handler. :| And now I'll just shut up and listen/read-- I definitely don't know enough about any of this to talk further; just making some observations. :)
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Postby amalie79 » November 27th, 2010, 6:54 pm

Also, I do understand that there is a big BIG difference between DA and HA-- I'm just wondering out loud. :)
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Postby TheRedQueen » November 27th, 2010, 7:44 pm

amalie79 wrote:
Dogs that just-don't-quit no matter what is in front of them can be considered "game" for this discussion in my opinion.


That's something Michelle said in the other thread about DA-- I think Erin also referred to is as tenacious and drivey. That's the definition I was going for-- an "everyday" sort of "gameness," not actual pit fighting gameness. Probably should have been more specific. It was really just a hypothetical, though. I'm sure there are dogs of every breed who can handle protection work and follow the handler's commands perfectly-- I also wasn't suggesting that pit bulls can't be obedience trained-- that would be ridiculous. I just thought it was interesting that gameness was defined as "just-don't-quit" in the other thread, and a lot of folks were adamant that it was a critical component to the breed, but in protections work, there needs to be some willingness to comply. I'm curious as to whether, if a working dog in an actual protection situation, not just play/practice competition, might find the event to be so intense that the gameness comes out and overrides the commands. :| :? I was really just throwing it out there as an outside person reading both these threads and seeing interesting correlations.


Yup, I have a different idea of being "game" from what the pit bull people have...I've always thought of being "game" as a type of thing you'd say about humans...ready, willing to take anything on...tenacious, eager, etc. But pit bull folks see it a different way...so I'm always getting it confused too. Good points you made...if a pit bull is really game...how do you get it to break its hold on another dog...if you were in the ring, let's say. So same thing goes for bitework...how do you get the dog to break its hold...like Riggs for example?

Eh. Like I said, I know it's individual to every dog and handler. :| And now I'll just shut up and listen/read-- I definitely don't know enough about any of this to talk further; just making some observations. :)


Don't shut up! :) Stick around and ramble all you want...look at me, I take things waaaaay off topic to these threads, and no one gets mad at me! lol Heck, I don't even own pit bulls! ;)
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Postby mnp13 » November 28th, 2010, 2:13 am

amalie79 wrote: I just thought it was interesting that gameness was defined as "just-don't-quit" in the other thread, and a lot of folks were adamant that it was a critical component to the breed, but in protections work, there needs to be some willingness to comply.

You're misunderstanding.

The "just don't quit" stuff is the part of "game" that a dog who is horribly injured and/or dieing is still willing to continue a fight. It is willing to "scratch." Dog fighting was between willing dogs, when a dog turned, the fight was done. (don't misunderstand that as me condoning it, I just know the history of it)

I'm curious as to whether, if a working dog in an actual protection situation, not just play/practice competition, might find the event to be so intense that the gameness comes out and overrides the commands.

Perhaps, but in a real situation, who cares? Honestly, if someone is out to harm me or a loved one, I'm not outing the dog anyway. :| Many police dogs do not have an out, and that is by design, because if the dog doesn't listen because of the adrenaline of the moment and the handler has to say "out" ten times it could be looked upon as the police not having control of their dogs. When it's time to out, the dog is choked off.

I just meant that when the "just don't quit" part came out in the pit, it would seem to make sense that the handlers would use a command to call them off if they could and not risk getting in the middle of things, but rather they had to physically pull them apart, maybe because that drive was so strong... ??

I can't imagine the dog was called out during a fight. Someone knowing the command could interrupt a fight, etc. The dogs were straddled and pulled apart probably using a break stick if the dog wouldn't release, you wouldn't choke them off because you didn't want to ruin their stamina.

And now I'll just shut up and listen/read-- I definitely don't know enough about any of this to talk further; just making some observations. :)

No reason to shut up. :)
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Postby mnp13 » November 28th, 2010, 2:27 am

TheRedQueen wrote:Good points you made...if a pit bull is really game...how do you get it to break its hold on another dog...if you were in the ring, let's say. So same thing goes for bitework...how do you get the dog to break its hold...like Riggs for example?

If Riggs had ahold of another dog I'm quite sure I'd have to choke him off. Though when he had the JRT, I yelled at him and he did let go. (Though he was only being an ass and had ahold of her coat, he wasn't actually trying to hurt her or he would have.)

