Schutzhund training is a sport that concentrates on a dog’s obedience, protection skills, and lastly a dog’s capability of tracking.
If you have a dog and you’re interested in Schutzhund training, you might be wondering what it entails.
In this article, I will explore an overview of Schutzhund Training for dogs, so that you can gain a better understanding of it and whether it’s right for your dog.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
What Is Schutzhund Training For Dogs?
The word ‘Schutzhund’ translates to ‘protection dog’, and refers to a sport that focuses on developing specific traits in dogs that make them useful companions to their owners.
Schutzhund training originated in the 20th century in Germany, where it was developed as a suitability test for German Shepherds.
However, today Schutzhund training is open to all breeds and can be participated in all over the world. It has become increasingly popular across Europe, America, Canada, and Australia.
All breeds can participate, but other breeds thrive more from this type of training, especially working dogs. Schutzhund helps dogs to maximize their potential.
Through Schutzhund training, your dog will become more disciplined, be able to hone his scent work, and improve his physical and mental endurance.
What Does A Schutzhund Training Session Involve?
Schutzhund training focuses on obedience, and involves three phases – Tracking, protection, and obedience.
What happens during these training sessions is as follows:
The tracking phase begins with a temperament test to establish what kind of temperament your dog has. This includes your dog being inspected while they are on a loose leash to make sure that they are not aggressive or shy.
The tracking test takes place on a grass or dirt track that has a series of turns as well as a specific number of items. Your dog will need to sniff the entire track and locate each item.
The complexity, length, the age of the track, and the number of items will vary depending on the Schutzhund title.
The protection phase will examine your dog’s physical strength, agility, and courage. One of the exercises includes the dog finding a person (decoy) that is hiding and guarding them until their handler arrives.
If this person attempts to escape by running away or tries to attack the handler in response to being caught, the dog’s job is to grip them firmly. The decoy will also run at the dog and threaten them, and the dog must respond by gripping onto the decoy.
When the decoy comes out of where they have been hiding and refuses to stop for the handler when commanded, the last test is for your dog to run after the decoy.
Every time your dog grips the decoy, they need to be firm and land each grip on the padded sleeve. The dog also needs to master the ability to let go on command when the decoy surrenders.
Other traits that will ensure your dog excels at protection training are obedience and self-control amongst others.
When it comes to the obedience phase, consistency is key. During the obedience phase, your dog will be commanded to sit, lie down, and stand while their handler continues to move around.
Following this, the dog is recalled to the handler from these positions.
Your dog may also be commanded to retrieve on a flat surface, over a hurdle, or a wall, with dumbbells of varying weights. Other exercises include your dog being commanded to run from the handler in a straight line and lie down afterwards.
The dog should remain lying down at the end of the training field away from the handler, and watch patiently while another dog does these exercises. Titles are awarded to dogs who enter Schutzhund trials for passing the key training stages.
That being said, before your dog is able to earn a Schutzhund title, they first must pass a temperament test and earn the BH degree. Once they have done this, they can then move on to earning their titles. The Schutzhund titles awarded are as follows:
SchH1 (Novice) – To earn this title, a dog must be a minimum of 18 months old. They need to have passed the basic tracking, protection, and obedience tests.
SchH2 (Intermediate) – To earn the next title above Novice, a dog must be a minimum of 19 months old and already have the SchH1 title.
The phases for SchH2 are made more challenging, and demand control, agility, and physical endurance.
SchH3 (Advanced) – Last, SchH2 is the highest title a dog can earn. They have to have reached 20 months old and have earned the first two titles beforehand.
Naturally, this is the biggest challenge for your dog yet in both the obedience and protection phases, but tracking has more advanced degrees known as FH1 and FH2.
How Do You Get Your Dog Into Schutzhund Training?
If you’re keen to get your dog into Schutzhund training, you will need to look for a Schutzhund club near you and enroll your dog. Your puppy can start basic obedience training for Schutzhund as young as 8 weeks or old, so as soon as you bring them home!
While all dogs are eligible to participate in Schutzhund trials, it’s important to know that protection breeds are the best at it and thrive in this environment.
That being said, this shouldn’t put you off taking your puppy along and their breed doesn’t matter if you’re simply interested in the sport as a recreational activity.
If you are interested in competing, then you should consider more suitable and competitive breeds, such as the German Shepherd, Doberman, or Rottweiler as they have a natural advantage when it comes to competing in this sport.
The price of the membership fee can vary between Schutzhund clubs.
Membership can cost anywhere between $500 and $1,000 a year, while the group training sessions at the clubs are held 2 to 3 times per week depending on the club.
Common Misconceptions About Schutzhund Training
As with many training methods, there are many common misconceptions about Schutzhund training.
These misconceptions include but are not limited to:
- Schutzhund training makes dogs aggressive and more dangerous
- Protection work can make a dog more aggressive
- Protection work breeds attack dogs
- Schutzhund trained dogs are more likely to bite if they’ve been trained to do so
- Schutzhund training is cruel for dogs
These are misconceptions for many reasons.
However, it mainly comes down to the fact that Schutzhund trained dogs are so well trained that they are far less likely to attack without reason than poorly trained dogs are.
In addition to this, Schutzhund training focuses on positive reinforcement, and can work to strengthen the bond between you and your dog while helping your dog to achieve their potential.
After reading this article, you should have a better idea of what Schutzhund training entails and whether you think it’s the right type of training for your dog.
Always make sure that you research around and find a club that is best suited for your dog.