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Leerburg Dog Training Q&A Archive Q&A on Schutzhund Protection Work

Q&A on Schutzhund Protection Work

Q&A on Schutzhund Protection Work

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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. Can you tell me why GRIP is so important to train in Schutzhund?

  2. I would like to train my new pup in Schutzhund and Personal Protection. Can this be done? I get different answers from different people.

  3. Will Schutzhund training help my dog become a good personal protection dog?

  4. My SchH III female won’t bark when someone is at the door. What can I do?

  5. My Schutzhund 3 male is 5 years and will not out in trials. In training we work with electric collars but the dog is trial wise and will not out in a competition. What can we do?

  6. My dog left the blind in his SchH I Bark and Hold. My helper recommended muzzle work. Do you agree?

  7. My 9-month old GSD does well in tracking and protection work. It has intense food drive but is not that crazy for a ball. I would like to increase the ball drive so I use it in training. What can I do?

  8. I cannot get my dog to carry a sleeve. He is very defensive and spits the sleeve out and focuses on the helper. What can I do to help him?

  9. My friend told me that a Schutzhund dog that has been trained to bite a sleeve can never be a Personal Protection dog because it will not bite a person. Is this true?

  10. What age should I start preparing my dog for helper work?

  11. I want to train my black Lab in Schutzhund and police work. What are your thoughts?

  12. I don't see how allowing people to pet my dog is a bad thing. Can you shed some light on this subject?

  13. My dog gets frustrated with the bark and looks for places to redirect his bite sense he can't get to the sleeve. He has nipped me before, I'm worried this redirection will affect daily life. Any advise?


QUESTION Schutzhund Protection Training:

Can you tell me why GRIP is so important to train in Schutzhund?


The most important aspect of schutzhund training is GRIP training. When I say GRIP I mean the quality of the bite on the helpers sleeve. The perfect GRIP is a calm full mouth bite in the middle of the sleeve. A dog that mouths or chews on the sleeve or bites the end or elbow of the sleeve does not have a correct grip. A dog that does not have a good grip will never receive more than 90 to 92 out of 100 points in protection (under an honest judge).

The three parts of schutzhund are Tracking, Obedience and Protection. Tracking and Obedience can be trained to almost any dog.

Some people think that Schutzhund tracking is actually teaching a dog to track. Nothing is further from the truth. Schutzhund tracking is strictly obedience training. EVERY dog can be trained to follow a schutzhund track. Just as every dog can be trained to do the obedience work of schutzhund.

Schutzhund protection training involves GRIP on the sleeve, SPEED in the exercises and GUARDING. GRIP and SPEED in protection are genetic issues while GUARDING is an obedience issue.

The trainers that concentrate and focus their training on GRIP will always have better scores. A dog can do every exercise perfectly but if his grip is not perfect he will never score a "V" (excellent - 0ver 95 out of 100 points ) in protection. The most a handler whose dogs chew on the sleeve can expect (if everything else is perfect) is 90 points.

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QUESTION Schutzhund Protection Training:


I just ordered two of your videos, "Bite Training for Puppies" and "The First Steps of Bite Training," and I'm eagerly awaiting their arrival. I have a question that I have posted on the message boards and asked several trainers about all with varying responses.

First of all I have a Belgian Malinois pup age four months. I want to eventually train him for personal protection since I own a retail business. I also like the idea of competing in a sport such as Schutzhund or French ring? Can I do both? How do I go about this? I'm going to see yet another trainer named Francis Metcalf. I hear nothing but good things about him. I hope he can point me in the right direction. In the meantime do you have any advice to offer me?

Thank you in advance,


It does not need to matter what your future plans are with your dog, you still have to take the dog through bite development. Police service dogs, personal protection dogs, Schutzhund dogs, Ring Sport dogs, and KNPV dogs ALL GO THROUGH bite development as young dogs.

If you expect to compete at a high level of competition in Schutzhund you should focus your training on GRIP development . You can start that work with my training tape titled BUILDING DRIVE FOCUS AND GRIP with Bernhard Flinks.

If you just want to compete at a club level and not a national level you do not need to focus in on your early training. In my opinion this is a mistake.

Once the young dog goes through that stage of work, then it's training will change according to the job it must perform. After bite development, the difference between sport work and personal protection work is only the skills or exercises that the dog must learn and the environment they learn and perform in.

Some dogs cannot deal with the stress of working in varying environments, but they can work in the same environment (a Schutzhund sport field) and do reasonably well.

