Competition dog training

What does IGP stand for in the dog sport Schutzhund (German for ‘Protection Dog’)?

IGP is short for Internationale Gebrauchshund Pruefung, which is a German competition sport previously known as IPO or Schutzhund. It originated at the beginning of this century as a test for working dogs. Read more about German Titles and Ratings.

Working line German Shepherd dog lying in grass

IGP is a fun dog sport which any dog can do. There are some prominent breeds within the sport, but if your dog enjoys training, scentwork and active playing like tugging, then IGP/Schutzhund could be for you! Any dog sport is great for pet dogs and provides a fantastic way for you to build up your handler skills and watch your dog enjoy itself. 

If you are curious about the sport, get in touch and we will be happy to talk you through what your dog would enjoy doing best. 

Training with Mako has been going well! He has been so responsive and is forever enthusiastic to train, which means he has so much intensity and is a dream for me to work with. 

Mako is constantly pushing for the next command or move; I have learnt to be more disciplined and on point with not allowing him to make mistakes. This has been a steep learning curve for me, as I am naturally lenient with allowing margins of error. After all, we are not all perfect all the time. 

However, Mako never forgets anything, so I have had to make sure there are as few mistakes as possible. I was finding myself trying to get him to forget some unwanted behaviours he had picked up. As I always say, prevention is better than cure! 

Training Mako has been so much fun for me, and I feel myself growing daily with him. My handling skills have improved no end as Mako is a particularly lively (to say the least!) character! 

The Sendaway

Here we are practising the ‘sendaway’ around a hide/blind as we work towards the protection phase.

Importantly, this is also part of the obedience phase. There is a long sendaway where the dog must run straight out about 30 meters on the Judges signal, be asked to down at distance; then the handler walks 30 meters to the dog. The dog must remain down until the handler’s command, then heel back to the start.

Reliable obedience at distance requires a lot of training and practice but is achievable for most dogs.

On-Lead Heelwork

Training has been a fantastic learning curve. This sport requires extreme discipline and years of training to go through the trials.

Mako and I are working towards our BH (Begleithundprüfung). The BH is a test in Schutzhund that evaluates the dog’s temperament and obedience before competing in IGP. Also known as the Companion Dog Title, it includes exercises such as on and off lead heeling, basic commands, recalls, and real-life situations in the public traffic area. The BH is a prerequisite for IGP titles.

What is IGP?

IGP consists of three phases: tracking, obedience and protection. To get the title of IGP/Schutzhund working dog, a dog should pass all three phases in one trial. There are 3 IGP titles: IGP1, IGP2 and IGP3.

At eight months old, Mako is doing amazingly well, and I am super proud of him. Here is some of his heelwork practice where he is starting to get a tremendous stride on him.

We train a little every day, regardless of the weather. There are always plenty of new things to teach indoors as well.

Off Lead Heelwork and Down at Distance 

Competition training is going well as we practice daily in the garden. Off-lead heelwork requires a lot of discipline, and as you can see, Mako here has so much enthusiasm. 

He absolutely LOVES training and squeaks with intensity whilst pushing into my leg with passion. Although I love his passion (and many dog owners dream of having an off-lead dog so close to your leg), this is something I am trying to tone down slightly so that I can actually walk in a straighter line! 

Here we are practising the ‘down at distance’ as we work towards the obedience phase. 

Barking and Bitework

We have had a couple of goes at barking and bitework but needless to say, Mako took to it like a duck to water. There was no encouragement needed at all; he loved it! IGP/Schutzhund protection phase will be a breeze for him!

For anyone interested in joining a dog sport, there are many types to cater for all. From Herding sports to running sports and hunting sports, there really is something for everyone.  Take a look at this list of dog sports.  

If you are inspired by this, knowing that any dog of any breed can start the basics of IGP anytime, feel free to get in touch and we will be happy to talk you through all your options. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is IGP/Schutzhund training cruel?

Absolutely not! Training involves plenty of positive reinforcement and also clicker training. Methods such as shaping behaviours are often used as these dogs are usually highly driven and intelligent, which means that they work things out for themselves very quickly. 

In every discipline and sectors there are trainers and dog owners who use unethical methods, however, this is all personal choice so don’t let that put you off getting into a sport you like, just stick to your beliefs.

A Schutzhund dog can be a great family dog. These dogs are disciplined, work well under pressure, and handle any kind of noise, so they are good around kids.

What is BH in IGP/Schutzhund?

The BH (Begleithundprüfung) is a test that evaluates the dog’s temperament and obedience before competing in IGP. 

Also known as the Companion Dog Title, it includes exercises such as on and off lead heeling, basic commands, recalls, and real-life situations in the public traffic area. The BH is a prerequisite for IGP titles.

What breeds can do IPG (Schutzhund)?

Any breed can participate in Schutzhund as long as the dog is old enough and healthy. However, some clubs run breed-specific trials where dogs of a particular breed compete against each other.

Schutzhund initially was developed for the German Shepherd Dog, but many other breeds show an aptitude for it, including Belgian Malinois, Belgian Tervueren, Boxers, Briards, Dobermans, Dutch Shepherds, Beauceron, Giant Schnauzers and Rottweilers. Other unconventional breeds include Labrador, Airedale Terrier, American Bulldog, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Cane Corso, Hovawart and cross breeds. 

What characteristics do IGP/Schutzhund dogs need to have?

There is no such thing as a perfect IGP dog! Every dog within each breed has strengths, weaknesses and genetic character traits. Regardless of breed, an IGP dog should have: 

  • a stable character
  • high trainability
  • a desire to work with and for the handler (biddability)
  • drive and desire for the work (work ethic)
  • some level of natural aggression and protective instinct

Do you do one-to-one puppy training? 

Yes, of course! We would be absolutely delighted to help you train your puppy, whether it’s to have an obedient pet or a budding competition dog; check out our puppy training package here.

Will protection training and bite work make my dog more aggressive?

No! It is a common myth that playing tug and encouraging your dog to bite toys makes it more aggressive. Quite the contrary, in fact. Bite work can provide a great outlet for dogs at the same time as improving their obedience training. 

Where can I get into IGP?

A good place to start is to have a look if there are any local IGP sport clubs near where you live. If you can’t find any, then some local trainers may be able to point you in the right direction. Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone, explain you are looking to get into the sport and could they recommend someone you could watch or be mentored by.

#igp #dogsports #germanshepherd #gsd #workingdog #sportdog #protection

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