In bitework, if I had the resources, I would have taught him the out off of a decoy the same way I taught it with a toy. Using two decoys, one goes "dead" the other gives a reaction when he lets go of the first. It's "toy switching" with a big toy. When that is reliable, the decoy slowly gets more animated, then you phase out the second decoy.

Teaching that the reward will come is the essential part. Since nothing overrides his desire to hold on to the decoy, he doesn't want to give it up.
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Postby amalie79 » November 28th, 2010, 3:22 am

mnp13 wrote:The "just don't quit" stuff is the part of "game" that a dog who is horribly injured and/or dieing is still willing to continue a fight. It is willing to "scratch." Dog fighting was between willing dogs, when a dog turned, the fight was done. (don't misunderstand that as me condoning it, I just know the history of it)


I understand the origin of the term, but I'd say that the same tenacity that is at the root of this is transferable to other activities and situations-- we see that drive in our dogs all the time with other things. At least I know I do.

And I meant that there needs to be a willingness to comply with what the handler wants, even when the dog wants to continue to bite and hold.

(I certainly didn't think you were condoning it, by any means.)

Perhaps, but in a real situation, who cares


What if the dog misreads the situation-- what if you misread the situation for that matter, or misread the severity of the threat? I would want to know for damn sure that I had an "off" switch if I had a dog that could attack on command. My judgement isn't 100% correct, and while most dogs' is pretty good, it's not perfect, either.

I can't imagine the dog was called out during a fight. Someone knowing the command could interrupt a fight, etc. The dogs were straddled and pulled apart probably using a break stick if the dog wouldn't release, you wouldn't choke them off because you didn't want to ruin their stamina.


That's my point-- if the dogs had to be pried apart, then that drive to bite is so strong that the dog isn't interested in complying with its handler with just a word, just a command.

No reason to shut up. :)


Alrighty then, I won't :D
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » November 28th, 2010, 9:16 am

amalie79 wrote:That's my point-- if the dogs had to be pried apart, then that drive to bite is so strong that the dog isn't interested in complying with its handler with just a word, just a command.


You've got to also keep in mind a couple things:
1. Fighting dogs probably weren't given much, if any, obedience training.
2. These dogs were literally fighting for their lives. If you were in a fight for your life and somebody said "stop!" - would you?

I understand what you're saying - what if the dogs doing bitework think they're fighting for their lives as well? I think that is avoided a lot by training in different drives - prey drive instead of defense drive (somebody correct me if I'm way off track!). And there is so much obedience interspersed with bitework that the dogs probably know to expect it, which can be a problem. At the DSO a few of us go to (bitework/obedience competetion in Michigan), they have to be careful about how they tell people to out their dogs because some dogs will out if they associate a sound (such as a buzzer or beep) with it enough times. It becomes routine, and you end up with a dog that outs before the handler tells it to. Not good.
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Postby TheRedQueen » November 28th, 2010, 9:30 am

pitbullmamaliz wrote:
amalie79 wrote:That's my point-- if the dogs had to be pried apart, then that drive to bite is so strong that the dog isn't interested in complying with its handler with just a word, just a command.


You've got to also keep in mind a couple things:
1. Fighting dogs probably weren't given much, if any, obedience training.
2. These dogs were literally fighting for their lives. If you were in a fight for your life and somebody said "stop!" - would you?

I understand what you're saying - what if the dogs doing bitework think they're fighting for their lives as well? I think that is avoided a lot by training in different drives - prey drive instead of defense drive (somebody correct me if I'm way off track!). And there is so much obedience interspersed with bitework that the dogs probably know to expect it, which can be a problem.


Ah...I hadn't thought about that aspect of it...thanks Liz. Did they really fight to the death, or did they fight until a human broke it up? Would the dogs have known...? More food for thought. I hate to keep bringing this part up, but I think it's relevant.

At the DSO a few of us go to (bitework/obedience competetion in Michigan), they have to be careful about how they tell people to out their dogs because some dogs will out if they associate a sound (such as a buzzer or beep) with it enough times. It becomes routine, and you end up with a dog that outs before the handler tells it to. Not good.