Usually the more serious work is not going to become a factor until after the dog is 12 to 14 months old. So you don't have anything to worry about until them.

So those people who told you something different than this - need more experience training dogs or don't understand what they are talking about. You may want to consider The First Steps of Defense. It is the video that shows how to move a dog from bite development into the more serious work.

All dogs that are going into more specialized training (Police Service Work, Schutzhund Work or Personal Protection Work) need to go through this phase of training before moving on. Most of the time defensive work does not start until a dog is 12 months (on excellent dogs) to 18 months (on normal dogs).

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QUESTION Schutzhund Protection Training:

Schutzhund over here in England is frowned upon by the establishment. My nearest club is about 1.25 hours away, but they are very friendly and welcoming folks. My question is this. How related are Schutzhund and personal protection? Will going through Schutzhund be of benefit to my dog as a protection dog or should I simply set down the path, at a suitable age of course, of protection training him? Although again over here finding good helpers will be difficult outside the Schutzhund establishment, and they do not approve protection training except within the Schutzhund sport. If you know of any good trainers in the UK I would be grateful for a contact.


This is a very common question. All dogs (schutzhund dogs, police service dogs, personal protection dogs, ring sport dogs) need to go through the same early stages of bite development training. This is basically prey drive development. You can read about these drives in other articles on my web site. Look under training articles on the table of contents.

During prey drive development the young pups or young adults will learn the skills of how to bite within the atmosphere of a game environment. This all starts with games of tug. It progresses into games where the young dog bites and plays tug but it learns that there are rules to the game (i.e. bark before you get a bite and tug). You can learn all of this work through my tapes.

When the dog begins to mature (at 18 to 30 months of age) the dog is exposed to defensive training. Here is where the training will go in different directions. Schutzhund training and personal protection training have different goals and therefore the training is different.

Many schutzhund trainers will cross train their dogs to personal protection dogs. But it requires extra work. They must do muzzle training. They must do extensive defensive training off the schutzhund training field. This usually involves night time work etc. etc.

So the answer to your question is that schutzhund training and personal protection dog training have the same beginning, but differ in the last stages. Schutzhund training does not hurt a dog whose final purpose is to be a personal protection dog - as long as the schutzhund club does a good job of adding defensive training at the right time. Some clubs work their dogs too long in Prey Drive and this results in a dog that is difficult to switch over to good personal protection work because the dog becomes "locked in prey."

Again, if you want to learn more about this work, you need to look at these tapes. There is 4 hours of non-stop information on these videos.

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QUESTION Schutzhund Protection Training:

I have just purchased an adult GSD who has earned her Schutzhund III title ten times. She also has earned FH title. In addition she has been surveyed with result "KKL1."

She is truly a very well behave dog, very great temperament. The only problem is since her first day with me, I never heard her bark, not even once. When somebody came and knocked the door of my house, she just laid down on the floor as if she didn't care. When I look at her report card on her Schutzhund test, the last time she took her Schutzhund test was on 1998. Could the time lapsed since her last Schutzhund test make her lose her protection instinct? Can you suggest something or any videos that I can purchase to help her so that she can return to her protection instinct...? I just want her to be more sensitive and bark when someone come to my house.



It sounds like you have a very nice female.

People new to dog training and the sports, do not understand that Schutzhund is a sport. It is not training for personal protection.

Your dog has very good nerves. Dogs with good nerves who have never had specialized PP training will often not look at strangers as a threat. This is a good thing, not a bad thing. A dog with weak nerves is a sharp dog, one that barks quickly at sounds outside etc. A dog with good nerves is not bothered with strange sounds.

This does not mean that a dog with good nerves can not be trained as a personal protection dog or a police dog (although I am not a fan of females as police dogs). They can be trained for the work. Once they understand the task they make very solid safe personal protection dogs.

I would recommend that you take some time and read the list of training articles on my web site. There are articles there on SHARP dogs.

I would also recommend that you get my training video The First Steps of Defense. This is the kind of work that needs to be done in the beginning with your bitch. How far you take it will depend on your needs, the skill of the people helping you, the quality of your dog and your ability to handle a dog.

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QUESTION Schutzhund Protection Training:

My Schutzhund 3 male is 5 years and will not out in trials. In training we work with electric collars but the dog is trial wise and will not out in a competition. What can we do?


Bernard Flinks (one of the best trainers in Germany) came up with a pretty goofy trick that works. During training, every time you take the dog out to put the collar on you should wet the dogs neck down. Get it good and wet. Then on trial day you do the same thing. You wet the dogs neck, only obviously the collar does not go on. 99% of the dogs out there will Out in a trial.

