Revised 2008 Schutzhund Trial Handling Tips



Show Handling Tips

Why are some people better handlers than others?  This question is asked all the time.  Some people are more coordinated than others, some people can do many tasks at once, some can see mistakes or problems and correct them on the fly, and some people prepare themselves for trials.  All of these things and more make any one person a good handler.  Here are some hints on successful trialing.

When showing always smile at the judge and be extremely courteous.  It is very important to listen to what the judge has to say.  Some judges have handler's meetings where competitors can ask questions.  Use this opportunity to clear up any concerns you might have.  A competitor may ask a judge if he has time for questions via the internet or before the trial.  Pay attention to his instructions, and pay a lot of attention to his critiques of other dogs.  The BH is a good place to listen to the judge’s critiques as they sometimes go into novice-like detail to the spectators at this level.

At a trial, you have to go with the flow.  Don't get overly upset about mistakes, it will just interrupt your other performances.  Don't dwell on perceived inequities in scoring or unfavorable conditions.  Points you lose in one place you will probably get back in another, maybe even at another trial.  Every competitor knows that you have good days and bad days.  A good competitor knows the rules when he is trialing.  Rules change from year to year.  It is important to know what costs more points, and if you have to lose points, where to lose them.  Example:

  1. If your dog misses some blinds do not be too worried, it is only a 5 point exercise on the Schutzhund 1 and 2 and up to 10 points on the Schutzhund 3.  If a couple of extra commands makes him finish that is great, but don't stress your dog.  It could cost you more in the long run; possibly in the dog’s reaction as you approach the live blind if he thinks he has done something wrong.
  2. If your dog goes after the dumbbell, but doesn't find it give another "bring" command, but do not move from your spot as you could lose all the dumbbell points.
  3. If your dog is coming around the jump, maybe a second "hup" command will make the dog jump so you lose fewer points.  In the dumbbell, each part is worth 5 points, but you need 2 of the 3 parts to retain some points.  Example:  If the dog is perfect, but comes around the jump on the way back, you can retain 10 points of the 15.  If the dog goes over and comes back perfectly, but without the dumbbell, you can retain 10 points.

 

Schutzhund 1 (2006)

Tracking:

When you lay your Schutzhund 1 track you will need two articles (of the regulation size) and a flag.  You will go to the judge for direction.  The minimum is 300 paces for the Schutzhund 1, 2 articles and two corners.  Take a deep breath and think about what you're doing, before you proceed.  Try to line up on things as you lay the legs of your track and remember the particulars of your track.  You and your dog are a team.

Most of the time the judge will instruct you when to turn and when to drop an article, but you must know the rules, because he might leave the laying of the track up to you.  Hints to laying a track:  Make sure your articles are full of your scent.  By the rules, articles may not be a significant change in color from the terrain.  With this in mind, it is up to you to pick the type of articles that will be best for you.  If the judge asks you to make a turn, raise your hand to let him know you heard him and make a turn.  If it is a horrible place to turn, walk a few paces more with your hand up and turn at a better spot.  The same with an article, don't place it in a patch of stickers or a puddle of water when the judge signals. Just raise your hand to indicate you heard, walk a few paces more and drop the article in a better place.  The rules state you should move while dropping articles, but make sure when you place the article on the ground it doesn’t bounce out of the track or land sideways.  Corners should be five paces; slightly rounded.  You should know at this point what your dog needs at corners.  These hints go for tracklayers in the SchH 2 and 3, also.

Before you begin the trial, the judge will perform the “Impartiality Test” and instruct you to walk with your dog on six-foot leash (not in fuss) through the group and check your dog’s tattoo or chip.  If your dog has a chip, you need to provide the chip reader the day of the trial.  All German Shepherds must be tattooed at all levels of competition; local, regional and national level.  All dogs must be tattooed at regional and national level competition.  When showing the judge your dog's ear tattoo, which you usually have to do even if they don't have a tattoo, you want to make sure you hold the dog properly.  The tattoos are most often in the right ear, so you put the dog on your right side (opposite side of the 'heel' or ‘fuss’ position).  You take the muzzle in your left hand covering the eyes calmly and lay his head on your body in front of you.  You then use your right hand to present the ear tattoo.

