In SchH 1 and 2, one helper is permitted for each level, and for SchH 3 the local club is permitted to decide whether to use one or two helpers. It is also permitted to use a helper from the immediate vicinity.
Reporting to the judge is done on leash, except for SchH 3
The protection phase is, for some people, certainly the most spectacular phase of the trial.
The truth of the matter is that the evaluation of the protection is of prime importance for the breeding selection of the working dog.
Solid nerves, self confidence, loadability, stable drives, natural aggression behaviour and obedience are the criteria which we must evaluate.
The trial regulations divide the protection phase into three sections:
1) Searching the blinds, followed by a hold and bark
2) Fighting phases followed by a guarding phase
Evaluation criteria for these individual exercises:
In the blind search, the dog must demonstrate intensity and drive, approach the blinds directly, and circle tightly around them while being attentive to the handler. The handler should be able to guide and direct his dog well.
In order to obtain an excellent (“V”) rating in this exercise, the dog must obey the verbal commands of the handler; that is to say that he is to noticeably come back to the handler when called, and not merely continue on in drive searching the blinds on his own.
Searching the blinds is done in prey mode, and requires a high degree of obedience!
After the search, the dog finds the helper. The hold and bark exercise follows. Here, many dogs begin to show the first signs of problems, namely the first change in drives – from prey drive (running to find) to aggression phase (direct confrontation with the opponent).
The ‘holding’ must be done attentively, close and intensely, confidently, and consistently until being called off. On holding, the dog must immediately bark energetically and consistently at the helper.
The hold and bark exercise is always to be evaluated as one exercise, starting upon arrival at the helper, and ending with the handler recalling (or stopping - IPO) the dog into the basic heel position on the judge's command.
Should the dog, upon recognizing the helper, not start barking the first time, he is given a second chance and sent in again.
The actual fighting phases are escape, defense, attack and re-attack. The escape must be noticeably prevented after a minimum of 20 paces. Two stick hits are given in the partial exercises of defense and attack, with exception during the attack from the rear transport. Verbal commands are to be independently given by the handler. This is especially true for the “out” command.
Should a dog not release after the fighting phase, the trial is to be stopped.
Each fighting phase consists of an opening phase, a loading phase and a guarding phase.
The opening phase describes the dog starting off and the speed toward the helper, as well as the first grip.
The opening must be shown with drive, directly, confidently and energetically. The grip must be firm, energetic, effective and full, and, during the loading phase, must be held consistently and calmly.
The evaluation of the grip is always quite significant with regard to the quality of the dog. The full, firm and calm grip during the partial exercise of the escape, for example, does not by itself lead to the highest evaluation. The escape of the helper must also be actively shown through physical behaviour of the dog – that is to say, that the helper must be held back, and not that the dog just merely walks beside him!
Lack of drive and decisiveness during the opening phase, and especially obvious limitations in the grip (restless, hectic, moving around) during the loading phase, must be appropriately evaluated and points deducted.
After the release, and the end of the fight, the dog must guard the helper intensely, confidently, attentively and closely. This can be supported through active barking, which, however, is not an absolute requirement. A silent guard is not faulty.
During the back transport and the side transport, the dog must walk closely in the heel position while showing full attention to the helper. It's important for the handler to keep the distance of 5 paces during the back transport.
Obedience is evaluated during the entire protection phase, especially in the partial exercises of searching the blinds, transports, down during the disarming of the helper, during the ‘outs’ and in the guarding phases. The various types of searching and disarming (SchH – IPO) are clearly described in the trial regulations (PO), and must be absolutely adhered to by the handler.
In protection, the evaluations are also subjective. Nevertheless, only the dog who fulfills the above noted criteria, can attain 100%.
Every single exercise starts with 0 points! Therefore each handler/dog team can only gain points with each exercise.
A dog who has passed half of the protection phase, cannot possibly get 0 points. The same is also true for tracking as well as for obedience.
All the statements I have made here are intended to help you determine your own subjective and hopefully also objective evaluations.
Perhaps some handlers will recognize themselves, if they have ever hastily disagreed with a performance judge, and realize all that I have written here, which he has to watch for and then also write during the trial performance.
GSSCC/ SV Judge
permission recieved 9/17/02
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