IGP (Internationale Gebrauchshund Pruefung) previously known as IPO or Schutzhund started at the beginning of this century as a test for working dogs. Its initial purpose was to determine which dogs had true working ability and therefor be suitable for breeding.
The growing demand for working dogs made more sophisticated tests and training necessary. These dogs were needed for police training, border patrol, customs, military and herding.
Now, many decades after the first formal IGP rules were introduced, tens of thousands of people participate in the sport each year.
IGP tests three specific areas of a dog’s training and behavior. The first, tracking, requires the dog to track footsteps over mixed terrain, change direction and show absolute accuracy and commitment to finding the track. It must also locate dropped articles and indicate on their locations to the handler. Many find tracking to be the most satisfying experience in training, when only the handler and dog are working together. It is certainly the most peaceful part of IGP.
The second phase is obedience. Those who are familiar with KC obedience will feel more comfortable in this area, as many of the exercises are similar to those in Open and Utility. There is heeling, both on and off lead. The sit, down and stand are also done, except when the dog is moving.
Some exercises require the dog to work under the noise of a firing gun. In addition to the normal dumbbell retrieval, the dog must retrieve over a one meter jump and a six foot “A”-Frame. Down stays and a long send away conclude the test.
The final test is the most misunderstood by the general public. This is protection. The most important point to understand when watching a protection routine, is the relationship between dog and handler. The dog must never bite the trial helper, unless either the dog or the handler is attacked. Then it must attack fully and without hesitation. But here the real difference becomes apparent. The dog must stop biting on the command of the handler and guard the trial helper without further aggression. Often people confuse IGP protection training with police dog or personal protection work. The IGP dog is capable of the feats of never being aggressive except under those specific situations it is trained to face, and even then it must always be under the absolute control of the handler.
The tests are difficult enough, but to make it even more demanding, they all happen in one day during competitions that are held all over the country. These trials are held by local clubs or in regional and national championships. Each dog is judged by a complex point system that then determines the winner of the trial.
When a dog successfully completes the first trial, it is awarded the title of BH. The BH test your general control in the Obedience part as well as testing the Temperament of your dog under every day situations like encountering joggers, bikes, cars and strangers. If successfully passed both phases it can then progress to IGP1, IGP2 and, the ultimate, IGP3.