Yesterday Sam and I attended our first Schutzhund trial. There are several clubs around our area and we have become interested in the sport – not just for protection, but also for the obedience aspect. The trial was held in the east metro area of Monroe, which is about an hour and a half away from us. We left early – just past 7 a.m. It was a very frosty morning, and stayed cool most of the day, barley breaking 50 degrees. I was freezing all day long – I’ve become so southern.
The trials were just spectacular though. The dogs were amazing and we learned a lot just by observing and talking to some of the competitors. There were nine dogs in the BH trial, which is the very first stage of schutzhund – every dog has to pass this portion of the competition before they can advance. In this stage the dogs do only obedience training, and are evaluated for temperament. If the dog is overly aggressive or overly passive they are not allowed to advance any further in schutzhund. I love this part. I think it’s wonderful that the sport has some standard built-in protections that are preserving the integrity of the sport as well as the temperament of the dogs. The dogs we saw were great – 7 German Sheppard Dogs, 1 Belgian Malinois, and an Argentine Pit Bull. All the dogs were over a year old, and all but two passed their BH.
After the BH trials, there was a Traffic test, which means the dogs have to be able to remain calm and focused in normal situations you’d encounter in real life. Such as cars driving past, bicycles and joggers passing you, being approached by strangers, car horns blowing, weaving in and out of others, etc. This portion, while less exciting than the obedience portion really helps the officials to judge the overall temperament of the dog. Are they aggressive, are they overly passive, reluctant, too curious, unmanageable, etc? This part reminded me very much of the Canine Good Citizen testing we put Iris through two summers ago. She did great and passed that with flying colors, by the way.
Then the really exciting part of the day took place – the protection. Sam and I went to the trials specifically for this portion of the event, although we thoroughly enjoyed the other parts. I am continually amazed at the power, speed, and heart of dogs. I know from being involved in sleddogs that canines are extremely willing animals and they absolutely love their job, but to see, in-person, schutzhund dogs working in an open field, off leash just opened my eyes to a whole new aspect of a dogs heart. I was amazed at the control these dogs have. It was true power and restraint. I’d really love to see a live police dog demonstration now.
I’m adding two videos from the protection part of the competition. The second dog, Eli, is more advanced in his commands, but the first dog, Matrix, hits the helper at a full out run like a freight train. He nearly knocked the helper down. It was completely awesome and the crowd totally enjoyed it, as you’ll hear!