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~GSD in the Workforce~

Police Dogs

What of the GSD in Police work today? The PSD of today may work in a rural or even wilderness environment where the primary function of the K-9 Team is Search and Rescue. Alternately, the team may be a specialty unit within one of the world's great industrial cities where apprehending armed suspects who have fled from attempts to apprehend them are their only job. The majority of the K-9 Teams that exist today fall within a broad range in between these extremes. In addition there are specialty teams whose sole responsibility may be the detection of contraband, cadavers, explosives, or the trailing of suspects. To adapt to a range of behaviors as broad as the demands upon the modern service dog takes a superior animal. Does the German Shepherd of today measure up?

In selecting dogs for the work it is usual to look towards dogs bred for the role as working dogs. In searching for these animals PSD instructors have been turning more and more to eastern countries for GSD's and to other breeds such as the Malinois and Dutch Shepherd varieties found in Holland, Belgium, and with growing frequency even in Germany. Ongoing talks between the SV and representatives of the German Police have seemed to produce no increase in the number of serviceable German Shepherds available for Police use in the German Shepherds home country. This factor may have in part led to the International Deutcher Meisterschaft being removed from the Bundesiegerprufung where it has historically been run alongside the civilian GSD working championship. The total number of German Shepherd Dogs employed by the German Police continues to plummet. At least in one state less than half of the Service Dogs are German Shepherds.

Text can be found at http://leerburg.com/kevin1.htm

Seeing Eye Dogs

The main purpose of a GSD Guide Dog is to provide both mobility and independence to it's visually-impaired owner. Also called seeing eye dogs, these assistance dogs also provide the important services as a loving companion to its master. German Shepherd Guide dogs are among the oldest known assistance dogs to date.

The perfect GSD Guide Dog will possess a quiet and calm demeanor, maintain a high level of initiative and possess a high level of concentration while it is working, and a strong will to continue to do the work for which it was trained as long as it can help it's owner.Our beloved German Shepherd was the first guide dog in America and this breed has been used almost exclusively for many years as a service dog because of its incredible working abilities and intelligence.An American woman named Dorothy Eustis decided she might try to train guide dogs for the blind. In fact she was still considering the possibilities of this when she penned a story for The Saturday Evening Post about the potential for guide dogs for the blind.
A Nashville man named Morris Frank had heard the story and decided to write to Ms. Eustis and ask her to train a dog for him. The first GSD Guide Dog in the United States was originally trained in Switzerland, and then later placed with Mr. Frank, a blind teenager, from Nashville, Tennessee in the United States.

Text can be found at http://www.total-german-shepherd.com/GSDGuideDog.html


Herding Dogs

The genetic roots of the German shepherd breed today go directly back to the blood of the working shepherd dogs in the fields of Germany. The generic shepherd dog of 100 years ago itself evolved over the centuries out of hunting, protecting, driving and herding dogs, in that order. The energy, temperament and working character of the shepherd dog was so highly regarded by the founder of the breed, von Stephanitz, that 25 years after organizing the SV in 1899 he wrote: "The dogs that are bred by our shepherds are indeed a fountain of rejuvenation for our race, from which it must satisfy its needs again and again in order to remain vigorous." (From The German Shepherd Dog In Word And Picture, by v. Stephanitz: p.383; Germany; 1925)

Over the decades the German shepherd dog has earned well-deserved recognition as the most versatile working dog in the world. Today, however, its sheep herding roots have been eclipsed by its successes in many other areas of performance.

In my opinion, there is a great deal that can be learned about the German shepherd dog by understanding its roots and by observing it work under the guidance of a skilled shepherd in the field performing the tasks it was originally bred to do - namely controlling, containing, watching over and protecting the flocks on the road and in the pasture. My observations in the field have convinced me that watching a selectively bred and properly educated German shepherd dog herding sheep is to watch the full repertoire of selected instinctual behavior in the German shepherd dog channeled to be expressed without the effect of, or distortions imposed by, compulsion training.

I have heard the comment many times that HGH dogs are "soft". In my mind that is one of the more uninformed remarks I have ever heard. No dog that is able to control a flock of 200 to 1,000 or more sheep is a "soft" dog. One must be very careful to make the distinction between softness and handler sensitivity. The German shepherd herding dog is most likely to show handler sensitivity because it is selectively bred to have a strong pack drive - a strong willingness to please the shepherd as leader. If training methods are used that ignore and, thereby, abuse the power of that drive, what you will end up with is a dog that will be useless for any kind of independent work, be it herding or protection work - chalked off as a "soft" dog when in reality the training method most likely destroyed the dog's self-confidence to work on its own.

The German shepherd herding dog was originally bred to control large flocks of 200 to 1,000 or more sheep. This task not only requires appropriate instincts, but it also requires courage and sound nerves. For example, Manfred Heyne loves to tell the story about how a friend of his brought his SchH III dog to him to show how any trained schutzhund dog could control sheep. Manfred told his friend to place his dog in front of the barn door to prevent the sheep from going in. Manfred proceeded to lead his flock out of the field and back toward the barn. As the large flock approached, the dog got up, ran into the barn and jumped out an open window in the back to escape.

Text can be found at http://www.german-shepherdherding.com/herding.htm



Schutzhund Dogs

Schutzhund is a German word meaning "protection dog". It refers to a sport that focuses on developing and evaluating those traits in dogs that make them more useful and happier companions to their owners. Schutzhund work concentrates on three parts. Many are familiar with the obedience work of the American Kennel Club's affiliates and will recognize the first two parts, tracking and obedience. The Schutzhund standards for the third part, protection work, are similar to those for dogs in police work.
While dogs of other breeds are also actively involved in the sport of Schutzhund and often follow similar criteria for breeding purposes, this breed evaluation test was developed specifically for the German Shepherd Dog. Schutzhund is intended to demonstrate the dog's intelligence and utility. As a working trial, Schutzhund measures the dog's mental stability, endurance, structural efficiencies, ability to scent, willingness to work, courage, and trainability.
This working dog sport offers an opportunity for dog owners to train their dog and compete with each other for recognition of both the handler's ability to train and the dog's ability to perform as required. It is a sport enjoyed by persons of varied professions, who join together in a camaraderie born of their common interest in working with their dogs. Persons of all ages and conditions of life even those with significant disabilities enjoy Schutzhund as a sport. Often, it is a family sport.

Text can be found at http://germanshepherddog.com/members/what_is_schutzhund.pdf



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