What is IPO Dog Training

IPO dog training
Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Justin Connaher

IPO is an acronym for Internationale Prüfungs-Ordnung which means the International Trial Rules. IPO dog training is a dog sport that started in Germany in the early 20th century. IPO is also known as Schutzhund which is a German word for “protection dog”. This sport is used to test a shepherd dog to find out if it possesses acceptable traits and characteristics.

During that period, the German Policeman was known as the Schutzmann while his dog was known as the Schutzhund.

If a dog possesses the required traits of a German Shepherd dog, its breed becomes suitable for the IPO titles.

The IPO Dog Training

What is IPO dog training?

IPO training is a type of dog sport that develops and evaluates the traits in dogs that can make them happier and more useful companions. This dog sport gives an opportunity to dog owners to effectively train their dogs and then compete. This enables them to recognize the ability of dog owners to train their dogs and the ability of the dog to be trained.

It is suitable for people from all social classes, of all ages and disabilities. Most times, Schutzhund can be a family sport.

What is the BH test in IPO dog training?

The BH test is called the Begleithundprüfung (BH) which means the Traffic-sure companion dog test. Before a dog proceeds to undergo tests for the IPO titles, they must pass the test for temperament. This BH test examines the dog’s basic obedience, reaction to loud noises, confidence around other dogs, and around strange people. Any dog that shows fear, excessive panic, aggression and is easily distracted cannot be allowed to participate in the Schutzhund.

IPO Dog Training Titles

What are the IPO Dog training titles?

There are 3 Schutzhund titles. They are IPO1, IPO2, and IPO3. IPO3 is the most advanced title while IPO1 is the least advanced.


How can a dog qualify for IPO1?

Before a dog enrolls for the tests for this title, they must be 18 months old or older. The dog must also pass the temperament test, heel when off-leash, demonstrate the walking sit, the stay, the send out and the walking down test. They must also retrieve a target on a flat surface and also over a hurdle. The dog must also follow a 20-minute old track laid by its owner. The dog is required to find one object on the track and to make two turns before finding it. The dog must also pass a protection test.


All the IPO1 tests are taken for the IPO2 title but with greater difficulty and requiring more control, endurance, and agility.

How can a dog qualify for IPO2?

The minimum age requirement for the enrolment of a dog for this title is 19 months. The dog must have also earned the IPO1 title. They must pass all the protection and obedience tests taken for the IPO1 title and also pass the IPO2 tests.

What are the tests a dog must pass in IPO2?

The tests involve the retrieval of a target over a 6-foot sloping wall. The dog is also required to follow a track of a stranger, laid 30 minutes ago or earlier. This tracking test requires the dog to discover two objects and make two turns while at it.


What is the IPO3 dog training?

This is the master’s degree and only dogs that are 20 months or older can be enrolled for this title. The dog must also have the IPO1 and IPO2 titles. The tests for this title are quite difficult and are all done off-leash.

What are the tests required to get the IPO3 title?

In addition to the tests for the IPO1 and IPO2, there are additional walking and running tests. The dog is also required to follow a track of a stranger laid an hour earlier, to make four turns and find three objects.

The IPO Dog Tests

What are the tests involved in IPO dog training?

There are three parts of the tests involved in the IPO dog training. They are:

  1. The protection phase,
  2. The obedience phase, and
  3. The tracking phase.

The dog must pass all the phases of the trial and must possess some abilities. Those abilities are solid nerves, instincts, desire, and willingness to collaborate with their owner or trainer.

The dog must also possess drives such as the prey and the fight drives. The prey drive of a dog is the desire of the dog to chase after a moving object when given a visual cue. The fight drive of the dog is the desire of the dog to defeat or subdue the prey.

What is the minimum point required for a dog to get the Schutzhund title?

A dog must pass all the tests in the tracking, obedience, and protection phases with a minimum of 70 points on a 100-point scale before being awarded the Schutzhund title.

The Protection Phase

The protection phase is used to assess the dog’s courage and its ability to protect its owner. The ability of the dog to also yield to control while trying to protect their owner is also important.

How is the protection phase of the IPO dog training test carried out?

The protection phase of the IPO test is carried out by doing the following:

1. The judge collaborates with a helper who acts as a decoy. This person wears a sleeve on an arm.

2. The dog is expected to search different areas of the field until they find the decoy and indicate by barking. The dog must keep the hidden person in a spot and prevent an escape until the owner/handler arrives.

