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                                      UKDA ESSEX & KENT IPO SCHUTZHUND DOG TRAINING  CLUB

Schutzhund (German for "protection dog") or IPO (for Internationale Prüfungs-Ordnung — German for "International Trial Rules") is a Dog Sport that was developed in Germany in the early 1900s as a breed suitability test for the German Shepherd. The test would determine if the dog displayed the appropriate traits and characteristics of a proper working German Shepherd Dog
Today it is used as a sport where many breeds other than German Shepherd Dogs can compete, but it is a demanding test for any dog that few can pass.

Schutzhund tests dogs of all breeds for the traits necessary for police-type work. Dogs that pass Schutzhund tests should be suitable for a wide variety of tasks: Police Work specific odor detection, Search & Rescue and many others. The purpose of Schutzhund is to identify dogs that have or do not have the character traits required for these demanding jobs. Some of those traits are:

  • Strong desire to work
  • Courage
  • Intelligence
  • Trainability
  • Strong bond to the handler
  • Perseverance
  • Protective Instinct

Schutzhund tests for these traits. It also tests for physical traits such as strength, endurance, agility, and scenting ability. The goal of Schutzhund is to illuminate the character and ability of a dog through training not by force. Breeders can use this insight to determine how and whether to use the dog in producing the next generation of working dogs.

The German Shepherd was developed from working herding dogs around 1900 as an all-around working dog. Within a few years it was clear that the dogs were losing their working ability. Schutzhund was developed at this time as a test of working ability for German Shepherds. Only German Shepherds that had passed a Schutzhund test or a herding test were allowed to breed and thus have their progeny registered as German Shepherd Dogs, his is true in Germany to this day. 

It is only by testing the working ability of every generation that the strong working characteristics of the GSD have been maintained. 

Dogs of any breed, even mixes, can compete in Schutzhund today, but the most common breeds are German Shepherds, Belgian Mallinois , Boxers, Dobermann, Cane Corso, Dutch Shepherd and various other working breeds.

There Are Three Shutzhund Titles : 

IPO1 (SchH1), IPO2 (SchH2), and IPO3 (SchH3). SchH1 is the first title and SchH3 is the most advanced. Additionally, before a dog can compete for an SchH1, he must pass a temperament test called a B or BH (Begleithundprüfung, which translates as "traffic-sure companion dog test"). The B tests basic obedience and sureness around strange people, strange dogs, traffic, and loud noises. 

A dog that exhibits excessive fear, distractibility, or aggression cannot pass the B and so cannot go on to schutzhund.

The Schutzhund test has changed over the years. Modern Schutzhund consists of three phases: Tracking, Obedience, Protection. 

A dog must pass all three phases in one trial to be awarded a schutzhund title. Each phase is judged on a 100-point scale. 

The minimum passing score is 70 for the tracking and obedience phases and 70 for the protection phase. 

At any time the judge may dismiss a dog for showing poor temperament, including fear or aggression.

                                                                UKDA  ESSEX & KENT IPO SCHUTZHUND CLUB



The obedience phase is done in a large field, with the dogs working in pairs. One dog is placed in a down position on the side of the field and its handler leaves it while the other dog works in the field. Then the dogs switch places. In the field, there are several heeling exercises, including heeling through a group of people. There are two or three gunshots during the heeling to test the dog's reaction to loud noises. There are one or two recalls, three retrieves (flat, jump and A-frame), and a send out where the dog is directed to run away from the handler straight and fast and then lie down on command. Obedience is judged on the dog's accuracy and attitude. The dog must show enthusiasm. A dog that is uninterested or cowering scores poorly.


The tracking phase tests not only the dogs scenting ability, but also its mental soundness and physical endurance. In the tracking phase, a track layer walks across a field, dropping several small articles along the way. After a period of time, the dog is directed to follow the track while being followed by the handler on a 33 foot leash. When the dog finds each article he indicates it, usually by lying down with the article between his front paws. The dog is scored on how intently and carefully it follows the track and indicates the articles. The length, complexity, number of articles, and age of the track varies for each title.


In the protection phase, the judge has an assistant, called the "helper", who helps him or her test the dog's courage to protect himself and his handler and its ability to be controlled while doing so. The helper wears a heavily padded sleeve on one arm. There are several blinds, placed where the helper can hide, on the field. The dog is directed to search the blinds for the helper. When it finds the helper, it indicates this by barking. The dog must guard the helper to prevent him from moving until recalled by the handler. There follows a series of exercises similar to police work where the handler searches the helper and transports him to the judge. At specified points, the helper either attacks the dog or the handler or attempts to escape. 
The dog must stop the attack or the escape by biting the padded sleeve. When the attack or escape stops, the dog is commanded to "out," or release the sleeve. The dog must out or it is dismissed. At all times the dog must show the courage to engage the helper and the temperament to obey the handler while in this high state of drive. Again, the dog must show enthusiasm. 
A dog that shows fear, lack of control, or inappropriate aggression is dismissed.

