Schutzhund B: What is it and Why do it?
by Bret Pritchett
Congratulations to all the contestants at our Championships in Montreal! As you learned in the last Journal the Perpetual Conformation Trophy went unawarded. To win this Trophy demands two things: the dog must achieve a conformation rating of excellent; AND (s)he must also have earned a BH title. The Trophy went unawarded in Montreal because none of the three dogs that were rated excellent possessed the necessary BH. This makes you want to say "Oh Shoot", especially since everyone had the opportunity to enter the BH competition that was offered as part of the Championships. As co-chairman of the 1998 Championships I'm crossing my fingers that the '98 Championships will see a winner, and this article telling you EXACTLY how to earn a B (either before or at the '98 Championships) is one of two things I'm doing to improve your Bouvier's chances of being our Conformation Champion. The second thing I'm doing (with co-chair Kathy Heilenman) is organizing seminars at the start of Championships so that you can get answers to any lingering questions you may still have just before you enter the B competition. So, let's get a head start on preparing your wonderful Bouvier for this test!
The Begleithunde (BH) examination is also known as the Traffic-Steady Companion Dog Test or Schutzhund B. It is a title that is required prior to Schutzhund I degree attainment in the United States, Germany and many other countries. The BH is not generally regarded as a "training title" in the sense of breeding or showing. It is the prerequisite to Schutzhund degrees which include: Schutzhund I, Schutzhund II, and Schutzhund III.
The BH is an examination of Character. The minimum age is 12 months. An official scorebook is required prior to the examination. If the participant does not have a scorebook a $50.00 check must be written to Schutzhund USA and collected by the Trial Secretary prior to the examination. When the Scorebook is received the $50.00 check will be returned. One may be obtained from Schutzhund USA or the DVG. NAWBA has also issued scorebooks in the past. A dog is allowed to pass the BH one day and enter the Schutzhund I competition the next. If the dog fails, the dog is allowed to entered into another BH evaluation the next day also.
There are three phases of the BH evaluation. They are the Impartiality Test, the Companion Dog Test and the Traffic Test.
I. Impartiality Test
Before the entered dogs are allowed to start they must undergo a temperament test. This is required in the United States at all levels of Schutzhund evaluations. Typically the dog is brought into a group of people that includes the judge for a review of that dog's temperament. The dog is handled on a loose lead and a choke collar. No commands are allowed. Strict obedience is not required or expected. The doc, is allowed to examine or smell the people in the group. The judge will examine the dog's tattoo to verify its identity as part of the Impartiality Test. If the dog does not have a tattoo, its ears will be examined as if it did. If the dog fails the temperament test it will be excluded from further participation in the trial. If the dog shows a faulty temperament later in the evaluation, it will be excluded, and the following entry must be made into its score-book: "Failed Temperament Test".
2. Companion Dog Test
The Judge will keep a tally of points in the obedience portion which is referred to as a Companion Dog Test. The rules are identical to the Schutzhund I Obedience except that they do not include Retrieval or Send-Away exercises. Schutzhund I points total 100 (the Schutzhund I "Retrieve on the Flat Ground" and "I-meter Hurdle" exercises are each worth 15 points and the "Send-Away" is worth 10 points in Schutzhund I). Thus total points are 60 in the BH. The dog must receive 70% or 42 of the points available. The BH points are given as follows:
Heeling on lead (15 pts): Commands: "Heel"
Free-Heeling (15 pts):
Sit out of Motion (10 pts): Commands: "Heel", "Sit"
Down with Recall and Finish (10 pts): Commands: "Heel", "Down". "Come", "Heel"
Down Under Distraction (10 pts): Commands: "Down", "Sit"
The judge will not usually disclose those points in the critic. The critic will be thorough. Each and every individual exercise will be analyzed in often uncomfortable depth. However, it is customary for a Schutzhund judge to be lenient in the B since it is a beginning step for a Schutzhund team. The typical Schutzhund judge has a passion for the Sport that is so deeply engrained that he or she would do everything in his or her power to encourage participants to learn from the experience and continue to grow in competence. Each exercise is awarded a grading of unsatisfactory, insufficient, satisfactory, good, very good, or excellent. As you might guess, there is more opportunity to discuss an unsatisfactory grading. The critic of an exercise may include valuable training tips. It is somewhat of a let-down when an excellent rating is substituted with the simple comment: "Correct", but that comment means that all points were received and that no fault was found.
