Protection Rules (USCA)

Assessment of Protection

The most important criteria for the assessment of protection work are:

  • Well balanced drives 
  • Self-confidence
  • Ability to work under pressure; toughness; resilience
  • Steadfast, sound nerves
  • Willingness to take direction (commands), responsiveness to the handler

The Phases of Protection Work

Search and Hold Exercises (including Guarding phases)

  • The dog searches 2 blinds in IPO1, 4 blinds in IPO2, and 6 blinds in IPO3.


  • The dog must show some control and make an attempt to be directed to the first blind for a search, and after coming around each blind the dog should make an attempt at being directed.


  • Handler should walk down field during the blind search at a steady, consistent pace (running or excessive changes of pace are faulty).  


  • The handler must stand still at the position they are on the center line (stop moving down field) when the dog enters the live blind regardless of missed blinds.


  • In the hold and bark exercise the dog should, as it enters the live blind, immediately show a strong "holding" behavior and immediately start barking.  The tone and intensity should be powerful, focused, and continuous.  The dog's position should be close and remain consistent without making contact with the helper (bothering).  The dog should remain unbothered by the approach of the handler.


  • At the judge's signal, the handler shall call out (or pick up - IPO1), the dog from the blind.  When the dog is called out (or picked up), the dog must show immediate response to the handler's command, cease barking and return to the designated area.


  • The escape exercise begins at basic immediately following the call out.  The handler says "helper step out".  The helper steps out of the blind and moves to a designated area.


  • The dog is free heeled to a designated area approximately 5 paces from the helper.  The dog is given the "down" command; the dogs front legs should not cross the designated area.  After the down command the handler backs away - and puts their hand on the blind - showing the dog's ability to watch the helper without the handler present.  The dog should remain calm and watchful.


  • On the judge's signal, the helper will make an attempted escape, immediately as the helper moves the handler must give a "go" command to the dog to release it from the down position.  The dog should, with power and confidence grip and attempt to control/stop the helper from escaping. 

Engagement with the Helper (fighting, pressure, grip, transition)

  • The dog must work energetically and self-confidently in all periods of stress.  The dog must show no negative reaction, it should show steady and confident behavior in its reaction to withstand the helper's attempt to test the dog's courage and hardness during the pressure phase and stick contact.


  • After the helper locks up with a dog on a grip, the handler gives the "out" command.  The dog must let go without assistance from the helper. Handlers may give the first 'out' command on their own without direction from the judge within a reasonable amount of time (less than 4 seconds) from the lockup.  If the dog does not out on the first command, the judge will give a signal for the handler to repeat the command a maximum of 2 more times.  If the dog outs immediately, the handler should still issue the command immediately after the out.


  • Deduction Scoring for outs:  
    • Immediate out - no point deduction
    • Dog outs very slowly, re-grips or bumps - up to 3 points
    • The dog immediately outs on the 2nd command - 3 points
    • The dog outs slowly after the 2nd command, re-grips, or bumps - 3.5 - 6 points
    • The dog immediately outs on the 3rd command - 6 points total
    • The dog outs very slowly on the 3rd command - 6.5 - 9 points total


  • The judge will signal for the handler to approach the dog while the dog is guarding the helper. The handler comes up to the side of the guarding dog and issues the "sit" command and proceeds to the next exercise.

"Controllability" of the dog (obedience, optimal handler-dog relationship)

  • This is evaluated with an influence on the total rating.  No written entry about that is made in the performance book.
  • Requirements are described as being 'Pronounced', 'Present', or 'Insufficient'.
  • Willingness to take direction and showing obedience in the Protection Phase is a requirement.  The dog should be mindful of the handler, following direction yet alert and aware of the helper.


Protection Exercises and Scoring

Search for the Helper (5 Points)

  • With the dog on lead (off lead for IPO3), the handler reports to the judge in basic position, unless the judge instructs otherwise.


  • The handler goes to the centerline between the blinds for his/her level, and takes basic position.  Once basic position is taken, the leash is removed, and the handler raises his/her arm.


  • Upon the judge's return signal, the handler turns to face the first blind they are to search, the dog remains in basic position in a 'sit'.  The handler then gives the dog the "search" command.


  • The handler calls the dog by name and the "here" command as the dog rounds the blind to show directability, when the dog is heading towards the handler, the handler directs them to the next (or final blind).

  

  • The handler is to continue down the centerline in a consistent pace until the dog reaches and enters live blind.  Once the dog enters the live blind, the handler must halt until the judge signals for the handler to come to the call out position.


Hold and Bark (10 Points)

  • The dog must confront the helper actively and attentively and bark continuously.  The dog is not permitted to jump on or grip the helper.  


  • The handler approaches the blind on the judge's signal from the centerline.  On another signal from the judge either a call out or a pickup (IPO1 only) is performed.  The dog is to sit quietly without barking and remain calm.

