As an owner of a German Shepherd, I know that you’ve wondered about activities such as Schutzhund. When you read pedigree’s, you see dog after dog listed as SchH1, 2, or 3. Maybe an FH (tracking) thrown in for good
measure. But as you begin to investigate, you soon discover other Dog Sports. French Ring, Mondioring, Protection Sports Association, Belgian Ring, not to mention the different tracking disciplines and Agility activities. I’m going to attempt to explain a few of them, as each has it’s supporters and
detractors. I’m fascinated by ALL of them, and I hope you’ll enjoy learning about, and maybe becoming involved in one or more of them…
What is Schutzhund?
Schutzhund is a German word meaning “protection dog”. It refers to a sport that focuses on developing and evaluating those traits in dogs that make them more useful and happier companions to their owners. Schutzhund work concentrates on three parts. Obedience, Tracking and Protection. Schutzhund is intended to demonstrate the dog’s intelligence and utility. As a working trial, Schutzhund measures the dog’s mental stability, endurance, structural efficiencies, ability to scent, willingness to work, courage, and trainability.
This working dog sport offers an opportunity for dog owners to train their dog and compete with each other for recognition of both the handler’s ability to train and the dog’s ability to perform as required. It is a sport enjoyed by persons of varied professions, who join together in a camaraderie born of their common interest in working with their dogs. Persons of all ages and conditions of life even those with significant disabilities enjoy Schutzhund as a sport. Often, it is a family sport.
The first Schutzhund trial was held in Germany in 1901 to emphasize the correct working temperament and ability in the German Shepherd breed. Originally, these dogs were herding dogs, but the industrialization of Germany encouraged breeders to promote the use of their dogs as police and military dogs. The Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde (SV), the parent club, became concerned that this would lead to careless breeding and undesirable traits such as mental instability, so it developed the Schutzhund test. Since then, many other countries and working dog organizations have also adopted Schutzhund as a sport and a test of working performance in dogs. International rules have been established, and they are administered by the Verein fur Deutsche Hundesport (VDH).
Often, Schutzhund involves the entire family. Although it may have an outsiders reputation as a violent sport, many youngsters are involved…Violence is NEVER a part of proper schutzhund, only tightly controlled aggression. Understand the sport before passing any judgement. What are the rules of Schutzhund trials? First item is the Temperament Test.
Before any trial starts, prior to the first examination phase, the dogs must undergo an impartiality test (temperament test). Judges will closely inspect the dog, and the dog must tolerate the handling by the stranger without aggression. Dogs that do not pass the temperament test are excluded from further participation in the trial and must be disqualified. Owner’s of dogs that are micro chipped, are responsible for providing the necessary equipment for the identity check.
The judge will continue to evaluate the temperament throughout the entire trial. The judge is obligated to immediately disqualify a dog from the trial if that dog shows a faulty temperament. The temperament test must be performed under normal environmental conditions in a neutral location for the dog.
There are three levels in Schutzhund; , Schutzhund 1, Schutzhund 2, and Schutzhund 3. All 3 levels include Tracking, Obedience, and Protection exercises. They all have 300 points that can be achieved; a 100 in tracking, a 100 in obedience and a 100 in protection. Schutzhund 1 is the beginning level . But remember even before you can go for Schutzhund 1 you must first have your dog achieve a BH level (Begleithundprüfung, which translates as “traffic-sure companion dog test”) or what is commonly called a traffic title. Earning a Canine Good Citizen title would be a good pre-amble, as the dog must prove that he is trustworthy around other people, can perform an obedience routine, ignore distractions from other dogs, cars, people on bicycles, honking horns, crowds, joggers running by, and if any of these things are reacted to negatively, he is not allowed to go for his Schutzhund 1 until he achieves that title. The BH or Behavior level is mandatory.
The major difference that schutzhund has over French Ring, or PSA is Tracking. The tracking phase tests not only the dogs scenting ability, but also its mental soundness and physical endurance. In the tracking phase, a track layer walks across a field, dropping several small articles along the way. After a period of 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 article between his front paws. The dog is scored on how intently and carefully he follows the track and indicates the articles. The length, complexity, number of articles, and age of the track varies for each title. Tracking can be very exciting to observe, when the small details are understood.