3. The dog is also expected to guard its owner while the decoy is taken back to the judge. The decoy is expected to attack the dog owner/handler and attempt an escape at a specific point of their return to the judge.

4. The dog is expected to attack the decoy by biting the padded arm without hesitation and holding the grip firmly.

5. When the attack by the decoy is foiled, the dog must hold the grip until they are given the command to release. If the dog does not hold the grip till the command is given or continues to hold the grip after the command, they are disqualified.

The dog must express the courage and the ability to obey the owner in the process. Any dog that shows fear, unnecessary aggression, and inability to be controlled or to collaborate with its owner or handler is dismissed.

The Obedience Phase

How is the obedience phase of the IPO3 test carried out?

This phase is made up of different exercises and carried out, two dogs at a time. One dog is tested while the other dog is used as a distraction. The exercise consists of the sit, stand, recall, and retrieve actions. The dog is expected to retrieve from a flat surface, over a hurdle 1 meter high, and over a 2-meter scaling wall.

The dog and the owner are judged based on how fast, precise and enthusiastic the dog was while performing these tasks.

The Tracking Phase

This phase tests the endurance, mental soundness and the scenting ability of the dog.

How is the tracking phase of the IPO training carried out?

1. The person laying the track walks across the field and drops objects at specific points.

2. After the required number of minutes for each title has passed, the dog is directed by the owner/handler to follow the track with a long leash.

3. The dog is expected to find the objects and hold them between the front paws while lying down.

The score of the dog depends on how careful the dog follows the tracks and finds the objects.

How to Get into Schutzhund For Beginners

Schutzhund is a training that improves the traits in dogs that make them a more useful and happier companion to their owners.

There are many feasible ways to start an IPO dog training, but it might seem like a difficult task if you don’t have all the information.

What are the steps to get into Schutzhund dog training?

To get into Schutzhund dog training, do the following:

1. Look for a Schutzhund club near you

2. Get a mentor

3. Understand your dog

4. Be patient

Look for A Schutzchund Club Near You

There are different Schutzhund clubs that have different training styles, ideas, and strategies. It is your duty to search and find the one that suits you and your dog.

It might be easy or difficult to find the one that perfectly suits you and has room for beginners. To qualify to participate in the IPO1 test, it is best to stick with a particular club for at least 2 years.

This is because different clubs have different methods and criteria for judging the exercises involved in these titles.

It is also a clever idea to join the club prior to buying a dog. This is because they can offer useful suggestions and advice that might make it easier to qualify and pass the IPO tests.

Get A Mentor

After joining a local Schutzhund club, the next thing to do is to get a mentor for you and your dog. This mentor’s duty is to make the Schutzhund training an enjoyable experience for you and your canine friend.

The style of mentors differs so it is best to choose a mentor who agrees to your style and understands your plan as a beginner.

There are several reasons for going into Schutzhund and it is particularly important to also know what your reason is. This will enable you to know the mentor to look out for and to recognize one who has similar values.

Understand Your Dog

This is the most important part of getting involved in IPO training. This takes some time and if you have known your dog already, there are still a few things you can find out.

Having a deep knowledge of your dog will help both of you to enjoy the training and understand how well your dog is doing with the exercises.

There are some circumstances you should observe as your dog undergoes the IPO training. You should know what triggers your dog and be on the lookout for them while your dog is in training. Always bear these triggers in mind when giving commands.

It is also important to know your dog’s favorite toys and treats. This will contribute to a smooth and enjoyable training session.

Be Patient

Schutzhund training is rigorous and tough. It is best not to get discouraged when your dog is not doing as well as you desire.

If your dog is young, they can have issues with paying attention to the training for a long time as an older dog would.

If this is the case, it is best to take frequent breaks between sessions and also make the training sessions shorter.

As the dog grows, you can revert to the acceptable and expected procedures. Even when training a younger dog, make sure the commands are concise, clear, and the same throughout the training.

Start the training in a familiar place with little or no distractions then progressively add distractions when the dog can accommodate them.

Always go through old reinforced habits before you introduce new ones. This is to prevent the dog from forgetting the cue words and the actions expected.

Basic Schutzhund Training Equipment

What are the basic Schutzhund training equipment?