A friend of mine has a dog from my breeding. I will not mention his name, but he has a tough dog that he was going to retire for this very reason. This little trick has worked miracles for him. He is still competing with the dog and the dog is Outing during trial.

Another methods that works is to put a little mustard on the dog every time you put the e-collar on. Then on the day of the trial take a little mustard and make a big deal of putting a collar on the dog just before going in for the protection work. This triggers an involuntary response in the dog and they will OUT.

This method is not one that should be considered for a police service dog or a personal protection dog. Police officers cannot always wet a dog’s neck down before the dog is deployed. In addition, a service dog can (and in my opinion should) wear an electric collar when it is worked on the street.

Similar issues go with personal protection dogs. The fact is that the OUT is not that important with personal protection dogs. If the decision is made to deploy a personal protection dog and it actually bites someone, it may be wiser to leave the dog on the suspect until the police arrive. Then the dog can be lifted off the bite.

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QUESTION Schutzhund Protection Training:

If you will, please voice your opinion.. I have a 3 yr. old GSD, German lines, who got his SCH I 2 weeks ago. We had never practiced a "judge" coming in on the B&H which was not real intense to begin with...we had only been working it for some 6 weeks prior to that (once or twice a week). At trial the judge caused him to leave the blind and I had to give the reverie command again.. he went back in and was satisfactory. He does well on the courage test, attack on handler, etc.

Now, in an attempt to strengthen the B&H, our helper has come up with the idea of muzzle work to intensify the blind work. The dog responded first time around to the muzzle work, (tried to bite the crap out of the helper after knocking him down, etc.) Will this really help the B&H and might it cause even more defensive behavior and possibly even avoidance in the blind work, or other problems??? I am having 2nd thoughts about this method.



Your helper is making a mistake.

Muzzle work may help the dogs intensity, but this is not going to solve the problem of focus.

Walking up to the tail of the dog is something that a lot of judges do (especially in the past few years since they saw Hans Rudenaur do it in the California Nationals the head SV Sch Judge.)

The way to correct this is to have different people standing on the field all the time in training, and playing the part of the judge. They should have a clip board in their hand, and do the exact same thing as a judge would do.

If the dog looks back when you or one of these people walk up behind the dog the helper should turn and run, or clip the dogs ear or chin with the stick (a good hard one).

When that happens the dog will bite and the helper treats it as an attack and drives the dog out of the blind. This work may require some prong collar leash work to keep the dog clean and maintain the bark if the dog anticipates and bites without the helper moving when someone comes up. But the dog will quickly learn to not take his eyes off the helper or he will be whacked.

This work is called NEUTRALIZING - it can be started on a tie out with the dog doing a B&H. The handler walks up and stand next to his dog (WITHOUT LOOKING DOWN OR SAYING ANYTHING) The handler can then move back several steps and stand for a few seconds and then walk back up next to the dog. During this exercise the dog should never look at the handler. When the dog does this properly it can have a bite. When the helper moves the handler should give a bite command.

If this is done properly the intensity of the bark will increase as someone comes up behind him, because the dog will anticipate the attack. But remember the obedience needs to be there to eliminate the bumps.

If the dog bumps the sleeve the handler gives a loud NO!!!! command. The dog must know that this is not an acceptable thing to do.

The Dutch trainers in the KNPV are masters at using people to act as judges in training the clubs I go to NEVER do obedience without having a member walk up and explain what is expected (just as a judge would do in KNPV) before the training exercise and then walk around like a judge does in the exercise.

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QUESTION Schutzhund Protection Training:

Dear Mr. Frawley

I have a 9-month-old German Shepherd puppy that is working in schutzhund. Who has avery strong backing in working lines. My puppy does excellent in tracking and also does excellent in protection. But lacks interest in the ball. Do you have any solutions for me? My puppy is very motivated by food but I would like to start introducing the ball more. Please respond if you have a chance.

Thank you


If the dog does well in bite work, and the bite work is being done properly then the dog has prey drive and you have just not developed it enough.

But the fact is that this is not an important issue - if the dog has intense food drive then use that drive. What you are asking makes no sense. The goal is to end up with a trained dog not a ball crazy dog. Use the tools that you have available and be happy with what you have.

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QUESTION Schutzhund Protection Training:

Dear Mr. Frawley:

Perhaps you could help me with a perplexing problem..

