Value of IPO Trials
What is the value of IPO (Schutzhund) competitions? This is a very honest question. The answer to this question is the reason why so many handlers, breeders, and trainers work tirelessly to protect their rights to train their dogs, trial in IPO sports, and own breeds that excel in this sport. These rights are constantly under fire by various groups and individuals who do not understand working dogs, aggression, and the benefit of training and trialing a dog for IPO sport. So what is the value of IPO, and why is it worth defending?
One of the original intents of Schutzhund/IPO was to provide a breeding suitability test that actually tested the genetic strengths of the dog, while also revealing the inherited weaknesses. This allows breeders to have better knowledge of their breeding stock, and also informs them on how to improve their dogs for future generations. Dogs that cannot meet the basic requirements are banned from breeding, preventing those weak genetic traits from entering the gene pool and weakening the breed overall. Training and trialing in IPO ensures that the valuable traits of working breeds–like the German Shepherd Dog–are not lost to future generations.
Without IPO trials, there would be few dogs available with the working traits valued in police dogs. (Roseville PD K9 Eros with his handler during a K9 demo. Photo: Julie Baldwin)
Without IPO/Schutzhund, there would be few breeding animals available with the working traits valued in police dogs, military dogs, Search and Rescue dogs, explosives and narcotics dogs, and more. The traits required for these lines of work are tested and preserved through IPO trials, and it is for the betterment of the working breeds that this sport exists. Without IPO, the dogs that produce these true working dogs would disappear.
Wondering how IPO can be valuable as a hobby or sport? IPO training and trialing are a challenge to both canine and human alike. This sport provides your working dog with a job, with an outlet for his energy. It provides excellent mental and physical stimulation for your dog, and can prevent him from becoming “bored”. This sport also brings up a dog’s confidence, power, and control, and teaches him how to engage and properly direct his power. Furthermore, it places the dog under the direct control of the handler, even when the dog is aroused, excited, and in drive. The end result is a dog with excellent control and obedience to his handler.
Additionally, training for IPO helps develop a proper relationship between you and your dog. Not only is this sport revealing a more complete picture of who your dog is genetically—his temperament, drives, and genetic abilities—but it is also revealing a more complete picture of who you are as a handler. It teaches you how to effectively read your dog’s body language, how to work with him and direct him, how to teach and reward behavior at just the right moment, and how to control him effectively while he is in a state of excitement.
IPO engages us in a unique partnership with another living, breathing creature, and encourages compassion toward other living creatures. (Julie Baldwin)
IPO training and trialing teaches all of us about fairness, good sportsmanship, compassion toward other living creatures. It teaches us to engage in a unique partnership with another living, breathing creature that reflects back to us who we are as handlers. Training and trialing in IPO sport can help us be better human beings, by rooting us more firmly in the beauty and harmony of our relationships with our dogs, and with life as a whole. Isn’t this worth protecting?