The basic Schutzhund training equipment are:

1. All-weather biothane lines

2. Nylon lines

3. Fur saver collar

4. Boetcher harness

5. Tracking objects

6. Nylon aprons

7. Balls and toys

8. Tug toys

9. Schutzhund dumbbells

10. Schutzhund jump

11. Leather leashes

12. Prong and pinch collar

13. Electric collar

14. Schutzhund obedience training videos

15. Schutzhund blinds

16. Schutzhund trial sleeve

17. Sleeve covers

18. Padded Schutzhund trial stick

19. Puppy flirt pole.

All-Weather Biothane Lines

A superior tracking line is suited for Schutzhund, police, and military training under different environmental conditions. It will provide comfort and high performance for the handler. It is quite and long and comes in different break strengths ranging from 375-600 lbs.

It is made from biothane materials that are soft, flexible and 100% waterproof. It is easy to grip even when it is wet and can be wiped clean easily.

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Nylon Lines

This flat nylon webbing line is relatively cheap compared to its performance. It is 1 inch wide and possesses the heavy-duty snap standard design. It can also be used as a dog leash, long line, tracking line, tie-outs, and a protection line. It is available in assorted colors.

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Fur Saver Collar

The fur saver collars are specialty training collars that are not usually sold at pet stores. They are designed to be used instead of choke chains.

They are made of oval-shaped metal rings linked together. They prevent the wearing out of the fur on the dog’s neck.

The metal links of the fur saver can be short or long, and they allow the dog’s fur to easily slip through them without falling off. It is ideal for hairy and double-coated dogs.

It is not only used for long-haired dog breeds but can be used for the training of different breed of dogs.

While choosing a fur saver for your dog, add 2-3 inches to the measurement for slack. If your dog has a large head, make sure that the collar can fit over the dog’s head.

The sized of fur saver collar ranges from 4m 21″ – 4m 27″.

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Boetcher Harness

The boetcher harness is a harness used in training dogs so that they can keep their nose down on the ground during the training session.

The loop of the boetcher harness is worn around the dog and the lower line goes under its belly then clipped to its collar.

The tracking line which runs under its belly pulls the dog’s head towards the ground as the dog moves forward.

There are two ways to wear the boetcher harness. You can clip the leash to the collar and pass it under the dog through the metal ring or clip the leash to the metal ring under the dog. One size of the boetcher harness fits all dogs.

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Tracking Objects

These are articles of various materials that the dog is expected to find during the tracking exercises. A set is an assorted mix of 5 Schutzhund regulation size materials.

Each set should include 1 soft sewn leather, 1 wood piece, 1 black hard leather, 1 colored felt wool, and 1 black felt wool.

Nylon Aprons

This is a strong and durable training apron used in holding treats, tugs, toys, and tracking articles. It has a large pocket and belt that is adjustable.

Balls and Toys

Balls are used as a great reward in dog training, but they can be difficult to carry around or stuff into the pocket.

The hands-free magnet ball allows the dog handler to place the ball anywhere on their body and retrieve them anytime they want to reward their dog. This ball is not suitable for tugging and forceful chewing.

The Magnet Ball Reward System is made with durable rubber and a rope handle and a set of magnets.

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When using the magnet ball, choose a location and place one of the magnets inside your clothing and the other magnet on the same spot outside the clothing.

Simply place the magnet ball over the magnet on the outside of your clothing. When the ball is needed, just reach out to the location, and take it instead of struggling to pull it out of your pocket.

This enables you to give a quick and timely reward during training to ensure that positive behavior is reinforced.

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Tug Toys

Tug toys are designed to keep our dog motivated and excited. They are not chew-toys but are interactive toys instead and a great way to have fun with your dog and teach them to obey.

The bigger dog tugs with a double handle and the grip-building tugs are best suited for improving the targeting abilities of your dog and their grip strength.

The yellow fire hose dog tugs are tough, floatable, and easy to detect. The synthetic, flat-rolled, gripper and braided rope tugs are easy to hide and used as rewards in tracking training.

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Schutzhund Dumbbells

They are crafted from solid wood and are coated with paraffin wax for durability. The paraffin wax makes sure that the wood does not crack or lose moisture.

They are sold as a set or they can be bought individually. A set is made of 3 dumbbells of IPO1 weighing 650g, IPO2 weighing 1000g and IPO3 weighing 2000g.

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Schutzhund Jump

The Schutzhund dog jump is a very strong base made from steel. It has an adjustable height to enable the dog to get over it safely without touching it.

An ideal jump should be easy to set up, take down and carry about.

