A Schutzhund remembers its owner

What is Schutzhund?

The Schutzhund is a dog sport and training program that has been developed and used since the early 20th century. Its strict standards determine a dog's performance in a range of physically demanding tasks. The process of training and completing protection dog trials involves both a dog and its owner and requires discipline and cooperation between dog and human. Most importantly, it encourages a sense of fun, enjoyment, and a deep relationship on both sides.

Schutzhund competitions drive dogs and their owners to develop a kind of synchronicity and understanding that, despite all research, is difficult to describe. It combines obedience, strength, scent, and agility training into one system with goals that have changed over time. Originally, protection dog trials were used to isolate those German Shepherds that were best suited to optimal breed lines. Today the Schutzhund is far less race-exclusive, while the focus is on overall performance.

Schutzhund then and now

Schutzhund's beginnings are as complex and complex as the process and competitions. At the beginning of the 20th century, industrialization was in full swing. Herding dogs were no longer as important to the business of everyday life, and what people needed from working dogs was changing. The Schutzhund began to evaluate and select the ideal representatives for the breed of the dog that became German Shepherd. In its original formulations, the process was used to identify and train those dogs that best illustrated the breed's capabilities for work, serenity, odor tracking, protection, strength and agility.

Today's Schutzhund is carried out under various patrons. It is run by dogs and owners as a hobby and as a competitive dog sport. Schutzhund is not for every dog, and one of its larger purposes is to filter out dogs who are not ready for it or who cannot withstand their rigors. It is not a negative thing not to do it in the Schutzhund; Just like all minor league baseball players, talented as they are, will not make it into the major leagues, any more than any of the b>

What is involved in protection dog training?

Dogs can compete for the first Schutzhund title from the age of 18 months. There is a preliminary behavioral process that dogs must go through in order to qualify for the Schutzhund; This test examines the dog's feeling of calm and self-control under pressure, with strangers, and with sudden or surprising noises. The dog must be able to demonstrate that it can obey basic commands and respond to its owner both on and off the lead. This phase is over, Schutzhund comprises a total of nine tests. There are three stages at each level, and these become more difficult.

To qualify only for the protection dog is an achievement for one dog and one dog handler. Earning a title - Schutzhund 1, 2, and 3, where 3 is the ultimate - means that a dog and owner are almost completely in tune and have had many, many hours of training. Each title requires a single day of testing for persecution, obedience, and protection. The qualification for the Schutzhund is difficult enough. A dog that deserves the Schutzhund 3 title is the best of the best; an all-round champion with an amazing variety of talents.

Each attempt involves a multitude of complex tasks under unfavorable conditions. These conditions may be related to weather or terrain, the use of noise or other distractions, as well as introducing the dog to a stranger. The latter, as can be seen in the photo above, occurs during the protection phase. Most of my research shows that this is the least understood part of Schutzhund. Schutzhund protection tests do not test aggression, but rather discipline and resistance. The bite or grip you see is instantly given on command.

Not just for German Shepherds

In the past, Schutzhund trainings and competitions were exclusively intended for sieving German Shepherds. They are open to any breed or mix that can perform their particularly physically demanding tasks. While in theory a pug could train for protection dog trials, it would take a truly remarkable pug to leap over a six foot wall while carrying a heavy object in its mouth.

The most common dog breeds that participate in today's Schutzhund include the Airedale Terrier, American Bulldog, Australian Cattle Dog, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Shepherd Dog, Beauceron, Black Russian Terrier, Bouvier des Flanders, Boxer, Cane Corso, Doberman, Dutch Shepherd, Giant Schnauzer , Great Dane, Mastiff, Rottweiler and the Belgian Tervuren.

Schutzhund: A kind of martial arts for dogs

In Jean-Claude Van Damme's Magnum Opus Bloodsport (1988), the action star's teacher explains that martial science "brings mind, body and spirit together". The same could be said of Schutzhund, although the relationship between dog and owner harmonizes these elements across species. Schutzhund is and was many things in its history; One thing is most definitely not a program that encourages or promotes aggression in dogs. It is a discipline that demands accuracy.

As the study in front of the Schutzhund shows, a dog's self-control is a prerequisite for participating in the major Schutzhund evaluation phases and, of course, for earning one of the three titles. Owners and their dogs can do Schutzhund training for a variety of reasons - for fun, for sport, or as some kind of life's work for one another.

Have you ever taken part in or observed Schutzhund events? Share your experiences in the comments!

Learn more about dog sports with:

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About the author: Melvin Peña trained as a scholar and teacher of 18th century British literature before applying his research and writing skills to puppies and kittens. He enjoys making art, hiking and performing in concerts, as well as dazzling crowds with operatic karaoke performances. He has a year old female bluetick coonhound mix named Idris, and his online life is conveniently wrapped up here.