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Developing Drive In your German Shepherd Puppy


Building Phases in the Protection Work for the young Dog (as printed in the September issue of SV Zeitung 1981)

By Bernhardt Mannel, translated by Helga Frey

I want to talk about “recognizing the drive and instincts, and the individual building phases in the protection work with a young dog”. I would like to introduce you to a method which I have advocated since 1965, In doing so I have found many friends as well as many critics. I do not believe in the saying “what the farmer doesn’t know he doesn’t eat” So I have made a sincere effort to learn about the facts that have been obtained through scientific research and have put them into use in my every day work.

The recognition of drives and instincts is nothing new – but the certain ‘know how’ is something that can only be derived from working with the live animal, when we try to understand out dog. We humans are able to think logically – our dog cannot, he can only associate what is to his advantage.

Through the recognition of the instincts and drives, and by working with them, we were able to make use of the utility dog properties for out protection training. As long as 80 years ago Rittmeister von Stephanitz was the pioneer in this field, as well as later on the police dog trainers Most and Boettcher, who – in 1909 – broke away from the humanization of the companion dog and introduced training methods that are based on scientific research. Dear Sportsfriends, these gentlemen were teachers who were about 80 years ahead of their time!
From the infancy states of the protection and utility dog we have now emerged into today’s dogsport. The requirements of the protection work are laid out in the trail rule book, wherein the helper in his protective clothing is the central focus, and the sleeve is the bit target for the dog; consequently, for the dog the sleeve is the prey – for us the 100 points tare the desired training goal!

I want to talk only about the most important factors, those which are the greatest help towards that goal – and every dog handler should be able to recognize them. I want to talk to you in the language that every dog handler understands – the language that seems to be understood universally when it comes to dog training.


We evaluate the dog’s and natural way of interesting is only a small part of it. The temperament is dictated by his instincts and drives. His drives are brought to the surface through (1) his own instincts and (2) the stimulation he receives from the outside world. If not channeled properly, these can develop into uncontrollable behaviour towards his surroundings.

Let us start by watching the young dog during the age where he is leaning to mind. The puppy leaves the pack and is placerd with a new pack leader – a person. Now starts the age where he must lean to mind – which is strongly influenced by his new pack leader. Within a period of ‘getting to know the puppy’ and interacting with him, we recognize his willingness for submission to his master. If the dog only feels secure when he is near his handler, this would indicate a strong development of his pack instinct. Does the dog already show a tendency to be able to occupy himself, does he discover the world around him by ‘using his nose’, does he start to follow tracks if so, then this would indicate a strong development of his scenting instinct which, even at this early stage, should be encouraged. If the dog scents with a high nose he is displaying a trailing instinct. Does the dog show and interest in moving object, such as ball, is he interested in other things that move – then this would be a indication of his yet unawakened prey instinct, which I should now try to develop through his play instinct.

This means the dog learns to ‘make prey’ Through ‘ making prey’ the dog develops his self-confidence. By letting him have the prey he experiences a feeling of success. His prey can be a ball, a stick or a small sack. All this is done at the age where he ‘learns to mind;. His ‘learning to mind’ consists of a focus on the positive instinct as they pertain to the dogs’ self – survival instinct. I must encourage his drive to be active. He receives his emotional strength through this muscle strength and his temperament. The temperament is expressed through his physical activity and the enjoyment in whatever he is doing. The fighting instinct is encourage through his play instinct and by ‘making prey’.

We want to suppress the negative traits during this age period. A developing hinting instinct should be discourage by introducing an alternate action such a playing with the ball. All use of force which tends to develop the pack instinct must be avoided at this stage. It is possible to stop any drive or instinct development relatively quickly when we can recognize it is starting to develop, but it is already too late to stop it when the dog has fully developed it! It would be rather negative to encourage development of the pack instinct in the young dog during this age period where he ‘learns to mind’ which can be done by placing too much emphasis on exaggerated obedience; this will only result in turning a happy and positive dog into a subservient one. Later on this type of dog usually displays rather negative tendencies in his protective drives and this combined with a low stress level, results in the saying ‘a young dog that barks a lot has a need for it. ’The young dog that displays and inner calmness usually is well able to withstand the stresses that are place upon him by the outside world. The amount of stress that can be placed on a dog must be determined by evaluating his nervous system and his emotional balance. There should be not doubt that our dog has a soul and experiences emotions. I No later than after the dog has finished teething with he deal with his surrounding on an emotional basis. Some avoidance behavior that was not apparent earlier may surface. Things that the dog has not encountered before may startle him. How effectively he can deal with these things depends on his stress lever. Quick excitement – which is outwardly indicated by the dog having his hackles up, by growling, by the slightly tucked tail – gives him an indication that he has a tendency toward a low stress level, which is always and adjunct of the dog’s temperament. I need no mention that in the overall framework of his self – survival instinct, his flight instinct here is most pronounced. Also, it the dog turns and runs from whatever has startled him, this too should be recognized as a negative trait. Her again, his low stress level is the reason for his negative behaviour.

In contract to him the dog with the medium stress level will get a hold of himself quickly after something unknown to his has startled him, he will usually assume a strutting position and will start ot investigate what has startled him.

The dog with the high stress level who, even at this young age, has a sound nervous system will notice the startling object and then will accept it as though nothing at all had happened.
To be able to recognize the stress level in a young dog it an absolute MUST for good helper work during the building phases of the protection work with a young dog. Even now we can already determine how much stress we can place on the young dog at this age. A soft dog will appear quite sensitive and will cater to the whims of his master quickly, and he is prone to ‘pout’; a hard dog will retain his uninhibited and happy disposition with the sane amount of stress being placed on him. Around six months of age, sometimes sooner – sometimes later, the dog will start to display his first protective tendencies. These vary with the different working or utility dog breeds. The first positive behaviour, a display of over aggression, wanting to bite, hackles up (these are mostly dogs who have a pronounce pack instinct) is nothing other than a display of negative traits in the course of his further development. Those are the dogs that cover up their weaknesses by becoming aggressive. May dog handlers in such a case falsely believe that ‘they have a tiger by the tail’. Having a fight back only covers up the dog’s unsureness. The opposite is the case when we do not know how to channel the dog’s behavior into the right direction through constructive discipline and encouragement. Weaknesses will surface again and again when the dog has been pushed beyond his stress level.

Later on in the dog’s further development the puberty age will play an important part. We cannot say exactly at what age this starts and when it ends. We should watch our dog, and if we see him ‘act tough’ around other dogs, when he starts to lift his leg to mark his territory, that is usually an indicaton. If he displays singns of unsureness that are brought about by this puberty period, this should not give us a reason to feel that there is ‘something wrong with him’. Especially during the teething period and the puberty period our dog needs our understanding and our patience, and we must help him over that precarious period in his life. Every dog throughout his lifetime is more or less a product of his handle r – and there is good reason for saying ‘like master, like dog;. By playing with our dog – through the play instinct – we encourage his self – survival instinct, his prey instinct and his self – defenses instinct, his instinct to fetch, we build his temperament and his endurance - and it is also possible through; the play instinct to eliminate certain insecurities. How lucky is the dog with a pack leader who understands his dog’s emotional needs as opposed to the dog whose life is spent in a kennel with only his own kind!.


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