IPO / Shutzhund
I.P.O. and Schutzhund trials consist of three disciplines. The three disciplines are Tracking, Obedience and Protection work. Both I.P.O. and Schutzhund trials are judged on similar rules.
The track is laid earlier by a person walking normally on a natural surface such as dirt or grass. The track includes a number of turns and a number of small, man-made objects left by this person on the track itself. At the end of a 30-foot leash, the handler follows the dog, which is expected to scent the track and indicate the location of the objects, usually by lying down with it between its front paws. The tracking phase is intended to test the dog's trainability and ability to scent, as well as its mental and physical endurance.
The obedience phase includes a series of heeling exercises, some of which are closely in and around a group of people. During the heeling, there is a gunshot test to ensure that the dog does not openly react to such sharp noises. There are also a series of field exercises in which the dog is commanded to sit, lie down and stand while the handler continues to move. From these various positions, the dog is recalled to the handler. With dumbbells of various weights, the dog is required to retrieve on a flat surface, over a one-meter hurdle, and over a six-foot slanted wall. The dog is also asked to run in a straight direction from its handler on command and lie down on a second command.
The most important point to understand when watching a protection routine is the relationship between dog and handler. The dog must never bite the trial helper, unless either the dog or the handler is attacked. Then it must attack fully and without hesitation. But here the real difference becomes apparent. The dog must stop biting on the command of the handler and guard the trial helper without further aggression. Often people confuse I.P.O. and Schutzhund protection training with police dog or personal protection work. Only the I.P.O. and Schutzhund dog is capable of the feats of never being aggressive except under those specific situations it is trained to face, and even then it must always be under the absolute control of the handler.
IPO Dogs in the Home
Since I.P.O. and Schutzhund are the demonstration of the working dog's most desirable characteristics, dogs well trained in I.P.O or Schutzhund are usually excellent companions in the home. The I.P.O. dog - like any other working dog that possesses mental stability - has trust and confidence in itself, allowing it to be at peace with its surroundings.
In addition to sound structural efficiencies for long, arduous work, the Standard for the I.P.O. dog calls for mental stability and a willingness to work. The dog should be approachable, quietly standing its ground, showing confidence and a willingness to meet overtures without necessarily making them itself. It should be fearless, but also good with children.
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