Schutzhund Training

The word Schutzhund means "protection dog." After field trials, Schutzhund training is probably the oldest organized competition. It originated in Germany and is the progenitor of obedience exercises, tracking, and, to some extent, agility. It's hugely popular in Europe, but competitions are held worldwide. Although Schutzhund isn't an AKC performance event, it enjoys an avid following in the United States.

Schutzhund training is the progenitor of many of today's training activities. It dates back to the early 20th century, and many of its exercises have been incorporated into today's performance events.

It all began when the German Shepherd came to be used as a police dog. Billed as the only true multipurpose dog, he was expected to guard and protect, herd, track, be a guide dog for the blind and, of course, be good with children. Rigorous breeding programs were designed to cement these traits into the breed. Behavior was bred to behavior so that only those dogs with demonstrated abilities procreated. Looks weren't considered as important as ability.

As a police dog, a dog's main responsibility is to protect his handler. He also has to be able to pursue, capture, or track down suspects. Building searches require great agility, perhaps jumping into windows and negotiating stairs, even ladders. Naturally, he has to know all the obedience exercises.

It wasn't long before competitions began among and between police units to see who had the most talented and best-trained dog. Dog owners became interested and the sport of Schutzhund was born.

Schutzhund training consists of three parts:

1 Protection 1 Obedience 1 Tracking

To qualify for a title, the dog must pass all three parts. When obedience and tracking were introduced in this country, they were patterned on the requirements for the Schutzhund dog. Agility competitions derived in part from the Schutzhund obedience exercises, which include walking over the A-frame as well as different jumps.

Schutzhund training, which is a rigorous and highly athletic sport and one of the most time consuming of all dog sports, isn't limited to German Shepherds. Other dogs of the guarding breeds that have the aptitude can participate. Even some of the nonguarding breeds can do it, although you won't see them at the upper levels of competition.

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