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What makes one an "experienced handler"?

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

  
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Nikolai

GOgoGogOGO
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 6:51am PST 
Mulder- I said horror stories! wink big laugh
Niko gets that way with the ball. You have to be AWARE if you get him riled up because once he gets into that zone all bets are off. Quick movement = his jaws slamming shut in that direction, hope you didn't need those fingers! laugh out loud He's also very very willing to use his claws and body. I'm not sure I've ever come away from a drivey training session with him without at least a good scratch and I have several scars. Injury in the name of play doesn't intimidate me, bring it on! smile

Going OT though! Don't mean to derail my own post, haha.

Edited by author Wed Nov 28, '12 6:51am PST

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Lucille

I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 8:55am PST 
It's the range of experience to me...how it's meant in the context of handling certain breeds that can be tricky. Has the person handled an unwilling 100+ dog for a full vet exam? Grooming table? Muzzled an injured dog? I've seen a handler backed by a couple dogs and not allowed to move two steps in any direction, what then? Yep, that was an inexperienced handler. wink A dog that steals and hides personal items like keys, cell phones? How many different breeds have they handled for any length of time, all small dogs? all large? How many dogs have they moved at one time?

Handling one's own pet dog that they live with is vastly different than having to deal with dogs that a person doesn't know intimately and sometimes on their worse days. Experience means a wider range than just one type of breed or one type of activity. It means getting through more than a couple sticky wickets with a dog, getting through the unpredictable stuff safely with a dog who can face it again with you.

Or handle a bitch through it. Now you're talking. (referencing that gender preference thread from a little while back, I was one of the few that don't hate on working the girls big grin)
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Happy

The Boy Wonder
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 10:03am PST 
Since someone mentioned horror stories and border collies I have some. I often think that people think all border collies are drivy, high energy, little soft dogs.. and while this can be true of some lines there are lines out there that produce some seriously hard dogs. I couldn't count the number of dogs through the years of running flyball who's handlers used bite gloves, or hawking gloves to handle them coming up to the lane. I have a range even in my own lines.

My eldest, a smooth coat, was the dog who you couldn't give a correction to, he'd come up the leash at you with no problem. He also had some pretty serious redirected aggression issues in his youth. I have scars because no matter how well I had a handle on it he was still a tough dog. I only barely managed to title him in flyball and agility but had no problem putting schutzhund titles on him. People harp on the high energy part of the breed and forget what happens when you can't channel that energy.

What makes a handler experienced? I think Mulder summed it up well. It's a mix of your drive to own a particular dog, a willingness to research and rearrange your life around a dog is great. But you also have to be willing to know when a dog will put you in over your head. I consider myself an experience handler of a particular type of dog, I've done rehab, and I've trained and raised shepherds, and dutchies, and mals and love them.. but there are breeds that I won't handle... some of the harder livestock guardians come to mind.

Keep in mind Experienced in what though... I could have 20 years of serious experience in 'working breeds' that doesn't mean I'm qualified to pick out a show dog from a line up. It's all a matter of what kind of experience you mean.
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Van

The Grey Ghost
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 8:55pm PST 
An "experienced handler" is someone who knows how to maintain leadership over a dog. However, the experience needed varies by breed. I will use Van's breed (Weimaraner) for example. With a Weimaraner, you need to be the dog's pack leader. If you can't maintain leadership over your Weimaraner, then they will kill non-canine animals, like hamsters, rabbits, and guinea pigs. This is a breed that must be socialized well. A behaved Weim in a balanced Weim. Teaching this breed to "sit" is probably the most crucial command. You must also prevent jumping, as Weims are big jumpers! They need a daily short lead walk, too. This breed is prone to bloat and mast cell tumors, so a raw diet is best, as well as very limited exposure to vaccinations. Like most entergetic dogs, they need a daily, long walk. A Weimaraner's needs are very similar to that of a Bloodhound, if I had to compare. Van gets lots of walks and is calm when his human (me) is calm.
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Miyu CGC

Bow down to the- Princess Brat!
 
