Prussian system of collars
The foundations of service dog breeding and the training of service dogs in particular were laid on the basis of the Prussian system of training military and police dogs, founded in the late 19th century. In almost unchanged form, the system existed for a whole century and, without changing in principle, it still exists. The main principle of training, or rather, dressage or drill, was common with that of a soldier and sounded like this: a soldier should not think. The soldier must carry out the order. A soldier needs a head to wear a helmet.
Nevertheless, in dogs, thinking was implied in dogs, after all, at that time, dogs (and animals in general) were not thought of as thinking creatures, but as something like a living machine functioning on reflexes. Dogs were not supposed to be able to independently assess the situation and look for the optimal solution to the problem, the ability for higher forms of training and abstract thinking. Accordingly, the method of training was laid on the lower forms of training, such as the conditioned reflex and the tasks of the dog were simple, being reduced to the implementation of simple orders. Test standards were developed in such a way that they did not require high intellectual abilities of the dog and close emotional contact with the trainer. The dog had to act according to the taught scheme, without showing any initiative, according to the rules determined by the regulations, even if the rules contradicted logic. Violation of the rules, even if contrary to logic, is punished by a stratum of points.
Not to be unfounded, let me give an example of the IPO standards that were spread in Russia at the end of the 90s. At first, it seemed to us that new winds finally blew and that the closed system of training of service dogs was coming to an end. How we were wrong! Take, for example, the “protection” section. More precisely, the search for the defendant, hidden in one of the shelters. According to the rules of the test, the dog must systematically search all the shelters, running around them with a zigzag. Finding the person involved, the dog should bark at him, moreover, not attacking. Finally, when the attacker is provoked by the person involved, the dog must firmly grab him by the sleeve and hold it, paying no attention to the blows with the whip, not making an interception until the person involved stops resisting.
All this is incredibly divorced from reality, artificially, illogical. How do IPO tests (competitions) run? Shelters are screens placed at the stadium. This is what we think the dog does not know, behind which the defendant is the shelter. It is usually not difficult for a dog to recognize from afar which shelters are empty, and in which the person involved is hiding. But if she goes straight to that cover, ignoring the rest, she will be followed by stratum points or even disqualification. Therefore a properly trained dog runs around empty shelters in a disciplined way, knowing in advance that there is no one there. Finding a fixed person in one of the shelters, the dog should bark at him. What for? Formally, then, to let the trainer know: the person involved was found. If the dog works in the forest and does not have direct eye contact with the trainer, this is justified. But why, tell me, bark at the figurant, when the trainer is near the dog, in direct eye contact and obviously knows that the dog of the figurant has discovered? Can it really be that a person doesn’t guess about it due to the dog’s tense posture, its fixed (to the person) look? This is how our rottweilers behaved, who by nature are not inclined to bark as much as shepherd dogs. Having found the person involved, the first thing they did was to take a quick look at us: do we see what they see? After making sure that we were in visual contact with them, they fixed our eyes on the person involved and waited in silence what he would do. Naturally, losing points for not marking the person involved by barking.
And finally, the berry on the cake: the detention of the person involved. A dog that would work against an armed person exactly according to the rules of an IPO test can only be called a kamikaze. It is most effective to neutralize a person without injuring that dog – this is the main (logically) task of a protective dog. If a dog grasps in the left hand of an armed gangster with a dead grip, without drawing the weapon in his right hand (for example, a knife or a piece of iron pipe) and not letting go even with blows, the dog will most likely die – quickly and ignominiously, without completing the task, how, after her death or injury, there will be no one to protect the owner. However, if a dog tries to intercept, or, say, hold his throat, he will be disqualified or at least deprived of points for this discipline. Contrary to logic, since it is these actions that can truly neutralize the person involved and protect the dog itself.
So it turns out that not the most intelligent dogs and not the dogs most suitable for practical use get the first places in competitions and high degrees of diplomas in tests, but dogs acting stereotypically according to meaningless impractical standards.