The obedience phase is very similar to AKC obedience trials, and includes a variety of heeling and field exercises. Unlike in AKC style trials, hand signals are prohibited and the dog must respond to voice command alone. Schutzhund obedience also includes a gun shot test to evaluate the dog’s nerves and sound sensitivity. Dogs that demonstrate gun-shyness, a good indicator of weak character and nerves, are dismissed from the trial.
Heeling is all done off leash, both in the open field and weaving through a group of people. The dog must also perform “out of motion” exercises, in which the heeling dog is commanded to sit, down, and stand while the handler continues to move. Here the dog is required to immediately stop his forward movement and obey the command to sit, down or stand, despite his handler continuing to walk. Recalls are performed as well, and the dog must return to the handler quickly and happily and sit in front, and then to return to heel position at the handler’s left upon command.
The dog must then perform a series of retrieves, using wooden dumbbells of various weights, on flat ground, over a 1-meter hurdle and over a 6-foot slanted climbing wall. The dog is also required to, upon command, run quickly straight away from the handler in the direction the handler indicates, and then lies down immediately with a second command from the handler.
Each dog must also do a long down at one end of the field, with the handler several meters away or, in the case of SchH3, completely out of sight. The dog must remain unmoving in the down position for several minutes, despite distractions, while another dog and handler team performs their heeling and field exercises not far away.
The obedience phase tests the dog’s temperament, nerves, drive, control, trainability and willingness to work with the handler and take direction from the handler despite distraction, commotion and the presence of other dogs working not far away. It also evaluates the dog’s overall physical ability, structural soundness and athleticism.