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We are often asked, “What is the difference between personal protection training and schutzhund? Which is better for our family? Can my dog be successful in one or the other?”
This article is intended to provide a brief overview of both types of training endeavors.
People will acquire a dog for a variety of reasons. Companionship being one or home and personal protection as another.
Families with children will often rule out firearms in the home and thus a well trained protection dog becomes the next best option to provide a sense of security and peace of mind.
What do you look for in a personal protection dog?
All dogs considered for protection work must begin with complete obedience training. The dog should be reliable and obedient to handler by voice both on and off lead. During this time the dogs natural instincts and character can be evaluated. We are looking for a willingness to please the handler and follow instruction. The trainer can also evaluate the dogs natural desire to protect himself, the handler, and his environment.
At what age should my dog begin personal protection dog training?
The optimum age to evaluate a dogs protective instincts in generally around the eight month mark.
All breeds can be considered and evaluated but not all dogs are suited for this type of training, regardless of breed.
>>Confidence building is essential in training a reliable protector. Dogs learn when they can and can not engage through handler instruction.
Dogs are trained to reliably alert on command and to evaluate a perceived threat. This can range from an alarm bark with a willingness to protect the handler to a full apprehension with a release on command.
Where does Personal Protection Dog Training take place?
Training is done in a variety of environments so the dog learns he must be alert regardless of the location. Different scenarios are presented to the dog that represent real life situations. An unexpected attack from a hidden stranger, a home intruder, an attempted car jacking, or the ability to confront when challenged with a weapon, this type of courage defines a quality protection dog. It is imperative that all protection trained dogs be under complete handler voice control at all times.
Personal protection training often becomes a favorite activity for most dogs, building the bond between dog and handler through the opportunity to express their natural instinct to protect.
So what is Schutzhund Dog Training?
Schutzhund, is a German word meaning “protection dog.” Originally developed in the early 1900’s in Germany as a breed worthiness test for the German Shepherd. It is intended to demonstrate the dogs intelligence and utility. In fact in Germany it is still a requirement for all GSD’s prior to breeding. The GSD was originally used as a herding dog, but with the industrialization of Germany breeders were encouraged to produce a more versatile dog that could also be used by police and military.
Schutzhund has developed into a competitive sport and many other breeds of dogs now actively participate. Schutzhund work concentrates on three phases, tracking, obedience and protection. It also has three levels of achievement, with Schutzhund three being the most competitive level.
This working dog sport offers the opportunity for dog owners to train and compete with each other for recognition of both the handlers training ability and dogs ability to perform the required skills. Schutzhund is done in a group environment with people from varied professions, ages and abilities who share in a common interest and enjoy performing with their dogs. For the serious enthusiast it often becomes a lifestyle!
In preparing a young dog for Schutzhund sport, correction training is often put off until after the first year with the focus being on motivational techniques and drive building. The minimum age for a dog to qualify to compete in a trial is 15 months old.
What if I’m not sure about Protection Dog Training?
All dogs can participate in obedience and tracking and the handler can elect not to do the protection phase, but you can not participate in the protection phase without also partaking in the obedience and tracking phases.
There are three phases to a Schutzhund trial.
- The tracking phase is intended to test the dogs ability to train and his ability to scent, as well as its mental and physical endurance.
- The obedience exercises are tests of the dogs temperament, structural efficiencies, and most of all it’s willingness to serve its handler.
- The protection phase tests the dogs courage, physical strength, and agility. Complete control over the dog is essential.
As well as the three title levels of Schutzhund there is also the entry level test called the BH which consists of basic obedience skills and a temperament evaluation of the dog by a judge, this is a prerequisite prior to any protection participation. Another prerequisite is the AD which is a 12 mile endurance test. There are also more advanced levels of tracking referred to as the FH1 and FH2. The handler can also obtain titles in only obedience and/or tracking. Each phase is worth 100 points and the dog and handler must obtain at least a score of 70% in each phase in order to pass.
Not only is Schutzhund training itself enjoyable for the dog, but the trained dog knows how to please its handler and obtain his reward thus creating a stronger bond. With a commitment of time, patience and finding the correct puppy, Schutzhund can be fun for the entire family!
While we only offer Personal Protection Dog Training here at Mountain Canine College, we hope you enjoyed learning about both types of training. Before starting Personal Protection Dog Training it’s important that you decide which one is best for you! Any questions, call us at (303) 679-3535