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This article by Ray Reid appeared in the SEPT - OCT 1996 issue of DVG AMERICA National Schutzhund Magazine



The deployment of rescue dogs and, therefore, also their training, is included in the Civilian Civil Defense program (disaster control). People have found that through the use of well-trained dogs, both in the case of disasters and also in less harmful incidents, a greater possibility exists to more quickly and reliably locate people buried alive or who are missing than was previously the case.

Fast and reliable locating means rescue deployment without loss of time, which means a greater chance of finding the missing person alive. For this reason, the organizations of the Civilian Civil Defense-Disaster Control devote themselves to the training of rescue dogs and to maintaining rescue dog teams. The Committee for Breed and Working Dog Organizations (AZG), as trustee of the working dog nature, has taken on the task of regularly nominating handlers and dogs which are qualified to pass a rescue dog test, in order to be able to call upon them in case of a catastrophe. In order to locate suitable dogs, the AZG created a Rescue Dog Suitability Test which has been in force since May 1, 1958. After a period of more than 20 years in force, this test has undergone a revision in accordance with the most modern knowledge of today's use of rescue dogs and, accordingly, has been rewritten.

Dogs of all breeds are allowed which are capable physically and in their other natural abilities to take such a test, and have good temperament and good scenting ability at their disposal. Proof of physical suitability is established by passing a conditioning test. Age of admission is 14 months.

The trial is to be regarded as passed, if, besides passing the conditioning test, [the dog] scores a minimum of 70% of the maximum attainable points in parts "Tracking under Distraction" and "Obedience Performance under Distraction", respectively. Only AZG judges are authorized to administer [the test]; in SV trials, only SV judges. A training title in the sense of breed and breed selection regulations of the pure breed dog breed clubs is not awarded.

The trial classifications are divided into:

1. The Conditioning Test

2. Tracking under Distractions

3. Obedience under Distractions

If, in the individual exercises Divisions 2 and 3, the performance of the dog is not rated in each of these with 70% of the respective maximum attainable points, the trial is regarded as failed and the dog is disqualified from further participation in the trial.

A total score or rating in parts 1 through 3 is not given. The rating is made as "Passed" [Bestanden] or "Failed" [Nicht Bestanden].

1. Conditioning Test

A 10 km [6.2 miles] trotting course over a period of time of about 70 minutes, in which the dog may show neither physical harm nor signs of being fatigued.

The details in the execution of this test are left up to the member clubs and organizations of the AZG. Passing of the Conditioning Test is to be confirmed in writing and is a prerequisite for further participation in the Rescue Dog Test.

The Conditioning Test must precede parts 2 and 3, but it is not bound by the trial date of a Rescue Dog Suitability Test.

A passed AD of the AZG takes the place of the Conditioning Test.

2. Tracking under Distractions

Maximum points = 100; Commands - "Track", "Find" [Such]

Search on a 10 meter long tracking line for two lost articles on a track of about 600 to 700 paces long, aged a minimum of 30 minutes that has been laid by a stranger. [Note: Below in paragraph 3, the rules state that the track may be run on a 10 meter tracking line or with the dog tracking off lead.]

The stranger laid track contains 2 corners, which should be acute or obtuse, proceeding, however, otherwise without a set pattern. The legs do not need to go in a straight line, but should be adapted in their course to the terrain or shape of the vegetation. In every case, the judge determines the course of the track during adaptation to the available tracking fields. The start position of the track must be well marked and well represented. After the track layer has lingered on the start of the track a period of time, he goes in the direction stipulated by the judge and lays down the article approximately in the middle of the second leg, without interrupting his pace. The second article is placed at the end of the track. The tracklayer continues in a straight line for several paces [at the end of the track] so as to return out of the way of the track.

Shortly before the dog starts the track (i.e., about 5 minutes before), a fire* that produces heavy smoke is to be ignited to the side of the starting point at a distance of approximately 50 paces. The smoke must cross the track. The distance of the fire to the track is to be so selected that the heat level is tolerable for the dog. If the dog exhibits fear about the fire, even though the heat is tolerable, the trial cannot be passed. The handler can run the track with the dog on a 10 meter long tracking line or with the dog tracking off lead. Both methods will be scored the same.

*Local group and branch clubs which hold a Rescue Dog Suitability Test must obtain official authorization for the igniting of a fire the produces heavy smoke.

Execution Requirements:

The tracklayer must show the articles to be used to the judge before laying the track. Only useful articles, well scented by the tracklayer, may be used, which do not exceed the size of a wallet and do not contrast substantially in color from the land. So-called "scent packets" are not to be used in trials. However, coin purses, glass cases, etc. come in handy. The dog and handler must remain out of sight while the track is being laid. The track scent shall not be altered, if possible, when placing the articles. The tracklayer may not scuff [his feet] or halt. The articles should be placed on the track, not next to it.

Meanwhile, the handler prepares his dog to track. After being called, he reports with his dog to the judge and states if his dog indicates or picks up the articles. Both together, picking up and indicating, are incorrect. At the judge's instruction, the dog is led slowly and calmly to the start position and started. The handler is to refrain from using any compulsion before tracking, during the start and throughout the entire working of the track. At the start, the dog is given enough time to take the scent. Anything that raises in the dog the urge to charge forward is to be avoided.

