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What is the tracking?
   The dog follows trail made by a person walking through a field or across grass. Preferably by following the footsteps of that person. Depending on the level the tracks get harder by being older, longer and in more difficult terrain.

Is this sport a good idea? Why should I teach my dog to bite?
   Your dog already knows how to bite. We are teaching our dogs when not to bite, and when biting is appropriate. You will notice that schutzhund dogs are well under control and many of them can come off the field after doing protection and go right out and be a loving house pet.

Can any dog do this?
   No, not all dogs can do schutzhund. A dog needs to be stable, sane and "clear in the head". In addition, the dog needs to be confident and self-assured. A dog that is vicious, fearful, or out-of-control is particularly inappropriate. Temperament is everything! In addition, dogs must not be aggressive toward other dogs, as they are expected to be under control and ignoring the other dogs around them.

Do I have to have a German Shepherd to do this?
   No, many other working breeds are involved in schutzhund, such as Rottweilers, Dobermans, Giant Schnauzers, Boxers, Bouviers, Belgian Sheepdogs and others. There are some practical limitations, such as size. While the occasional Jack Russell Terrier has been trained for the sport, they have a hard time jumping the 1-meter hurdle with a 650 gram dumbbell.

This sport looks dangerous. Does anyone ever get hurt?
   Accidents can happen anywhere. Every effort is made to ensure that accidents are minimized. There are probably more accidents involving handlers tripping over their own leashes than anything else

Can my dog get hurt doing this?
   Every effort is made to ensure the safety of the dog. It is up to the trainer, of course, to understand the dog’s limitations and not permit the dog to work beyond his or her capabilities.

I am not comfortable with the "protection work" Is there still a way for me to participate?
   The GSSCC offers obedience and tracking titles separately. Tracking level 1, 2 and 3 and Obedience Level 1, 2 and 3 are offered.

Why don’t I hear more about this sport?
   Because the sport usually requires some explanation, it does not fit well into the "sound-bite" popular media coverage. There are also some misconceptions about the sport that cause many participants to adopt a low-profile.

What are drives? What is drive?
   Drives are the motivational forces that "drive" a dog to any given behavior. This is a deeply complex subject and deserves to be understood in depth. In a nutshell, the theory is that dogs are motivated by inherent "drives" that as a wild animal, would ensure their survival. While there are different schools of thought as to the number of drives, most agree that two critical drives are "food" and "survival": the dog’s desire to find food and eat, and the dog’s desire to survive by exercising either the flight or fight instinct. Drives are used in training, such as using food to teach tracking, or in understanding whether the dog is reacting to the helper in a prey-based frame of reference, or as a defensive reaction

What is a Trial helper?
   The helper is a trained and certified person that must test the dog in the predetermined exercises in the protection phase. More information about the helper program can be found here -

I hear the term "hard dog" and "soft dog." What does this mean?
   This is another complex term that deserves to be understood. There are a number of schools of thought as to how to define "hardness" in a dog. It is frequently described as the degree of courage that the dog demonstrates, but in terms of training, can also be described as the degree to which the dog will go in order to get his or her own way.

Are GSDs less sensitive to pain? My puppy was out running in the backyard and ran smack into a stump. She just picked herself up and carried on as if nothing had happened.
   What you saw is an example of your dog being "in drive." She was enjoying running, and the temporary set-back of running into a stump was meaningless to her. Just as the person why truly enjoys cross-country skiing doesn’t mind that they get a little cold in the pursuit of their favorite sport, but to the person who hates skiing, being cold is just that much more misery. Many people use this principle in training to help motivate the dog and to help the dog work through a problem.

What are working lines?
   Working lines refers to dog that come from a background where the dogs have been principally bred for schutzhund, and all the dogs in the pedigree have advanced schutzhund titles. Often, the term implies that dogís are from German or other European bloodlines as well.

Do I need to spend a lot to get a good dog?
   You can, but you donít need to. Genetically bred working puppies are usually between $1000 and $1600. Older trained dogs will be more expensive.

How long does it take to get a title?
   It really depends on the level of your experience and the age of the dog. I suggest you enjoy your training with your dog and the title will come

What are the titles available?
   To start, you need to get your "BH" - which is a preliminary title and involves a basic obedience routine and temperament testing. After a BH there are schutzhund 1, 2, 3, IPO 1, 2, 3, FH and FH II Titles (Tracking titles).

Do I have to compete? Can I do this to just have fun?
   You don’t have to compete - you can do this as a way to just do something with your dog. But you might want to try competing anyway.

Can I do this on my own?
   Certainly you can train on your own, but some aspects you will find easier if you find someone to train with. Obedience training benefits from having someone else watch you to point out things you might have missed. Tracking can be a challenge for the novice trainer and it can be very helpful to have some experienced mentoring. Some aspects of the training, such as the protection work, are impossible to teach without help.

How far can I go as a competitor?
   The GSSCC sanctions competitions on a regional and national level, and annually sends a pre-qualified team to the world competition - so, you can advance to representing Canada at the world level.

Different people tell me different things about how to train my dog? What is right?
   There are as many theories of training as there are people, and even you will develop your own. Bear in mind that the training methods are entirely dependent on the dog that you are currently working with and what worked fabulously for every other dog you or someone else has trained, may not work at all. Failure to communicate is not the fault of the dog.

I’m new to this. Should I start with a young dog and do all the training myself, or should a buy a dog that is already trained?
   There is a great deal of satisfaction to be had from training a dog right from scratch, but it is also a long road, and can be discouraging. It can also be doubly difficult to train both a green dog and yourself from scratch. That said, there are not very many trained dogs available for sale, and they tend to be expensive.

I have an older dog? Can I use him?
   It depends on the dog. How old is he? Is he in good health? Does he have an aptitude for the work? Certainly dogs have been started training for schutzhund from an older age.

Does anyone use clicker training in schutzhund?
   Yes, it is being used by some people. Some people train exclusively with positive motivational techniques, some blend positive/negative reinforcement techniques to get their desired results.

How do I pick a club to train with?
   Do some research (like you are right now), find some clubs, give their contact people a call, and go out and visit them. Watch them train, talk to them, and pick a group that you are comfortable with.

Is this an expensive sport?
   Like anything, you can spend a lot of money on it, but by and large, it is not terribly expensive. There are some pieces of equipment that you will probably need to purchase, such as :
  • a 30 foot tracking line, (required to be official length for competing)
  • a good leather obedience leash
  • a strong, heavy-duty leash for the protection work
  • a fur-saver collar (mandatory for competing)
  • possibly a selection of tugs or similar toys for training (you may go through a variety while finding one you dog really goes for)
  • wooden regulation sized dumbbells
  • possibly a prong collar if you don’t already have one (especially if you have a high-drive, or dominant dog)
  • a crate so that you can crate your dog when you are not actually working with him or her (it rapidly becomes impractical to simply leave your dog in the car without a crate as in the summer the car will overheat without all the windows wide open.)

   You don’t need to buy the protective gear that the helper wears, or the blinds, jump or a-frame, as that is the reason you join a club. A club can also help you find good places to buy equipment. You also can acquire the equipment as you need it without buying it all at once. In addition, you will require a certain amount of foul-weather gear for yourself, as schutzhund is an outdoor sport and stops for nothing short of direct lightening strikes or oncoming tornadoes.
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