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Leather Leashes

This is made from soft and supple leather of high quality. The leash is braided with rivets at the ends to add to its strength and beauty.

The softness of the leather feels great on the hands and does not form bruises when used over time. Some lengths have a brass O-ring in the handle.

Prong and Pinch Collar

They are made from metal links that tighten on the dog’s neck when the handler jerks on the lead. They are used by dog trainers as corrective tools.

Prong collar can unhook at any of the links. It is therefore important to wear the dog a backup collar. The slip collar is usually recommended as the backup collar.

There should be enough slack on the backup collar so that the prong collar can function properly. Clip the dog lead to the ring of the prong collar and also on the ring of the backup collar.

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Electric Collar

An e-collar is a training collar that consists of a remote and a receiver that is worn around the dog’s neck.

Electric collars are used to send remote signals to the dog to correct an unruly behavior. There are several types of electric collar with a range of stimulation intensity.

Some electric collar can send either a tone, stimulation sensation, or vibration to the dog.

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Schutzhund Obedience Training Videos

These are visual and audio recordings of live training sessions and detailed steps to follow to achieve the best results in your Schutzhund training.

They also address frequent challenges experienced by dog handlers and how to tackle them.

Schutzhund Blinds

These are used to show a dog the paths to follow in tracking and protection training. It is used to also mark the training area.

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Schutzhund Trial Sleeve

The Schutzhund bite sleeve is used to create a bite zone for the dog. This is to keep the dog centered on the sleeve with strong grips without harming the person involved.

It is padded on its inside with a soft lining and has a plastic handle covered with leather. The top is sometimes made of plastic shaped like the arm and is fully padded.

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Sleeve Covers

They are used to protect the bite sleeve and increase its durability. It is made of two layers of jute that is woven and designed to function as a protective sleeve cover.

Padded Schutzhund Trial Stick

This is usually a lightweight stick that can be extendable and foldable. In dog training, once the dog is able to touch the tip of the stick, it can be used to train the dog to follow the stick and also complete many other training exercises.

Puppy Flirt Pole

Flirt poles are used in building drive in dogs and in stimulating prey. They are used in teaching the dog various actions such as tugging, gripping, and striking. It is recommended for use only on dogs that are up to 4 months old or above 40lbs.

Basic Schutzhund Training Commands

Aus!OwsOut! Let go!
Gib LautGib LawtBark!
Pfui!Foo-eyPay attention
Voraus!For-owsRun out!

Characteristics of An Ideal Schutzhund Dog

There is no perfect Schutzhund dog but there are characteristics that are expected from a Schutzhund dog.

Dogs differ in their area of strength and weaknesses. Their genetic makeup differs and their characters are unique too.

What are the characteristics of an ideal Schutzhund dog?

The characteristics of an ideal Schutzhund dog are:

1. Ability to be trained

2. A character that does not change from time to time

3. Drive and desire to collaborate with the handler

4. A safe level of aggression

5. A protective behavior

6. Desire to work and not get easily distracted

7. Easily motivated

8. Interested in food and playing with toys

9. Natural biting instinct and to firmly hold their grip

10. Strong fighting instinct

11. Courageous

12. Resilience and endurance under stress

Video: IPO Dog Training

Best Schutzhund Dog Breeds

Have you ever wondered if there are dogs that are best suited for the IPO training? A dog owner who is new to the Schutzhund training will always have many questions about the dog that engages in all these difficult exercises.

Since each breed has its strengths and weaknesses, choosing the breed for the training depends on your purposes, preferences, and lifestyle.

Although the Schutzhund training was initially designed for the German Shepherd Dog, there are some other breeds that have the traits for it.

If you have not settled for a particular breed yet or if you are still finding it difficult to make a choice, meet people who are in the training.

Find out the different dog breeds and watch them while they train. Find out the details about the different IPO training dogs and how to compete with them and keep them as companions.

What are the best Schutzhund dog breeds?

There are some breed of dogs that are more suited for IPO training than others. They are:

1. German shepherd dog

2. Belgian Malinois

3. Rottweilers

4. Dobermans

5. Beauceron

6. Belgian Tervueren

7. Boxers

8. American Bulldog

9. Bouvier des Flandres

10. Dutch Shepherds

11. Briards

12. Giant Schnauzers

13. Cane Corso Italiano

14. Airedale Terrier

15. American Staffordshire Terrier

16. Hovawart

17. American Pitbull Terrier

18. Mixed breeds of these.