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Welcome to SCHUTZHUND LIFE! SCHUTZHUND LIFE is a blog specifically for those Schutzhund enthusiasts who find themselves enamored, overjoyed, and sometimes overwhelmed by this intense dog sport. As I discovered when I first started this sport approximately eight years ago, Schutzhund is not just a hobby. It becomes a way of life, a new passion, and a journey in and of itself.

SCHUTZHUND LIFE is geared toward those who are new or still relatively inexperienced in the sport, and who are in the midst of discovering what this dog sport is all about, although I hope veteran handlers will enjoy it also! I remember my initial introduction to the sport with my 15-month-old German Shepherd, Axel. There was so much to learn, and it wasn't just about training the dog for tracking, obedience, and protection. Seven IPO titles, three Regional Championships, and two National Championships later, and I'm now going through the whole process again with my new puppy, Hadyn. Starting all over again from scratch has reminded me of what new handlers go through when first starting this sport, and has encouraged me to share all that I have learned about Schutzhund/IPO culture and the art of raising, training, and living with a high-drive working dog.

What this Blog Is Not

SCHUTZHUND LIFE is not a "How To" training blog. I will not break down all the individual exercises for IPO competition and teach how to train them step-by-step. This is for several reasons. First, there are people much more qualified than I out there from whom to get detailed training advice IN PERSON. Many of them have shaped my own education in the sport. Second, training for IPO is extremely fluid and subject to adaptation and constant tweaking as we find better ways to communicate with our dogs. Third, there are endless variations in training methods for each phase, and one blog (or book, or article) cannot possibly cover all the nuances and problem solving required for training each exercise. Fourth, any blog written about IPO training methods will be biased toward one particular training method, subsequently alienating the rest of the IPO world that does not agree with nor train that way. Lastly, and most importantly, you cannot use the internet to train your dog successfully in Schutzhund. You will need a club or training group, a mentor, and access to a helper. In other words, you will need other people, in person!

What this Blog Is

So why do I even write this blog? To help you adjust to this new way of life, and succeed in your journey. To a newbie with no prior experience and a brand new working prospect at the other end of the leash, this sport may seem insurmountably complex. The learning curve is steep, and the way is challenging. It is easy for confusion to reign and for the handler to simply feel overwhelmed. I want to alleviate that confusion, and teach people how to be good handlers so that they can better raise and train their Schutzhund dogs in the best manner that works for their dogs, their lifestyles, their goals.

I seek to answer many of those burning, important questions that we have in Schutzhund. How do I start? Where do I go to get involved? What should I do with my puppy? What shouldn't I do? How do I know if a club is any good? What can I expect on my first visit or first protection session? How do I know if a helper is good and safe? How do I evaluate a trainer? How do I prepare for a trial? How do I handle my dog out there during trial day? How do I best condition my dog for Schutzhund? The questions are endless, and the answers equally so. But with a little guidance and instruction, you too can embark on this journey known as the SCHUTZHUND LIFE.

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/IPO

Next blog, we'll start with the basics about Schutzhund/IPO and the various organizations in the U.S., and go from there!


Next Blog: IPO - Schutzhund, not Stocks >

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