Schutzhund Training for your Dog

Schutzhund began more than 100 years ago in Germany as a way to train and test German Shepherds for their suitability as police dogs.  It became popular as a means to test the skills of all types of dogs and today many breeds go through Schutzhund training, though the passing rate continues to be very low.

Schutzhund Dog Training Basics

This highly structured form of training has evolved over the last century.  It is viewed as a very effective, very humane way of training dogs.  It  is very precise and the dogs are required to learn and demonstrate a wide variety of difficult skills.  Most dogs enjoy the challenge, however.  The knowledge behind Schutzhund training was once contained in a few books and manuals, since it was mostly disseminated through word of mouth and hands-on training.  Now videos are readily available on DVD that teach the essentials of this dog-training art.

The training focuses on skills used in police work. These include tracking by scent, sniffing out drugs or weapons, protection, stopping a fleeing person, and retrieving.  The Schutzhund training starts when the dog is a puppy just out of the litter and will continue for several months while the dog’s skills are being constantly evaluated.  Only the cream of the crop are given passing grades and go on to a career in a police work.

Core Disciplines of Schutzhund Training

There are slight differences found in different schools of thought behind Schutzhund training.  However, many of the core essentials are the same.  The following types of training are nearly universal to it.

Clicker Training: A consistent noise like a clicker is viewed as a better means of communicating to a dog because it doesn’t vary like the human voice can, and it will sound the same used by any leader.  German Shepherds have shown to do very well with clicker training and it usually begins at about 10 weeks of age.

Basic Obedience Training: In this phase the dog learns to master 10-12 commands that form the foundation of its potential future work.  Commands such as “focus” or “attention” are included, as well as those instructing the dog to sit, stand, heel, point, jump, retrieve and more.  The dog must master all of the basics in order to progress in its training.

Tracking: In this aspect of Schutzhund the dog learns to target specific objects by seeking or following the scent.  These objects include drugs, weapons or bombs, and cadavers.  The dog is trained to point to them when locate.  When put on the scent of an object the dog pursues until its handler calls it off.

Protection: Dogs have an inherent urge to protect.  This is used to train them as police, guard and attack dogs.  Specific commands identify a threat and instruct the dog how to respond.  These dogs may also be trained to protect an object or person indefinitely without need of specific commands.

The purpose of Schutzhund training is to supply the dog with a set of specific skills to master so that the overall task can be carried out with speed and efficiency.  In strict programs where the dogs will be used in actual work the completion rate is less than 20%.  Even those that don’t pass acquire excellent life-long skills.  If you are looking for a high-quality way to train your own dog then you might want to consider Schutzhund.  You’ll likely produce a well-trained dog that proves to be a loyal, trustworthy companion.  Take some time to research the various schools of Schutzhund training and select books and DVD’s that will put the essential into your hands.