At the beginning of each trial section, the handlers must report-in to the trial judge in a sportsmanlike manner. Two handlers enter the field with their dogs on lead and report-in in the basic position. Each handler gives his or her full name as well as the dogs registered name. The handler and dog combination is referred to as a "team." The judge will decide which team takes the field first. The other team will proceed to the designated spot for the Down Under Distraction exercise.
Basic Position and Start of Exercises
Each individual exercise begins and ends with the basic position. The dog sits straight, in the basic position, next to the handler's left side, with its right shoulder-blade level with the handler's knee. The ending basic position of one exercise may be used as the starting basic position for the following exercise. Taking of the basic position is allowed only once per exercise.
The judge will signal the handler to start an exercise. Everything further, such as turns, halts, changes of pace etc. are carried out without any signal from thejudge. The handler may, however, request the judge to give all of these signals.
The commands are fixed in the Trial Rules. Using a combination of commands such as using the dogs name in conjunction with the command will result in point loss. Additional commands are heavily penalized. The first extra command will result in the exercise being rated as "satisfactory" at best. The second extra command will result in a "faulty" rating. If after the third command the dog still does not perform the requested exercise, it will result in the exercise being terminated with no points given.
Praising of the dog is allowed after the completion of each exercise. The dog must remain in the basic position during praise. Breaking formation or playing is not permitted. Toys and treats are not allowed on the field during an official examination. Only verbal and physical praise such as petting are allowed. Afterwards, the handler may take up a new basic position. If he does not take a new basic position, he must observe a definite 3-second pause between praising the dog and starting the next exercise. Between the exercises the dog must remain at heel. Note that upon leaving the Group portion of the "Free-Heeling" exercise, there is a return to the basic position but since this is not the end of an exercise, praise is a point deduction. Instead it would be recommended that praise be given at the end of the "Heeling on Lead" exercise as you are taking the lead off the dog in preparation for the "Free-Heeling" exercise.
e ."Development" of the Exercise
From out of the basic position, on the judge's signal, comes the building-up of all of the obedience exercises, the so-called "development". The handler must show a minimum of 10 paces (max. 15) as the "development" for the "Sit Out of Motion" and "Down Out of Motion" exercises.
Basic-position and exercise-development errors influence the scoring of an individual exercise. Between all the "fronts" and "finishes", as well as between approaching the dog and "picking him up" in the Sit exercise, a distinct pause of about 3 seconds is required. A similar pause is required during the Long Down exercise, in between returning to the dog and giving the "Sit" command.
f. Fronts and Finishes
The dog must sit in front fast, close and straight. Upon command, after the required 3 second pause, the dog must take up the ending basic position (go from "front" to "finish") fast and close. The dog may perform the "finish" by going behind the handler or by executing a military (flip) "finish" from in front of the handler. In exercises where the handler is returning to the dog (rather than the recall, where the dog returns to the handler) the handler may return to the dog from the front or by going around behind the dog.
g. Heeling on Lead
This is a 15 point exercise. Lagging, forging, crooked sits and inattentiveness all result in lost points. A team that makes a "pretty picture" and "demonstrates enthusiasm for the work" will often be less scrutinized for these points in the BH. Heeling begins from the Basic Position, on lead, with lead held loosely in the left hand and a choke collar (only) clipped onto the dead ring. The handler heels for 40 to 45 paces at normal speed. Then the
team performs an About Turn. The team will demonstrate a Development of 10 to 15 paces at normal speed. The handler then verbally commands the dog "Heel" loud enough for the judge to hear and changes speed to a fast speed. Then the handler again verbally commands the dog "Heel" and changes to a noticeably slower speed for 10 to15 paces. Finally the handler again says "Heel" and returns to normal pace for 10 to 15 more paces before making a right turn. The team proceeds 10 to 15 more paces and then turns right again. The team proceeds 10 to 15 more paces and then performs another About Turn. The team proceeds 6 paces and halts for 3 seconds before continuing on, without signal from the judge, for 6 more paces. The team makes a left turn into the Group.
