VPG - Versatility Trial for Utility/Working Dogs
(Vielseitigkeits Prüfung für Gebrauchshunde)
VPG also previously known as Schutzhund is a dog sport appropriate for most working and some utility dogs. It is a demanding and highly rewarding sport split into 3 parts, Tracking, Obedience and Protection work. Tracking requires the dog to track footsteps over mixed terrain, with changes in direction and show absolute accuracy and commitment to maintaining the track. It must also find dropped articles and indicate their locations to the handler. The length of track varies with the level of training from 400-800 meters.
In Obedience the dog & handler perform a predetermined heel work pattern on and off the lead, with sit down and stand exercises, send away and a dumbbell retrieve on the flat, over a 1m jump and an A-frame.
The exercises require the dog to search a number of “blinds” and find a hidden “criminal” (the helper), warning the handler of his presence by barking and preventing the helper from escaping.
A number of simulated attacks are made by the helper, who wears a protective suit and a padded sleeve.
In protection work the dog shows it’s capability of working under stressful and nervous situations whilst being kept fully under control by the handler.
Biting the sleeve is the reward for the dog - ultimately the sleeve is what the dog wants from the helper, he receives it if he completes the exercise in the right manner.
In this exercise, the relationship between dog and handler is the most important, it is the most misunderstood by the general public and often thought of as mistakenly making a dog aggressive and teaching them to bite.
Schutzhund was developed at the beginning of the 1900s as a breeding evaluation test for German Sheperd dogs.
With the introduction of other suitable working and guard dog breeds, like our Giant Schnauzers, the test was adapted by the German police and military for evaluation of service dogs.
After the second WW, a few dog sporting friends in various parts of the country founded local dog training clubs and based their training on the evaluation training of the police and military.
The sport has changed over the past decades, with increasing focus on the welfare of the dog in all training methods and better developed exercises. This has turned Schutzhund into an internationally recognised sport.
Today, especially on the continent, for some working breeds a working title is still required for breeding,
Due to breeding for conformation only, some working breeds are loosing their mental and physical capabilities to perform the tasks they were created for.
For those wishing to train and compete at the top level finding the right dog can be a challenge, and finding a training club can be another challenge on top.
At the moment there are only around 30 training Clubs in the UK, however the number is slowly increasing from year to year.