The dog is to take the scent calmly and with a deep nose. As soon as the dog begins to track, the handler remains in place and lets the tracking line slide through his hands. He follows the dog and maintains the distance of 10 meters, whether tracking on or off lead.

The tracking line may sag, so long as the handler doesn't let go.

As soon as the dog has found the article, he must immediately pick it up or convincingly indicate it without any influence from the handler. If the dog picks up the article, it may stand still, sit down or return to the handler. Moving forward after picking up the article or picking it up while lying down are both incorrect. The dog may indicate by standing, sitting or lying down. The handler drops the tracking line and goes immediately to his dog. By raising the article in the air, the handler shows that the dog has found it. Then the dog and handler resume tracking. After completing the track, the handler shows the articles found to the judge.


Incorrect starts, casting, frequent circling at the corners, constant encouragement [on the part of the handler], inaccurate picking up or indicating of the articles, dropping of the articles, will result in a deduction of up to 4 points. Multiple starts, severe casting, tracking with a predominately high nose, impetuous tracking, voiding on the track, mousing and the like results in deductions of up to 8 points. For false picking up or indication, four (4) points will be deducted; for each article not found, 10 points will be deducted.

Overshooting the corner is not an error because, depending on wind direction and strength, the track scent is carried beyond the corner.

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3. Obedience under Influences

1. Off Lead Heeling (15 points)

Command: "Heel" (Fuß)

Out of the basic position, the dog must follow his handler happily.

The execution of the exercise takes place at the judge's instruction, i.e., the turns and changes of pace will be directed by him.

The exercise is to be shown extensively in normal, slow and fast paces. In all three gaits two right, left and about turns are to be performed. The heel command is only permitted in the start from the basic position and at the changes of pace. The "Halts" are not shown, in order to show distinction from Schutzhund trials.

The dog must stay constantly with the shoulder blade at knee level on the left side of the handler. The dog should not forge, lag or go sideways. Forging, lagging, sideways deviation as well as hesitant pauses by the handler in the turns are faulty.

During this exercise, two or three (2 or 3) shots are to be fired at a distance of 10 meters. The dog must act indifferent to the gunshots. If the dog exhibits gunshyness, it is immediately disqualified from the trial. If the dog exhibits aggression to the gunshots, this is partially faulty, provided that the dog still remains under the handler's control. Full points can only be awarded to the dog that is indifferent to the gunshots. Also during the entire exercise, loud noises are to be produced by, for example, dropping a board, a metal trash can or other similar items. The dog must also be unaffected as regards to these noises. If the dog appears fearful or anxious at the disturbing noises, it is disqualified from the trial. If the dog shows aggression, this is partially incorrect provided that the dog remains under the handler's control.

Special value is to be placed on the dog's indifference to gunshots and indifference as regards to the disturbing noises.

2. Going through the Group (10 points)

Command: "Heel" (Fuß)

After completing the off lead heeling exercise, the handler, with the dog heeling off lead on the left side, must pass several times through a group of a minimum of 5 moving people. The exercise is to be carried out extensively. Here, also, the dog must show itself to be impartial.

If the dog exhibits aggression towards a gesticulating person, this is partly incorrect. It is up to the judge to decide if the dog remains under the handler's control.

If the dog exhibits worry or shyness, it is disqualified from the trial.

3. Obstacles (5 points)

After leaving the group, the handler and dog are to climb over three (3) 30 to 40 cm [11.7 to 15 inches] high obstacles which must differ from one another.

Disobedient behavior by the dog (for example, refusing to climb over [the obstacles], leaving the handler) is faulty.

4. Wooden Plank (10 points)

After this, the dog is led over a 4.5 meter long [14.8 feet long] by about 40 cm wide [15.6 inches wide] wooden plank, sprinkled with small gravel. It stands about 40 cm [15.6 inches] from the ground, i.e., at both ends, the foundation is laid so that it gives somewhat because of the body weight of the dog. The dog must go over the entire plank without appearing apprehensive. The exercise may be repeated once if the dog leaves the plank. If the dog again doesn't make it to the end of the plank, the exercise is scored with zero [0] points.

5. Down (10 points)

Command: "Down" (Platz)

Following exercise #4, the dog is so downed that it is situated at a distance of about 30 to 40 meters [33 to 44 yards] from the group that is lined up for the next dog to perform. The handler remains in sight of the dog and has to move with the group during the performance of the next dog. The dog on the down may only be picked up by his handler at the judge's command, when the dog working has climbed over the obstacles. (Exercise 3)

If only a single dog is performing, the judge is to suitably improvise.

If the dog stands or sits, but stays at the down location, this is incorrect. If the dog leaves the down location before the conclusion of Exercise 3 by the dog working, the exercise is scored with zero (0) points.

6. Impartiality [Temperament] (10 points)

Special value is placed on the impartiality of the dog as it relates to interfering noises (shots, other intense noises) during the entire obedience performance. Scoring of the impartiality extends therefore over all of the exercises. Only the completely impartial dog can receive the full number of points. If the dog reacts slightly to the background noises, only a partial score is to be awarded.

Total Points of the Obedience Performance:

Off Lead Heeling

15 points

Going through the Group

10 points


5 points

Wooden Plank

10 points


10 points


10 points




60 points

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