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Things To Do With a ‘Nut…

Obedience Competition

Obedience competitions are sponsored by several different organizations, including the AKC, UKC, and ASCA. For exercises and rules, see the Obedience pages I’ve included in my “Links.”

Agility Competition

Agility competitions are sponsored by several different organizations, including the AKC, UKC, USDAA (US Dog Agility Assoc.), NADAC (North American Dog Agility Club) and even USPCA (US Police Canine Assoc.). For exercises and rules, see the Agility pages I’ve included in my “Links.”

Flyball & Scent Hurdle

Flyball and Scent Hurdle are fast-paced, exciting relay races for dogs. In both sports, dogs race over four hurdles to pick up an item, then race back. In flyball, after racing over the hurdles, the dog presses a lever which throws a tennis ball into the air. Once the dog catches the ball, he returns over the jumps. In scent hurdle, the dog races over the hurdles to a pile of dumbbells, one of which has his handler’s scent on it. The dog must identify the right dumbbell and retrieve it over the jumps.


Schutzhund is a sport that originated in Germany in the early 1900s. Literally translated, it means “protection dog.” The sport covers three areas of training– tracking, obedience, and protection. Dogs start out by earning a Begliethunde (B) that certifies basic obedience and sound nerves. Once the dog has a B, he can begin earning titles. There are three levels of schutzhund competition, and three auxilliary tests. Schutzhund I, II, and III are advancing levels of tracking, obedience, and, protection. Auxilliary titles include the Wachthunde (WH)–watchdog, Fahrtenhund (FH 1 & 2)–advanced tracking tests, and the Ausdauerpruefung (AD)–12 mile endurance test.

In the US, schutzhund is governed by the United Schutzhund Clubs of America (USA), DVG America, and also by the American Working Dog Federation (AWDF).

Ring Sports

The Ring Sports are younger on the American scene, but have a long history in Europe. There are different but similar ringsport competitions in various countries. The most standardized include the French Ring, Campagne, Belgian Ring (two flavors: St. Hubert and NVBK), and Mondioring.

French Ring typifies the Ring Sports. It is very demanding, both physically and mentally. Competition includes obedience, agility, and protection work. Dogs start out by earning a Brevet (BTr), which includes basic obedience and protection work. Then dogs move on to the challenges of French Ring I, II, and III. Control is stressed in all levels, and except for the heel on leash exercise, no collars or leads are used on the dog at any time. French Ring competition includes some very impressive demonstrations of agility, including a vertical climbing wall (palisade) that can be as high as 7.5 feet, a broad jump as long as 14 feet, and a long attack that includes a recall at the last moment.

Royal Dutch Policedog Association (KNPV)

KNPV work is similar to Ring, but adds water and scentwork. Some of the scentwork includes finding an object in a large wooded area, finding a decoy (bad guy) in a wooded area, and retrieving small articles (i.e. shell casings) dispersed in a large field in a limited time.

Working Trials

Working Trials are new in the US and are not yet established, but have existed in the U.K. for years. In working trials there are five levels, or “stakes.” Dogs start out in the Working Companion Dog stake (WCD) and can advance to the Working Utility Dog stake (WUD), Working Dog (WD), Working Tracking Dog (WTD), and Working Patrol Dog (WPD). In the U.S., the American Working Dog Association is the sponsoring organization.

Working Trials could become an exciting new event in the U.S. Combining aspects of obedience, agility, scentwork, and in patrol level, bitework. The similarity to KNPV exercises is interestng, and this could be a great outlet for the many imported dogs looking for a sport that capitalizes on non-stylized obedience, “turbo-charged” agility, and practical scentwork.

Tracking & Trailing

Tracking and trailing are two activities that develop real teamwork between handler and dog. Unlike obedience or protection work, the handler must rely on his dog’s judgment and nose, and trust that the dog is doing what he’s been asked to. This can be a difficult adjustment for the typical trainer, who is used to leading the dog, not the dog leading the handler.

Tracking competition is sponsored by the AKC, CKC, ASCA, USA, and DVG. In AKC Competition, dogs must first pass a qualifying certification administered by a licensed judge. This simulates a first level (TD) track, and assures that before entry into a trial, dog and handler are ready.

The AKC tracking tests judge the ability of the dog to follow an aged track of a stranger, while indicating articles (i.e. glove) that the tracklayer has dropped. The tests typically include changes of cover and other physical obstacles to really test the dog’s nose. In the advanced level, the TDX, there is also a fresher cross track of another person.

Still young and growing is the AKC Variable Surface Test, which tests tracking in urban situations over surfaces like asphalt, concrete, etc…This is the first test of its kind, and it is attracting attention from law enforcement and SAR groups, as well as civilian dog trainers.

The schutzhund tracking tests are similar to the AKC’s, although slightly easier. The Schutzhund 3 track roughly compares to the TD test, and the Schutzhund FH1 to the TDX.

Scent Work

Article Search refers to the process of a dog searching a specified area for scent articles. In KNPV, Working Trials, and some police trials, the dog searches an area for small metal, plastic, cloth, or wooden objects. In KNPV and Working Trials, the dog must retrieve these to the handler in a specified time frame. In police competition, most dogs indicate without disturbing, to preserve evidence integrity.

Though this sounds like hard work, using their nose comes naturally to most dogs, particularly Belgians. Try it some time with a set of keys in tall grass. Using retrieve drive, key the dog up and toss the keys ten or 15 feet away. The dog will probably see it the first time. When the dog is retrieving reliably, cover his eyes when you throw, and let his nose do the work. You’ll be amazed.

Scent Detection refers to the training of dogs that indicate certain scents, for example narcotics, explosives, accelerants, or even contraband food. Dogs are trained to indicate in one of two ways–passive or aggressive. In a passive alert, as is used by explosives, accelerant, and contraband dogs, the dog sits or lays down to indicate the presence of the scent. An aggressive indication, as is used by narcotics dogs, consists of the dog scratching, biting, and pawing at the exact location. This helps pinpoint the finds, and helps keep the search drive high in the dog.

Sledding & Skijoring

A surprising number of Malinois mush, some competitively, usually in two or four-dog sprint races. Probably the best resource to get started in sledding is Sled Dog Central which actually has a Mentors section organized by geography. In my experience, pairing a Malinois with an experienced northern breed leader is an excellent way to move out of the introduction phase of sledding. Few Malinois are hardwired to just run straight for the love of it, but with a good introduction from a seasoned lead dog, they quickly understand the thrill of it.


The Malinut Page is the product of Jona Decker and the 'Nuts of south central Wisconsin.


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