Questions from Reader

I just finished reading your book and had a couple of questions for you regarding some of the techniques you described. First it was a great read and I really enjoyed it and I am definitely recommending it!

Countering Techniques:

Pushing the Head.
Do you find that this technique develops a dependency? I have only seen it used by a few trainers but I have found in most that use it their dog’s either only counter when their handler uses this technique or counter when they seem to anticipate this (ie the handler coming up the line and moving towards the collar or neck…much like the anticipation or dependency of a choke off.). I would imagine this would be most useful when part of a decoy’s repertoire to first teach a reluctant dog to counter but if over done it may lead to a dependency or if only used in rare form to keep from developing a dependency? Do you find any conflict for the dog that has needed a method of induced gag reflex to teach the out? Just curious on your thoughts and experience with this.

Jaw Manipulation.

From your description this technique sounds a lot like implementing a traditional forced-retrieve method to bitework. Is that essentially what it breaks down to and how much repetition do you find is required with this method? Is this something you only use from time to time or does this method have a starting and end point (ie a "finished" retrieve)? Also curious if there is a rate of dependency with this method?

After reading your book and watching more KNPV footage I have been wanting to ask someone why the KNPV Decoys do their face attack as they do?
It looks as though they absorb the hit and pretty much jam the dog every time. I have little experience with KNPV other then videos etc. but was curious what your thoughts are on this decoy approach in trial.



Good questions. I think with almost all techniques for countering, there is some kind of physical cue from the decoy/handler (stillness, setting the sleeve parallel to ground or perpendicular, pushing the head, etc) that preceeds the actual physical counter, which is then rewarded. This is why we use the "walking backwards" technique to get the dog to push himself into the grip with the helper doing a natural movement, walking. This is done in conjunction with the head push, and so the dog learns to push in on his own. Also, doing it after a drive, so the drive becomes a cue for the adjust, allows the dog to learn to push both in prey and defense on his own. In the case of how I work dogs, mostly the dog cues on being set down to re-grip (the head push somewhat secondary) and that is easy to fix, using successive approximation, and voila the dog regrips on his own. In PSA and KNPV or Police work, a "pulsing" grip isn’t penalized as it is in schutzhund so our dogs tend to constandly drive into the grip while biting, and this is often a more natural bite for a malinois, instead of getting munchy sideways, they drive in to release some of their frustration…….if decoyed properly you eliminate the help from decoy and handler on the adjust and then reward it when it happens on its own……aghain a successive approximation technique at work. I also use the stick over the head, hooking on the back of the neck, and pulling the dog into the grip with the stick itself, so that the dog cues to come into the grip from the stick motion…..

 You are right, that it can be over done, and the dog comes to rely on the handler helping the grip, which is also why we have the decoy, handler, and often a 3rd party who may be working the out line, do it as well, as with police dogs, there can be multiple people over the dog during an arrest. This deconditions the dog to this kind of behavior as well.
The Jaw manipulation technique is not one I prefer, but i have seen it used a lot in Belgium with different dogs, and yes, there will come a time when the dog learns that poor grip position is uncomfortable relatiuve to good grip position, but it is a technique that has to be used carefully. I have seen it used a lot on Malinois puppies at a young age, but again by experienced people. The same thing can be done as described above, you slowly eliminate the assistance from the helper, and reward adjustment when it comes without help, and the dog will do it on his own.
The KNPV is a traditional sport, and the decoy work in a trial has been done that way forever – it is often described as Gladitorial. Because the dog bites in the bicep, the jam isn’t as bad as it could be, but you won’t see the decoys spinning the dogs. If a dog knocks down a decoy on a trial exercise, the dog automatically gets full points, so the decoys fight against falling down (easier to do if you are spinning the dog on the hit – falling that is). If that rule was eliminated, there would be fewer jams, since the cost of falling would be eliminated, but as well, handlers select big powerful dogs to try to take the decoys down, and that is what people like about KNPV….not so much the points byt the strong bullies the KNPV produces….