Training Styles

The most recognized training styles for working dogs that are used around the world are:

Schutzhund Sport

Schutzhund is a dog training and breeding regimen developed originally in the 1920's by the Deutsches Shaeferhund Verein (German Shepherd Dog Club), or SV, in order to maintain the working ability of the breed. While the term Schutzhund means literally "protection dog", the training involves work equally in tracking, obedience and protection. In order to get a Schutzhund degree a dog must pass all three phases of the work. Also, a working title (at least a SchH I) is required for breed survey purposes, and in order to register an approved litter.

Many countries and working dog organizations have also adopted Schutzhund as a sport and test of working performance. The first SchH trial in the U.S. was held in California in 1970. In 1987 the U.S.A. alone sanctioned nearly 300 trials with a total entry of 1,800 dog/handler teams.

Koninklijke Nederlandse Politiehond Vereniging (KNPV)

The KNPV, known in America as the Royal Dutch Police Dog Association, is a style originally practiced in the Netherlands and Holland. It is said that KNPV contains a degree of realism that many feel is missing from Schutzhund. Aside from the basics of police work KNPV demonstrates exercises of added usefulness. For example, during a criminal escort, if the suspect drops an item, the dog will retrieve and bring it to the handler without command. Also, KNPV trains the dog to guard a suspect and if the suspect moves, the dog will attack without command. This style is not advertised much in the United States, but is used for much of the overseas police forces.

International Pruefungsordnung (IPO)

The IPO style is similar to Schutzhund with some subtle changes. One is that IPO doesn't train to the level of tracking that most Schutzhund dogs are trained. While tracking the handler must stay at the very end of the leash, and no commands can be given during the track. This leaves it up to the dog to be persistent enough to continue without reinforcement from the handler. IPO also puts an emphasis on training the dog off lead. Since many police tasks require the dog to work off lead, this style allows the handler to gain control of the dog and prevent the liability of an accidental bite.

French Ring Sport

Ring Sport is a personal protection sport. It was developed in France as a way to accurately test potential breeding stock for working ability. The French Ring Sport style is different in that it allows the dogs to become accustomed to trickery. One objective during training and competitions is for the decoy to do everything they can to make the dog miss a bite. This also causes the dog to be slightly hesitant on its movements because it's waiting to see what the decoy is going to do. During an article guard, the decoy will throw food in an attempt to distract the dog. This style of training prepares the dog to expect situations outside of a regular routine.
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