Schutzhund Training Begins in Puppyhood

Schutzhund Training Begins In Puppyhood.

schutzhund trainingFor a working dog to earn a prestigious Schutzhund title, he must excel in obedience, tracking and protection. So, how can you determine the ability of a playful, young puppy for the demanding specialty of schutzhund training?

If you have a litter of puppies you want to consider for schutzhund training, you notice that they have different personalities.  Some pups get to the food dish first. Some like to instigate play fighting and some are “barkers”. Some puppies are shy and some are curious to explore. Observing their play behaviors is good way to start assessing the pups future ability for schutzhund training.

Begin testing the personality of the puppies for their potential for schutzhund training around 8 weeks old. There are key tests to indicate things like confidence or independence.  For example, move away from the pup and kneel down, then calls the puppy. Look to see if the puppy comes readily.  Walk away from the puppy, and the puppy does not follow, it shows a degree of independence. If the puppy follows, tail up, this shows interest and a lack of fear.

Determine the degree of dominant or submissive tendencies.  Kneel down and gently roll the puppy on his back and hold him for 30 seconds. No struggle and avoiding eye contact shows the pup to be too submissive for Schutzhund training. A better result would be for the puppy to settle, then struggle a bit, then settle again with some eye contact.

Dominance can be shown by gently rubbing the puppy from head to toe while crouched beside him. He may try to dominate by jumping and nipping. A less desirable response would be the puppy rolling over and licking the hand of the tester, but some people want EXACTLY that for their schutzhund training dog.

In Schutzhund training, a working dog must be accepting of dominance by his handler. To test a puppy for this characteristic, bend down and cradle the puppy. Lift him just off the ground and hold him.  See if the pup struggles fiercely, bites or growls at the handler. He should be able to relax.

A retrieving test demonstrates the willingness of the puppy to work with a human. There is a high correlation between the ability to retrieve and successful guide dog, obedience and trial dog.  The retrieve is a critical component in schutzhund training.

Touch sensitivity can be evaluated by taking the webbing on one front paw between finger and thumb and pressing gently. While squeezing the toe, count slowly. Stop as soon as the puppy shows discomfort. A higher count shows a lesser degree of sensitivity to touch. You do not want an overly sensitive dog for schutzhund training.

Determine the sound sensitivity of a pup by standing a few feet away and hitting a metal pan with a big metal spoon. If the puppy looks, locates the sound and walks toward it to investigate, the puppy will not be jumpy or easily startled. That is an excellent trait in a dog intended for schutzhund training.

A final test is a sight sensitivity test which demonstrates the degree of intelligent response to a new or unfamiliar object. A string is tied to a large towel and yanked across the floor a few feet in front of the puppy. Some puppies will attack and bite the towel and some will look curiously and investigate. A pup that barks and tail tucks or runs away will not be a good candidate for Schutzhund training.

This is an overview of the criteria used to evaluate working breed puppies for Schutzhund training.

There is really no perfect score as each handler will have his own preferences in what he wants in a puppy and what characteristics are important to him.

An important factor not scored by a test is a good connection between puppy and handler. A trusting relationship between the two is crucial because of the intense schutzhund training required to achieve a working title at all levels. A trusting relationship also insures the puppy will want to please his handler so they will work  together toward the same goal. Schutzhund training is a long term commitment between dog and handler to achieve excellence.

This is a general overview of the criteria used to evaluate working breed puppies for Schutzhund training. There is really no perfect score as each handler will have his own preferences in what he wants in a puppy and what characteristics are important to him in schutzhund training.

Schutzhund training is a long term commitment between dog and handler to achieve excellence.

Learn more by visiting my schutzhund training site. Schutzhund training is an amazing and incalculably rewarding dog sport.

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