Mondio Ring Article
Of all the protection sports in the world, it is my opinion that Mondio Ring is the best suited for American Bulldogs and their owners/trainers. Before I explain why, let me throw in a qualifying statement. Saying that one sport is better suited to Bulldogs than another is not saying that sport X sucks and sport Y was handed down to us by Moses in front of a burning bush. The number one sport in the world is Schutzhund, and for good reason, Schutzhund rocks. Schutzhund has created the modern German Shepherd, the primary working dog on the planet.
But Mondio Ring has its advantages. Advantage number one: No tracking. Bulldogs can be good at tracking, but most Bulldog trainers aren't. We're lucky to get Bulldog trainers to do any obedience at all. Schutzhund tracking is one gigantic OB exercise and it turns off a lot of trainers. The second positive feature to Mondio is suit vs. sleeve. A lot of Bulldogs do better with suits for a variety of reasons, which would require an article in itself. Also, Bulldog trainers like suit work better because it is closer to personal protection.
Personal protection touches on my primary theme. AB trainers have a long tradition of focusing on personal protection. It is an easy sell to get them to train this way, a natural fit. Mondio Ring is closer to personal protection (PP) than any other European protection sport. Every OB and protection exercise is unscripted and different in Mondio. The heeling patterns are different in every trial. The retrieve objects are different each time. The bite work involves different scenarios and different accessories, in much the same way that police dogs and PP dogs are trained in a variety of unique scenarios with ever-changing accessories. In Mondio, an accessory is the equivalent to a Schutzhund stick hit. A Mondio decoy will threaten or hit the dog with a bag filled with garbage in one exercise. In another exercise, he may throw a tarp at the dog as it charges for a bite. A variety of bizarre manmade objects are used to back the dog down in the various scenarios. Likewise, in OB, the distractions are unique and unpredictable. In the long down-stay, the dog may be distracted by two decoys wearing bite suits and playing soccer only a couple feet from his nose. Or they might throw big stuffed teddy bears over the dog's head.
The food refusal exercise in Mondio is something one also finds in personal protection regimens. The same can be said about the overall Ring Sport philosophy of the dog reacting to his handler's commands, and not reacting to anything the decoy does. This is a cornerstone in personal protection training. For instance, in all Ring Sports the dog outs on his trainer's command, and the decoy keeps fighting or struggling to escape while the command is given. Of course, in a real world situation a bad guy is not going to lock up when the handler shouts, "Out!"
It is an oversimplification to say that the dog does not ever react to the decoy in Mondio. And one wouldn't expect a personal protection dog to never react to anything that a bad guy does either. Consider the defense of handler exercise in Mondio. The dog is supposed to maintain contact with its handler while a decoy walks around them in a suspicious manner and interacts with them in various ways, but does not attack the handler for a certain length of time, generally a minute or two. The decoy will try to get the dog to bite him by smacking a fence or making quick, jerky movements, but the dog must not be lured away from the handler. Finally, the decoy hits the handler, and pretty hard too. Then the dog bites, fights, outs on command, and in most cases does a service style out where he returns to the handler, rather than go into a Schutzhund style bark and hold. While this exercise would look somewhat stylized to a 100% personal protection trainer, it is much closer to service work than Schutzhund.
In fact, many of the exercises in Mondio look nearly identical to American based personal protection sports like K9 Pro Sport and PSA. Admittedly, the American sports are closer to actual PP than Mondio because they involve hidden equipment scenarios. So why not go solely with PSA? Bulldog trainers should do both, since there are no training incompatibilities between the American PP sports and Mondio. But I see the greater emphasis on Ring Sport for these reasons: 1) Ring Sport is over 100 years old and will still be here in another 100 years. 2) Ring Sport has an International following in dozens of countries. 3) The best trainers and breeders in the world participate in European protection sports; it is the big league and has been used to develop all the established breeds of protection dogs. No breed of protection dog has ever flourished without the participation of the Europeans. This fact should be looked squarely in the eye and American nationalism needs to be put in perspective, at least as far as protection sports go. There is room for American pride in other areas. I believe that Boeing makes better jets then Airbus. American farmers produce more corn than those sissy European farmers. The European military is like a troop of Boyscouts compared to the colossal American war machine. I'll take wine from California's Napa Valley any day over that swill they serve in France. But in the world of protection sports, the Europeans have the most advanced infrastructure, and by a wide margin. So let's learn from them. Let's participate in their sports. And then let's send a team to the Mondio Ring world championship trial and kick their butts.
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