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Leerburg Dog Training Q&A Archive Q&A on Schutzhund Obedience

Q&A on Schutzhund Obedience

Q&A on Schutzhund Obedience

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I try and answer every question I receive on dog training. I may often come across as a little on the blunt side, (some may call it brash). That is because I consider myself an advocate for dogs and not dog handlers. I am an advocate for common sense dog training and not the latest fad that appears on the horizon. Good dog training is not rocket science. It's common sense.

  1. My new dog will not be quiet during the long down. What should I do?

  2. I was told not to start my obedience training on my pups until they were 1 year old. Is that true?

  3. I train my dog for the "B" in local public areas and have problems with people who want to pet my dog. Do you have any ideas?

  4. I have a 9 month GSD that I've now started to work some basic jumps (heights of 2-3 feet). Is it too soon to work jumps?

  5. How do I start teaching the send out exercise for Schutzhund?

  6. Do you know of anyone in the Illinois area that works in the Michael Ellis system? I have ordered all three tapes, but need a little guidance.

  7. My SchH 1 GSD whines during the long down and this is carrying over into her heeling.  Do you have any ideas?


Dear Ed,

I have a male German Shepherd that I have been training for Schutzhund. I have been working on adding distractions with him on the down stay, however when the other dogs are out on the field and he see's them running he will start barking uncontrollably. I have him where he won't break the stay but the barking really gets on my nerves.

What do you suggest should I give him a good correction or I have a tri-tronics no bark collar I purchased from you, or just let him bark away? Our club is very small and we really don't have anyone with much experience here to ask. I have been reading you're website for a couple of years and have bought many of you're tapes, but I don't see anything on this subject.



The dog needs more obedience training. In reality BE QUIET is an obedience command.

So put a prong collar on the dog and a solid long line. If your corrections are strong enough the dog will be quiet. The focus of this work is to train one thing at a time. So in this case its BE QUIET - and not the stay. If the dog will not BE QUIET when you are standing 10 feet away he will not do it when you are out of sight. So start short and move away as success comes.

For a beginner, the electric collar is the last solution - dogs figure out when this is on.

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I have 2 male GSD's that I am training for SchH. I am fairly new to the sport but am an experienced dog handler. Both are 5 months old, from different litters. One is DDR/Czech working lines, red sable, the other german working/show, red/black. Both are big healthy boys with what seems to be high drive and good confidence, for their age.

For SchH I was told not to do much obedience, if any, on my pups until they are about 1 year old. I was told that during the first year I should be building their prey drive, allowing their confidence cup to overflow, so to speak. Then when they are very confident, high drive, then start controlling that through obedience.

Is this correct? I don't want to get started off on the wrong foot and end up with two out-of-control maniacs at 1 year when I should have been doing something different. I also don't want to be behind in their training because of incorrect advice.

Appreciate your comment.



The advice you got on obedience is OLD SCHOOL – like 20 years OLD SCHOOL. It is also 100% wrong.

Yes you should be working in prey to build drive. I will talk about that below but you also need to be starting obedience training IN DRIVE. The only way obedience training can effect confidence is if there is a lot of force in the training. Training a pup in drive hurts nothing.

There are 2 training videos I recommend people get to start the protection training process:

Training Drive Focus and Grip

Preparing Your Dog for the Helper

I produced both tapes based on the training of Bernhard Flinks. He is a German police K-9 handler and top Schutzhund competitor.

The beauty of this training program is the handler does all of the foundation work in protection training himself. With young dogs this can start at 8 weeks and go to about 12 to 13 months of age. Older dogs receive the exact same training as young dogs they just proceed through the program a quicker. These videos teach handlers how to do prey drive work with their own dog through drive exercises. Dogs learn the foundation of the exercises that they will need to know when they meet the helper for the first time. I compare this to a father teaching a child karate. He is not really fighting with his children, he is teaching them the moves to use in a fight.

I recommend starting with "Training DRIVE, FOCUS, and GRIP." It is one of my best training videos. It's the first is a series of tapes done with Bernhard Flinks.

It is the foundation of Bernhard's training program. It teaches handlers how to build a relationship of trust and understanding with the dog. Bernhard is the only instructor I have ever seen that places so much emphasis on building a bond between the handler and dog.

The Drive and Focus video teaches you how to build drive in your dog. Every dog inherits a genetic level of drive, this varies from dog to dog. The training in this tape shows how to bring your dog up to its own genetic level of drive. The tape then teaches the dog to show self control while in drive. If you think of it when a dog shows self control when he is in drive this is in effect working under extreme distraction and that's the foundation of obedience training.

Every dog MUST learn to control it's drive if it is to become a competitive Schutzhund dog or a Police Service dog or a Personal Protection dog or a Competition Obedience dog. The later videos in this series will train the dog that heeling, sit, down, and come are drive commands and not compulsion commands.

Through this training we show how to work at building a calm solid grip from day one. A solid grip shows a clear mind. We teach the dog to be comfortable in maintaining the calm grip in the presence of the handler. If a dog can't have a solid grip in the presence of his handler he has a problem with the handler. We show how to address this issue. We also teach the dog in the first steps of the OUT command.

It takes 3 to 5 weeks to work through the training in this video. When the dog has finished this work he is ready to move into the training in the second video. (Preparing Your Dog for the Helper).

