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Banner photo: Axel with Helper Mario Fernandez, photo by Tierney Bagley. Portrait photo by Brian Aghajani. All photos are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without written permission.

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How Do I Get Involved in Schutzhund?

October 27, 2016

You did it; you've made the decision to get started in Schutzhund! You may have a dog already, or you may not (future blog!). Either way, you want to check out IPO. So where do you start? How do you get involved? No matter where you are in the world, these four steps below will help you begin your journey!

 

1. Find the Right IPO Organization For You

IPO trials must be hosted under the auspices of a governing organization within each country. Below, I highlight the largest organizations in North America, and provide a brief overview of each. Being an active member of United Schutzhund Clubs of America (USCA), I am partial to USCA, of course. It is the organization I know best, have the most experience with, and just absolutely love! However, I understand that each handler must find the organization that best fits their needs, and I hope this blog will help you do so.

 

 

United Schutzhund Clubs of America (USCA)

WWW.GERMANSHEPHERDDOG.COM

 

  • Largest Schutzhund organization in the U.S., with approximately 200 member clubs

  • Largest number of judges and helpers of any U.S. organization

  • Holds more than 300 trials and events each year, the highest of any U.S. organization

  • Breed organization for the German Shepherd Dog, but also accepts other breeds at their trials (except for the GSD-only Nationals and Sieger Show)

  • Promotes IPO in its original capacity as a breeding suitability test

  • Has a variety of respected programs, including an exemplary judges program and helper program, with several judges both USCA and SV certified

  • Members compete at club, regional, national, and international levels

  • National events:  German Shepherd Dog IPO3 National Championship, Working Dog Championships (all breed), and the National Sieger Show 

  • Member club of the WUSV and AWDF

 

Below is a map of USCA Full Member Clubs, put together through the tireless efforts of Yvette Skinner. All the maps included in this blog were created by Yvette. Thank you, Yvette!

 

 

 

DVG America

WWW.DVG-AMERICA.COM

 

  • The only all-breed IPO organization in the U.S.

  • Approximately 70 clubs in the U.S and Canada

  • Focuses on IPO as a sport, and not so much as a breedworthiness test

  • Members compete at club, regional, national, and international levels

  • Has its own judges and helper programs, as well as a training director program for DVG club training directors

  • National event: DVG National Championship

  • AWDF member club

 

 

 

German Shepherd Dog Clubs of America (GSDCA)

WWW.GSDCA.ORG

 

  • AKC-recognized breed organization for the German Shepherd Dog

  • Approximately 25 regional clubs that do IPO

  • Organization as a whole focuses more on AKC events and shows, less on IPO (more members do AKC shows than IPO)

  • Has its own judges and helper programs, with its judges usually GSDCA/SV certified

  • National events: National Sieger Show, National IPO and FH Championships

  • Members compete at local, national, and international levels

 

 

 

American Working Malinois Association (AWMA)

WWW.WORKINGMALINOIS.ORG

 

  • Breed organization for the working Belgian Malinois, but also accepts other breeds at its trials

  • Promotes IPO in its original capacity as a breeding suitability test

  • Has 26 clubs in the U.S. and Canada

  • Has its own judges program to license AWMA judges

  • Members compete at local, national, and international levels

  • National event: AWMA National IPO Championship

  • Member club of the AWDF and FMBB

 

German Shepherd Schutzhund Clubs of Canada (GSSCC)

WWW.GSSCC.CA

 

  • Largest Schutzhund organization in Canada, with approximately 42 clubs

  • Breed organization for the German Shepherd Dog in Canada, but also accepts other breeds at their trials (except for the GSD-only Nationals and Sieger Show) 

  • Promotes IPO in its original capacity as a breeding suitability test

  • Has a variety of respected programs, including a strong judges program and helper program

  • Members compete at club, regional, national, and international levels

  • National events: GSSCC German Shepherd Dog Nationals and Sieger Show

  • Member club of the WUSV

2. Look for Local Clubs

Look for clubs in your area associated with the organizations above, or visit the AWDF website to find more. Individual club information can be found on each organization's website.  As you saw with the maps, some areas of the country have a few clubs within easy driving distance (which I define as within 2 hours); for other areas, it's few and far between. Unfortunately, this the reality of American Schutzhund: vast distances, and not enough clubs to go around. I have some handy links below for finding clubs:

 

 

 

3. Attend a Trial

(Photo credit: Brian Aghajani)

 

The first event I ever attended as a spectator was the 2005 USCA National Championship in San Jose, CA. I drove about six hours to get there, but it was worth it. After this one trial, I was hooked on Schutzhund!

 

You can check the event listings for clubs in your area to see if there are any upcoming trials. This information should be listed on your organization's website, and on the individual club's website. Trials are public events that are open to courteous spectators, so guests are welcome to attend in most cases (unless the trial is held on private property, where the club must limit the guest list). Watching a trial is an excellent opportunity to see the end goal of the training, and to listen to the judge critique each handler's performance. This is incredibly valuable feedback, especially for the handler preparing to trial soon.  


There are two upcoming National-level trials here in the U.S that will provide great opportunities to see the top dogs in the country:

 

USCA GSD IPO3 National Championship

November 4-5, 2016

Merced, California

www.uscachampionships.org

 

DVG National Championship

November 4-6, 2016

Groveland, Florida

www.dvg-america.com/championship.html

 

 

4. Build Your Community and Resources

Succeeding in IPO takes a supportive community consisting of a helper, a training director, a good mentor, and training buddies. When you join a club, you gain access to all of these. If you do not have a club, you will need to find like-minded people and build a community of support for each other.

 

How do you build your community and resources? Start with locating clubs, and then seek out additional resources. I have an annotated list of online resources to help you get started with building a larger community of support!

 

I hope you join me again in my next blog, which is all about the training club: What is the training club? Why is it important? How do I get involved with one? How can I tell if it's the right club for me? What if I don't have a club near me? See you then!

< Previous Blog:  IPO - Schutzhund, not Stocks                                                                             Next Blog:  The Right Fit: Finding your Club >

 

 

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