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Welcome to SCHUTZHUND LIFE! I am Carissa Kuehn, and I started this blog to help you succeed in Schutzhund, or IPO. This blog is designed for the new and inexperienced handler, although I hope veteran handlers will also find some benefit from it as well.


A little bit about me: I started Schutzhund in 2008 with my German Shepherd Dog, Axel (SG Ferox v Tehillah IPO3). Despite having all sorts of animals over the past 20 years--horses, dogs, cats, rats, cockatiels, leopard geckos--this was my first German Shepherd, and the first dog I had ever done Schutzhund with. With Axel, I achieved more than I ever dreamed. 


I raised, trained, handled, and titled Axel to his BH, SchH1, IPO2, and IPO3. Together we competed in three Regional Championships and two National Championships, and have completed our IPO3 together on four separate occasions. I have earned V-rated scores in each phase, but have also had my share of failures and disqualifications. I understand what it's like to be completely new and inexperienced in the sport, and also know what it takes to be successful in this sport for the long haul. I am starting the process again with my young dog Hadyn; we have earned our BH and our on our way to our IGP1!


My passion is writing and teaching, in addition to Schutzhund. My favorite is combining all three of these into one product, such as this blog. My writing has previously appeared in Schutzhund USA magazine, the official publication for United Schutzhund Clubs of America, as well as in educational materials for USCA. I have also held office both in my training club and within my region for USCA. My day job: I'm a high school science teacher, and I usually teach Biology, Geology, and Anatomy/Physiology classes. I find that Schutzhund fits very well with both the scientific and artistic parts of my brain. It is precision, animal behavior, and genetics, but with elegance, beauty, and an intuitive"feel".


This is a life-changing sport. Schutzhund becomes a passion, a way of life. I love my career, but now, I also work so that I can do Schutzhund with my dogs. It is my other life outside of work, and through it I have made friends and formed connections with people all over the nation, and all over the world. 

I have three main goals with SCHUTZHUND LIFE:

  1. To help you learn about IPO and how to get involved in it

  2. To teach you how to be an effective handler so that you can achieve goal #3, which is:

  3. To learn how to successfully title your dog in Schutzhund, or IPO

It's an exciting, challenging, rewarding journey full of highs and lows, and I hope we can make it together and share this passion known as  Schutzhund.




SG Ferox v Tehillah IPO3 CGC HCT-s

  • Handler Owner Trained (HOT)

  • 4x IPO3

  • 3x Regional Competitor

  • 2x National Competitor


Axel is the dog who started it all. When I first picked him up at 8 weeks of age from his breeder Shelley Fritzke in British Columbia, Canada, I had no idea what adventures our future would hold. He was to be a companion dog with whom I could potentially do work like Schutzhund or competitive obedience. I did my best to start him off right with what little I knew, until we could finally get out to the local Schutzhund club. Axel was 15 months old when I first had him evaluated, and once he figured out that he got to bark at the helper and bite a big jute sleeve, we were hooked!

Under the tutelage of the more experienced members of Placer County Schutzhund Club, such as Jim Lempner, Yvonne Emanuelsson, John Riboni, and Wendy Schmitt, I learned how to train my dog in Schutzhund,  and how to correct a few of the mistakes I had made in his foundation, particularly tracking. We earned our BH when Axel was three, in August 2010. We then achieved our IPO1 at the 2011 Northwestern Regional Championship, taking home the 'IPO1 NW Regional Champion' trophy. 


We failed our first attempt at our IPO2, but trialed again in February 2013 and succeeded in earning our IPO2. In May 2013 we earned our first IPO3 title with a qualifying score for the USCA GSD IPO3 National Championship. After competing in the 2013 NW Regional Championship, where we failed tracking but earned very respectable obedience and protection scores under one of the toughest judges in North America, GSSCC Judge Doug Deacon, we entered our first National Championship. We successfully earned our second IPO3 title at the National level in 2013. Axel and I would later qualify for and compete in our second National Championship in 2014. It was after this event that I decided to retire Axel and let him just enjoy life as my friend and family companion.

I owe so much to Axel. This magnificent dog got me started in the sport, and took me farther than I ever imagined. At 12 years old now, he still is just as handsome and has as much presence as he did during his competition days. Below are a couple videos of Axel in his prime, at our first National Championship event (complete with some handling bloopers!).


Hadyn zu Treuen Handen BH

Hadyn is my up-and-coming young dog. He comes from Lisa Clark of Zu Treuen Handen German Shepherds in Indiana.


Hadyn joined my household in April 2016, at the age of 5 months. Hadyn and I earned our BH in March 2019, and are currently working toward our IGP1. Hadyn has also served as my demo dog during demonstrations on classical and operant conditioning for the AP Psychology classes at a local high school.


This rambunctious rascal has captured my heart and become a well-loved member of my pack (okay, not so well-loved by the cat, Kona). He is very strong in protection and in tracking, and his obedience work is animated and entertaining. He's happy to be wherever I am, and he enjoys camping, hiking, swimming, chasing squirrels, and annoying me at every possibility. 

I included two videos below of early training with Hadyn.

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