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Activities you can to do with dogs - Schutzhund

What is Schutzhund?

More about Schtzhund

Freqently asked questions


Is there a difference between a sport dog & service, protection or guard dogs?

General Rules and Regulations

What is Schutzhund?

Schutzhund is...
This is a brief prelude to the explanation of what Schutzhund/Dogsport is.

Schutzhund/Dogsport is an internationally recognised sporting activity for dogs comprising three parts - Part A: Tracking, Part B: Obedience, Part C: Character Assessment, conducted under international rules.

The word Schutzhund, directly translated is two words, Schutz = Guardian, protection or shelter and hund = dog. Using the word as it is intended, it is an adjective to describe types of breeds, eg. the Dobermann is a Schutzhund, a guard breed; the Rottweiler is a Schutzhund, Gebrauchshund (working dog).

The founder of the German Shepherd Dog Club of Germany, Captain Max von Stephanitz, had the foresight at the turn of the century to realise that the then current role of the herding breeds would undergo change as the modern industrial world developed. He saw other roles that the dog could be utilised for as a servant and companion to man and one of these roles was as a companion guard and service dog. Seeing the breed as a working animal and respecting the breed for this he encouraged the utilisation of the dog as a service dog. Through the training of the dogs for service work, the breeders were able to select dogs who showed the desired characteristics for this work. Further, the breeders were able to learn a great deal about canine behaviour through the training and evaluation (testing) of the dogs. As our society and social culture have evolved, the ways of training and testing of the dog have changed along with this evolution of society.

Today this sport is practised in all five continents and twenty-eight countries of the world. The questions often asked are what is the purpose of this sport or form of training and what benefits does it bring to both society and the dog?

Q. What is the purpose of the form of dog training called Schutzhund/Dogsport?

A. Firstly the ambiguity of this question and purpose and aim of the information should be clarified.

Can the question be answered in a factual brevity that only addresses the pure visual aspect of the sport viewed by an individual educated and experienced. Or one which has total ignorance, yet still disregarding personal biases or anthropomorphic views.

Can one ask why one likes football, equestrian events, motor racing or boxing. Analogies can be drawn between the same question of what is the purpose of a culture, religion, marriage or football.
If the true answer be given for the above examples the reader may disbelieve the answer.
The sport in itself addresses many individual facets, of which positive ramifications result, which are used as the catalyst for the further development of education, dogdom, animal husbandry, sport, entertainment, competition, assessment, desirable social attributes and respect for nature.

The sport is exactly that, a vehicle whereby the competencies of the individuals training well bred genetically balanced animals compete against each other against an established and proven standard. The competition and challenge is personal and amongst fellow competitors due to the time and sacrifice required, a sense of achievement is gained once successful.

The animals required for entry to the sport must be of unquestionable character, temperament and soundness before entry can be gained. The success and knowledge gained ensures the further reassurance of a genetic pool of animals ideally suited to the desirable social requirements of our society.

In Australia the Kennel Controls have no assessment or testing criteria for the temperament and character of animals, particularly the nervous stability. You do not find this anywhere else in Business, Education, Industry - Service or Production, where the service or product must be tested against a standard. If no measure or validation is performed, how can or where is the objective evidence of the performance of function.

To grossly summarise, the purpose of the sport could be expressed as an assessment of the training, genetic attributes, competition and education.

Q. What benefits does Schutzhund/Dogsport bring to both society and the dog?

A. This lies in two parts. Firstly to society, statistical data shows that trained dogs are safer than untrained dogs. The dog learns to live and learn with people. He also learns the command, the action and to obey. This promotes not only his own well being but also his acceptance in society. Dog training also educates the owner of his responsibilities to his/her dog and his/her social responsibilities of dog ownership. Further it enhances their cynological education. It practically teaches them to understand canine communication to like and unlike species. It then gives them, if they choose to breed their dogs, the ability to select appropriate breeding partners and to pass factual knowledge onto the purchasers of their stock.

Secondly, the benefit of Schutzhund sport to the dog is thus. In the past the areas in which dogs were used was greater. These animals were able, due to their use as guard, hunting and drover dogs, to live out their species related natural drives. Today it is very restricted or not at all possible to use the family and companion dog for this kind of work. Long walks are mainly the only possibility to balance the deficit of their activity. A similar problem was encountered with horses and thus the development of equestrian and horse racing type activities. Alternatively, the Schutzhund/Dogsport work offers the opportunity to release excessive energy and the accumulation of other drives and this should not be under estimated.

