Your First Visit to DFW Working Dog Club

This article assumes that you have either heard about the sport of Schutzhund / IPO or have a puppy and noticed SchH / IPO titles in his pedigree, and want to know what Schutzhund is all about.

DFW Working Dogs is a club focused on training and competing in the sport of Schutzhund. Schutzhund is a challenging sport comprising of tracking, obedience and protection. This multi-disciplinary approach requires a high level of commitment from the handlers and particular talents from dogs.

On your first visit, we encourage you to watch the other handlers closely and ask questions. You can learn a great deal from watching each of the handlers who take to the field and work their dogs. If you have a dog and he is less than a year old and has had no prior training, we will probably ask you to bring him out at the end of the training session when we are working the other young dogs. For this, you will need a flat collar or a harness (if you do not have one, please feel free to ask one of the members if they have one you can borrow.) We will probably recommend that a club member hold your leash so you can encourage your dog. The training director will give you an honest opinion of your dog, and explain what comes next for his training as far as the protection phase is concerned.

Keep in mind that less than 10% of the puppies we see will be able to obtain Schutzhund titles, regardless of breeding and origins. It takes a special dog and handler to be able to do Schutzhund. The handler must be dedicated to the sport to succeed. You cannot get your dog ready for trials in one session per week; the time commitment makes it almost impossible to have other hobbies. Schutzhund is a difficult sport; there is a lot to learn, we expect you to watch other members closely, decide whose training methods you feel comfortable with, and ask them plenty of questions. We will help you, regardless of how much work your dog needs but we will also let you know if the sport is not a good fit for you and your dog. It does not mean that your dog could not do well in other sports. We try to be honest in our assessment, but remember it is not easy for us to tell you what you may not want to hear, we do not take any pleasure in explaining your dogs nature and faults, so please leave your ego at home. It is very important for your future training that you know and understand what your dog is capable of and what he is not.

Our club is not like an obedience club where you pay someone to teach you and your dog. We will support you but you are ultimately responsible for your training. You can come to any of the Tuesday or Saturday training sessions with prior approval. After a few months, we may invite you to become a full club member. At this point you are expected to work towards titles and help out with the club wherever needed. Club dues are $750 annually.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What do I need to do before I come out to meet the club?

    • Socialize your puppy! Take him to lots of places and see lots of people and places, it is not necessary to actually meet or make contact with everything, exposure is the key. If your puppy is a little timid, do this gradually, don’t overwhelm him at a dog park the first time out. Don’t encourage or reward him if he is showing fear, growling barking or backing up, in any new situations, but give him plenty of praise and/or food when he steps forward.

    • Join a puppy class and teach your puppy basic obedience. The more positively based classes are often best for a first time Schutzhund handler. They help build confidence in the dog - avoiding harsh corrections helps build a good relationship between the pup and his owner. You will also learn basic dog ownership skills and theories of training which will help you understand us. While we are not able to teach everyone the basics of dog training, we can help you move forward once you have taken a class or two.

    • Encourage your puppy to play with toys, but do not leave the toys with him all day. You can leave him with bones or kongs to keep him occupied when you are at work, but reserve balls for playtime with you and your puppy. We want the dog to view the ball as a reward to help us with our training.

  • What should I bring on my first visit?

    • It’s up to you if you want to bring your puppy with you. If you do, you will need the following:

    Crate, to keep your puppy safe while you are watching the training and to stop him tearing up your car when he gets excited watching.

    Flat collar, for prey/rag work. The thicker the better so it does not dig into his neck. Don’t buy special equipment yet though, we can lend you something for your first visit.

  • What can I be doing with my puppy at home afterwards?

    • Continue working on socialization, obedience and playing with a ball.

    • Once your dog is old enough, we will help you move on to the Schutzhund obedience, which is a little different to traditional, or AKC obedience.

    • You will probably want to track a few times with an experienced member before trying it at home yourself, but you can always do scent pads. Step a circle of grass about 3 feet diameter, and step all over the inside of the circle. Place a small, orange construction flag by the side, and scatter your dog’s food within the circle. It works well to do this at feed times. This helps him to learn that your scent and the scent of crushed vegetation are good. Watch the video below or ask a club member to demonstrate this for you.

    • The training director will advise you regarding protection training. We highly recommend sticking with the same trainer until your dog is at least IPO1 titled so that his training is consistent while he is young.

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