Trial Handling Tips for Rules as of 2004 – Part 11

Schutzhund 3


Tracking for the SchH 3 is 600 paces and laid by a stranger with four corners and five legs. Points for the articles and corners on the SchH 3 track are different and you should understand these changes.

SchH 3 Obedience:

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The obedience for the SchH 3 includes the running stand and the SchH 3 dumbbell for the flat retrieve.

Reporting in to the Judge:

Competitors should fuss to the judge at the same time in a sportsmanlike manner. As in tracking, state your name, dog’s name and what you are reporting to do such as, “beginning Schutzhund 3 obedience”. He will then tell you to either go to the basic position for your obedience routine or to the long down.

Long down:

Go to down area and face the dog to the direction you will be waiting. At the judge’s command put hands to the side and look straight ahead. Say “platz.” and walk off, starting with right leg and stand/sit in blind provided. Blind should be approx. 30 paces away from dog. Do not fidget in blind as it may distract other dog. Do not look at dog. Wait for judges command to go back to the dog. Return to the dog standing at the heel side looking straight ahead and say “sitz”. Fuss to the end of the field and wait until the other dog does his voraus.

Heeling exercise:

Basic routine:

  1. Offline heeling
  2. Walking sit
  3. Walking/Running down with recall
  4. Running stand with recall
  5. Flat retrieve
  6. Retrieve over jump
  7. Retrieve over the wall
  8. Voraus
  1. Starting at basic position (where you start every exercise) on lead, 40-50 paces out normal, about turn, 10-15 paces normal, 10-15 paces fast, 10-15 paces slow, 10-15 paces normal, right turn 15 paces, right turn 15 paces, about turn, 5-10 paces and stop, 5-10 paces left turn, then go into the group.

    Example of offline heeling pattern:

    In the group show right turn and left turn. The stop should be near a group person. Proceed out of the group to basic position for the walking sit. If you are going to praise your dog, the time to praise is at the end of the heeling routine at basic position. Do not let your dog get out of control or leave fuss position. You know your own dog, maybe you want to praise a lot or a little or not at all.

    • Go to basic position, walk 10-15 paces, sit the dog, go 30 paces and wait for judge’s signal to return to your dog.
    • Go back to basic position (unless the judge allows you to start there if the field is big enough), walk 10-15 paces, then run 10-15 paces and down the dog, go 30 paces and wait for judge to signal recall. Recall and then finish.

    Hint: Basic position is now changed. You only get one shot at a straight sit, you cannot re-position to obtain a straighter sit. You may pet your dog at the basic position and then wait to the count of 3 to proceed or re-position after the praise. After the end of a routine, you can obtain a basic position once.

    • From this position, immediately start running and at 10-15 paces, stand your dog, keep running 30 paces. Recall when judge signals and wait 3 seconds and then finish your dog.
    • Get the SchH 3 dumbbell for the flat retrieve with your dog in fuss. The dog can sit no farther away than a meter from the dumbbell stand when you get the dumbbell. After selecting the correct dumbbell the team goes to an appropriate area and starts the retrieve in basic position. (make sure you are in a good place and not throwing towards the crowd or the dog on the long down or the jumps.) The handler looks at the judge to begin. The handler throws the dumbbell approximately 30 feet. 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. Do not move out of the basic position after throwing the dumbbell it can result in loss of all points.
    • Use SchH 1 dumbbell for 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 in the air over the jumps 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.) At the basic position, wait for the judge signal to begin. On his command walk 10-15 paces and send the dog with a “voraus” and raise your right hand and point forward. At the judge’s signal or when the dog has reached 30 paces out, “platz” you dog. On the judge’s signal, go to your dog and wait 3 seconds and sit your dog. At this time if you haven’t done the long down, you will be instructed to go to the long down position or you will report out to the judge for your critique. (Hint: do not lower your raised hand at the same time you tell your dog to platz. Either leave your hand up until after the dog has platzed or put your hand down right away. If you drop your hand at the same time you say platz, it can be considered a double command.)

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 3 obedience”. Upon instruction from judge prior to critique the dog is put on leash. Go to the area of the judge’s critique and down your dog, usually in front of the grandstand or group.

SchH 3 Protection:

Basic routine:

  1. Blind Search
  2. Bark and Hold
  3. Escape
  4. Re-attack
  5. Back Transport
  6. Re-attack (and escort to the judge)
  7. Courage Test
  8. Re-attack

Report to the judge on leash unless otherwise instructed. “My name is…, my dog’s name is…, we are starting our Schutzhund 3 protection.” After the report take the leash off.

  1. Go to the center of the field parallel to the 1st blind and wait for the judge’s signal. When instructed to begin, you will run all six blinds. Point to the 1st blind and say “voran”. Say “heir” when the dog is at the blind. By this time you should know how to run blinds. Watch others if possible to see problems other dogs are having with certain blinds. The dogs now have to circle the blinds closely.

    • On judge’s signal go to the spot indicated by the judge for the call out. The length of the barking is now 20 seconds. When approaching the blind, do it calmly.

    Recall dog by saying “fuss”. If the dog doesn’t respond after three commands you will be excused. Ask agitator to step out of the blind. The agitator usually has a spot that the judge has asked him to secure.

