Von der Diamondburg Kennels
What is IGP/Schutzhund?
IGP, formerly called schutzhund, has become a serious hobby for us at the kennel. It takes a very special puppy/dog to be able to do this sport. There are certain qualities the puppy/dog must have to be at any level successful in the sport. Although we are German Shepherd breeders we primarily provide quality pet-quality puppies and in some cases sport-quality puppies. Ultimately there are plenty of things you can do with your dog that both of you enjoy including basic obedience, dock diving, agility, herding or just companionship with your dog among many other things. All that matters is what is a fit you, your family and your puppy.
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 as breeding dogs and happier companions to their owners. The original purpose for the sport of Schutzhund was to develop a dog sport that could measure the working ability of the dog so that information could be used in a breeding program to develop better working dogs with good temperaments. Schutzhund work concentrates on three parts. Many familiar with the obedience work of the American Kennel Club's affiliates will recognize the first two parts, tracking and obedience. The Schutzhund standards for the third part, protection work, are similar in some ways (not all) to police work or personal protection work. While dogs of other breeds are also admitted to Schutzhund trials, this breed evaluation test was developed specifically for the German Shepherd Dog. Schutzhund is intended to demonstrate the dog's intelligence and utility. At a working trial, Schutzhund measures the dog's mental stability, endurance, structural efficiencies, ability to scent, willingness to work, courage, and trainability. This working dog sport offers an opportunity for dog owners to train their dog and compete with each other for recognition of both the handler's ability to train and the dog's ability to perform as required. It is a sport enjoyed by persons of varied professions, who join together in a camaraderie born of their common interest in working with their dogs. Persons of all ages and conditions of life--even those with significant disabilities--enjoy Schutzhund as a sport. I might add it is quite time consuming depending upon the level at which you want to participate.
The Three Parts Of A Schutzhund Trial:
The tracking phase includes a temperament test by the overseeing judge to assure the dog's mental soundness. When approached closely on a loose leash, the dog should not act shyly or aggressively. The track is laid earlier by a person walking normally on a natural surface such as dirt or grass. The track includes a number of turns and a number of small, man-made objects left by this person on the track itself. At the end of a 30-foot leash, the handler follows the dog which is expected to scent the track and indicate the location of the objects, usually by lying down with it between its front paws. The tracking phase is intended to test the dog's trainability and ability to scent, as well as its mental and physical endurance.
The obedience phase includes a series of heeling exercises, some of which are closely in and around a group of people. During the heeling, there is a gun shot test to assure that the dog does not openly react to such sharp noises. There is also a series of field exercises in which the dog is commanded to sit, lie down, and stand while the handler continues to move. From these various positions, the dog is recalled to the handler. With dumbbells of various weights, the dog is required to retrieve on a flat surface, over a one-meter hurdle, and over a six-foot slanted wall. The dog is also asked to run in a straight direction from its handler on command and lie down on a second command. Finally, each dog is expected to stay in a lying down position away from its handler, despite distractions, at the other end of the obedience field, while another dog completes the above exercises. All of the obedience exercises are tests of the dog's temperament, structural efficiencies, and, very importantly, its willingness to serve man or woman.
The protection phase tests the dog's courage, physical strength, and agility. The handler's control of the dog is absolutely essential. The exercises include a search of hiding places, finding a hidden person (acting as a human decoy), and guarding that decoy while the handler approaches. The dog is expected to pursue the decoy when an escape is attempted and to hold the grip firmly. The decoy is searched and transported to the judge with the handler and dog walking behind and later at the decoy's right side. When the decoy attempts to attack the handler, the dog is expected to stop the attack with a firm grip and no hesitation. The final test of courage occurs when the decoy is asked to come out of a hiding place by the dog's handler from the opposite end of the trial field. The dog is sent after the decoy when he attempts to run away. Just when the dog is about to catch the decoy, the judge signals the decoy to turn about and run directly at the dog, threatening the dog with a stick. All bites during the protection phase are expected to be firmly placed on the padded sleeve and stopped on command and/or when the decoy discontinues the fight. The protection tests are intended to assure that the dog is neither a coward nor a criminal menace.
The IGP Titles:
There are three levels of the IGP test.
For IGP I the dogs must be at least 18 months old and pass an initial temperament test by the judge. The dog must heel on the leash and off, demonstrate the walking sit, the walking down, and the stay tests, as well as the send-out. It must retrieve on the flat and over a hurdle. In tracking, it must be able to follow a track laid by its handler at least 20 minutes earlier. There are also protection tests.
For IGP II the dog must be at least 19 months old and must already have earned its Schutzhund I degree. It must again pass all of the obedience and protection test required for the Schutzhund I degree, but those tests, for Schutzhund II, are made more difficult and require greater endurance, agility, and, above all, control. There is an additional retrieve required over the six-foot slanted wall. In tracking, the Schutzhund II candidate must be able to follow a track laid by a stranger at least 30 minutes earlier.
For IGP III, the master's degree, the dog must be at least 20 months old and must have earned both the Schutzhund I and the Schutzhund II titles. Again, the tests now are made far more difficult. All exercises in obedience and protection are demonstrated off leash. There is the addition of a walking and running stand. In tracking, the dog must follow a track that was laid by a stranger at least 50 minutes earlier. The track has four turns, compared with two turns for Schutzhund I and II, and there are three objects, rather than two, that must be found by the dog. The picture of obedience, strength, eagerness, and confidence presented by an excellent Schutzhund III team is a beautiful illustration of the partnership of human and dog.
Raising A Puppy for IGP Work:
Puppyhood is the most critical period for the development of the characteristics you want to encourage. Your local IGP club can advise you about nurturing and socializing your growing puppy. A puppy learns from its experiences, so you want to provide only positive ones. It should be provided with opportunity to explore and investigate new situations and new people, but always in a non-threatening way. Remember that your goal is to build confidence in the young animal. Your aim is not to dominate or oppress the young pup. Exposure to different environments is crucial to the general education of the dog and also to assure it that the world is a safe place. If something appears to make the dog unsure, give it the opportunity to investigate it slowly, but do not force the issue. It is imperative to avoid situations where your dog would be dominated by another, older or stronger dog, or by another puppy. You also want to avoid having to discipline or correct your puppy and thus dampen its spirit or damage its self-confidence. You can do this by never leaving the pup in a situation where it can cause damage to your valuables or find itself in a dangerous predicament. The final area of development is that of drive encouragement. The natural behaviors that you want to encourage are playing with the ball, tug of war, hide and seek, pulling toys on a string, pursuing you rapidly when you run away, and finally defending itself, its family and its home. The latter really only shows itself between the ages of nine and 18 months, as the pup begins to mature, by barking at strangers or intruders. It is better to leave for later formal obedience training with a younger dog. The character of the puppy is not sufficiently strong to withstand the corrections involved in obedience training. Acceptable manners at home and in the car and "play" training, like learning to sit for a food reward, with no corrections involved, is advisable. Real obedience work should begin only after the dog is well on its way in the protection training.
Disclaimer: If you are interested in any type of sport with your puppy including search and rescue, IGP, Ringsport, agility, etc., please do some research on the type of puppy you need. There may be some puppy tests you can do that will help determine the best puppy for the sport you choose.