You are at the least risk for problems if you expose the ear in this way.  Practice at home a lot.  The Impartiality Test can be done before you report in for the first phase or as a separate exercise at any time before you compete.  Before tracking, report to the judge and say, "My name is ..., my dog's name is..., we are reporting for Schutzhund 1 tracking and my dog will indicate the articles on the track."  It is important to say indicate and not down on the articles.  Just in case your dog decides to just pause or sit or stand.

After the reporting in, you will be asked to proceed to your track.  Now is the time to start your tracking routine.  The rules now state you need to stop your dog 2 meters away from scent pad before the beginning of the track if you need to straighten your line or calm your dog before the start of the track.  You are not allowed to influence your dog after you report in to the judge.  This means that you can no longer down your dog before the flag.  If your dog automatically sits as you stop then you can put the leash under the leg/legs at this point.  The best way is to have your dog ready to track before you report in so when you leave the judge your dog's line is in the proper position so when you are at the flag you just have to say "such". Know your rules.

You are now allowed to praise the dog before or after you pick up the articles and show them to the judge.  I believe the best way is to praise the dog after showing the article to the judge.

You must have the leash above your knee before you ask your dog to ‘such’.  Also, you must stand beside your dog to start after putting the articles in your pocket.  You are not allowed to stand behind your dog and say ‘such’.

At the end of the track go up to judge and report, "My name is ..., my dog's name is ..., we have completed Schutzhund 1 tracking, here are my articles."

New rules state you have to follow your dog even if he's off the track.  If you are on the track and the dog is off the track stay on it unless directed by judge.  If the dog has blown a corner and you are approaching it don't follow the dog, stay on the corner.  The judge will say follow your dog if you hold the dog back.  The only restarts (when you pull your dog back by the collar and start him tracking again) are allowed at the scent pad.  So on the track always hold the leash at the end and let the dog look for the lost track.  If the dog gets tangled you may platz your dog and untangle him ONLY at the judge's discretion. When a dog leaves the scent pad or article let the line go out all the way before following the dog.

It helps when you establish a routine for your dog.  Example:  Let your dog out to relieve himself, put the long line on, let him drink water, go to report in for tracking, down your dog more than 3 meters from the flag, let the line all the way out and check for knots, ask if he wants to track, release him and at the flag say “such”.  If you say “such” at 3 meters before the flag, you must stay at that point until the end of the leash.  You can create your own routine that works well for you and the dog, but it is a good idea to let them have water or splash it on their nose and make sure the line has no knots.  Take a moment to relax yourself and look at the track and get your bearings.

Obedience:

Order:

Report in to the judge off line with the other competitor.  Make sure you are aware of your dog and the other competitor’s dog as you do not want a fight between the dogs.  Many bad handlers are just so nervous or inexperienced they just don’t think as they approach the judge.  Be aware of as many things as you can during the trial.  When you report in for obedience, state your name, dog's name and what you are reporting in to do such as, “beginning Schutzhund 1 obedience”.  He will then tell you to either go to the basic position or to the long down.

Long down:

Go to down area and face the dog in the direction you will be waiting.  Make sure the judge is watching.  Put hands to the sides and look ahead.  Say "platz", walk off on right leg and stand with back to dog.  (Using the right leg to leave your dog is not a rule it is just an easy way with no point loss to let the dog know he must stay.)  Do not look at dog as you leave and do not let the judge catch you looking at your dog during the other team’s performance.  Wait for judge's command to go back to the dog.  Return to the dog standing at the heel side looking ahead say "sitz".  Fuss to the end of the field and wait until other dog does his voraus.

Heeling exercise: 

 

Basic routine:

  • Online heeling
  • Walking sit
  • Walking down with recall
  • Flat retrieve
  • Retrieve over brush jump
  • Retrieve over the wall
  • Voraus

Starting at basic position (where you start every exercise) off lead, 50 paces out normal, about turn, 10 paces normal, 10 paces fast, 10 paces slow, 10 paces normal, right turn 10 paces, right turn 10 paces, about turn, 10 paces and stop, 10 paces left turn, then go into the group.  (You are penalized for more or less than 10 to 15 paces on changes of pace.)

Many people forget the left turn before the group.  Many forget that the exercise is not over and praise the dog at the sit before the left turn into the group.  Plan your strategy as you approach the group.  You don’t want to do a right turn in front of the spectators or anything that could distract your dog.

