Welcome to the Schutzhund section of our web site. We will go over everything about this fantastic dog sport including some health tips, training techniques, tracking, obedience training, as well as the various phases of Schutzhund training.
Table Of Contents:
History of Schutzhund
In the early 1900s in Germany, the dog sport, Schutzhund (meaning 'protection dog' in German) was created. This sport was established to assess whether German Shepherd dogs displayed the characteristics necessary for police-type work, instead of deciding solely from their appearance. Now days, a variety of breeds besides German Shepherds are able to compete in Schutzhund. However, it is not a sport to take lightly. It is a challenging test for any dog breed and very few are ever able to pass successfully.
Schutzhund was originally developed due to the fact that German Shepherds were starting to lose their working ability. The German Shepherd breed was initially bred as a well-rounded working dog stemming from working herding dogs around 1900. However, within a few years, it was starting to become apparent that the German Shepherd dogs were losing their great work ethics. Therefore, the sport of Schutzhund was created in order to test their working abilities. From then on, only German Shepherds that passed the Schutzhund test were allowed to breed. This rule is still true in Germany today. Using this testing system is the only way to fully maintain the excellent working ability of every generation of German Shepherds. While German Shepherds reign at the top of the chart, other common dog breeds that compete in Schutzhund today include Rottweilers, Belgian Malinois, Dobermans, Cane Corso, Bouvier des Flandres, Giant Schnauzers, Airedale Terriers, Dutch Shepherd Dogs, Beaucerons, American Bulldogs, Boxers, and Black Russian Terriers.
In the sport of Schutzhund, there are three titles: Schutzhund 1 (SchH1), Schutzhund 2 (SchH2), and Schutzhund 3 (SchH3). SchH1 is the first title, leading up to SchH3 as the most advanced title. However, before a dog can even compete for a Schutzhund 1 title, he must first pass a temperament test called a B or BH. These tests determine basic obedience and certainty around unfamiliar people, dogs, traffic, and loud noises. If a dog shows too much panic, anger, or easy distraction, he will not pass the B test and therefore, cannot go on to compete in Schutzhund. Return to Top
Over the years, the Schutzhund sport has changed quite a bit. The dog sport now consists of three phases: tracking, obedience, and protection. In order to be awarded a Schutzhund title, a dog must pass all three phases in only one trial. Each of the phases is judged on a 100 point scale. To pass, a dog must score a minimum of 70 points for the tracking and obedience phases and a minimum of 80 points for the protection phase. Also important to note, a judge can dismiss a dog at any time if they show poor temperament such as anxiety or hostility.
The Tracking Phase
The three phases test different characteristics of a dog. The tracking phase tests the dog's scenting ability, along with his mental soundness and physical endurance. During this phase, a track layer walks across a field and drops numerous small items along the way. After a certain time frame, the dog is instructed to follow the track while being followed by the handler on a 33 foot leash. When the dog discovers an article, he will indicate it by lying down with the item between his front paws. Scoring is based on how intently and carefully the dog follows the track and finds the articles. The difficulty, length, number of items, and age of the track will vary based on which title the dog is competing in.
The next of the three phases of Schutzhund is the obedience phase. This should be mastered while Training A Protection Dog. This phase is completed in a larger field, with the dogs working in pairs. One of the dogs is placed in a down position on the side of the field and his handler leaves him alone while the other dog is working in the field. There are multiple heeling exercises done in the field including heeling through a group of people. Two or three gunshots are done during the heeling exercise in order to test the dog's reaction to loud noises. There are one or two recalls, three retrieves consisting of flat, jump, and A-frame, and a send out. During the send out, the dog is directed to run away from the handle straight and fast and then lie down on command. The obedience of the dog is judged on his accuracy and attitude. During these exercises, the dog must show a lot of enthusiasm. If the dog shows that he is uninterested or cowering, he will score very poorly. Once the first dog finishes his exercises in the field, he switches places with the dog waiting on the sidelines so he can take his turn. Return to Top
Protection Dog Training
The third and final phase of Schutzhund is the protection phase (protection dog training). During this phase, the judge has an assistant called the "decoy". The decoy helps him test the dog's bravery to protect himself and his handler, along with his ability to be controlled while doing so. During this exercise, the decoy will wear a heavily padded sleeve on one of his arms. There are also multiple blinds placed throughout the field where the decoy can hide. The dog will then be instructed to search the blinds for the decoy. When the dog discovers the decoy, he should indicate it by barking. The dog must guard the decoy in order to prevent him from moving until he is recalled by his handler. Then, a series of exercises for dogs are performed similar to police work where the handler searches the decoy and then transports him to the judge. At certain points, the decoy will either attack the dog or the handler or try to flee. The dog must stop the attack or the escape by biting the padded sleeve. Once the dog stops the decoy, he is instructed to "out" or release the sleeve. If the dog does not release the sleeve, he is dismissed from the phase. During all of these exercises, the dog must prove he has the bravery to engage the decoy and must show the temperament to obey his handler at all times during these intense moments of happenings. Like the other phases, the dog must always show enthusiasm. If the dog shows signs of fear, unsuitable anger, or lack of control, he will be dismissed and not pass the phase. Return to Top
Police Dog Training
The sport of Schutzhund tests dogs of all breeds for the required characteristics of police work. Dogs that successfully pass the Schutzhund tests will be suitable for a large range of tasks including police work, search and rescue missions, and specific odor detection, along with many other duties. Some of the traits shown in dogs that successfully complete the Schutzhund tests are the strong desire to work, intelligence, courage, a strong bond to the handler, trainability, perseverance, and protective instincts. The sport of Schutzhund allows us to be able to successfully identify dogs that have these strong traits in order to provide the most skilled and determined dogs for these demanding jobs. Return to Top
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