The further well being of the dog is enhanced through training by the physical activity and mental stimulation that is produced.

We trust you will appreciate that given the complexities of this sport we have only briefly touched on the subject. We would be pleased to provide further clarification and explanation of this internationally recognised sport.

# Information supplied by:
Alison Kollenberg - Schutzhund Australia Inc. National Secretary.

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More About Schutzhund?

Today in Australia, Schutzhund is a fast growing competitive dog sport. In Europe where it originated, Schutzhund (SchH) has been a popular sport since the early 1900's. Schutzhund sport is practised in over 23 countries worldwide, including throughout Europe, the United States, Asia, South Africa and New Zealand.

In 1899 Rittmeister (Cavalry Captain) Max von Stephanitz in conjunction with Herr Artur Meyer of Stuttgart founded the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde. The society was founded by amateurs and amateur breeders and represented the breeding association of the German Shepherd Dog and it has extended all over Germany and abroad. The society promotes the select breeding, endeavours to raise the capacity for work, as well as to consolidate and accomplish the natural utility dispositions of the German Shepherd Dog. The aims of the society are the propogation of the German Shepherd Dog as a companion, watch and protecting dog. To fulfil society's goals the formation of selective breeding tests were established so as to maintain the correct temperament and character of the breed. Through the last 100 years of the evolution of society and the refinements of those selection tests we have come today to a Sport which we know as Schutzhund. The most widely utilised and practised selection of breed worthy test in the World today.

Schutzhund gives us the ability to test our dogs to determine if the temperament is correct and to also view their working ability. It is also a highly competitive sport which is maintained by the efforts of teamwork between the handler and his/her dog. In places such as Europe and the United States, requirements for breed suitability include levels of Schutzhund degrees. It is interesting to note that many well known and respected breeders import Schutzhund titled dogs from overseas, many of these dogs becoming the main progenitors of our pure bred Australian stock.

Schutzhund is designed for the dogs with working ability.

Schutzhund training and trialling involves three phases:

* Tracking
* Obedience
* Character Assessment

There are three Schutzhund levels one can achieve with his/her dog

* SchH I - considered the novice level;
* SchH II - the intermediate level;
* SchH III - the advanced level.

Each handler and his/her dog can achieve a maximum of 100 points for each phase. Points are deducted by the presiding judge according to the point system, providing the dog/handler errors. A total perfect score is 300. In order for a person and his/her dog to achieve any one of the Schutzhund degrees, the team together must achieve at least 70 points or better in Tracking and Obedience and at least 80 points or better in the Character work. If these minimum scores are not received a Schutzhund degree cannot be awarded to the participating dog/handler team. The requirements that a dog/handler team must fulfill become progressively more difficult from the SchH I level to the SchH III level.

Tracking is a development of a dog's natural abilities and instincts. It helps build confidence within the dog. The dog must use his nose in locating a track laid either by his handler or a stranger and also have the ability to discover various articles dropped along the track. The track length, the age of the track, the number of articles and the size of the articles depends on the level of the Schutzhund degree.

Obedience makes a dog a more enjoyable companion and also makes him more reliable in everyday situations. Schutzhund Obedience judges a handler and his/her dog as a team. The team is required to do various exercises, depending on the Schutzhund degree one is attempting to earn. In SchH I and II levels the basis of the Obedience is for the team to heel on and off leash through a set pattern. This comprises left and right turns and left-about turns. There is heeling through a moving group of people with a figure of 8 to be completed. There is a Sit out of Motion, Down with Recall, Retrieve of a dumbbell on the flat and over a one meter jump and a Send Away exercise. In SchH II and III there is the addition of a retrieve over an A-frame scaling wall. In SchH III all heeling is done off leash and there is a Stand out of Motion (walking) and Stand out of Motion (running) with Recall. Whilst one dog/handler team is performing the Obedience exercises another dog/handler team is doing a Down under Distraction exercise. Whilst the dog is heeling free two gunshots are fired.