    • Say “fuss” and fuss your dog to a designated spot about 5 paces from decoy or where the judge indicates. Say, “Platz.” You no longer search the helper. The handler goes to search the blind only. When you are at the blind the helper will try to escape. When he stops tell your dog to out.
    • The helper will then attack the dog with two stick hits. When the agitator stops, out your dog. At the judge’s command go up to your dog and say “sitz”.
    • At basic position tell the helper to turn around and move out. Fuss your dog behind the helper at a distance of 5 paces for attack on handler. You will proceed about 30 paces. The turns, if any, are at the judge’s discretion.
    • After the attack during the back transport, out your dog and at the direction of the judge go up to your dog and say “sitz” at the basic position. The new rules state you can take the stick anyway you would like. One way is to tell the agitator, after you have told the dog to sit, “Carefully hand me the stick behind your back”. After obtaining the stick fuss your dog to the right side of the agitator. Stop and the dog should sit automatically. Say “transport” to the agitator. Say “fuss” to your dog. OR You can also say “move out” and then “fuss” to your dog and proceed to the judge. (Do not touch agitator during escort to the judge.)

    Escort the agitator 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 free heel to designated spot parallel to 1st blind for the courage test.

    • The dog should sit calmly in basic position. You may hold the dog’s collar. The judge commands the helper to come out and cross the field at a run. The handler yells, “Stop-stand still”. The helper upon reaching the center of the field runs threateningly at dog. The judge will tell you to send your dog. Do not send the dog until judge directs. You may move while the dog is running, but you must stop when the dog makes contact with helper. The agitator attacks the dog and presses the dog after the grip. When the agitator stops, out your dog. (Some dogs you want to out quickly and some dogs slower depending on your training and point loss)

    The helper will then re-attack your dog after the helper stops out your dog. At the judge’s signal, approach your dog at a normal pace. At the basic position, say “sitz” to your dog. The new rules state you can take the stick anyway you would like. One way is to tell the agitator, “Carefully hand me the stick behind your back”. After obtaining the stick fuss your dog to the right side of the agitator. Stop and the dog should sit automatically. Say “transport” to the agitator and move forward to the judge. OR You can also say “move out” and then “fuss” to your dog and proceed to the judge. (Do not touch agitator during escort to the judge.)

    • Escort the agitator 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 3 protection”. Upon instruction from judge prior to critique the dog is put on leash.

Proceed to the area where the judge makes his remarks.

A complete book could be written on varying handler tips and hints to make a competing team look professional, but here are a very few simple hints:

First remember each dog is different and each judge is different.

Go two paces more for each stage: example if rules say 10 slow go 12 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 and go a little farther and use the whole field. Make sure there isn’t a marked difference in speed during the build up so the judge will point it. A dog is more likely to come with attitude if you’re farther away.

The slow pace during the heeling portion 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. Make sure transition from fast to slow is smooth.

The general rule is first off the field in obedience wins. 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 on the collar. Collars cannot be tight or the judge may ask you to get another collar.

In the dumbbell routine, know when to give a second command if needed, it might cost you less points then if your dog doesn’t finish. If your dog does a slow turn to the left after picking up dumbbell maybe you will want to throw it 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.

Handlers should learn to leave a dog on the long down with the right leg, but begin heeling with the left.

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 cue your dog; do not over exaggerate. In every exercise in the obedience phases, look straight ahead and never look back. Have knowledgeable club members 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.

You want to make a three-second pause in the dumbbell exercises before every out, after the dog is at here position before asking for your dog to finish, before fussing away when returning to a down or sit, and for sits in group or outside the group.

The basic position is now changed. You only get one chance at a straight sit. You cannot re-position to obtain a straighter sit. You may pet your dog at the basic position and then wait 3 seconds to proceed or re-position only after the praise. After the end of a routine, you can obtain the basic position once. If you come back to your dog on the sit and your dog is crooked, don’t start the walking down from the crooked sit. You should re-positioning your dog the one time and start with a correct basic position.

Good handling is one thing and cheating is another. Example: If you continually sniff like you have a runny nose a the corners, in the group, or when the dog looks away that is not good handling; whether you mean to or not. Waiting for the dog to look at you for your about turn is good handling.

When the handler leaves a walking sit or walking down they must turn immediately and in the same spot to face their dog after 30 paces. Some handlers pause before they turn to their dog and some handlers, after they face their dog, take a step right or left to better align themselves with their dog this is not allowed and will be pointed. Handlers must have their legs together under them as they face their dog on the recall.

Handlers should be respectful of the other competing team. If your dog gets up off the long down and starts to come to you, do not yell “down” it might disturb the other dogs performance and you have lost the points anyway. Make sure you give the other team room if you are approaching the judge at the same time. Pay attention to when it’s time to trial your dog, don’t keep the other team waiting.

In the traffic portion of the BH test, review the rule book. It is advisable that every time you are allowed to down your dog, when people or joggers approach, then do so. Also, on the tie-out it is preferable to down your dog.

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.

Preparation before trial:

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

Remember each dog is different and each dog has different health issues. 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:

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


  • 3 days before full ration
  • 2 days before full ration
  • 1 day before 1/2 ration
  • 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. Sometimes, as a competitor, you have to walk a long way to your track during the trial. If you can buy or print a simple diary off of your computer, you can use this to document your training and see trends, the highs and lows of your workouts, this is especially great for tracking.

Handlers should try and use their nerves to their advantage, which is easier said than don. Maybe repeating to yourself, “I am a finely tuned machine” and “I own this field”, before you go on the field can help. If you are a coach, you can ask “Who owns this field?” and the competitor can respond “I do!”.

If all obedience training is done randomly in a right turn square (clock-wise). Example: sits, downs, stands. How could they learn to lag around the 10th pace in your build up phase if you always did squares? 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 can be 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 (and training method) that needs control work all the way up to the last minute before a trail.

Road work is important for adult dogs. Before a weekend trial the last day of roadwork should be Tuesday or Wednesday. 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 do practice obedience before competition most good handlers do only two things:

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

Every so often you will run into an incredibly high-drive dog. A dog who barks through obedience and 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. Maybe a five minute bark and hold before obedience can make the dog bark less in obedience. Just some ideas.

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.

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