In the group you will show right turn and left turn and a sit off lead.  The stop should be slightly near a group person.

If you are going to praise your dog the best time to praise is at the end of the routine at the sit outside the group before you start your walking sit.  Do not praise your dog so much that the dog gets out of control, but enough to encourage your dog.  Never lose control of your dog.  You know your own dog, maybe you want to praise a lot or a little or not at all. You need to do whatever suits your individual dog for the best performance

Go to the basic position, 10 paces walking, sit, go 30 paces and wait for judge’s signal before returning.  At basic position you can start here at judge’s approval or go back to the original start.  (Depends also on length of field.)

At the basic position, 10 paces walking, down, go 30 paces and wait for judge to signal recall.  Recall and then finish.

Note:  At basic position you are ONLY allowed one shot at a straight sit, you can not step forward or do anything to make the dog sit straight.  You may pet your dog at this position then wait to the count of 3 to proceed or step forward to the basic position after the praise.

Get SchH 1 dumbbell for flat retrieve. You may use "bring" only once as the command to retrieve.  Know your rules here!  Sometimes a double "bring" command at this point, if necessary, is better than the dog not returning or not getting the dumbbell at all.

Use SchH 1 dumbbell for the brush jump.  "Hup" is the first command.  While the dog is in the air over the jumps you must say "bring" before he gets to the dumbbell.

Use SchH 1 dumbbell for the wall.  "Hup" is the first command.  While the dog going over the wall you must say "bring" before he gets to the dumbbell.

Go to the basic position for voraus.  (Use the time it takes the other competitor to get their dog off the long down to prepare your dog for voraus.)  You must take10 - 15 paces for a build up. You may lift your right hand and say "voraus" and put the hand down immediately or you may lift your hand and keep it up until a few seconds after the down.  Never leave your hand up and drop it while saying down; it could be considered a double command.  You must down the dog at judge’s direction.
(At basic position wait for the judge to watch you to start.  If he is not watching he may ask you to start again.  Wait for the judge's command for most things except the finish and out for dumbbell, but wait 3 seconds for each.)

After both competitors have finished, report out to the judge with your name, dog’s name, and report what you have just completed like:  “and we have just completed Schutzhund 1 obedience”. You can put the line on your dog after you have reported out.  Go to the area of judge's critiques, usually in front of the grandstand or group.

Protection:

In protection report to the judge off leash unless otherwise instructed.  “My name is..., my dog’s name is..., and we are starting our Schutzhund 1 protection.”  Some judges at the beginning of protection do not ask you to report in and some do.

Proceed to the center of the blinds one and two and face the judge.  At the judge’s signal turn and face the first blind.  Point to blind and say "voran".  Say "hier" when the dog is at the blind.  Point to the live blind and say "voran".  You may also use the dog’s name when you use the hier command:   Voran……Fido, hier…..Voran to the live blind.

On judge's signal, go and get your dog.  When approaching the blind to get the dog, do it calmly.  Go to the marked spot about 5 paces from your dog and wait for judge’s signal.   At the judge’s signal you can go and fuss your dog out of the blind back to indicated spot or you may call your dog out with the “hier, fuss” command, NOT just "fuss".  Tell the helper “to step out of the blind”.  After the helper has gone to the escape spot the judge will indicate for you to go to down position.  Make sure your dog automatically sits without help first and then tell the dog to down. The handler should proceed to the blind to watch the escape.

The helper at the judge’s command does an escape.  The dog without command should catch the helper.  When the helper freezes out your dog. The first out is at your discretion the second and/or third out is at the judge’s signal.  There will then be an attack with two stick hits.  When the agitator stops out your dog.  The judge will tell you when to approach your dog.  When you get beside the dog you may say “sit” then fuss your dog to the center of the field parallel to the first blind.  The basic position before the courage test is the same spot for all levels; SchH 1, 2, 3.  The rules were not clear in the beginning so some judges incorrectly thought that the courage test for the SchH 1 and 2 were parallel to blind #3.  (I wouldn't argue with the judge if this is still how he/she does it, but this incorrect.)