Character work as trained for Schutzhund requires that the dog have a reliable temperament and show courage without aggressiveness. It is an advanced and complex form of training. The Helper in the sport is required to wear protective pants and a special sleeve covered with hessian for the dog to grip. The dog must grip correctly or he will lose points. The dog must also be trained to release his grip on command. A dog can fail if he consistently does not release his grip when commanded.

In all three phases of the sport, the dog is also being tested for impartiality. That is, if any character traits appear during a Trial which are undesirable, e.g. aggression towards people, nervousness, inappropriate reactions to gun etc., then the dog/handler team can be dismissed from the Trial.

German Shepherd Dog, Boxer, Dobermann, Rottweiler, Giant Schnauzer, Airedale Terrier, Bouvier Des Flandres, Hovawart, Belgian Shepherd (Groendael, Malinois, Tervueren, Laekenois), Berger de Beauce, Berger de Brie, Berger Des Pyrenees A Face Rase, Berger Des Pyrenees A Museau Normal, Berger Picard, Lapinkoira, Suomenpystykorva.

The BH Test is the minimum requirement for further training and trialling to the Sport of Schutzhund and the Schutzhund dog even at the basic level of trialling is a controlled companion dog. The Test comprises Obedience section with heeling on and off leash as in the Schutzhund test less the retrieve and send-away exercises. The second section of the Test comprises a social and obedience test in a public place, usually a shopping complex, train station, public thoroughfare where the dog's social manners and obedience and general disposition towards strangers and other dogs are evaluated.

Since 1986 Trials have been held on a regular basis in Australia with several hundred dogs/handlers entering those Trials and internationally and nationally licensed Working Judges officiating. These events have all been advertised in national canine publications and open to the public. There were in several instances in excess of several hundred spectators in attendance at these Trials. It is interesting to note that there have been no incidents at any such event held within Australia.

* Schutzhund is a highly specialised form of dog training and is worthwhile in that it is a form of assessment of the character of working dogs.

# Information supplied by:
Alison Kollenberg - Schutzhund Australia Inc. National Secretary.

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Schutzhund Australia Inc. (SA)

Schutzhund sport formed into a National Council for Schutzhund/Dogsport in December 1990. It's members and Schutzhund/Dogsport and consists of clubs catering for the training and trialling of dogs. SA is a National Organizaton administered along similar lines to some of our National Breed Councils, eg. German Shepherd National Council, National Rottweiler Council and National Dobermann Council, and has a system of records for performance etc. styled on that of the United Schutzhund Clubs of America.

For your information the following Clubs are currently members of SA:

* Gold Coast Sportdog Club Inc. Secretary: Alison Kollenberg

New Zealand
*New Zealand United Schutzhund Clubs Inc. Secretary: Theresa Friis

New South Wales
* Waratah Sportdog Club Inc. Secretary: - Mario Ferkula
* Adelaide Sportdog Club Inc. Secretary: Michael Kamphuis

Only Clubs which are incorporated associations and maintain insurance (public liability) cover.

SA offers its members:

* SA sanctioned Working Trials which are held using only licensed Working * * Judges and licensed Helpers
* Signed, stamped Certificates for Trials
* Scorebooks for dogs
* Sportpasses for handlers
* Awards Program for handlers
* Helper Program - Certification of Helpers and issue of Helper Passport
* Judge's Program
* Seminars and Workshops
* National Website
* Library, knowledge and literary assistance

In summation

  • Schutzhund sport is not guard dog or security training and Schutzhund dogs are not dangerous, nor does the Organization encourage attitudes of aggression in dogs towards persons and other dogs.

  • SA member Clubs are responsible in their training of dogs and many of our Schutzhund dogs are also responsible members of main stream canine activities, i.e. Show Dogs, Obedience Dogs, Agility Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs as well as Tracking Dogs

  • SA does not agree that there is a need for privately owned or handled 'attack' dogs and actively discourages this attitude.

  • Schutzhund dogs have been tested for their suitability in modern society, the results of which show that they are trustworthy, confident, willing and intelligent ambassadors for pure-bred dogs.

  • Schutzhund dogs are highly specialised, intensely trained members of the canine world and as such are the ultimate example of the benefits of trained animals.