There will be a continuing series of about 10 tapes with Bernhard - they will walk you through the process. These videos have all been filmed its just a matter of getting them edited. The next release will take up where these videos leave off.

The announcement of new videos being released is always done on the Table of Contents of my web site.

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I came up with a unique repertoire of responses to people who try to come up and touch my dog when I am working on the "B" crowd stuff. Since I do not have a close club, I utilize parks and certain areas around town.

If they ask then I explain that I am a trainer and busy and would be happy to answer any questions after I finished the excesses. I then explain why I do not allow any person to touch my dog. This has gotten me quite a few training clients by the way. One guy actually tipped me. Petsmart of course banned me because I was supposedly soliciting.

If they do not ask and just reach out, I step in between them and the dog. Depending on my mood I might say one of two things: "It is extremely rude of you to touch MY dog with out even acknowledging my presence!" or "What are you; some kind of pet molester?!." You should see the looks I get for that one. So far the only kind of response I get from these people is extreme embarrassment and a very quick apologies. I got tired of arguing with people that try to say "he's not going to bite me, he is a friendly boy", also I was getting too tempted to let my dog go ahead and lunge and snap his jaws in their face. I heard that you can get sued for scaring someone into a heart attack.

Let me know what you think. (Hope I made the tongue in cheek attitude clear enough.)


Just tell them that you are training a service dog and you do not have time to discuss it at the moment. Fact is you could get one of those service dog vests and have the dog wear it. We sell some very nice looking ones . That pretty much stops things – in fact Petsmart would have to let you go there if you are training a service dog.

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I have a question about training my dog with Jumps. I am looking to get my dog in a Schutzhund Club. At the moment the club that I am trying to get into is not taking anymore dogs at this time, so at the moment I've been working with my dog on how to build drive, retrieving, obedience and some basic bite work.

I have a 9 month GSD that I've now started to work some basic jumps (heights of 2-3 feet). Is it too soon to work jumps? The dog has No difficulty making the jumps but I do not want to over stress joints or injure the dog if he is too young to do this.

Thanks for your time,


I would not be jumping a 9 month old dog.  You can teach the basics (like going through the jump uprights) but without adding any height.  I know many people jump young dogs, but my feeling is that until they are mature and the growth plates are closed I don’t want to stress the growing skeletal system.   Depending on the build and bone structure of your particular dog, I would wait until 18-24 months to begin real jumping.

Just because young dogs CAN do something, doesn’t mean they SHOULD.

Best to you and your dog!


How do I start teaching the send out exercise for Schutzhund?


Read the article titled Training With Markers.  

Its really too involved to give you a step by step explanation by email, but if you start conditioning your dog to markers and then teach a touch pad (I use a rubber horse feed pan turned upside down)  

You can see a sample of this piece of the training here at about 2:54 into this video.  I’m conditioning my 4 month old puppy to put his feet on something.  I can later use that as my target for the send away.

You can also visit our forum.  Here is a specific topic with discussion on send away training.

I hope this helps!



Do you know of anyone in the Illinois area that works in the Michael Ellis system? I have ordered all three tapes, but need a little guidance. I have done the leach pressure work. He does the tug well. He outs but it is getting better. He will sit, stand, down, & come while tugging. The problem is healing. My dog is almost 1. He has more drive for the tug like most working dogs. He has good food drive. For food I use a log roll that you get at petco. The problem I have is when I take steps he checks out & sometimes his ears go down. When I walk with the food by my side his head is up. I think I am going to have to take a step back. I am just worried while on the Schutzhund field he won't show any power with this system. I just feel I am not where I need to be. Any help would be great.



It sounds like you need to back up and work more on engagement before trying to get more steps heeling. Your dog is not quite a year old, he needs to learn the mechanics & master them completely before he can show speed and power. Think about the last time you learned something new, you get better with practice AFTER you learn the moves.

We can't recommend a trainer in your area, as we don't have knowledge of the facilities and skill of the trainers close to you (Illinois is a pretty big state). We usually recommend doing the preliminary training yourself anyway, even if you eventually branch out to working with a local trainer or group.



Dear Cindy

I have a 3 year old GS female SChH 1 that leaks/whines during obedience during the long down. She will not move but will cause a commotion.

I have tried nylon choker, lifting up until she is quiet.  I’ve also tried food when she is quiet but that does not last long. As soon as I walk away, she will start back up. The leaking carries over into healing. 

Any thought that might help my girl, I will be happy to call you?

Thank You,


This is something that can’t always be eliminated completely, especially if she’s been doing this for her entire life. GSDs are prone to this leaking of drive, and if you don’t teach them containment at an early age it can be a struggle for the working career of the dog.  I know many dogs who do this to some extent. The more reps she gets with the whining, the harder it will be to ever fully eradicate it.

The only suggestion I have is to teach her a alternate behavior to do in the situations she is whining.  Correcting it away will likely be unsuccessful and may make it worse.  The Thinking Dog ~ Crossover to Clicker Training is a book that addresses how to use clicker/marker training in dogs that have had traditional training and I believe there is a section in the book about how one trainer solved her competition obedience dog’s whining issue.

You may want to join our forum and post your question there as well.  Maybe someone will have an idea that I haven’t thought of.

Cindy Rhodes

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