The dog should sit calmly in basic.  The handler says nothing and holds the dog by the collar.  The helper crosses the field at a walk.  The helper upon turning runs threateningly at dog with noise.  The judge will tell you to send your dog.  Only at the judge’s signal may you send your dog with no command or “voran”.  You may not use a bite command such as “pachen”.   You may NOT move from basic until the judge’s signal.  The agitator attacks the dog and presses the dog after the grip.  When the agitator stops, out your dog.  The first out is at the handler’s discretion.  If a second out or third out is needed it is done at the judge’s signal.  At the judge's signal approach your dog at a normal pace. 

After you approach your dog at the basic position say "sitz" to your dog.  It is up to the handler how to disarm the helper.  The best way is to ask for the stick behind the helper’s back.  “Slowly hand me the stick behind your back.”  Then you can fuss your dog to the right side of helper.  The dog must sit automatically.  Then you can say “fuss” or “transport” to take the helper to the judge.  Since “fuss is fuss” it might be best to use “transport” because the dogs can now be penalized for not watching the helper during the side transport to the judge.  (Do not touch agitator during escort to judge.  Never walk between the dog and agitator.)

The dog should sit automatically when you stop in front of the judge.  At this points hand the judge the stick and state, "My name is ... and my dogs name is…, and we have completed Schutzhund 1 protection."   You can put your line on and proceed to the area where judge makes his critique.

 

Schutzhund 2:

Tracking:

The minimum number of paces for the Schutzhund 2 is 400 paces to be laid by a stranger. It includes two corners and two articles.

 

Obedience:

The obedience for the SchH 2 is the same as the SchH 1, but includes the walking stand and a larger dumbbell for the flat retrieve.

Order:

Report to the judge off line with the other competitor.  He will then tell you to go to the basic position or to the long down.

Long down:

Go to down area and face the dog in the direction you will be waiting.  Make sure the judge is watching.  Put hands to the sides and look ahead.  Say "platz", walk off on right leg and stand with back to dog.  (Using the right leg to leave your dog is not a rule it is just an easy way with no point loss to let the dog know he must stay.)  Do not look at dog as you leave and do not let the judge catch you looking at your dog during the other team’s performance.  Wait for judge's command to go back to the dog.  Return to the dog standing at the heel side looking ahead say "sitz".  Fuss to the end of the field and wait until other dog does his voraus.

Heeling exercise: 

Basic routine:

  • Offline heeling
  • Walking sit
  • Walking down with recall
  • Walking stand
  • Flat retrieve
  • Retrieve over brush jump
  • Retrieve over the wall
  • Voraus

Starting at basic position (where you start every exercise) off lead, 50 paces out normal, about turn, 10 paces normal, 10 paces fast, 10 paces slow, 10 paces normal, right turn 10 paces, right turn 10 paces, about turn, 10 paces and stop, 10 paces left turn, then go into the group.

In the group, show right turn and left turn and stop.  The stop should be slightly near a group person.  After you leave the group you can praise the dog in basic position.

Go to the basic position, 10 paces walking, sit, go 30 paces and wait for judge’s signal before returning.  At basic position you can start here at judge’s approval or go back to the original start.  (Depends also on length of field.)

At the basic position, 10 paces walking, down, go 30 paces and wait for judge to signal recall.  Recall and then finish.  Go to basic position or start here if the dog’s finish is straight.  If the dog isn’t straight, step forward for new basic position. (No need to double your point loss.)

Go 10 paces walking, stand your dog, go 30 paces and wait for judge’s signal before returning.  At basic wait three seconds then tell you dog to “sitz”.

Get SchH 2 dumbbell for flat retrieve.

Use SchH 1 dumbbell for brush jump.  "Hup" is the first command.  While the dog is in the air over the jumps you must say "bring" before he gets to the dumbbell.

Use SchH 1 dumbbell for wall.  "Hup" is the first command.  While the dog is on the wall you must say "bring" before he gets to the dumbbell.

Go to the basic position for voraus.  (Use the time it takes other competitor to get their dog off long down to prepare your dog for voraus.)  Between 10 and 15 paces send the dog.  You must down the dog at judge’s direction.

(At basic position wait for the judge to watch you to start.  If he is not he may ask you to start again.  Wait for the judge's command for most things except the finish and out for dumbbell, but wait 3 seconds for each.  Some judges want to tell you everything; most judges like to see you carry out most of the routine quickly and on your own.)