  • The strict guidelines for participation and training in the sport ensure that the Schutzhund dog does not become a statistic in the ever increasing spate of incidents involving dogs and people. In fact, trained Schutzhund dogs have not in this country been responsible for any attacks on humans.

# Information supplied by:
Alison Kollenberg - Schutzhund Australia Inc. National Secretary.

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Is there a difference between a sport dog & service, protection or guard dogs?

The intention of this article is to briefly describe the differences between a working sport dog (Schutzhund) and a service, protection or guard dog.

Firstly, let's look at the basic purpose of the service dog, protection dog and the guard dog.

The service dog is trained to track down persons, usually criminals, to locate illegal substances i.e. drugs, control crowd riots and stop armed offenders as well as protect the handler from attack. The protection dog is trained to protect its handler from attack and usually to guard property. The guard dog is trained to guard commercial or domestic properties.

The second area we will look at is who trains these dogs and to what standard.

Service dogs are usually trained to a standard of the law enforcement agencies within which they will be operational. This standard varies considerably from service to service, country to country.

Protection and guard dogs are trained and sold as a commercial commodity and the bottom line is to turn over as fast a profit as possible. The standards to which these dogs are trained are self imposed and unregulated.

The sport dog (Schutzhund) is trained and used for a competitive sport which involves tracking, obedience and character assessment (Schutzdienst).

The standards to which he is trained are uniform and world-wide. One must be aware that the intention and purpose between these dogs is very different even though the outward picture may appear to be the same. The Schutzhund dog is a sport dog and is competing for points: the dog is assessed for the quality of the work and how close it aligns with the standard it's being judged upon. The Schutzhund dog is fixated upon a sleeve which it must grip and counter through particular phases of the competition routine. In the 'Hold and Bark' phase the dog is usually barking to gain access to gripping the sleeve.

Through the whole Schutzdienst phase the dog's nerves, temperament, character, courage and working ability are being assessed. The intention of the sport is to identify animals suitable for breeding. Many Schutzhund dogs will not perform the routines if not exposed to all the associated stimuli which are used in training for the competition.

Even though the dogs are working in a sporting environment the mental and physical pressure placed on them is sufficient to highlight deficiencies within the temperament, character and nerves of the animal.

The service dog on the other hand does not have the associated article or stimuli to place the dog into drive. The dog must be able to work without the help of these secondary stimuli.

When trained properly there appears to be very little difference between the two purposes of training principles but when trained properly and with control as a main criteria, channelling between drives and into equipment is the difference.

The Schutzhund dog's purpose or aim is to bark intensely to gain possession of the sleeve, to either wrestle in a tug of war or to carry the prize/prey away from the helper.

Other facts like the grip, hit backs or rebites are skills the dog is taught to gain confidence or correct itself during a competition.

The service dog is not allowed to eventually channel into the sleeve but rather to remain focused on the decoy remaining more in the defence drive with the aim being to bite or fight only the man and not the equipment. This is usually achieved by the use of under garment protection and body bite suits.

The personal protection or guard dog is usually trained in a high defence drive based on self preservation, countering the stimulus with aggressive barking and hectic biting. These dogs are never allowed to become equipment focused and are usually trained with full body bite suits and under garment protection. In most cases, control is not critically important as the dog is mainly worked on lead as this helps in giving the dog support and in most 'real life' biting situations the dog would be on the lead where the handler could physically control the dog.

Dogs that are used to guard property are either high in instinctive territorial defence behaviour or are trained to be territorially defensive, i.e. a compound or enclosure to entice aggressive responses, the agitation desists and the proximity of the decoy is increased to reinforce the aggressive behavioural response which is usually barking and baring teeth. In both the guard and personal protection dog, social contact with persons other than the handler is usually not permitted.

The Schutzhund dog has to undergo hundreds of hours of training and usually lives in a family situation and travels in public places. The Rules of the Sport are fairly clear in that the dog must undergo a test of impartiality prior to the commencement of a Trial. This usually involves the Judge handling the dog, eg. examination of tattoo in the ear whether it is present or not, examination of the dog by touching, patting or stroking, and the dog being placed in a very tightly closed crowd of people.