 
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 9:18pm PST 
Nare, I love how you described it! I mean, everybody so far as really added great facets to an awesome discussion, but man. That's a good description. And is it just me, or are they hard to read sometimes? Especially the more subtle cues.

Mulder, thanks for the breakdown! I really do sometimes wonder, and seeing you guys discuss those amazing kennels with their working dog lines... my goodness. I suppose I can dream. Or work my way towards that, ha!

Nikolai, I feel you about the fingers! Not so much for balls, but treats during training... um yeah. Watch 'em!

Happy, was that your dog that did the Schutzhund? What did you do when he came back up the leash at you? That's crazy!
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Happy

The Boy Wonder
 
 
Barked: Thu Nov 29, '12 10:09am PST 
Miyu-

Happy is my now mostly retired service dog, he had wonderful nerves and I would have never ran into the problems that I did with the dog I described.

The dog I did Schutzhund with (one of) was Domino, well bred and had reasonably stable nerves just more drive than I needed for just working stock (though he did that well too). My male was from my breeding program (he's now 15 so doesn't do much other than the daily jog) and competed very successfully and I might have continued to do the sport with him if my health hadn't started failing. I see a lot of things that I could have done differently with him training wise which might have ended with us having Less confrontation but ultimately it was a different time period for me.

Just because I think it does play into the topic I think that's what we mean about getting too much dog for yourself. I could handle him... he was not a danger to anyone else (quite the opposite as he did therapy work and was wonderfully well mannered to live with) But when in drive he had a low threshold and bit. This is where experience comes in, and why you need to be prepared to seek help no matter What breed you're getting into and why some breeds require more experience to back you up.

- just my personal opinions
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Nikolai

GOgoGogOGO
 
 
Barked: Thu Nov 29, '12 10:30am PST 
Miyu- About half the time Niko takes treats like he knows human fingers are SUPER delicate, really slow, avoiding teeth contact, geeently rolling out his tongue.. the other half of the time it's like he thinks he has to catch the treat and just snaps it like a fly. laugh out loud shh Everyone else takes treats like gentlemen.

Lucille- I agree, there's a lot of real world dog experiences that you don't know you can handle till you're put into that situation. This is a big part of why I push fostering on anyone who talks to me and is considering getting a dog. I was once chastised by a rescue for wanting to "test drive" (their wording) GSDs.. I'd think they would WANT people to get that exposure!

I got the reference at the end, too. wink
One of my fosters was a big old previous chain-dog akita girl that my rescue people told me not to take on. Being bullheaded and of course knowing better (lol) I did it anyway.. I've handled many DA dogs before, big dogs, resource guarders, etc. THAT girl, though.. phew. Reminded me that I am not invincible and that I do have limits to what I can reasonably handle. Just a whole different level.

Happy- ..A sch BC. Still gets me! (: Love it.
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Bianca CGC- TT HIC Thd- ♥

What big ears- you have...
 
 
Barked: Thu Nov 29, '12 12:19pm PST 
I think one difference between a "soft" and "harder" dog is you have to be more on your toes with a harder dog, and be a little more disciplined because if you mess up with them it can be more of a problem. At least myself I find I can get lazy so to speak with a " soft" dog... laugh out loud
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Miyu CGC

Bow down to the- Princess Brat!
 
 
Barked: Thu Nov 29, '12 8:37pm PST 
Bianca, that sounds perfect. I think (and correct me if I'm wrong) but the harder dogs are much more apt to test and push you.

Nikolai, man. At least it's not just mine. I used to think it was a dog thing, and then I'd treat dogs from the rescue, and oh man. My foster had such careful, soft lips... I swooned. laugh out loud
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Nikolai

GOgoGogOGO
 
 
Barked: Thu Nov 29, '12 10:09pm PST 
Miyu- Haha, not just yours. It just means they're having LOTS of fun with you and that they REALLY extra appreciate your treat..! Yeah, that's it, I'll go with that. laugh out loud
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