After both competitors have finished report out to the judge, your name, dog’s name, and report what you have just completed, “we have just completed Schutzhund 2 obedience”. Put a leash on your dog and go to the area for the judge's critiques, usually in front of the grandstand or group.

Protection:

In protection report in to the judge off leash unless otherwise instructed.  “My name is..., my dog’s name is..., and we are starting our Schutzhund 2 protection.”   Go to the middle of the field and face the judge and wait for the judge's signal.  At judge’s signal face the first blind and point to the blind and say "voran".  Say "hier" when the dog is at the blind.  You may use dog’s name in conjunction with “hier”.  Example:  Voran…….Fido, Hier……..Voran.   By this time you should know how to run blinds.  Watch others, if possible, to see problems other dogs are having with certain blinds.

On the judge's signal go to the spot indicated by the judge for call out.  When approaching the blind to recall the dog, do it calmly and efficiently.

Recall dog by saying "hier,fuss". 

Ask agitator to step out of the blind.  The agitator usually has a spot that the judge has asked him to step to.

On judge's signal, go and get your dog.  When approaching the blind to get the dog, do it calmly.  Go to the marked spot about 5 paces from your dog and wait for judge’s signal.   At the judge’s signal you can go and fuss your dog out of the blind back to indicated spot or you may call your dog out with the “hier, fuss” command.  Tell the helper “to step out of the blind”.  After the helper has gone to the escape spot the judge will indicate for you to go to down position.  Make sure your dog automatically sits without help first and then tell the dog to down.  The handler should proceed to the blind to watch the escape.

The helper at the judge’s command does an escape.  The dog without command should catch the helper.  When the helper freezes out your dog. The first out is at your discretion the second and/or third out is at the judge’s signal.  The judge will tell you when to approach your dog.   When you are at the blind the helper will try to escape.  When he stops tell your dog to out.  There will then be an attack with two stick hits.  When the agitator stops out your dog.

Go up to your dog and say "sitz" and tell the helper to turn around and move out.  Fuss 5 paces behind the helper for attack on handler. 

After the attack on the front transport, out your dog and at the direction of the judge go up to your dog and say "sitz".  On the judge's signal heel to the middle of the blinds parallel to blind 1.

The handler says nothing and holds the dog by the collar.  The dog should sit calmly.  The helper crosses the field at a run and at the center line turns towards dog and handler and makes threatening noises.  ONLY at a signal from the judge the handler sends his dog.  The handler should remain quiet or he can use the command “voran”.  No bite command like “pachen” is allowed.  You may NOT move from basic until the judge’s signal.  The agitator attacks the dog and presses the dog after the grip, when the helper stops, out your dog.  The first out is at the handler’s discretion.  If a second out or third out is needed it is done at the judge’s signal.  At the judge's signal approach your dog at a normal pace.

After you approach your dog at the basic position say "sitz" to your dog.  It is up to the handler how to disarm the helper.  The best way is to ask for the stick behind the helper’s back.  “Slowly hand me the stick behind your back.”  Then you can fuss your dog to the right side of helper.  The dog must sit automatically.  Then you can say “fuss” or “transport” to take the helper to the judge.  Since “fuss is fuss” it might be best to use “transport” because the dogs can now be penalized for not watching the helper during the side transport to the judge.  (Do not touch agitator during escort to judge.  Never walk between the dog and agitator.)

Escort the helper to the front of the judge, the dog should sit automatically and hand the judge the stick and state, "My name is ... and my dogs name is ...,  we have completed Schutzhund 2 protection”.  Put leash on here.

Proceed to the area where the judge makes his remarks.

 

Schutzhund 3:

Tracking:

Tracking for the Schutzhund 3 is a minimum of 600 paces with four corners and three articles.  Points for the Schutzhund 3 track are considerably different then the SchH 1 and 2 and you should know the differences.

Obedience:

Order:

Report in to the judge off lead with the other competitor, he will then tell you to go to the basic position or to the long down.

Long down:

Go to down area and face the dog to the direction you will be waiting.  Put hands to the side and look ahead.  Say "platz." and walk off on right leg.  During the Schutzhund 3 long down the handler will be out of site in a blind.  Do not look at dog.  Wait for judge’s command to go back to the dog.  Return to the dog standing at the heel side looking ahead and say "sitz".  Fuss to the end of the field and wait until the other dog does his voraus.

