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Schutzhund Training

by David W.

Did you know Schutzhund training is a sport that was created in the early 1900s in Germany and is translated to mean International Trial Rules? The sport was developed to test the suitability of the German shepherd dog although other breeds may also qualify for this Schutzhund training. This is not your typical obedience class but one that tests dogs for the appropriate characteristics and traits of the perfect working dog, such as the police-type dogs.

This specialized German-based Schutzhund training is a very physical, active, mental form of instruction that is basically performed outdoors. As with all good sports, Schutzhund training is fun with great physical activity and an abundance of rewards for the dog and owner or handler. This sophisticated form of dog training was initially used to know which dogs had the working ability or should be used for breeding purposes. Since it began, this sport of Schutzhund training is growing in demand to find dogs that meet the qualifications as border control dogs, police dogs, military, customs, and herding breeds. Because of the benefits gained through the training techniques, people have since used this specialized dog training just for fun to see how intelligent and able their personal pets could be compared to the professional working dog.

Character traits identified through Schutzhund training are intelligence, courage, strong desire to work, perseverance, trainability, protective instincts of the dogs, and their strong bond with their handler. The training also tests for other traits such as the dog’s endurance, strength, scenting, and agility abilities. Anyone with a dog can benefit from such stringent dog training although breeders can reap the benefits to determine the types of dogs they are producing.

Schutzhund training GSD

Although the German shepherd was the only breed originally used in Schutzhund training, and still is in Germany, there are other breeds and mixes that can reap the rewards of Schutzhund training. Such breeds aside from the German shepherd include the Belgian Malinois, Rottweiler’s, Giant schnauzers, Dobermans, Boxers, the Bouvier, Cane Corso, Black Russian terriers, American bulldogs, Beaucerons, Dutch shepherds, Airedales, and Australian cattle dogs, just to name a few. Most dogs can qualify. It depends on the dog itself, its willingness to learn, and its personality for Schutzhund training.

There are three differing titles of schutzhund training known as SchH1 (schutzhund 1), SchH2 (schutzhund 2)and SchH3 (schutzhund 3). Each title has different requirements and types of training involved as follows:

  • SchH1 concentrates on the basic schutzhund training techniques and obedience. Dogs that are about 15 months old usually qualify for schutzhund training, depending on any prior obedience education and socialization. Younger dogs can be accepted depending on the temperament and willingness to learn. Within this title, the dog will begin to learn basic tracking techniques of footsteps over varied terrain and will be tested on accuracy. The dog will also learn how to track items in unusual circumstances such as inclement weather, old tracks and tricky undercover. Such training creates a bond with the handler that should work well together.
  • SchH2 is focused on obedience. Many of the exercises are similar to basic obedience both on and off of a leash. Some of the methods taught in this title of schutzhund training are to sit, stand, heel and down. The main difference in this training is that the dog may be taught the commands on a large field or area with tremendous noise like a firing gun. Additionally, the dog will also learn retrieval, not only in a straight line but over a six foot wall and one meter jumps.
  • SchH3 is the most advanced form of this type of dog training involving protection techniques and routines. There must be a strong bond between the dog and handler, never fearing the dog will bite. The only exception is if the dog or handler is attacked, at which time the dog would learn to attack. The basic schutzhund training involves the dog attacking without hesitation only when instructed to do so. These dogs are never aggressive as most people believe is true through this type of stringent and demanding dog training but this is not the case. These dogs are taught schutzhund training to do as they are told when they are told to do so, such as tracking, finding and attacking only on command.
German shepherd jump

Before enrolling in this type of Schutzhund training program, a dog’s temperament will be tested with the “Begleithundprüfun” test which translates to mean “traffic-sure companion dog test” ensuring that the dog will not qualify without passing this exam. What this means is that the dog must be able to adhere to training and commands around other strange dogs, loud noises, and traffic. If a dog is fearful in such circumstances, it cannot proceed with this form of a working dog training program. To be awarded a title as listed above, the dog must pass all three phases of Schutzhund training.

Since Schutzhund training is considered a sport, it has become extremely popular in recent years with worldwide popularity in competition trials. These events draw not only hundreds of dogs and handlers but thousands of spectators each year at every event. Competition trials include national and international events along with those that compete on a full-time basis. There are other smaller occurrences within the Schutzhund Training Clubs held specifically for their own members to earn titles for their dogs. These smaller clubs can also be associated with Schutzhund USA, Working Dogs of American, and DVG America. All competitions are judged on obedience, protection skills, and tracking. When tested on each level or phase, judging is based on a 100-point scale, and to pass, the dog must receive at least a 70-point score for tracking and an 80-point score for protection skills. While being judged in competition trials, a dog must not exhibit aggression, fear, or poor temperament. Dogs scoring with the highest points win the trial. This is where Schutzhund training the right way really pays off.

schutzhund training in action

If you are choosing to look into Schutzhund training for your German Shepherd  Dog, consider a reliable Schutzhund training club in your area for reference and resources on this sport. Some of the most reputable clubs are small in size with 20 members or less because of the number of dogs that can be trained during one session. The most that you gain from one of these clubs is the valuable resources available to you for success, especially in the protection phase. A club can also identify a dog that should or should not continue with Schutzhund training. These classes are not for every dog. More experienced members can also help the novice with their dogs in obedience and tracking techniques in order to be more successful with the least amount of stress. Contact one of these clubs locally for more information on training the potential working dog in Schutzhund training.

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