I have a GSD. He is my first Schutzhund dog. We have had him for a year now and he has bonded with our family very nicely. We love him dearly. He is a great family dog... he loves to wash our toddlers face.

I got him when he was 1 1/2 years old and I don't think he was ever played with. He just sat in a kennel for 1 1/2 years. No socialization no play, nothing. Just let out to run every day. I am just now getting him to play with hoses. At first the poor dog would not even take food from me on the training field. Now he is gobbling up hot dogs like crazy and tracking very well. At first I could not even get him to take one morsel of food off the track. Now I am only putting food in ever firth step or so , lengthening the tracks and he is doing great..

The real problem is with our protection training. Bach is a very defensive dog and very aggressive during protection work. He has a lot of heart and has a lot of courage. But he is very focused on the helper. I have tried everything I know to do but I can not get him to carry a sleeve. He spits it out immediately and goes for the helper instead. It's not a fun game to Bach it's stressful to him even though he has calmed down tons since we first started with him.

He is not exactly friendly with people other than our family. He is tolerant of them until they approach him. If they introduce themselves properly he is okay -if not he commences a low growl. But he has never snapped or bitten. I socialize him constantly and take him everywhere with my kids and me. Petsmart and the park and drive thru windows- around the neighborhood- to school, he is doing much better but he has his bad days ( I do too though I must admit).

When it was time to get his BH, his obedience was great but we still needed to overcome our socialization obstacle. He was still growling when approached by friendly strangers- so I am between a rock and a hard place now.

He is a beautiful dog and considering his pedigree, it would be terrible if I can't title him. It may not be possible, I don't know. He is a tough case for my first SchH dog.

I have not worked him in protection for six months now. I don't really belong to a club- I am a member of USA and I used to belong to a SchH Club- now I just train with some friends on Saturdays. Our helper won't work Bach until he can play with him (probably won't happen). What should I do? Do you
have a video or book or any advice for me?

Thank you for your time sir,


The dog has thin nerves. In someone else's hands this dog would probably develop into a FEAR BITER. You have done a very good job in making sure that this does not happen. I give you credit.

I seriously doubt that you are going to title this dog. My guess is that it is beyond your skill (and the skill of the people you work for). The bottom line is that he will make a better personal protection dog than a sport dog.

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Question Schutzhund Protection Training

My friend told me that a Schutzhund dog that has been trained to bite a sleeve can never be a Personal Protection dog because it will not bite a person. Is this true?


I recommend that your friend get more experience and stop passing along bad information like this.

It is true that a lot of Schutzhund dogs can never do personal protection work because they are only trained in prey drive and or they simply do not have the nerves for the work.

With this said, many dogs have the correct character to do both Schutzhund and personal protection. Dogs that do have the right nerve and drives will need additional training to do personal protection work. For those who are just starting to learn about protection training - Schutzhund is a dog sport it's not personal protection training.

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Hi Ed,

I just finished watching, how to raise a working puppy, and building drive focus and grip. They were great videos. I plan on buying preparing your dog for the helper. At what age should the information in that video be applied to my puppy. I will be building his drive, but what is a good age to start working the puppy on preparing him for the helper. If it's best that I wait until the puppy matures a bit, then I will wait and get the video later. I am getting my puppy in two weeks. If it's stuff that I should be doing right away with the pup, then I will buy the video pretty soon.



Normally you would start around 4 months but you are missing a high point here. It’s not WHEN SHOULD MY DOG START TO LEARN it’s when do YOU start to learn. You have more to learn than your dog. A lot more. So get the DVD and study it. Do not jump the gun and get ahead of yourself in training.

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QUESTION on Schutzhund Training:

I have a 6 month black lab that I want to train for Schutzhund and police work. Would you recommend against a second handler for the Schutzhund only?

The second handler would be my wife. Would this cause a problem? re-enforce her role in the "pack" order (above the dog)? Is two handlers in Schutzhund a bad idea?


I doubt that a black Lab can be trained in the sport of Schutzhund. You can always try --there is that old saying" NEVER SAY NEVER " However, in 30 years I have only heard of one Lab being titled in Schutzhund and it was all prey work.

My advice is to stick with something the Labs are genetically able to do - agility, competition obedience, etc.

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Dear Mr. Frawley,

My boyfriend and I adopted a 13 month old neutered male red Doberman less than a week ago. He's very well mannered and is progressing well with the ground work we've been doing with him. We've been poring over your material and following your suggestions since the second we've gotten him and things have gone well so far.