Dogs that are trained to have human species conflict, i.e. a mistrusting dislike for humans via defensive self preservation stimulus placed upon them by humans in training, will fail a test such as the test of impartiality used in the Schutzhund Trial and which has been deliberately designed to identify dogs that are trained in civil protection work which Schutzhund Clubs are prohibited from conducting.

The adversaries to Schutzhund sport know little of the training of either dogs for the sport or dogs for service work, personal protection or guard dogs. They most certainly can with great clarity and information give a clear explanation of their views, or can they? But further, we can practically demonstrate that dogs trained for the sport are safe. We wonder if they can not only in written thesis but also by practical example give their viewpoint. We doubt not.

# Information supplied by:
Alison Kollenberg - Schutzhund Australia Inc. National Secretary.

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Freqently asked questions

Q. Does this training make the dog dangerous ?
A. Refer to attached article "Is there a Difference between a Sport dog and Service, Protection or Guard dogs?" This will in part answer this question. Evidence indicates that a trained dog is a safe dog. Refer to attached article "Who are the killer dogs?" by Ed Weiss & Tom Rose. Many thousands of dogs undergo this form of training in countries which have much higher density living than Australia and there has been no cause or reason for prohibition of this training in those countries. In fact, dogs trained in this activity are entitled to receive reduced registration fees. As demonstrated, the dog is only interested in the padded sleeve.

Q. If a Schutzhund trained dog saw a person wearing a coat or glove similar in colour to a padded sleeve wouldn't it be likely to attack that person?
A. QQuite simply, NO. The training equipment, i.e.the padded sleeve, is very distinctive and the dog has the ability to distinguish between a jacket and a sleeve. If one doubts this, this can be amply demonstrated but we would ask you .... "Is a trained seeing eye dog likely to mistake a swimming pool for a puddle of water?" NO!

Q. What happens to the "half trained dogs or rejects?"
A. At no stage in the training of the dog is the dog ever a danger to a human but again we reiterate, a trained dog is a safe dog.

Q. Does this training change the dog's character?
A. Yes, it gives the dog a purpose for existence by utilising inherent behavioural instincts, makes the dog controllable in pressure situations, sociable, and an asset to the community.

Q. How do I go about training or getting a dog to participate in this sport?
A. You can join a recognised Schutzhund Club for training. You could purchase a puppy or older dog from a breeder. You could purchase a trained dog from overseas, or you could purchase a dog which resides in this country.

Q. What is involved in this activity?
A. To be successful in this activity requires a commitment of around 10 hours per week but that varies from competitor to competitor, dog to dog, trainer to trainer.

Q. What if a dog gets out of control?
A. We pose the questions ..... What is out of control? Does a field and game dog get out of control and hunt and kill?

Q. Why do you teach a dog to bite?
A. We don't teach a dog to bite, we teach where, how and when to grip a padded sleeve in a controlled environment.

Q. What about aggressive dogs participating in this sport?
A. Some of these dogs will become controlled and disciplined members of the community. Schutzhund training does not create this unacceptable behaviour, it identifies and weeds out these unacceptable dogs. The knowledgeable trainer, in the majority of cases, identifies the generating cause of the behaviour and prescribes the corrective measures needed.

Q. What if the dog won't let go of the sleeve?
A. Letting go of the sleeve when commanded is a "learned behaviour" not instinctive. If the dog does not let go when commanded, the learned behavioural response has not been completely established.

Q. Could this training lead dogs to attack people carrying umbrellas or walking sticks?
A. We pose the question ... In teaching a dog to fetch a stick or a wooden retrieving article, could this lead a dog to attack a person with a walking stick or umbrella?

Q. Why do you hit the dog with a stick?
A. We don't hit the dog with a stick. We use a thin rubber tube covered with foam rubber encased in soft leather. This is used to stimulate the dog's nerves and apply pressure to the nervous system thus testing the nervous system in a combat between the helper and the dog over the padded sleeve. This has no adverse physical or mental effect on the dog.

Q. Is teaching a dog to scale a 6 feet A-frame dangerous, in that he may escape from his yard?
A. No. The dog associates the command and does the behavioural response of jumping to the command. Does training a horse to jump fences lead him to escape his paddock and run free onto the road?

# Information supplied by:
Alison Kollenberg - Schutzhund Australia Inc. National Secretary.

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