Heeling exercise: 

Basic routine:

  • Offline heeling
  • Walking sit
  • Walking then running down with recall
  • Running stand
  • Flat retrieve
  • Retrieve over brush jump
  • Retrieve over the wall
  • Voraus

Starting at basic position, 50 paces out normal, about turn, 10 paces normal, 10 paces fast, 10 paces slow, 10 paces normal, right turn 10 paces, right turn 10 paces, about turn, 10 paces and stop, 10 paces left turn, then go into the group.

In the group, show right turn and left turn and stop.  The stop should be slightly near a group person.

Go to the basic position, 10 paces walking, sit, go 30 paces and wait for judge's signal to return.  At basic if your dog is not crooked you can start from there after judge’s approval.

If your dog is crooked on return then move forward and stop for new basic position.  (No need to double your point loss.)

Go 10 paces walking, 10 paces running and "platz" your dog, keep running 30 paces.  Wait for judge's signal to recall.  Recall your dog and finish.  Again, you can start from here unless your finish is crooked.

At basic start running from the beginning and at 10 paces, stand your dog, keep running 30 paces.  Recall when judge signals and finish your dog.

Get SchH 3 dumbbell for flat retrieve.

Use SchH 1 dumbbell for brush jump.  "Hup" is the first command.  While the dog is in the air over the jump before he gets to the dumbbell you must say "bring".

Use SchH 1 dumbbell for wall.  "Hup" is the first command.  While the dog is in the air over the jumps you must say "bring" before he lands.

Go to the basic position for voraus.  (Use the time it takes other competitor to get their dog off long down to prepare your dog for voraus.)   You need to send your dog between 10 and 15 paces.  You must down the dog at judge’s direction. 

(At the basic position wait for the judge to watch you to start.  If he is not watching he may ask you to start again.  Wait for judge's command for most things except the finish and out for dumbbell, but wait 3 seconds for each.  Some judges want to tell you everything; most judges like to see you carry out things quickly on your own.)

After both competitors have finished report out to the judge, your name, dog’s name, and tell the judge what you have just completed, “we have just completed Schutzhund 3 obedience”. Go to the area of judge's critiques, usually in front of the grandstand or group.

Protection:

Unless otherwise instructed, report to the judge off leash.  “My name is..., my dog’s name is..., and we are starting our Schutzhund 3 protection”.  Proceed to the center of the blinds.  Face the judge and wait for the judge's signal.  At judge’s signal face the first blind then send your dog.  Point to the blind and say "voran".  Say "hier" when the dog is at the blind.  You may use the dog’s name also:  “Voran…..Fido, Hier…..Voran.  By this time you should know how to run blinds.  Watch others, if possible, to see problems other dogs are having.

On the judge's signal go to the spot indicated by the judge for call out.  When approaching the blind to recall the dog, do it calmly and efficiently. 

Recall dog by saying "hier, fuss". 

Ask the helper to step out of blind.  The agitator usually has a spot that the judge has asked him to step to.

Say "fuss" and fuss your dog to the marked spot about 5 paces from the helper.  The dog should sit first automatically, after the sit ‘down’ your dog.

Proceed to the blind.  When you are at the blind the man will try to escape.  When he stops tell your dog to out.  Then there will be an attack with two stick hits, and when the helper stops out your dog.

Go up to your dog and say "sitz" and tell helper to turn around and move out.  Fuss your dog at 5 paces behind the helper for attack on handler. 

After the attack on the front transport, out your dog and at the direction of the judge go up to your dog and say "sitz". 

It is up to the handler how to disarm the helper.  The best way is to ask for the stick behind the helper’s back.  “Slowly hand me the stick behind your back.”  Then you can fuss your dog to the right side of helper.  The dog must sit automatically.  Then you can say “fuss” or “transport” to take the helper to the judge.  Since “fuss is fuss” it might be best to use “transport” because the dogs can now be penalized for not watching the helper during the side transport to the judge.  (Do not touch agitator during escort to judge.  Never walk between the dog and agitator.)

Escort the helper to the front of the judge, the dog should sit automatically and hand the judge the stick and state, "My name is ... and my dogs name is ...,  we have completed first part of Schutzhund 3 protection”.   On judge's signal heel to the middle of the blinds parallel to blind 1.