I was reading your e-book on introducing dogs to cats and I noticed you made a comment about not allowing anyone to touch your dog for any reason. This dog seems to show great potential for Schutzhund (how far we go with it is as yet undecided) and since we have not trained a Schutzhund dog we are very open to good advice. We want to make the least amount of mistakes possible and your pro-dog approach resonates well with us.

As I'm uninitiated, the whole "don't allow anyone to touch your dog" thing sort of sticks in my craw. We haven't introduced him to anyone yet and are unsure about how much socializing is prudent, and how it should be done. We have another very sweet mixed breed dog that goes with us everywhere and people just love to pet and love on her, and she clearly enjoys it too.

I understand that as we have different goals with this boy we will have to conduct ourselves with him differently, but I don't see how allowing people to pet him in a controlled environment when we have shown him we approve is a bad thing. Our families would probably be an issue too as they love to pet and snuggle our little girl dog. I'm not criticizing your approach, I would just like to learn more about it since I think very highly of your training methods. If you've addressed it somewhere on your website, just let me know. I've looked extensively but maybe I somehow missed it. Thank you so much!

Best wishes,


There is no reason for others to pet your dog.  if you wish to train your dog, then it’s to your advantage that the dog gets all good things from you  (petting, praise,  play, food, etc)  You can do things however you wish, but in our experience it creates a better bond between you and your dog if no one else is allowed to pet him.  I don’t want my dog running up to others expecting attention or petting. 

Other people are to be ignored by my dogs, and I start this when they are very small.  I take them to busy parking lots and work on focus.  They quickly learn that no matter what’s going on around them if they pay attention to me good things will happen.  I will use food rewards and toys.  When people come up to see my pup, I merely ignore that person and if they try to touch my dog, I say firmly “Please don’t touch my dog, he’s in training”    If they merely want to watch what I am doing, then I use it as a training exercise and talk to them but never take my eyes off of the pup.  I play and feed the puppy while I am talking with the person.  I will actually tell the stranger to ignore my puppy, don’t talk to him, don’t make eye contact, etc.  I want my dog to be absolutely neutral to people.

You don’t have to do this, but I have found that my dogs are very well rounded and pretty much ignore other people and dogs.  If your dog is always thinking in the back of his mind that the next person that walks by might be fun to play with it takes away from the attention on you and ultimately , it takes away from your training success.


My dog and I just passed the BH test and are now training for Schutzhund 1.  A problem I am encountering is this:  my dog doesn't bark easily at the bark and hold, so we went back out of the blind to build the dog's drive to bark through the helper standing in front of the dog cracking a whip while I am holding on to my dog.  The dog starts barking and wants to go for the sleeve, but can't right away because he is supposed to sit and bark.  But he gets really frustrated and starts to look around for things to bite at...and I am close of course.  A few weeks back he nipped at my knee very lightly and today he started turning his head around repeatedly but half-heartedly and I just moved out of the way.  If he had wanted to really bite me I am sure he could have. 
The trainer I work with says this is normal and all dogs do this at the beginning of Schutzhund training because they are frustrated that they can't bite the sleeve, so they re-direct.  I, however, am worried about this.  What if this behavior carries over into everyday life.  If we walk down the street for example and he barks at another dog or anything else, I will obviously hold him back.  What if he decided to re-direct his aggression to me then? Or is this unlikely.  I realize that you don't know my dog or me, but I am new to the sport of Schutzhund and would just like to know if I should be worried about this behavior, as I don't want to make my dog more aggressive through Schutzhund training.
Thanks for any advice you can give me.


Why not put this dog on a back tie, so you are not close enough for him to redirect his frustration?

All dogs do not do this, but some dogs do.  You could also work on the barking with the dog behind a fence, and once he gets good barking going open the gate and let him run out for a bite.

There is more than one way to accomplish this, and many ways to set it up so the dog doesn’t have the option of biting you or anyone else until he figures out the exercise.

I also would make sure your helper is not making the dog bark too long at first, a couple strong barks and he should be rewarded before he gets frustrated.  Varying the length of time he barks before the grip makes a better performance in the long run, just like varying your rewards in any other exercise in dog training during the learning phase.

Without seeing your dog, I can’t know if your dog is really being aggressive here or just loaded up in prey. I would think that on the street he is not going to feel the level of frustration that he does during bite work, so I would not expect him to react in the same manner.

If your dog is barking at other dogs on the street, then it’s an obedience and respect issue and that has nothing to do with bite work.

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