Interview with Jennifer Hobbs (my mother)
This is an interview excerpt about Schutzhund, German dog training, something my mother was heavily involved in her younger years.
Taylor: How did you get involved in Dog training?
Jennifer: Because I wanted to get a dog because I grew up having a German Shepherd. The person that I purchased my first German Shepherd from was into Schutzhund and I had never heard about it. He was heavily involved in it and the club, so he invited me over when I got the puppy. They turned into a nice group of people.
T:How many dogs did you do through Schutzhund?
J: Two dogs. The first one was from puppy and the second one was already an adult dog. The first dog’s name was Boggi and the second dog’s name was Andy. I learned a lot from my first dog. They’re not machines, so you can only do what the dog is capable of.
T: Can you describe Schutzhund?
J: You have three phases, tracking, protection and obedience. So basically you get judged at a trial, the judges are usually flown in from Germany. You’re at a trial and you basically have to show that your dog can perform those three phases. Passing is 70. There are also different titles. For each title it requires more physical challenges that they need to be trained on to be able to do. For instance, jumping over a wall, retrieving a dumbbell or doing flip finishes.
T: What is the flip finish?
J: Let’s say you’re throwing a dumbbell, he goes and gets it. Then he brings it and presents it in front of you. Then you take the dumbbell and he flips to be beside you. Andy had nice little flip finishes. He was smaller so he could flip better. You have to teach them how to do these things.
T: How does the experience change for the dog from each level?
J: The obstacles are harder, but they also test the dog more mentally. In Title 3, the dog’s courage is tested more during protection.
T: That’s interesting. What other elements are there?
J: There are 6 blinds and you walk on a line. You point to send him to each blind as you walk down the line. Smart dogs know that the helper is in line 6, so the hard part is to train the dog to be obedient and go through each of the six blinds before getting their reward at the 6th blind. You really have to have their obedience down when they know where their reward (bite) is. Andy was a little bit crazy. He’d mouth my arm as he ran by me. When they get to the 6th blind they hold and can’t bite. They can jump up but they don’t bite. Then the helper tries to run away and the dog can bite. Then you have to out them and they let go. Sometimes Andy didn’t want to let go.
T: How did Andy do overall?
J: He got 100 points in tracking. He nearly failed protection. I had to grab him because he was getting out of control. He didn’t want to be obedient. That’s the hard part.
T: How did he do with obedience?
J: He did pretty well, but he lost his mind with protection. He just couldn’t contain it. A lot of dogs don’t get to that 3rd level because they have to have drive and good nerves.
T: What kinds of dogs do this?
J: It has a lot of police dogs. It’s a lot of the same stuff. Randy (dog breeder) trained police dogs, bomb dogs, etc. Schutzund is like a sport, rather than a profession. You get people all around the world that just have a love for nice dogs. They even breed for these things. That’s why German german shepherds are better than American german shepherds.
T: How do you think Naz (current dog) would do?
J: I think he would be excellent. He’s too old now. When he was younger, he needed more maturity. But when he was younger, you guys had sports and events. For schutzund, that is your main sport. Naz wasn’t aggressive at first, but he had solid nerves. The aggression has grown in now and he’s a very good protector.
T: What is his background?
J: His mother was a border dog in the Czech Republic. She was intense. Those dogs are always known for being crazy. The border dogs would just take you down. She was an IPO 3, which is what the police dogs are usually rated on. Usually they never reach level 3. That temperament is perfect for the job of protecting the border. But his father was a sport dog. That’s where he gets his nerves and his goofy personality. He can’t necessarily protect you, but he can get all the points. He has really really good German lines. He’s like a Ferrari. So, if I wanted to do Schutzhund with him, I’d probably do well. That’s why he’s just an overall good dog. That’s that combination of IPO 3 and sport dog. Only thing wrong with him is his damn allergies, but other than that he’s perfect.
T: How long did you do it?
J: I probably did it for 10 years.
T: Would you ever think of doing it again?
J: Ummmmm, too time consuming. You have to get up on the weekends and get to a field at 6 am for tracking. The way the bay area is, you run out of open fields. There’s just not open fields anymore. It’s just really hard. If I lived in the Midwest or something, I probably would because there are more places. In the bay area, tracking is just too hard. And other people are looking for tracking too and you have to make sure to go places where they haven’t stomped all over.
T: Well thanks for letting me interview you today. It’s very interesting to learn more about Schutzhund as a sport and your hobby in general.
J: Of course. You should definitely also look up videos online to get a better sense.”