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How to Get into Schutzhund for Beginners

Old wet tough looking German shepherd on a beach

Schutzhund which translates literally to “protection dog” is a way of training that heightens those traits in dogs that make them useful while also increasing the relationship with the dog and the owner. The three key aspects of Schutzhund are Tracking Obedience and Protection-work that all come together to make a perfectly trained dog.

There are many ways to get involved in the sport but it may seem like a daunting task for any newcomer with all the information and gear needed. That's why I am here to help you find a place to start and provide tips on what to expect as a beginner in Schutzhund.

Finding a Club that Fits your Lifestyle

There are likely Schutzhund clubs near you and it is your duty and privilege to find the one that fits your style and helps learn Schutzhund for beginners, some find theirs immediately and this may be the case for you as well if you are lucky. finding a good Schutzhund club that you enjoy is important because each one is different, and finding one that has the feel you are looking for can go a long way. You should plan on sticking with your club for 2-3 years due to the conflicting styles of training other clubs may have and this should put your dog in the IPO1 title which is the first obtainable title.

If at all possible it is also recommended as a good idea to get acquainted with the club before you purchase your dog for many reasons, including if you have the resources available for longevity. they can also help suggest dog breeds, and ultimately to make sure you enjoy it.

Finding a Mentor for You and your Dog

The next step is finding a mentor to help you learn Schutzhund for beginners in a way you enjoy. Every mentor is different and has their own style so it is important to find one that embodies what you plan to do as a beginner.

There are many reasons people get into Schutzhund and for a beginner, it is important to realize what your reasoning is. Once you find this out you can look for similar values in a mentor. For example, if I enjoy having fun working with my dog but not the competitions I should seek out a mentor that feels the same way in order to enjoy and understand each other to the best of your abilities.

This will help you as you and your dog grow because you will have your own unique style and oftentimes this will be an adaptation of your mentor.

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Know your Dog

The most important part of learning Schutzhund for beginners is knowing your dog, this will either happen over time or you already know them very well and are ready to get started. Knowing your dog will help you both enjoy and understand better how your dog is handling and learning their training. There are also things that you should look for as your dog goes through this process.

Every dog has a trigger and it is important to know yours so you can be prepared. If you know your dog hates squirrels, like mine, you can be on the lookout and be proactive on the commands. It is also important to know what treats and toys your dog enjoys to help make training seamless and enjoyable if a dog is not enjoying the rewards they are less likely to make the effort. My dog, for example, loves the  Brown Begger sweet potato slices 

Patience, Patience, Patience

This is no easy task and you should not get discouraged by any obstacles, Schutzhund for beginners is tough. Younger dogs don't have the attention span you may be looking for but this is OK! Take breaks, have shorter sessions, and enjoy it. As dogs mature their behaviors may change and you may have to adapt to that as well which is all normal and expected.

Make sure as a trainer your commands are clear and loud enough to be heard, along with that, don't add in distractions until the dog is ready and do it, then make it gradually. If you set a good foundation of learning it will help you and the dog as you progress throughout the training and make sure your dog is ready before you move on, or commands may get lost down the road.

Perseverance Through It All

Keep going! Schutzhund can be daunting for beginners and is a long journey. There may be days down the road where you get frustrated to the point of quitting, trust me it happens to everyone. The most important thing to do is just keep going because the next day could be your breakthrough moment. There may be rainy hot muggy days and there may be freezing dry days but along with that will be the light bulb days where you and your little buddy connect and everything goes right. These are the days that make the sport worthwhile and strengthen the bond between you and your dog. No matter what don't give up it is a journey and a rewarding one at that.

Bonus tip: you'll know your dog and if something doesn't feel right speak up or ask questions, there is no such thing as a stupid question and along with that bad training will reinforce bad results.

SitStay has been your working dog supply headquarters since 1995. From service dog vests, dog beds, and working dog equipment, to dog treats and dog training supplies. We've got you covered.

Meet The Author 

Grant Withers

Canine Specialist & Writer

Grant is an award-winning writer for SitStay with a passion for pets and especially dogs! Grant loves writing about furry little goofballs and aims to educate pet parents about anything and everything regarding their dogs.

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