Prevention of an Attempted Escape (20 Points IPO 1-2; 10 Points IPO3)

  • Upon a signal from the judge, the handler orders the helper out of the blind.  The helper moves to a designated spot.  


  • On a signal from the judge, the handler free heels their dog to a designated place, which is approximately 5 paces from the helper.  


  • The handler issues the "down" command and leaves the dog, returning to the blind.  The dog remains intensely guarding the helper.


  • On the judge's signal, the helper attempts to escape.  The handler gives a "go" command as soon as the helper starts moving.  The dog must make contact and grip within 20 paces.  The dog must grip energetically and strong.


  • On a signal from the judge, the helper stops running and stands still.  When the helper comes to a standstill, the dog must release immediately in a natural manner (transition).  Handlers may give a verbal "out" command.

Defense Against Attack During Guarding (35 Points IPO1; 20 Points IPO2-3)

  • After a guarding phase, and upon signal from the judge, the helper makes an attack on the dog.  The dog must defend himself through energetic and powerful gripping without any influence from the handler.


  • As soon as the dog has a grip on the helper, the helper applies stick pressure tests, two (2) times.  Pressure may be applied to the shoulders and the area of the withers.  


  • The attack on the dog must be on a direction away from the handler.  Upon signal from the judge, the helper stops resisting (drive) and stands still.  The dog must release immediately in a natural manner (transition).  The handler may give a verbal command.


  • For an IPO1, on the judge's signal, the handler walks directly to his dog at a normal pace and with a verbal "sit" command, puts his dog in basic.  The handler then heels the dog down field to the position for the "Attack out of Motion" (long bite).


  • For IPO2-3, the handler walks directly to his dog at a normal pace and with a verbal "sit" command puts his dog in basic.  The stick is taken from the helper and the handler continues onto the back transport.

Back Transport (5 Points - IPO2-3)

  • The  handler commands the helper to step back, turn around, and move out.  The handler free heels his dog 5 paces behind the helper.  The dog is to watch the helper attentively.

 

  • The judge will determine the pattern for the back transport, which will be a distance of approximately 30 paces.

Attack on Dog out of Back Transport (30 Points IPO2, 15 Points IPO3)

  • On a signal from the judge, an attack is performed on the dog out of the back transport.  The dog must counter the attack by means of an energetic and powerful grip.  When the helper locks up, the dog should out immediately. 


  • The dog must guard the helper intensely and attentively.  On the judge's signal, the handler walks directly to his/her dog and gives the verbal "sit" command to put the dog in basic.  The soft stick is taken from the helper.

Attack Motion/Long Bite (30 Points IPO1, 20 Points IPO2, 10 Points IPO3

  • The dog is free heeled to marked position on the center line by blind #1.  The dog is commanded to sit in basic position, and the handler may take the dog by the collar.  The dog may not be stimulated or worked up in any way, and must sit calmly by the handler until released.


  • At the judge's signal, the helper comes out of the blind and runs across the field to the center line and turns and heads up field towards the dog.


  • The helper starts a frontal attack by waiving the stick in a threatening manner and strongly yells at the handler/dog.  


  • At the judge's signal, the handler sends the dog with a "go" command.  No "attack" command may be given.  As the dog prepares to engage, the helper should continue to make threatening motions.  The handler is not permitted to leave his position.


  • The dog must counter the attack with intensity and must grip energetically with a full, forceful, hard and stead grip.  Once the dog grips, the helper pressures the dog.  On the judge's signal, the helper stops the pressure and stands still.


  • The dog must release immediately in a natural manner.  The handler may give a verbal "out" command.  The dog must guard intensely.  


  • On the signal from the judge, IPO1-2 disarms the helper by telling him to step back and ask for the stick.  The handler than grabs the stick and positions the dog so the dog is between the handler and the helper with the dog watching the helper.  For IPO3, the team continues to "Defense Attack after Guarding Phase".


  • This side transport is then taken to the judge for checking out.  The handler turns and heels away 10 paces before attaching the leash to the dog and coming in for the critique.  

Defense Against Attack after Guarding (20 Points IPO3)

  • After guarding phase (about 5 seconds), and upon signal from judge, the helper makes an attack on the dog.  


  • The dog must defend himself through energetic and powerful gripping without any influence from the handler. 

 

  • As soon as the dog grips the sleeve, the helper applies stick pressure tests two (2) times.  Pressure may be applied to the shoulders and the area of the withers.  The attack must be in a direction away from the handler.


  • Upon signal from the judge, the helper stops resisting and stands still. The dog must release immediately in a natural manner (transition).  The handler may give a verbal "out" command at the appropriate time, or additional commands upon the judge's signal. After an out the dog must guard the helper intensely.


  • On the judge's signal, the handler walks directly to the dog and issues a "sit" command, and disarms the helper.