word "Schutzhund" exactly translated from German
to English means "Protection Dog." This literal
translation is somewhat misleading, as there is much more to Schutzhund
than just protection.
Europe, SchH (the abbreviation for Schutzhund) has been
a popular sport since the early 1900's. This, along with the HGH
Herding Trial, were originally a test to determine which
German Shepherds were quality dogs for breeding purposes in Germany.
In North America, Schutzhund has also become a fast-growing, competitive
is designed for dogs with working ability. However, it is not
restricted to any particular group or breed of dog.
are 3 phases to the sport of Schutzhund: Tracking, Obedience
and Protection. There are also three levels one can achieve
with his/her dog: SchH I (considered the novice level),
SchH II (the intermediate), and SchH Ill (the
advanced level). The requirements that a dog/handler team must
fulfill become progressively more difficult from the SchH I level
to the SchH III level.
first phase is tracking, which tests the dog's scenting ability,
trainability, and physical and mental endurance. At the start
of the track, the dog must take sufficient time to absorb the
scent; he must pick up the scent and proceed with a deep nose.
Air scenting or varying from the exact track is penalized. A slow,
methodical tracking dog is preferred--accuracy, not speed is prized.
The dog is judged on his intensity, confidence, accuracy, and
obedience on the track.
second is obedience, which tests the dog's overall temperament,
structural efficiencies, and willingness to work for his handler.
The handler is only permitted to use a voice command when starting
the exercises or when changing pace. Hand signals are not allowed
and body language is pointed as handler help. When the handler
comes to a stop, the dog should come to the sit position without
command. The team must be precise and spirited. The dog should
perform the exercises quickly, willingly, and without extraneous
handler help. Dogs that are slow to perform the exercises or show
stress are pointed heavily.
The final phase
is protection, which tests the dog's courage, physical strength,
stability, and obedience and character while in a higher drive.
It is here where the dog's heart is tested, his true character
challenged. The dog who is overly aggressive or uncontrollable
will never be able to pass. So too the fear-biter, who lacks the
courage to make the grade, is dismissed. These unwanted, dangerous
characteristics are then systematically taken out of the gene
Protection phase of this sport provokes some controversy because
it involves biting sequences. In Schutzhund a variety of cues
signal to the dog that it is time to do "bite-work".
The training field, the presence of blinds (portable
hiding places for the decoy), a person dressed in a protection
suit waving a stick in the air and making noises and threatening
gestures are all clear "go" signals, much like a green
light in an intersection. It is not hard to understand then, why
the same dog adopts neutral, normal and friendly behaviours when
the cues disappear - when the sleeve and protection suit come
off and the decoy, acting like a normal individual, invites the
dog to be social.