SCHUTZHUND AS A SPORT
Today, many people around the world enjoy training and and competing in this fast growing and facinating sport. Schutzhund transcends race, class, age, business and social affiliations as well as many physical disabilities. Training even for the serious competitor, is a social event in the sense that it is by necessity, a club sport. Groups of people form non-profit training clubs. The clubs are usually headed by a president who directs club activities and a training director who oversees and maintains the quality of the training.
At the club, dogs learn social manners, obedience, tracking and controlled protection. The handlers learn to understand and motivate their dogs. The foundations and techniques for tracking also are discussed and debated. Clubs meet between one and three times a week to train. Each dog and handler team also works out at home, often putting in an additional one to two hours a day, four or so days a week. Obviously, a well-conditioned dog with sound structure, stamina and a real love for work are prerequisites to training.
Besides the obvious benefits of such strict breed evaluation tests, there are numerous other reasons for the sport's growth. There is a tremendous challenge placed on the trainer (and breeder) to help the dog become the most he can be both physically and mentally.This requires hard work and long hours spent studying behavior, training techniques, genetics, the breeds and each dog individually. But when it all comes together, the results can be very rewarding. As a trainer, the communication, bond and teamwork experienced are thrilling! As an onlooker, a successful team is both inspiring and beautiful to watch. Not only must the dog enjoy his work, he must be confident in his ability to handle stressful situations positively and he must be taught to make correct decisions on his own.
Because a joyful work attitude is required and a brow-beaten, down trodden one is penalized, training methods that produce happy, willing workers are encouraged, developed and passed on. With adequate testing procedures such as Schutzhund, breeders can prove the temperament of their breeding stock. A prospective puppy can be judged by his parents' working abilities, pedigrees' and his individual character. Schutzhund is more than a sport. It is testament to the visions of the founder of the German Shepherd breed, Max v. Stephanitz