In the Group the team will perform a figure eight by heeling the dog around at least two group members
demonstrating a right and left loop before halting by at least one person for 3 seconds. The team must then leave the group. Once out of the group, the team will stop, wait 3 seconds, and then the handler may praise the dog before or after removing the leash. The leash must be put in a pocket or strapped around the handler's body The team begins the Free-Heeling exercise by doing the Group portion all over again off-lead. It is standard courtesy for the handler to thank the Group when finished. [Some judges consider it more than courtesy and will deduct points if the handler fails to thank the group. Ed.]
The off-lead heeling portion is identical to the on-lead portion except for placing the Group portion in the beginning and the addition of gunshots. Two shots will be fired (caliber 6mm) five seconds apart as the team proceeds 15 paces down the field from the group. The dog should show no reaction. Loosing composure and not regaining it would be cause for dismissal from the trial.
Sit out of Motion
The Sit out of Motion exercise begins in the Basic Position. It is worth 10 points. The handler commands the dog to heel and proceeds 10 to 15 paces as a Development before giving the command to sit. The handler continues on for at least 30 paces without looking at the dog, changing speed or using other commands or body language. At the end of hte 30 paces the handler turns and faces the dog. The handler's hands must be at the sides and the legs must be spread normally, not wide nor together. The judge will indicate to the handler when to return to the dog.
The handler should count to 3 before moving and may praise the dog at that time. The next exercise may begin from here or the team may return to the original starting position.
Down with Recall
The Development for the Down with Recall is the same as the Sit out of Motion. However, the handler will give the command to "Down" at the end of the Development. Then the handler will proceed a minimum of 30 paces. The handler turns and faces the dog with hands at sides and a neutral posture. Upon direction from the judge the handler calls the dog using either the dog's name or the command to come, but not both. The dog is to run quickly and come to a sit in front of the handler: close, straight and attentive. After 3 seconds the dog should be commanded to Finish. The handler may put the lead on the dog. The team must either proceed to the Down under Distraction exercise (if they haven't done it yet) or report back to the judge for the critique.
k. Down Under Distraction
The Down Under Distraction is a 10 point exercise. More dogs fail the BH because of this exercise than any other part of the examination. These 10 points are a lot to lose when you realize that they are 17% of the total available points.
The handler leads the dog to the designated spot at the edge of the obedience field. The handler should gradually curve into position at that spot and stop facing the designated spot for them to stand. The dog should come to a sit in the basic position. The handler waits 3 seconds and then removes the lead. It must be either strapped around the waist, fastened about the shoulder, or placed in a pocket. The handler waits 3 more seconds and then gives the "down" command. The handler waits 3 more seconds and then proceeds to the spot designated for the handler to stand. The handler cannot look back at the dog during the other team's examination. The dog cannot move from the position, bark, graze, whine, lie restlessly, or roll-over without loss of points. If the dog moves more than 3 meters the team will loose all points for the exercise. If the dog interferes with the other team, the team of the interfering dog will be dismissed.
When the other team finishes it's Down with Recall exercise the judge will signal the handler whose dog is doing the long down exercise to pickup the dog from the down position. Both teams must report back to the judge for the critique in front of the audience. The critique is done with both teams present. During this critique the judge will report on whether a team may continue to the next and final phase: Testing in Traffic.
3.Testing in Traffic
The BH also tests the dog's sureness in traffic situations. This type of testing prevents spooks, dog-fighters and overly aggressive dogs from proceeding in Schutzhund. Hopefully it also prevents them from proceeding in a breeding program.
These exercises are carried out in a public traffic area (streets, roads or public areas) with moderate traffic.
The judge will design the test based upon the options available at the test site. Generally the Schutzhund teams will be tested individually Each team will usually be asked to heel along a sidewalk or footpath. The judge will either follow the handler or watch from a well designed vantage point. A passerby will run by the team fairly closely or even cut the team off. The dog must not show aggression or lose composure. Then a bicyclist will overtake the team from behind, passing the team from the side of the dog. The bicyclist will ring his bicycle bell or honk a horn several times in passing. Then the handler will turn and go to the judge to greet him with a handshake and converse. The dog may stand, sit or lie down but must in any case remain quiet.
