What is Schutzhund

The literal translation from German to English of the word “Schutzhund” is “protection” dog. It is a “tri-athalon” of sorts with the three phases being tracking, obedience and protection.Schutzhund is an exciting sport and training challenge.The sport offers three levels of titles. One must obtain a passing score in all three phases at one trial in order to obtain a title and be able to advance to the next training level. In 2012 titles will be designated as IPO (International Prüfungsordnungare) tests:

* IPO 1 (formerly Sch H I) (novice)
* IPO 2 (formerly Sch H II) (intermediate)
* IPO 3 (formerly Sch H III) (advanced)

Two advanced tracking degrees are also offered: FH and FH2.Before titling for a SchH I you must first pass a written test and a BH or Begleithunde (obedience/traffic sureness test).

To obtain a title, the dog and handler must pass three distinct phases at a trial with a score of 70 points out of a possible 100.

Phase A: Tracking
The dog must find a person’s track and discover articles that have been dropped along the way. Unlike search & rescue or police work where the dog relies primarily on ‘air-scenting’, Schutzhund tracking is very focused on the footsteps, and is scored largely on the precision of the dog’s performance. Depending upon the title sought, tracks will vary in length, shape and age. Tracking is usually done in dirt or on grass.

Phase B: Obedience
The obedience phase showcases the dog’s inherent joy in the work balanced with precision and control. The exercises include heeling on and off leash, walking through a group of people, sit, down and/or stand while moving, recall, a 10+ minute long down while another dog is working on the field, retrieving, and jumping. Two shots are fired from a blank gun during the heeling and long down, and the dog must not react adversely.

Phase C: Protection
This phase of Schutzhund training is the strongest test of the dog’s basic temperament and character, with an emphasis on control. He is rated on self-confidence, ability to work under pressure, toughness and resilience, steadfast nerves, well-balanced drives and willingness to take directions and be responsive to the handler. Obedience and control are demonstrated throughout the protection phase through off-lead exercises and through guarding without biting. On command, the dog MUST release the bite. A dog will fail if it does not release the bite when commanded to do so.

Throughout all three phases the dog’s temperament is constantly being evaluated by the judge. Aggressive dogs and those that lack obedience and control will be failed for faulty temperament.

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