What is Schutzhund?
The Germans call it “hundesport”, dog sport. For generations, people from Europe and North America have been drawn into this unique idea of participating in an active sport with a dog. Schutzhund offers this in a way that no other sport can. It is outdoors. It is physical. It is mental. The demands are great, but the sport also offers competition and new friendships. In short, it is what all recreational sports should first be: good exercise,
fun and full of rewards.
Schutzhund started in the early 1900’s as a test for working dogs. Its initial purpose was to determine which dogs could be used for breeding and which had true working ability. The growing demand for working dogs made more sophisticated tests and training necessary.
As these tests evolved, more people participated just for the sheer enjoyment of seeing if their personal dogs could be trained as effectively as these “professional dogs”. Now, over sixty years after the first formal Schutzhund rules were introduced, tens of
thousands of people participate in the sport each year.
Schutzhund tests three specific areas of a dog’s training and behavior. We only train with two of these phases, Obedience and Tracking. Protection is the third. Tracking requires the dog to track footsteps over mixed terrain, change direction and show absolute accuracy and commitment to finding the track. It must also find dropped articles and indicate their locations to the handler. Often this is done under less than ideal circumstances with difficult cover, bad weather conditions and an aged track. Many find tracking to be the most satisfying experience in training, when only the handler and dog are working together. It is certainly the most peaceful part of Schutzhund.
The second phase is Obedience. There is heeling, both on and off lead. The sit, down and stand are also done, except when the dog is moving all of which also must show absolute accuracy and commitment. Schutzhund applies its own style to this work. It is precision obedience. The handler and dog work together on a soccer sized trial field. Some exercises require the dog to work under heavy distraction and the noise of a firing gun. See the Schutzhund BH pages for the entry level of Schutzhund.