Debunking Myths about Schutzhund/IPO/Protection Sports
There are a lot of misconceptions about protection sports and training for dogs. I am going to talk about a couple of the ones I hear most, which are “Protection training is abusive” and “Protection dogs are aggressive”. For sake of this article, I am speaking about those who responsibly train dogs with the correct temperament for protection training, which I feel is the majority. I’ve worked with many dogs and people in protection training and have a broad understanding of this type of training. There are people in every aspect of life that can do things wrong and give an entire cause a bad rep. I’m not talking about those few.
Myth: protection training is forceful and abusive. NO! Not at all. Properly training a dog to bite requires absolutely no force whatsoever. We don’t force our dogs or intimidate them to get them to bite. We encourage, motivate, and utilize their innate drives to teach them to bite. Keep in mind, most dogs that are trained for protection sports, are usually bred for it and actually require very little to activate their prey instincts to encourage a bite. We may frustrate them to encourage a bark or bite, but no more frustration than Sparky the terrier gets when watching rabbits play in the front yard all day through the living room window. By no means is this abusive. They love the training, like a Lab loves to retrieve; a dog bred for protection work loves to bite.
But… what about the stick they hit the dog with?? The stick in schutzhund is padded, and does not at all hurt the dog. Not a bit. The stick hits are not done with any force either. The stick hits are to test a dog’s response to a (perceived) threat or pressure, not to hurt the dog.
Myth: schutzhund/protection trained dogs are mean and aggressive towards all people. Again, nope. I’ve never met a protection trained dog that was dangerous to have in public settings. First, no dog should ever be trained in protection that has a questionable temperament. Bad temperament is genetic, and is what makes a dog mean and aggressive. Protection training does not make a dog mean and aggressive. Second, protection trained dogs are trained very highly in obedience as well as protection. I trust them more than Joe Schmoe at the park with his off leash Chihuahuas running up to me barking as he shouts “They’re friendly”. I can take my schutzhund dogs anywhere without worrying at all, around any person, young, old, big, small, black, white, with a hat, without a hat.
If I still haven’t convinced you, then get to your local reputable schutzhund or dog sport club and see them working. Seeing is believing, right?