What is the BH in Schutzhund?
The BH test evaluates the dogs obedience and temperament.
“BH” stands for Begleithundprufung in German, translating to “traffic-sure companion dog test” . It is also known as a Companion dog title and includes things like on and off leash heeling, recalls, basic commands, and some real life situations in a public traffic evaluation and environment. The BH is a prerequisite title for dogs and handlers that may want to earn IGP titles in the future or as a stand alone title and achievement for committed teams.
What Dogs Can Participate in The BH Test?
The sport of Schutzhund is traditionally dominated by German Shepherd Dogs and Belgian Malinois, but any dog of any size or breed is welcomed in testing for their BH. According to AKC, the title BH is a suffix title for “basic companion dog”. The participating dog must also be at least 15 months of age, well trained, and having the correct temperament.
There are some exceptions to those who can participate and can be excluded from the trial. These exceptions are pregnant or nursing females, sick or contagious dogs, and those that put other dogs and handlers at risk.
What Are The 4 Parts Of The BH Test?
The United Schutzhund Clubs of America (USCA) requires all first time handlers of the BH to pass a written exam where most of the questions are relevant to the elements and exercises of the rest of the test. But there are also some rules about the rules and regulations of the USCA. The current exam has 35 questions of true and false along with multiple choice. The handler must get 28 of 35 (80%) correct to pass the exam.
Before the dog and handler are allowed to start their BH, the dog must go through a temperament test that involves an identity test and observation of the dog.
To start, the handler brings the dog on a loose leash heel to the judge without using any commands for the judge to check the tattoo or microchip number of the dog to verify the team's trial documents. During this identification process, the dog must be comfortable and calm while being touched. During this, the judge evaluates and observes the dogs traits and behaviors; looking for self-confidence, quietness, attentiveness, friendliness, impartialness and more. If the dog fails this part of the test, the team may not proceed with the rest of the BH. The judge can also disqualify the dog during any part of the test for a faulty temperament even after initial evaluation of their temperment.
The obedience portion of the test includes heeling on and off leash, sit out of motion, down with recall, and a long down with distractions. Each exercise is worth points, and the dog and handler must receive a 42 out of 60 (70%) to pass the test.
Heeling On Leash: 15 Points
Heeling Off Leash: 15 Points
Sit Out Of Motion: 10 Points
Down With Recall: 10 Points
Long Down With Distractions: 10 Points
About Turn (180 Degrees)
It’s important to say, that the team must start and end every exercise in the basic position which is the dog sitting on the left side of the handler with the dogs shoulder at the handler’s knee. Group is where the team heels through a group of people on and off leash. The team must heel the dog around at least 2 people in a figure 8 like motions and stop next to a person. The handler is allowed to praise their dog after the exercises are done and commands may be said only at the beginning of each exercise or starting a portion of the exercise. The team may loose points for the the dog lagging, forging, or heeling too wide or far away from the handler. Slow or hesitant turns from the handler may also be faulted. The heeling portion on and off leash includes the team walking at a normal pace, slow pace, and fast pace. The team may also wait for the “okay” or “go ahead” from the judge to start the next exercise.
You can find more information and in depth rules of the test in regards Working Dog Trial Official Rule Book. https://www.germanshepherddog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/2016-USCA-Rulebook-SmallVersion-1.3-3.pdf
This part of the test does not take place on the training field. The goal of this part of the test is to see how the dog behaves around people, dogs, cars, or any other real life things the team may encounter. There is no points given for this portion of the test and is determined by a pass or fail of the overall performance of the dog. The judge may modify the testing encounters, but these are the most commonly used and tested.
Encounter With A Group Of People
First the dog and handler team walks on leash to a group of at least 6 people. The dog must follow willingly on a loose leash and be indifferent towards the group members. Then one one member of the group will talk to and greet the handler with a handshake. The handler is allowed to tell the dog to sit or lie down in a calm state during this interaction.
Encounter With A Bicyclist
With a similar set up as the group, the dog must also manage having a person on a bike present riding around the dog. The handler will walk the dog on a loose leash as the bicyclist passes them by. They have to come back and do it once more. The dog is expected to stay calm as the rider passes.
Encounter With Cars
While the hander-dog team passes a car, the driver will start the engine and another will slam a door closed. Another person will ask for directions out their window. The handler is allowed to ask the dog to lie down or sit as long as the dog stays calm and indifferent during the duration of the exercise.
Encounter With Joggers
The team will also encounter joggers or skaters. The handler will walk with the dog down the road as the joggers or skaters pass them from behind and towards the handler and dog. The dog must heel on the leash and not bother the people passing by. The handler can also opt to have the dog lie down or sit during the encounter.
Encounter With Other Dogs
This last encounter consists of another handler with a neutral dog to pass by the testing team while walking both ways. The dog must be neutral to the passing by dog. The handler is allowed to use a heel command or opt to have the dog in a sit or down behavior.
Behavior Of Leashed Dog Toward Another Animal When Left Alone
After a short on leash walk down a sidewalk, the handler will attach their dog's leash to something that is sturdy like a pole or fence. Once tied, the dog will be left alone while the handler goes out of sight. The dog can stand, lie down, or sit while the pedestrian with a dog walks by about 5 paces away. The testing dog must remain calm and not show any signs of aggression toward the other dog. Then the handler may come back and pick up the dog when cued by the judge.
Each participants must follow the instructions of the judge and the trial committee
Dogs must perform the exercises with focus, attentiveness, and willingness
Ill-natured actions and poor sportsmanship are not allowed and can lead to disqualification
No verbal or physical corrections are allowed and can result in disqualification or deductions
No training aids are allowed besides leash, fur saver, and flat collar
All handlers must state till the end of the event
Dog must wear an appropriate collar and the handler must carry a lead during the whole trial
Dogs must be able to be approached and touched at any time
How To Prepare & Train For The BH
BH Routine & Pattern
First, the handler must be confident in the exercise patterns and what they need to do without a dog before bringing the dog into the training. Practice walking the patterns, counting steps, and practicing turns so that it becomes automatic. When adding the dog in, make sure the training is enjoyable and motivating, rewarding the dog frequently and breaking the exercises down into sections. Keep in mind that in trial a handler can not use food or training aids, but that shouldn’t stop the wander from using toys, food, and training aids when practicing. The handler should adapt to both their own and their dogs pace and conditions to make sure the dog stays calm but having fun throughout the routine.
Join A Club
There are lots of local clubs to join if the handler is new to Schutzhund. Talking to experienced handlers and trainers is the biggest resource and insight into the best ways to train and prepare for the test. At a club, the handler will also have the chance to run through the routine and patterns in a similar environment.
Other preparation ideas include but are not limited to, studying for the written exam, reviewing the rule book, watching videos, attending a trial in person, breaking down the obedience into small steps, and practicing the routine and behaviors in all types of environments and situations.
How to Participate In The BH
Once the handler-dog team is ready to take the test, they must become a member of a Schutzhund organization and find a club or even near them to enter in a trial. If the team already belong to a club, they club leader or members may be able to point the team in the direction of an upcoming trial or event that they may also be attending.