Schutzhund Dog Sport

Schutzhund dog sport (German for "protection dog") was founded in Germany in the early 1900s as a breed test for the German Shepherd Dogs. This test would define if the dog had the definite traits and characteristics of a working German Shepherd Dog. Nowadays it is a dog sport where many breeds (not only German Shepherd Dogs) are allowed to compete.  But it is a very demanding test that can be passed only by a few dogs with special proper traits and characteristics, that are very strict.

Schutzhund tests dogs for the traits necessary for police-type work. Dogs that pass Schutzhund tests should be suitable for a wide variety of work: search and rescue, police work, specific odor detection and many others. Schutzhund purpose is to find out dogs that have or do not have the traits required for these types of jobs. Those traits are: strong bond to the handler, perseverance, protective instinct, strong desire to work, courage, intelligence, trainability.

Schutzhund tests dogs for these traits. Physical traits demanded are strength, endurance, agility, and scenting ability. The goal of Schutzhund is to identify the dogs with the demanded character and abilities through training. Dog breeders can use this insight to determine how and whether to use the dog in producing the next generation of working dogs.

Three schutzhund titles are: Schutzhund 1 (SchH1), Schutzhund 2 (SchH2), and Schutzhund 3 (SchH3). SchH1 is the first title and SchH3 is the most advanced. Before a dog is allowed to compete for an SchH1, he must pass a temperament test called a B or BH (Begleithundprüfung, which translates as "traffic-sure companion dog test"). The B test is for basic obedience and sureness around strange dogs, strange people, traffic and loud noises. A dog that shows excessive fear, distraction, or aggression cannot pass to the next schutzhund test.

Modern Schutzhund consists of three stages: tracking, obedience, and protection. A dog is to go through and pass all three stages in one trial to be awarded a Schutzhund title. Each phase is judged on a 100-point scale. The minimum passing score is 70 for the tracking and obedience phases and 80 for the protection phase. At any time the judge may dismiss a dog for showing poor traits, characteristics and temperament, including fear or aggression.

Tracking

The tracking stage tests dog's scenting ability, and also its mental soundness and physical endurance. In this stage a track layer walks across a field, dropping several small items along the way. After a definite time, the dog is directed to follow the track while being followed by the handler on a 33 foot leash. When the dog finds each article, he indicates it, usually by lying down with the item between his front paws. How intently and carefully it follows the track and indicates the articles defines the scores the dog gets for tracking. The length, complexity, number of articles, and age of the track varies for each title.

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Obedience

The obedience stage is performed in a large area, and the dogs work in pairs. One dog is placed in a down position on the side of the field and its handler leaves it while the other dog works in the field. Then the dogs switch places. There are several heeling exercises, among which is heeling through a group of people. There are two or three gunshots during the heeling that test the dog's behavior and reaction to loud noises. A dog is to undergo one or two recalls, three retrieves (flat, jump and A-frame), and a send out, in which the dog is directed to run away from the handler straight and fast and then lie down on command. Dog's accuracy, enthusiasm and attitude are the traits judged at obedience.

For obedience training you will need a dog training bag for treats, dog lead of medium length with handle, choker collar or a prong dog collar.

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Protection

The protection stage involves an assistant, the "helper", who helps test the dog's courage to protect himself and his handler and its ability to be controlled while doing so. The helper wears a special heavily padded bite sleeve on one arm. There are several blinds on the fields for the helper to hide. The dog is directed to search the blinds for the helper. When it finds the helper, it indicates this by barking. The dog is expected to guard the helper to prevent him from moving until recalled by the handler. Then follows a series of exercises similar to police work where the handler searches the helper and transports him to the judge.Again, it is very important that the dog must show enthusiasm. A dog displaying fear, lack of control, or inappropriate aggression is dismissed by judges.

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