For the Beginners


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I saw this post shared on FB, written by Find Your Zen Dog Training. I thought I'd leave it here for anyone thinking about IGP or similar sports. If it comes for me, it will not be easy.

Things New Sport Handlers Should Know about IGP/IPO/SCHUTZHUND:
1. Know what you're getting into. It's a 3-phase sport (tracking, obedience, protection). It takes sweat, blood, tears, frustration, excitement, goof ups, laughs, commitment, and time to get your dog anywhere in the sport. How much time and effort you put into your dog will be what makes or breaks your dog for the sport.
2. Pick a breeder that is successful (currently training and trialing) in the sport you want to compete in. A breeder who knows how to pick the right puppy for the right home. Not every puppy will be a great sports prospect, but they should be able to help you along the way.
3. Do not go to a breeder asking for a national level dog if you haven't put any titles on a dog or have only done bare minimum titles. Making it to an IGP 1 is hard, a 3 much harder. Prove you can do that first. You must be willing to put in the work.
4. Do not blame your breeder for your shortcomings. If you are new to the world of sports, it is completely possible you are dampening your dog's drive. Which is to be expected with new handlers.
Instead of messaging the breeder about the puppy/dog lacking drives, being a dud, or wanting to wash the dog, send videos of you working your puppy and see if they have any advice on how you guys can improve as a team. No one wants the dog or you to fail.
5. Find a club/decoy/friends that train for the same sport. People who support and help you will get you much farther than doing it on your own. Having friends/spotters helps SO much. Even if you prefer to train alone, having a spotter will make a world of difference. They will catch things that you're doing that you just can't when you train by yourself. They can help you problem solve, be your support team, cheerlead with you, be part of your team.
6. If you want to do IGP, find an IGP decoy. A decoy who trains police k9s or for other sports won't train your dog the way it needs to be trained and they usually want much different kinds of dogs.
7. Use a helper who can train obedience if you want to be successful.
8. Do not wash a dog on one person's negative view of your dog, especially if they only like a certain kind of dog or they don't train/compete for the sport you want to compete in. A lot of dogs are slow to mature into drives, that is okay. Give them time and seek out different opinions if needed.
9. Do not be afraid to ask questions! If you're not understanding why the trainer/decoy is doing something, ask. If you need help teaching or fixing a behavior, ask. The majority of people have no problem explaining and helping in any way they can.
10. Be open to training advice and criticism. You won't know everything; you will never know everything. Shut up and listen. Take what you like and ignore what you don't. Be coachable.
11. Expect to get questions. If your new and someone asks why you're doing something the way you are, don't attack them, explain why you're doing it and if they have a better suggestion, take it into account.
12. Expect to make mistakes and be okay with that. There will be things that will need to be re-taught or problem solved, that's part of the process.
13. You MUST work your dog at home. Working it only on club days will not have you guys progressing at a good speed.
14. Keep sessions short, 5 to 10 minutes with a very high reward history for every exercise. The more fun you make the exercise the more your dog will want to repeat it.
15. Take your time but work your dog. If you want to compete, put foundations on your dog. Work on engagement, shaping exercises, teaching the dog to learn. But don't rush and don't put a lot of pressure on your dog too young. Enjoy the journey.
16. Do not compare your dog to someone else's dog. Whether it's a sibling, the same age, a friend's dog, don't do it. Every single dog and handler learn things at their own speed and each team will dedicate different amount of time and knowledge into the dog. It's not fair to you or the dog.
17. Do not get another dog until your current sport dog has the right foundation. I recommend at least 18 months between dogs. That way you're not trying to teach everything to two or more dogs at one time. (This also applies for pet homes. Get your one dog trained up, then bring in another dog.)
18. Even though it's a very hard sport, it's still supposed to be FUN for you and your dog. Don't forget that.
Be kind to yourself and your dog. This is not a fast journey, enjoy the entire way.

Doberman Gang

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I used to drag race when I was younger. I heard a guy once say, “this is my car, it may not be the fastest or the best looking car but it is the one a have. I will run the one I brung.”
I believe for most people this is true in IGP. The majority of people that get into the sport, start first with a dog they bought to be a pet. This is their pet first abs sport dig second. I emphasize this to my new people so they don’t get discouraged. This is a learning experience for them to become better educated in the sport. Most dogs can learn and pass the BH, so it is a good opportunity for new people to learn the training, how to participate and help in the club. Getting this knowledge will greatly help with their next dog, it also gives new people the chance to see some higher level dogs snd understand what living with these types of dogs can be like. All of the bee people wanting to train with me must also train as a visitor for the first 4-6 weeks. This means showing up for training, staying all day (many times this is 8-9 hour day.), they must participate during training and. We willing to help. Show this dedication is the first step and usually people will know if they want to dedicate that much time to the sport. This is only club training, just like basic obedience class, you still need to practice and train on your own before the next weekend of training. It is a huge commitment and most people don’t really want to make the time to train for it. Club members also get to vote new people in. We are all dedicating our time together and must get along and enjoy spending that time together.


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You have a great program & club. As you know, my choices of clubs are few & very far, and even though I knew you can't do this sport on your own, even the BH requires some good coaching. Sometimes it's depressing to know how far ahead Asha (and I) would be if I'd had a local club... she's got the talent, I just don't have the knowledge.