Embarking on a New Adventure in Shutzhund!
Yesterday I spent about three hours from 2pm to 5pm outside in a temperature of about 30 degrees. I’ll confess that I haven’t spent so long outside in the cold since my sledding days as a young boy. What, you may ask, would posses me to do such a thing? Yesterday I started the New Year by embarking on a new adventure – my dog Zeus and I started Shutzhund/IPO training.
While my dog training/competition friends may have some familiarity with Shutzhund/IPO, many reading this article may not. “Schutzhund” is a German word meaning “protection dog”. It refers to a sport that focuses on developing and evaluating those traits in dogs that make them more useful and happier companions to their owners. The designation “IPO” is synonymous with “Schutzhund.” Apparently, due to political reasons, Germany no longer calls protection sport “Schutzhund” and since it originated in Germany, the rest of the world followed suit. What does IPO stand for? “Internationale Prüfungs-Ordnung.” Roughly translated, it means International auditing rules or International Exam Rules.
Schutzhund work concentrates on three parts. Many are familiar with the obedience work of the American Kennel Club’s affiliates and will recognize the first two parts, tracking and obedience. The Schutzhund standards for the third part, protection work, are similar to those for dogs in police work. At this point, Zeus and I have only really done basic obedience work, and have competed in AKC and UKC Rally Obedience. So we have a great deal of work ahead of us.
The next logical question is, “why did you choose to start Shutzhund/IPO training?” Zeus is a Rottweiler – a German breed. I like German “stuff” – dogs, cars, watches…all things which are an integral part of my life that I have great respect and admiration for. I’ve visited Germany many times and traveled extensively throughout the country as well – Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Stuttgart, Glashtte, Cologne, and Nürburg are just a few of the German cities I’ve visited. So Shutzhund fits right in with my affinity for German culture.
The more I’ve become involved in showing Rottweilers, the more I’ve become aware of Shutzhund. Readers of ThruMyLens will know that in the past year or so, we’ve done several Sieger shows, and in doing so I’ve been exposed to more people (and dogs) who are in various phases of Shutzhund training. I’ve also become keenly aware of the differences between the dogs which show in Sieger competition who are also Shutzhund dogs, and those who are not. The Shutzhund trained Rottweilers have a degree of conditioning and muscularity which sharply separates them from the rest of the dogs. I’ve also seen the respect shown to both dogs and owners (both in and out of the show ring) who participate in Shutzhund. All this to say that I’ve grown to respect and admire dogs and owners who train for Shutzhund – and this respect and admiration is a strong part of what is fueling my desire to train my own dog in Shutzhund. But perhaps the biggest motivator for me is the relationship with my dog. When you buy a dog and spend time with the dog, a bond forms between the owner and the dog. But when you work with a dog, that bond grows – something I never knew until I started showing Zeus in both conformation and performance events. I really look forward to seeing how our relationship can grow as we progress in our training – that’s very exciting to me.
Zeus and I are VERY fortunate to have a United Shutzhund Clubs of America club just 14 miles from where we live – the Southwest Ohio Shutzhund Club. I’ve talked to people that have to routinely drive several hours each way to train with a good club. I actually visited the club for the first time in April of 2014. At the time, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to commit the time necessary to Shutzhund – I don’t know much, but I do know that Shutzhund isn’t something you do half-way. So I wanted to wait until I was sure it was something that we wanted to do and could commit to fully before we joined the club.
Writing about things is a fantastic way for me to reinforce what I’ve learned, so I expect to write a number of articles here on ThruMyLens about our adventures in Shutzhund/IPO – wish us luck!
John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.