More Difficult Traffic Conditions
The judge will set-up a situation in which there are several people milling in a group as if a crowd in public. The handler will lead the dog into the group and move about among the pedestrians. At the first stop the dog will sit. On the next stop the dog will be commanded to down and will remain lying down. Often the handler will be asked to leave the group and the group will crowd in on the dog and walk in a circle around the dog. Then the judge will signal to the handler to call the dog from the group. The handler is allowed to use both the dog's name and the command in this instance. Other diversions such as train or car sounds will often be used in this exercise. Opening an umbrella above or near the dog is a common test.
Dog Left Alone
The handler will be led by the judge to a moderately busy street where the handler will be asked to fasten the dogs leash to a fence, post or wall. Then the handler will be asked to go out of sight for two minutes. The dog may stand, sit, or lie down. During the handler's absence, a passerby (staged) with a dog on lead will pass by the fastened dog at a distance of about 5 paces. The left-alone dog should behave quietly during the handler's absence. He should allow the passerby to pass without showing dog-aggressive tendencies (lunging on his fastened lead; continuous barking). Expect the judge to display creativity in this traffic-sure phase of the testing.
The BH as a Test for the North American Bouvier
The BH is an important first step in Schutzhund because it eliminates undesirable dogs from receiving working dog titles. Passing the BH demonstrates the ability to receive basic training in the Companion Dog phase. In the Traffic-Steady phase the characteristics of stability are established. This alone was enough of a reason for NAWBA to embrace the BH as the basic test of temperament. While the BH may fall short of the test that would prove our best breeding stock, it is a powerful move in the right direction. It is also the prerequisite to the IPO and Schutzhund standards that do prove breed-worthy characteristics among working dogs. The strongest reason in the United States for using Schutzhund testing for the Bouvier is the availability to train and test. Impartial judges from outside the Bouvier circles insure that it is performance that measures success. The ability to train, compete and test along side other working breeds helps remind us what we want to see in our beloved Bouvier.
NAWBA member Melinda Lloyd of California told me during a phone conversation that she wished she had a better idea how she could find out more about Schutzhund. She told me that at the California Championships of '96 Ron Gordon's seminar was just the best thing! I've heard the same said of Frank McEniry's seminar at the '97 event. But, as Melinda bemoaned, Ron and Frank are unfortunately not in our backyards and we need additional resources to help us along.
Chris Redenbach wrote in the last issue of the Journal "NAWBA has a clear duty to help you all to gain an understanding of the work available to test the Bouvier and instruct you how to locate the resources in your area so that you can prepare your dog to take its place among the true working Bouviers that we all talk about." In that vein, I can refer you to some of the best (in my opinion) commercially available resources on the subject:
Gottfried Dildei's 7 video series: Basic Obedience, Advanced Obedience, Tracking, Protection, Problem Solving in Protection, Agitation Mood and Bite Problems, A Modern View of Correction - the first 4 are the "critical" tapes and the rest are more "details". Note: the protection methods shown are designed for dominant dogs. Less powerful dogs will need more traditional techniques. These tapes are available from many sources including Direct Book Service at 1 800 776 2665, Dog Sports Magazine and Canine Training Systems (see below re DSM and Canine Training addresses).
Book: Schutzhund Obedience: Training in Drive by Sheila Booth. Contact Podium Publications at PO Box 171, Ridgefield CT 06877.
Video: Bite Training Puppies, available from Leerburg Video at PO Box 218B, Menomonie WI 54751. This is a very antithetical tape from the Dildei tapes, showing more traditional info. (I think it's best to understand various systems so you can adapt to the needs of your dog.)
Video: Protection Training #1 by Barwig, also antithetical to the Dildei tapes, showing more traditional info. Contact Canine Training Systems at 7550 West Radcliff, Littleton CO, 80123.
Book: Training the Competitive Working Dog by Rose and Patterson. One source of this one is Direct Book Service at 1 800 776 2665.