Ah...that falls under the category of not having good stimulus control. ;) The dog should out only on cue, and only if *their* handler gives the cue (at least that's what I'd want). Not on a random buzzer or the judge saying "excercise finished". lol

FYI...Explaining stimulus control:
http://stalecheerios.com/blog/horse-tra ... s-control/

I used to play around with this in my puppy classes...using the Kathy Sdao game "Prove It". Super fun stuff...:) and it makes you realize how horrible your stimulus control is with the dogs! lol
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Postby plebayo » November 28th, 2010, 9:43 am

amalie79 wrote:That's my point-- if the dogs had to be pried apart, then that drive to bite is so strong that the dog isn't interested in complying with its handler with just a word, just a command.


This is why it is important to be a responsible owner, like Michelle, and pull your dog from the sport. If a dog's drive to bite is so high they will not out and you have to choke your dog off of a person every time it's obviously not that much fun for either of you.

Not every pit bull has that serious of a drive to bite. It's definitely a terrier trait, my sister has a cairn terrier and when she grabs something you can pick her up off the ground and spin her around the room and she won't let go of the toy.

It's important to find a trainer who understands the needs of your dog training wise, regardless of breed. It's also important for an owner to know when enough is enough and be able to gauge whether or not the sport is still fun for them or the dog.

Many police dogs do not have an out, and that is by design, because if the dog doesn't listen because of the adrenaline of the moment and the handler has to say "out" ten times it could be looked upon as the police not having control of their dogs. When it's time to out, the dog is choked off.


That's really interesting. I'm not sure about our dogs at county, but our dogs in our city department are trained to out. I would think in the eye of the public choking a dog off would look just as bad as a dog simply not listening.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » November 28th, 2010, 9:47 am

Erin, from what I've read, dogs didn't often fight to the death. Even if a dog was losing, as long as it continued to scratch it would have proven its gameness and been bred. The dogmen wouldn't want to lose game dogs. However, I doubt the dogs knew that they weren't fighting for their lives.
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Postby furever_pit » November 30th, 2010, 2:07 pm

Michelle brings up some good points about training differences between bulldogs and herders. They are quite literally apples and oranges. Part of the reason I like having both in the house actually, they make me appreciate the other one more. The things that annoy me with one dog are easy with the other and vice versa.

It does make it somewhat difficult to find a protection trainer who is familiar with working bulldogs. I finally found one who "got" Dylan after working with 2 other clubs for about a year. But it also comes down to speaking up for your dog. Your TD should listen to you about your own dog and should be open to discussions about training methods and philosophies. I hate when trainers have that "my way or the highway" attitude, mostly cause there are just some things I won't do to my dogs.

For my two I taught the out command very differently. The Pit Bull learned it on a series of toys that increased in value through the use of a marker and food rewards. The Mal learned to out with one collar correction given at the exact same time that I gave the command and offered a tug right next to his head while he was biting the decoy. Dog will out off of anything and come tearing back to me for his tug now. The out has also transferred well to fetch and frisbee games. I could not teach Dylan the out the same way that I taught Cairo and vice versa.

As for the concern about a dog being able to tell the difference between a situation where it should bite and it should not....I have actually found that Pit Bulls and other bulldogs tend to have a better discrimination ability than some herders.
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Postby dlynne1123 » December 1st, 2010, 12:31 pm

May I also add, that any dog trained for personal protection, schutz for french ring, is and will always be a liability. Having owned one, its training for life! Not learn how to do it then keep them rusty. You should always keep them practiced, like owning a gun. AFterall you are training a dog how to be weapon, you should treat it with the same respect.

My first Bulldog show in jersey, I saw more dogs with big bites and no outs, it made me nervous to even think about training this sport. But after seeing polished dogs, trained in the best of ways, I can appreciate it done the right way. And I think a APBT or Amstaff with the correct training can do any sport, including bite sports. Its natural, and I've seen bite sport dogs be service dogs too. It doens't elminate the softer side of the dog. It gives them a game to do as an outlet. AGain, when done correctly.
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Postby dlynne1123 » December 1st, 2010, 12:55 pm

http://www.youtube.com/user/norcsii#p/u/1/u-M7aAAiSAU

My idle in discovering clicker training, regardless of the breed, they need outlets for their instinctual dog behaviors first and foremost, before they can focus and learn.
It actually covers protection sports as a healthy outlet.
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