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Having Fun - Training and Competing

Just over 130 years ago, Captain Max von Stephanitz first established standards for dog of, "Utility and Intelligence," the German Shepherd Dog. Now the third most popular breed among American Kennel Club (AKC) breeds, it is also widely considered to be in the top three in intelligence. As its name and place in the AKC herding group suggests, GSDs can herd (sheep, ducks, cattle) and do it well. Because of their smarts and other qualities defined in the German Shepherd Dog Club of America official breed standard, today you will find GSDs competing in a wide range of events. Members of the DVGSDC who actively train and compete with their dogs offer you a taste of their experience with what they do to have fun with their GSDs.

Having fun with your GSD - from our members


Conformation shows are more than just the beauty contests some believe. Kay Springer has bred and shown Champions, Grand Champions and International Champions. Kay prides herself not only on those achievements but on having her dogs also carry titles for performance and sporting events.


Deborah Hankins is DVGSDC's Treasurer who has decades of obedience trail experience (as well as walls full of ribbons). Now a sanctioned AKC obedience judge, she describes what obedience is all about and why she loves it.


Also know as Rally Obedience or "obedience lite," rally is fun for dogs and their owners who don't have the time to train or desire to compete in the highly structured obedience ring. DVGSDC Vice President writes about the differences and how enjoyable it is, particularly for those just starting out with GSDs.


They are, after all, German SHEPHERDS. Karen Toth, the DVGSDC Secretary, and sought-after show and trial secretary writes how quickly she got hooked on the sport. Karen advised that the outdoor all-weather training and competing is not for the faint of heart. but is, in the end, exhilarating. 


Tracking is another GSD activity that requires a love of being outdoors. Especially in the cold and wet of Northern California winters.  DVGSDC Director Joan Nordstrom knows all about it, having stomped over hill and dale laying tracks for others to follow and handling her dogs as they track.

Scent Work

Relatively new to the AKC sanction dog sport list, scent work is rapidly gaining in popularity. Based on K-9 detection work, the dogs search for specific odors instead of drugs or bombs. DVGSDC Director Joan Nordstrom has competed in the sport for much longer than AKC has recognized it.


Think of an agility course as a steeplechase of obstacles to run as fast as you can. There are jumps, tunnels, a-frames, weaves, and more that you direct your dog to get through the pre-set pattern without making any errors. DVGSDC President Theresa Royer writes about what it takes to succeed. 


Internationale Gebrauchshunde Prüfungsordnung, or International Utility Dog, formerly known as Schutshund, is a highly demanding, three-part competition of Tracking, Obedience, and Protection. Club member Andrea Bishop tells of her experience.

Barn Hunt

Another sport that relies on the German Shepherd Dog's discerning nose, agility, and problem-solving abilities, barn hunt involves searching in stacks and tunnels of straw bales to locate a well-protected and seasoned rat. Kay Springer tells how much her dogs enjoy it.

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