Schutzhund dog training, which is German for “protection dog,” was developed as a sport in the early 1900s to test dogs for characteristics important for use as a police-type work. Originally, German Shepherds were the only breed of dogs put through the rigors of Schutzhund Dog Training, but today any breed is eligible to compete.
The types of traits a Schutzhund dog must have are qualities such as courage and intelligence, an instinct to protect, agility and strength, along with a good sniffer and much more. Once they pass the test, which few dogs are able, they will be trained for activities including search and rescue and bomb detection.
Schutzhund Dog Training Basics
The training of a Schutzhund dog is a very structured system that has changed over the last century. Some people thought the process was somewhat inhumane. Even though the training is still very strict and rigid, it is no longer allowed to be abusive to the dogs.
The original training was based on a small number of manuals and organized courses. As it became more popular around the world, there has been much advancement in the availability of means for educating a dog owner to get started in Schutzhund Dog Training with videos and DVDs.
There are three phases to the actual test: Tracking, obedience, and protection. Practicing skills such as tracking and retrieving should be started when a dog is young. Teaching your puppy to be leash trained and well behaved is also important to a beginner Schutzhund.
Most puppies will exhibit early attributes if they have what it takes for Schutzhund Dog Training. Depending on which training method you decide to go with, there will be variations. Most regimens will focus on the following basic skills:
- Obedience: This is the first trait that is sought out in a Schutzhund dog. There are 11 basic commands that are taught in most courses. These include behaviors such as focus and attention, pointing out of an object, heel positioning, and retrieving. You dog must know sit, down, and stand commands.
- Clicker Training: Although not all Schutzhund Dog Training will include clicker training, they will all use a similar method. Positive reinforcement has become universally acknowledged as the best way to modify a dog’s behavior. You should begin clicker training with your puppy as early as 10 weeks old to begin preparing them as a Schutzhund.
- Protection: As a puppy, you need to let them know that it’s good to bark at strangers and to only approach when you give them the okay. A Schutzhund dog that shows fear, lack of control, or inappropriate aggression is dismissed from competition. In training, a dog must be able to recognize a threat and then be willing to attack but also be disciplined enough to stop the second the command is given.
- Tracking: To teach your dog to track, always start simple. Use the targeting and pointing out of the object as cues. Begin to increase the difficulty of the tracking as your dog becomes more skilled. Schutzhund dog training will teach the dog to recognize the specific scent of their target and then to pursue until called off.
If you decide you want train your dog as a Schutzhund dog, you must develop a specific set of skills they can use to complete a given task quickly and efficiently. As a trainer, you must understand that many dogs in official training programs struggle to achieve the level of success required to be a Schutzhund. No matter what, all dogs thrive on discipline and the need to understand the order of the pack.