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    Canine Training and Competition

    Schutzhund, a German word meaning protection, is a sport developed specifically to test the German Shepherd breed of dog for intelligence, courage, and endurance.

    Photography by Christopher Berkey

    Mitch Boult learned about Schutzhund (pr. SHUTS-hund) training and competition when he grew concerned that his German Shepherd was too aggressive. Schutzhund, a German word meaning protection, is a sport developed specifically to test the German Shepherd breed of dog for intelligence, courage, and endurance.

    "I just fell in love with it," Boult, a Nashville, TN, lawyer, says of the sport, which now involves many other breeds. "There's something so satisfying about a dog doing what it is born to do."

    The dog training method, like regular obedience training for dogs, requires patience and repetition, but also a great deal of time, Boult says. For instance, he has been training his German Shepherd, Chang, since the dog was 4 months old, but Chang will be 3 before he competes in his first full Schutzhund trial.

    The three phases of the trial consist of tracking, obedience, and protection, Boult says.

    Unlike other dog competitions, the dog is not judged on precision. "With Schutzhund, the emphasis is on the spirit of the dog" Boult says. "The dogs emanate love for working with you."