Difference between “Sports protection” and Protection Dogs

Difference between “Sports protection” and Protection Dogs


The definition of a sports working dog versus a protection dog is an area that always sparks controversy. The following reflects our view and is by no means definitive. It is also not intended to be a complete summary of working dog sports, but is intended to give a brief view of the sports working dog as opposed to a police or protection dog. There are a number of recognized working dog sports these include Schutzhund (IPO is the international form), KNPV the Dutch Police sports system, Mondio Ring, Belgian Ring, French Ring and in the United States PSA. All of these do not necessarily indicate that a dog is a protection dog in the real sense. When these disciplines are referred to as sports that is indeed what they are. There is a protection phase in the various competitions, some are quite rigorous; but in many cases such as Schutzhund the dogs often look at this as play. In Schutzhund the dog is taught to go for the sleeve, and in fact may be well keyed only on the sleeve. Schutzhund competition is based on very tight form and style. It evaluates through competition certain traits in a dog such as courage, bite capability, obedience and displays aspects of the dogs general temperament. It is not in our opinion a protection dog competition. KNPV is closer in many ways to actual protection dog work, but is still sports. The handling method such as heeling is looser than Schutzhund, in general there is less concentration on style as opposed to getting the job done. KNPV demonstrates the dogs abilities in ways similar to Schutzhund but with a more vigorous protection phase. There are other differences. Schutzhund has considerably more complex tracking than KNPV, where as KNPV features swimming, a more realistic revere exercise, and a recall from attack before the bite. Make no mistake however, a dog with a KNPV PH 1 is not a police dog. Mondio Ring, Belgian Ring and some of the other sports have more aggressive attack and protection phases with quite a few distractions occurring. They can be quite interesting and quite challenging for the dog and the handler. Again these are sports.

The concept of working dog versus protection dog is often misunderstood. People not involved in working dog sports often evince fear when they are confronted with a sports working dog. They think they are dealing with an attack dog. When a dog is protection trained, it is generally capable of many of the facets of the above sports, but far less concentration is put on form as opposed to control and the dogs ability to accomplish its mission. Missions vary depending on the needs of the owner/handler. Police dogs and military dogs often are trained for very different missions. It should be noted that protection dogs are often difficult to cross train into sports; sports dogs may be cross trained to become protection dogs. In doing so, they are most often finished with their “sports career”.

Credit: Siam Crown Kennel

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