STM—What is It?
As a comparison, let’s just ask another question. The Shiloh Shepherd—what is it? When you start comparing the Shiloh Shepherd to the GSD, be it the modern “show dog” or the import, you could literally talk for days and still not cover every detail. STM simply stands for the Shiloh Training Method and just as the GSD is so different from the Shiloh—STM also stands alone!
The History that has led to today’s STM is very important. If you can remember the GSD’s from the 50’s and 60’s you may also recall that most of them had Schutzhund titles! Why? Simply because, according to the SV rules, all breeding dogs had to be titled! It’s that simple! Just look at your old pedigrees. You will see tons of titles on GSD’s from that era. Were these crazy “killer” dogs? Of course not!! Schutzhund was a SPORT! Something men like to do for fun! In England they had their foxhunts. Men would get up early, dress up in those (what I would consider silly) outfits, mount their horses, blow their horn and off they’d go!
In Germany men would get up early, put on their heavy boots (and often raincoats) just for the fun (?) of tramping around in the field, laying tracks! I must confess, this part of the program has never appealed to me too much! That early in the morning I’d rather be riding a horse! Good thing I was not raised in England or now you might have had “Shiloh Beagles”—NOT!
From what I can still vaguely remember, the “REAL” GSD’s were all
All of this variety in one breed? Again we need to understand that this one breed was created with the infusion of “crosses” from many other breeds! The Spitz type dogs (like the modern Akita) provided things that the “flock guardian types” like the Great Pyrenees did not contribute—and vice versa!
The ancestors of the best “herding” dogs may have retained a higher percentage of the “Collie” characteristics!
Max von Stephanitz was no fool—he developed a dog that could do ANYTHING! Of course as time passed, and more diversity was channeled in different directions, many GSD’s started changing drastically, and a variety of “types” soon emerged. Although they can be seen a lot clearer in the conformation ring—they can also be felt in every other area! Today the GSD is still categorized as a “Herding Breed” but how many of these dogs are actually still used for that purpose? The largest percentage of GSD’s and Shilohs are bred to be family companions—not “just” show dogs, police dogs, guiding eyes for the blind, SAR, etc. Therefore their #1 purpose has to be that of the Ultimate Companion! The same principles also apply when “training methods” are being considered. What may work well for one breed, may not be as effective with another, etc.
One thing I learned a long time ago was that – “the only thing two trainers can agree upon, is that the OTHER one is wrong!!” This is not a joke—in reality, it is a very sad fact! Back when I was still young and foolish I had trouble understanding this concept so I chose to “discover” the answer to this riddle! It has become a lifetime adventure, and after four decades of research, I think I know why that saying has continued to be popular enough to stand up to the test of time!
I firmly believe that if anyone wants to consider himself a “trainer” then he should certainly be willing to experiment with every new/old method that is available! In all honesty, I have found every tool (yes, even the prong) to be of “some” value! However tools like the “haltie” just don’t fit into my style, because I am focused on building a bond with my dog, not on degrading him! The Shiloh Shepherd is a very sensitive creature and I have seen the effect they can have on our breed! On the other hand, if you have a Husky, and this is the only way you can prevent your dog from “running off” by all means, do what is best for your dog!
Aside from all the fad “tools” that have come and gone, underneath it all, every training “method” is a combination or variation of the basic two:
Force training methods aka “military” “Koehler” etc. are based on the fact that you are the boss, and your dog must obey you! Prong, electric shock, choke, etc. collars are used to imprint your demands! You order him and he had best respond! A variety of tricks (like the throw chain) are also implemented once the lead is removed to ensure that your dog fears you enough to obey under any circumstance.
A “hard” independent dog that has no respect for his owner or anyone else can certainly benefit from a little “boot camp” training! I have seen how quickly the “light bulbs” turn on. I can also assure you that this type of dog (that needs to learn respect) would only laugh at a “foo foo” treat trainer!
Food training methods on the other hand, work very nicely with dogs that get easily bored or lack confidence! This method helps to “bring out” the dogs willingness to “perform” a command (like sit) for a nice treat! It is also a great way to get little or overactive dogs to “focus” on a situation.
In conclusion, the Force method certainly gets the dog to RESPECT his handler, but you can also see that the poor dog is not happy with his life. He tends to become a “robot” performing with a broken spirit that is evident by his entire posture! He will obey, because he fears the consequences that come with disobedience.
The Food trained dog exhibits a happy attitude. His tail is wagging and he just “loves” his little “goodies”!!! To the average person, this looks a lot better. Nobody wants a “robot”. The average owner just wants a dog that will listen….But will this dog really listen? What happens when he is about to run across the street in hot pursuit of a cat and your fanny pack is back on the kitchen counter? Will it cost your dog his life? What if he had been force trained? Maybe it would have been better for your dog (now laying in the street) if you had used the Koehler method?
Well, what about the alternatives?
You can play it safe and always keep your dog on a leash when you’re not in your house or you can choose to build that perfect relationship using STM.
As my learning process continued over the past 40 years I have gleaned the best from the best, and tried these methods out on thousands of dogs!
From my group classes, to my titled Sch dogs, I have experimented with dogs of all ages and temperaments in order to develop a system that has provided me with the best possible results!
So what is it? Well, that would take way too long to explain here! I guess you will just have to join our list groups to discuss it, or wait until the new STM tapes are released so you can see it for yourself.
The future of STM?
I think that it is now time for dedicated trainers to start broadening their bag of training tools and applying some of the techniques to various Shilohs across the country! Once this phase is completed, the ISSR will be providing field trials for the dogs that are interested in competing. This program, although still in its infancy stages, will help our breed attain the International Recognition that it deserves. Shiloh Shepherds are capable of a lot more than just running around in circles in a silly conformation ring!! Let’s unite and show the world what these dogs can really do!
Article written by Tina M. Barber 2002 for her STM seminars; reprinted on www.shilohshepherd.com with her permission.
Available again for the first time in over a decade! The
Shiloh Training Method tape has been digitally re-mastered from the original
betacam tapes! See some of the dogs in your Shiloh's pedigree at work (or is
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