Club Origins and Our Founder:

There was a beginning…. The very first thing that happened was that Joyce met Johann (Hans) Platt in Austria. He introduced her to the sport of schutzhund and impressed her with his love and understanding of dogs. Equally impressive was his love for the sport. Hans is a world class competitor, having appeared in more world championships than any other person. Joyce ending up buying a male puppy from Johann’s dog, and the rest is pretty much history. Joyce named this puppy “Sulton”, and he was not only to become her first truly beloved German Shepherd, but he was also the first dog Joyce titled to SchH III.

Joyce named the club after Johann, who still competes successfully at the highest level of the sport. It had long been Joyce’s hope to compete in another world event and meet Hans as a fellow competitor. That almost happened in 1997 at the FCI World Championship, except that in the final trial to determine the Austrian team, Hans’ dog finished third. Only the first two dogs became eligible for the World event.

After meeting Hans and becoming fanatics about the sport, Joyce returned to America and started a club, which became fully sanctioned under the auspices of the United Schutzhund Clubs of America.

Joyce is the founder of our club Johann Platt Schaeferhunde Verein, our training director, and our inspiration. Without Joyce, there would be no club, no learning schutzhund, no learning “feeling” for our dogs, no titling of dogs, and no learning to laugh at ourselves. Joyce is without question one of the top dog handlers and teachers the United States has to offer the sport of schutzhund.

Joyce trains three weeks every year with the top dog sport handlers and coaches in Belgium and Germany. For the past several years, Joyce has trained almost exclusively with Roger Snollaerts, who is one of the top dog handlers in Belgium. Roger has been number one in the World numerous times, and he is one of the few people in the World that can take a puppy and train it to World Competition level. Roger has been the Captain and head schutzhund trainer for many countries including Belgium, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Sweden just to name a few. This provides Joyce an opportunity to not only train with her long standing friends, but to keep up with the latest training techniques used in top sport. Joyce’s strongest asset with regards to training is that she has a “feeling” with all animals, especially dogs, that is truly a gift. Not to mention her undying patience with her students of schutzhund. We will always be grateful to Joyce for the love of schutzhund dog sport she impressed upon us, and most importantly, for the love of our dogs she has impressed upon us.

Among Joyce’s numerous accomplishments was representing her country by competing on the FCI World Team in 1999 with Dachs von Listor, titling numerous dogs to SchH III, and most importantly, helping countless others title their dogs from SchH I – SchH III.

What is Schutzhund?

Schutzhund literally translated means “protection dog” or “shield dog”.
Through common usage in the United States, Schutzhund has come to mean the activities or trials leading to the title of Schutzhund, to designate a titled working dog. although schutzhund is a dog sport, it is first and foremost a breeding requisite.Titling a dog offers proof of a high degree of intelligence, physical prowess, lack of physical defects, and the possession of a very even temperament. The very least of which, the dog demonstrates conclusively that they are not people or dog aggressive. The dogs also demonstrate that they possess the highest desirable characteristics of a German Shepherd.

The Johann Platt Schafferhund Verein (verein, incidentally, means club) is an affiliated USA club. USA in this case stands for United Schutzhund Clubs of America. This organization is primarily a German Shepherd Dog organization, but many members have other breeds as well; and they trial and title these other breeds at USA events. As an affiliated USA club, we work under VDH rules. The titles we may award, Schutzhund, German Shepherd Dog breed surveys, and conformation rankings are recognized internationally through the Verein fur Deutsh Schaferhunde (SV) of Germany and the World Union of German Shepherd Dog Clubs (WUSV).

What does Schutzhund involve? It is in effect a triathlon for the dog and handler, for much physical and mental stress is placed on both dog and handler. The first phase involves tracking; the tracks (simply a person walking one of several designated patterns) vary in length depending on the title sought. The person who lays, or walks the track will also drop several articles, pieces of wood, plastic, leather, cloth, or metal. This track, once laid, must age from 20 minutes to an hour for Schutzhund tracks. For more advanced tracking titles, i.e. FH, they must age even longer. Once the proper amount of time elapses, the handler, dog, and judge report to the start of the track. For Schutzhund I dogs both the handler and judge know where the track actually is; for all other titles only the judge knows where the track is.

The handler brings his dog to the start of the track and gives the command such, or seek. The dog must follow the track with his nose in a very precise manner. Very often the track goes over uneven rough terrain, tacking from two to four turns. The dog must never be distracted or raise his head while tracking. Once he comes upon an article, he must indicate it in one of several ways. The most typical way is to lay down, straight on the track with the article between his two front legs. The track continues in this fashion until the dog indicates the last article.

The second phase involves obedience. There are several routines the dog and handler must complete satisfactorily. The first for Schutzhund I and II dogs is heeling on leash, then heeling through a group on lead, heeling off lead through a group, heeling off lead, sit out of motion, down out of motion with a recall. Schutzhund III dogs complete only the heeling exercises off lead, but have added a standing stay and a running stay with recall. All Schutzhund dogs must complete a retrieve on the flat and a retrieve over a meter hurdle. Schutzhund II and III’s must also retrieve over a wall. The final exercise for all dogs is the voraus, or send away. These exercises demonstrate the dog’s ability to work with the handler and to remain totally under control.

The third phase is protection. This also follows a definite pattern with district requirements. The dog is not allowed to bite except when the handler is attacked and then when the helper is subdued the dog must release the bite and resort to protecting the handler. Most of this routine is obedience rather than biting. The dog demonstrates a clear head and again the ability to work with the handler, always under control. This phase also demonstrates a dog’s courage, an important trait of German Shepherds.