The handler says nothing and holds the dog by the collar.  The dog should sit calmly.  The helper crosses the field at a run and at the center line turns towards dog and handler and makes threatening noises.  ONLY at a signal from the judge the handler sends his dog.  The handler should remain quiet or he can use the command “voran”.  No bite command like “pachen” is allowed.  You may NOT move from basic until the judge’s signal.  The agitator attacks the dog and presses the dog after the grip, and when the agitator stops, out your dog.  The first out is at the handler’s discretion.  If a second out or third out is needed it is done at the judge’s signal.  The dog will then be reattacked.  After the helper stops, out your dog again.  At the judge's signal approach your dog at a normal pace. 

After you approach your dog at the basic position say "sitz" to your dog.  It is up to the handler how to disarm the helper.  The best way is to ask for the stick behind the helper’s back.  “Slowly hand me the stick behind your back.”  Then you can fuss your dog to the right side of helper.  The dog must sit automatically.  Then you can say “fuss” or “transport” to take the helper to the judge.  Since “fuss is fuss” it might be best to use “transport” because the dogs can now be penalized for not watching the helper during the side transport to the judge.  (Do not touch agitator during escort to judge.  Never walk between the dog and agitator.)

Escort the helper to the front of the judge, the dog should sit automatically and hand the judge the stick and state, "My name is ... and my dogs name is..., and we have completed Schutzhund 3 protection”.  Put leash on here.

Proceed to the area where the judge makes his remarks.

Examples of good handling:  Remember each dog is different and what works for some dog and handler teams does not work for all.

Know your rules!  Practice the routines many times in your head.  Listen to other's critiques.

The “Impartiality Test” or “Temperament Test” is very important for first picture of your dog to the judge.  When you sit the dog to show the tattoo or find the chip your dog should sit calmly and without poor behavior. 

Make sure the judge can see the tattoo, because some judges will not let you continue unless they can see most of the numbers and letters.

Practice for mock trial days during the year.  Be dummy dog/handler for other trials to practice. 

Know the proper leash work, especially for the BH long down.

Go two paces more for each stage in obedience:  example if rules say 10 paces slow go 12 paces slow.  Learn to leave a staying dog on right leg.  Begin heeling with left leg.  Leave a staying dog slowly and calmly.  Leave a recall quickly (not so it is noticeable to the judge) and go a little farther and use the whole field; a dog is more likely to come with attitude if you're farther away.  The slow pace should be fast enough, the dog isn't thinking sit.  The fast pace used to be really fast, but now they ask for just change of speed so don’t run so fast your are out of control and the dog has a hard time not bumping into you.

The general rule is first off the field in obedience will get the better score.  Be professional and quick; know what you are doing, the judge will respect that.  Be on time, judges do not like to wait.  Have your dog always on dead ring choke of fursaver.  No tags allowed on the collar.  Do not have a tight fitting collar to simulate another type of collar.

If you learn something during another competitor’s critique that you do incorrectly for a certain judge, you must determine if it is worth changing.  If you can change easily without a problem for you or your dog then you might want to change.  Example:  Maybe a judge wants to make sure the dumbbell is thrown farther than you have done in the past for some reason.  You might want to oblige the judge and make sure you toss it far enough, but if you think the dog might not find the dumbbell and you might lose all points, then throw the dumbbell the correct distance for you to get the most points.

On the dumbbell know when to give a second command if needed, it might cost you less points.  If your dog does a slow turn to the left after picking up dumbbell maybe you will want to throw it a little to the right over the jump so they are more likely to be facing the jump on the way back.  Practice throwing the dumbbell at training.  Practice throwing it way right and way left proofing your dog so he knows to come back over the jump no matter how poorly it was thrown.  Practice with distances from the jump.  Each dog has different distances that work better than others.  Some dogs look very impressive when you are far from the jump.  Some slow dogs look better when you are as close as the rules allow.

There are many types of walks you can do that let your dog know what is up.  For the voraus, walk fast swing your arms to clue your dog; do not over exaggerate so the judge can see it.  In every exercise in the obedience phases, look ahead and never look back.   Have knowledgeable club member’s watch or video you for unconscious double handling. Examples:  Moving shoulders on finish, moving backwards on recall, dropping the head when saying sit, down, stand.  Always make sure the dog is at a sit position for three seconds before releasing or moving forward.

