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Building Drive

Drive and enthusiasm are key components of Schutzhund. Top points require a dog that looks happy and energetic in the work.

To create this harmonious picture, we need a dog with the required willingness to work for his handler, protective instincts and an aptitude for tracking. We can develop and increase the desire to work in the dog through several methods. Puppies are usually easy to work with because they are growing quickly and constantly hungry. This allows us to do several short sessions in a day at each meal time. Training the pup prior to feeding develops good work ethic and can also increase food drive. The pup can also be restrained a little from the food to increase desire and excitement.

We can also develop desire to play with toys with puppies, by spending short fun sessions of chase and tug. When playing with toys, we want to tease the puppy and make it difficult to catch the toy, but not so difficult that the pup loses interest. The pup should be encouraged to pull back and try to take the toy. Once the pup has "won" the toy, some pups like to take it away and chew on it. In this case, it helps to put a light long line on the toy so we can bring it back, we want the dog to enjoy playing with us more than by himself. The long line also allows the handler to move the toy further to help increase desire. We can also tie the dog to sturdy post, with a thick leather collar or harness and tease with a toy. With younger dogs or those which need more movement, a rag can help as it moves a lot and is easy to bite. We can also restrain the dog and kick the toy out ahead, patting the dog and talking excitedly, until the dog barks or tries to lunge forward, at which point we can release to the toy.

Other ways to increase the drive or desire for food include missing a meal or two, and only feeding in conjunction with training, no free food or food from a bowl unless the dog has done some work first. Placing the dog in a quiet crate for an hour or two before playing or feeding can also increase energy to play and desire to spend time with the handler.




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