IGP (Previously known as IPO or Schutzhund) is a challenging three part sport (tracking, obedience and protection) which was originally designed as a breed test for the German Shepherd, and has grown in to a popular sport. The first stage is to pass the BH (Begleithund) or companion dog test which is a combination of obedience and temperament, after which there are three titles, IGP1, 2 and 3. Titles are awarded following the assessment of each dog and handler by a specialist judge. A dog must pass all three phases (tracking, obedience and protection) in a single trial with a minimum score of 70% in each phase to be awarded a title. IGP2 and IGP3 titles involved the same three phases and same minimum score but with additional exercises that become increasingly more difficult at each level.
Tracking tests scentwork, concentration, and a dogs ability to apply themselves to the exercise in a specific manner throughout the test. A track is laid with three small articles over a distance, varying according to the level of the title. The handler directs their dog to follow the track on a 10 metre leash, with the dog locating and indicating each article, and the performance is evaluated by the judge.
Obedience is carried out in a large field, with two dog and handler teams, one in a down position whilst the other dog works. The test involves a gun shot test, several heelwork exercises, sit, down and stand out of motion, several recalls, retrieving a dumbbell on the flat, over a 1 m hurdle and over an A frame, and a sendaway. The judge gives a grade according to speed, accuracy collaboration with the handler and enthusiasm to work.
Protection requires an assistant ‘Helper’ or ‘Decoy’ to test the courage of the dog to protect itself and its handler. The helper, wearing a heavily padded sleeve on one arm, carries a padded stick with which to threaten the dog. The dog, under direction of the handler, searches in hides for the helper and indicates a find by barking continuously, guarding the helper and preventing him from moving until the handler arrives. A series of further exercises follow where the helper is directed by the handler to move around the field and makes various attempts to escape, attack the dog, attack the handler and is escorted to the judge. Failure of the dog to comply with the handler’s commands results in a disqualification.
In order to compete you will need to join a working dog club, and if you are ready to train regularly and to obtain a score book, you will need to apply for membership with the GSDL Working Dog Group