A Nurse with a Gun

Friday, May 23, 2008

Temperment Training

I took Ilsa riding this afternoon, and we worked on her training. The temperament standard for a German Shepherd Dog is an important component of the breed.Click to enlarge
The German Shepherd Dog has a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, self-confidence, and a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them. It is poised, but when the occasion demands, eager and alert; both fit and willing to serve in its capacity as a companion, watchdog, blind leader, herding dog, or guardian, whichever the circumstances may demand. The dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master or handler; it should not be nervous, looking about or upward with anxious expression or showing nervous reactions, such as tucking of tail, to strange sounds or sights. Lack of confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character.
To this end, I introduce Ilsa to new and potentially frightening experiences that will help her build greater and greater confidence and trust. Click to enlargeIt is not that the confidence and trust is not there, but whether it will serve her well, no matter what the circumstances. Canine stress inoculation. One of the tests I know she will have to accomplish is the elevated grate. Grates are spooky things to dogs unaccustomed to them. Ilsa's test will be twenty feet up with gusts of wind and even water coming through it. Click to enlarge

.........So how does Ilsa react? She lays down and takes a rest.

Ilsa's willingness to stay on task, snorking every potential hidey hole for the scent she in trying to follow is exemplary. I commonly use one of the local high schools or a park as a training ground because of all the confusing layers of scent from the many different people.Click to enlarge

We use a section of capped off and drilled out PVC pipe containing used socks and underwear from the person being sought as the search object. Occasionally, if possible, we will enlist the assistance of the actual person.

When she is tested, Ilsa will have evaluators trying to distract her from her task. Evaluators have all manner of distractions including other dogs, cats or squirrels introduced into the search dog's path. The first human encountered is the Registration/Entry Clerk. As the dog continues to work, the Neutral Stranger shows up. Next, a Friendly Stranger arrives with treats trying to lure her off task. Click to enlargeIf she continues on task, a Can Rattling Stranger pops out from behind a corner. A Gun Shooting Stranger has a starter's pistol waiting in the brush. The Umbrella Opening Stranger usually carries a supply of umbrellas because of failing candidates. Finally there is the Weird Stranger, who may have any sort of costume, designed to freak out any dog they approach. They may be dressed in tinsel playing bagpipes with an accomplice or two waving flags. Anything goes.

This is the Triathlon of Agility. Through it all, Ilsa must stay on task.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They may be dressed in tinsel playing bagpipes with an accomplice or two waving flags"

Good grief! I'd break and run at the sight of that!

5:29 PM  
Anonymous B said...

Beautiful dog Xavier, good luck with the search and rescue training. Also great firearms info - I carry as well. Can you cook and clean? - joking

Thanks for stopping by my site - I'll be back to work on it any day now after an inexcusable hiatus! We'll be checking back to see how Ilsa progresses.

Keep up the great work!

7:31 AM  
Anonymous Steve said...


Good luck training Ilsa! I hope she does well in her tests!

She sure is beautiful; I can't IMAGINE how much those grates must have bothered the pads of her paws!!


11:27 PM  

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