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Triathlon for Dogs

Schutzhund is one of the most fascinating competition dog sports today! The three phases that make up this triathlon for dogs are: Tracking, Obedience and Protection.

Prerequisite: BH Title

In order for dogs to be eligible to compete, they have to have attained a preliminary title, the BH (Begleithund = "Companion Dog"). This title is made up of two phases: Obedience and Traffic .


The obedience is similar to that of the Schutzhund I test, but does not include jumps or retrieves yet.


The traffic portion is basically intended as a test of the dog's general temperament and strength of character, so as to eliminate unfit dogs from protection training.

Dogs have to be 12 months old to try for this title. Scored on a pass or fail basis, it takes a passing score to be able to go on to higher Schutzhund titles.

Once the dog has reached the age of 14 months and successfully taken the BH test, he can then try to attain the first of three Schutzhund titles: SchH I, II and III.

Each level is a bit more challenging, with SchH III being the highest attainable title. To attain each title, dogs have to receive passing scores in each of the three phases of the trial. The highest score in each phase is 100 points, with 300 points being the highest overall score possible. To pass, dogs have to score a minimum of 70 points in Tracking and Obedience, and a minimum of 80 points in Protection.

Schutzhund Title


The Tracking phase is a test of the dog's abilities to follow a track laid by a human some 20 minutes earlier and find and point out two lost articles along the way! The length, age and difficulty of the track varies, depending on the level of competition entered. The tracks are between 400 and 1000 paces long with several turns and even cross tracks in the higher level. Dogs are expected to track the scent with a deep nose, without looking up or stopping, and point out the articles by lying down near them. While the dog is tracking, the handler cannot influence the dog, yet is simply walking behind him at a distance of about 30 feet, connected only with a long tracking lead.


Obedience is clearly a test of the handler and dog performing as a team. While tracking showcases the innate abilities of the dog, without a doubt the obedience phase shows off the abilities of the handler to train his dog, more so than any other phase of the sport. The team is required to perform a variety of on and off leash healing exercises, stays, recalls, retrieves, jumps etc., based in difficulty on the level entered. During off leash heeling, there are also two gunshots fired, to test the dogs nerve costume, and - as each dog also has to perform a long down stay while another dog is heeling etc., these gunshots are also present during the long down stay exercise.


The third - and to many the most exciting phase of the sport is the protection phase. Now the dog has to search for the decoy, find him, hold him at bay, prevent him from escaping, divert attacks on his master, guard the decoy and even fight him when he tries to attack the dog himself. This phase shows off the dog's courage, fighting drive, protective instincts and most of all his devotion for his master.

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Danika Dobermanns ~ Britt Coffman
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