Schutzhund literally means protection dog. It was originally designed as a breed test for German Shepherds as a sport and to evaluate their working ability. The first Schutzhund trial was held in Germany in 1901.
There are 3 phases to Schutzhund – obedience, tracking and protection. A dog must pass all 3 phases to earn a title. The 3 levels are Schutzhund I, II and III, with III showing superior ability, courage and performance.
Schutzhund training is very demanding and not many dogs achieve success. Dogs must be willing to work hard, be intelligent, brave, instinctively protective, strong and agile. They must easily train and have endurance. While Schutzhund was developed for the German Shepherd, today many different breeds compete.
There are several exercises in the obedience phase of Schutzhund. The dog must obey each command accurately such as down/stay, reall, retrieve, heel, concentrating on the handler even though there are distraction in the field with other dogs and their handlers working.
The tracking phase tests the dog’s scenting abilidty as well as endurance. Articles are spread over a field. The handler, using a 33 foot tracking line then allows the dog to find the articles with the dog stopping at each one to indicate the find.
The protection phase requires an assistant called a “decoy.” This phase , while testing the dog’s courage and ability to protect his handler, must show the dog’s willingness to immediately respond to the handler’s commands. The dog must not show fear or inappropriate aggression.
Some of the equipment necessary for Schutzhund training includes a chain collar, a broad, strong leather collar, protection and tracking harnesses, leash, 33 foot line, several sizes of wooden dumbbells, bite bars, a variety of bite sleeves depending on training stage, protective suits, articles for tracking.
Your dog should be well trained in the basic commands such as sit, stay, down, come before attempting Schutzhund training.
For novices, Schutzhund training should be done with help and guidance of professionals.