                                                                           UKDA ESSEX & KENT IPO  SCHUTZHUND DOG TRAINING  CLUB

IPO/Schutzhund training, like the sport itself, has evolved over the years. The definitive description of IPO/Schutzhund training in the first 50 years of the sport is Col. Konrad Most's Dog Training: A Manual, 1910 (English trans. 1954,  By modern standards, Most's training is very harsh and possibly abusive. Despite this, it is also structured, consistent, and in many ways conforms to more recent ideas on learning theory. Over time, the more brutal techniques fell out of use and few trainers still follow Most's program. In 1981, Helmut Raiser publishedDer Schutzhund (English trans. by Armin Winkler, 1999 (no ISBN)), which radically changed IPO/Schutzhund protection training. In the US, the next great change in Schutzhund training is marked by the 1991 publication ofSchutzhund Theory & Training Methods  by Susan Barwig and Stewart Hilliard. Also see TOP WORKING DOGS, A Schutzhund Training Manual by Dr. Dietmar Schellenberg, first published in 1982. With the fifth edition in 2012 , Schellenberg presents a remarkably comprehensive guide with detailed, step-by-step instructions on IPO/Schutzhund training and theory. A number of other English-language books have been published on Schutzhund training. Some of the more influential books are:

  • Training the Competitive Working Dog by Tom Rose and Gary Patterson, 2004. This book is out of print and has been updated in 2006 with Training the Behavior by Gary Patterson.
  • Schutzhund Obedience: Training in Drive with Gottfreid Dildei, by Sheila Booth, 1992 
  • Schutzhund: Theory and Training Methods by Susan Barwig and Stewart Hilliard .

  • A recent innovation in providing information on Schutzhund training is the development of specialist dvds As with books, all videos and DVDs are not created equal. Viewers must exercise discretion when considering the techniques shown in videos. Just because a technique appears in a video (or book) does not mean that it is a good idea or that many Schutzhund trainers use it. There is a diversity of opinion on how to train Schutzhund dogs. This is reflected in the many conflicting opinions presented in the various videos.

A reliable source for training information is a good Schutzhund club. The overwhelming majority of Schutzhund training is done by owner/handlers at local clubs.  A  legitimate club will not permit a member to train only in protection as there needs to be a good level of obedience first & foremost. Usually our more experienced members are willing to help the novice with tracking and obedience don't be shy just ask as we all started somewhere and thats how clubs grow & handlers improve.

Another function of Schutzhund clubs is to identify dogs that should not be trained in IPO/Schutzhund

IPO/Schutzhund is a challenging test of a dog's character, and not every dog is up to the challenge. The training director of the club has a responsibility to the dog, handler, club, and society to constantly evaluate every dog and to decline to train any dog with questionable character or working ability. 

Training a dog that does not really want to work is stressful and frustrating for all parties involved and here at UKDA Essex & Kent IPO Club we normally ask you down to the club and assess you and the dog and maybe work the dog initially on the poles for safety reasons among other things, as this way the trainer can check the dogs character & grips safely and not having to worry about the handlers capabilities to start with we will continue to work with you & your dog if deemed suitable for training though some dogs just prefer the tracking or obedience.

UKDA IPO Schutzhund clubs regularly hold  trials, providing the opportunity for dogs to earn titles and for handlers to assess their training progress. 

    A good club should be considered a necessity for working dogs and should not push dogs by forceful or abusive means and members observed doing so will be asked to leave.

Photos & Videos can be taken only with the trainers permission as not every member wants to be videoed or photographed as we have various dog handlers from the service sectors that work in sensitive roles always ask the trainer before taking any pictures or videos.

  • BH - basic obedience and temperament test
  • SchA / APr 1-3 - obedience and protection only
  • SchHI / IPO1 - first level
  • SchHII / IPO2 - second level
  • SchHIII / IPO3 - top level
  • OB / UPr 1,2,3 - separate obedience titles
  • TR / FPr 1,2,3 - separate tracking titles
  • FH 1,2, IPO FH - advanced tracking titles
  • AD - endurance title (for breed-worthiness)

                                        THE UKDA IS PROUD TO BE DIRECT TO THE FCI