Do you even Shutzhound, bro?
Do you even Schutzhound, bro?
So here's the incredibly myopic, shortsighted and ultimately destructive view espoused by many in our community who share this meme. It's shared with a smile and a wink, a condescending attitude with built in assumptions over what constitutes "work".
The unspoken, presumptious belief is that there is only one true definition of "work", and that this definition involves biting of some kind. If the dog ain't biting, it just ain't working!
Excuse me, the proper term is "gripping". If the dog is not biting (gripping) in some capacity then it is simply not working. Never mind that the vast majority of biting dogs are engaged in a sport of some kind; dogsport has become synonymous with "work". And never mind that all dogs bite, and it's actually not difficult to teach any dog of any breed of almost any character to bite and grip a sleeve. Ahhh the wonders of dog training. Will it never cease?
Meanwhile, therapy work is not considered "real work". Making a marked and measureable difference in peoples lives just doesn't make the grade. How about service dogs? Guide dogs? Are these working dogs?
Of course, the Doberman was designed to be a personal protection dog, not a therapy, service or guide dog. Golden Retrievers were not designed to perform those functions either... Nor were German Shepherds or Malinois. The Malinois, the current police/military (and sport) dog du jour, was created to herd sheep and other livestock. Should shepherds be indignant over the fact that the Malinois is no longer used in its historical function? So the question (and point) stands. Who or what is the arbiter of what constitutes "work"? How about detection work? Anything involving the nose. Bomb detection, drug detection, heck what about cancer detection? Bed bug detection? Are these working dogs?
Obedience dogs, agility dogs, of course these are not "working dogs". These are sport dogs, used by their humans to compete against other humans to somehow prove which human is the best at training dogs. And if you're reading this and thinking to yourself, "it's not about competition, it's about the relationship with my dog...." I'd say you're absolutely right, and absolutely naive or full of shit. Or both.
So here's where I piss off all thirty of the "working" Doberman handlers in the United States. IPO in its entirety is basically an obedience competition. The "tracking" portion of the trial is obedience. From the article indication, to the manner in which the dog is taught to track, is pure obedience. Left to its own devices, no dog naturally follows a track without air scenting. An IPO track is not actually indicative of how dogs search and scent. IPO obedience is, well, obedience. And it's not even terribly challenging obedience. It's a static routine done with zero distractions. And if the dog misses an exercise, it's points off. You still can qualify. And finally, the protection routine. The protection routine is exactly that. A hyper stylized, completely predictable routine. It lasts about 8 minutes, the dog is biting (excuse me, gripping) the sleeve for 30 seconds. It will spend another 30 seconds guarding the helper. The remainder of the time it is demonstrating control, also known as obedience under distraction. That's it. It's not epic. Sorry.
Sorry not sorry?
The means and manner in which control is gained in IPO part c will help determine the quality of the guarding and gripping behaviour. IPO is primarily obedience, and what is not obedience is directly impacted by the obedience! So why is obedience not considered work?
The Doberman is a working dog, period. I firmly hold this belief at my very core and have dedicated my life to it. However, it's absolutely essential for those of us who share this belief, and this statement is directed primarily at my fellow UDC members charged with preserving the Doberman as a functional breed; it's time to expand our definition and understanding of what constitutes "work".
It's time for us to get clear. It's time to get clear on the Dobermans function as a working dog. It's time to get clear on the traits and characteristics the Doberman must possess in order to best carry out its function. We have lost our way.