Three seconds is the pause you want to make in the dumbbell exercises at every 1) out after the dog is at here position 2) before asking for your dog to finish 3) before fussing away when returning to a down or sit 4) for sits in group.

Remember, the judge is king for a day and what he says goes.  If the judge wants things done a certain way, do it.  Not all judges are the same.

 

Updates:

Preparation before trial:

Always try to be completely ready six weeks before a trial so you can do build up, work on attitude, or you may need to work on one or two problems that may crop up.

Remembering each dog is different.  Plan the last week as build up:

Food:  A hungry dog usually works much better.

Example of feeding the last days before a two day trial with tracking on first day:

  1. 3 days before full ration
  2. 2 days before 1/2 ration
  3. 1 day before 1/4 ration
  4. Day of tracking 1/4 ration

or:

  1. 3 days before full ration
  2. 2 days before full ration
  3. 1 day before 1/2 ration
  4. Day of tracking no food

Experiment with this before you trial to know what is best for your individual dog.  Plan a regular weekend training day as an imaginary trial to prepare your dog.  Set up special tracking days and prepare your dog different ways to see what gives you your best performance.  Just an idea.

Pattern training should be done with great care.  How could they learn to lag around the 10th pace in your build up phase, if you never did routine?  If your dog consistently sits when asked why would you practice constantly a 10 to 15 pace build up?  When in trouble separate and conquer.  Example:  If you have lost the here position in front of you or it is crooked, separate it from the recall and work on just the here.  Just an idea.

Most good trainers take the last days off before a trial.  The amount of time off depends on the dog.  Did you ever notice when your dog misses a few days of training how energetic they are when they come back?  Use this.  Many people, beginners and experienced handlers, train so much before a trial they create their own problems.  If your dog isn't ready and needs a lot of training before a trial you should think about not entering.  There is the rare dog that without consistent training (usually control work) all the way up to the last minute displays such high drive it is out of control at the trial.

Road work is important for adult dogs.  Before a weekend trial the last day of roadwork should be Tuesday or Wednesday.  (Again depending on the dog.)  Like any athlete going a few days without exercise makes them 'bounce off walls'.

When you are allowed to go on the trial field to practice obedience before competition most good handlers do only two things:

1.Take the dog on leash over the jumps so they are used to it.

On the other hand if your dog is too out of control on new fields because of lack of control problems maybe do a little fussing on trial field.  If you have a problem the place to fix it was six weeks before, not trial day.

2. Do a voraus with attitude (probably no down).

Every so often you run into an incredibly high drive dog.  A dog that barks through obedience, protection and tends to easily get out of control.  Maybe if you ran a mile or so before obedience you can take the edge off and do a good routine.  Just an idea.

I hope these ideas and methods at least make a dog's handler think that there are a lot of ways one can be a good handler.  Think of your own ways for your particular dog that can make you look great as a team.

Ann Marie is currently a USA Judge.

Accomplishments:

  • Ann Marie has been involved with dogs since the 1970\'s when she earned her first CD while 12 years old. She went on to be youth 4-H obedience instructor at the age of 15.
  • Started one of highest titling clubs in the US called High Plains Schutzhund Club, Inc. in the 90\'s High Plains has over 290 titles to date. Titles including some AKC titles. High Plains has hosted National events in Denver including the World Qualifier in 1994 and AWDF Championships in 1999 and 1999 and 2000 UDC Championships. Helped secured titles in the club on Bouviers, Dobermanns, Malinios, Rottweilers and German Shepherds.
  • Was AWDF Secretary for 3 years.
  • Has done many seminars on dog safety with Christian organizations, 4-H and neighborhoods.
  • Is in USA\'s Owner/handler Club and has 12 Owner/handler Club trainers started in High Plains.
  • Has done many articles for dog magazines and USA.
  • Schutzhund Trial Chair of the 1997 UDC Nationals in St. Louis
  • Schutzhund Trial Chair/Secretary of the 1999 and 2000 UDC SchH Championship in Denver
  • Trial Chair and Secretary of many USA and UDC National events.
  • Chaired many committees for USA and UDC and AWDF.
  • Has been a UDC, NAWBA, and WABA Temperament Tester.

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