The Swiss Army wanted to create an eventing competition in which athletes from many nations can measure their strength. The service dog biathlon consists of a cross-country run between six and eleven kilometers with a dog on a leash. The running route is clearly marked with flags and ribbons. On the way you have to overcome 15 natural and artificial obstacles such as climbing over a small wall, crawling through pipes, climbing over cars, carrying the dog over old car tires. The imagination of a track builder knows hardly any limits. It just has to be doable and safe. In addition, the dog handler has to cover a distance of approx. 500 m with the dog on a leash and fire eight to ten scoring shots with the pistol. Only weapons and ammunition provided on the shooting range may be used. Furthermore, the dog must cross a water basin, a pond or a special obstacle without a leash and prevent a pseudo offender from escaping at the last obstacle.
Everything counts. The condition of the dog and the handler, the teamwork, the willingness of the dog to pull during the run and the accuracy when shooting. Judges’ decisions, however, do not play a role.
A relatively slim, strong, lively dog of a larger breed is ideal. It should be manageable and easy to deal with. In the service dog biathlon, a pronounced protective instinct is inevitable. Dog biathlon without protection service, sometimes called sports dog cross, can in principle be mastered with any dog. A very small dog will hardly be able to pull enough, but it has advantages if it has to be carried over short distances, for example. In addition, he is probably more nimble with the low obstacles and when crawling underneath. Very large and heavy dogs certainly have physical limitations and their owners probably have limitations in carrying them. But if you start with the attitude that participation counts before the rank, a lot is basically conceivable.
What does the training look like?
It is best to go jogging with the dog more often. The dog can have a kind of sled dog harness and a leash tied around its stomach. This allows the arms to swing freely while running. In the competition, the dog should then pull vigorously on command. That has to be trained. The dog should know left, right and, if the going is steeply downhill, “slowly”. It doesn’t hurt to occasionally have the dog jump on a pile of wood or send it down a pipe during its daily walk. He knows the rest from dog training in the dog club.
What do you wear with it?
The civil events are carried out in sportswear with sneakers. The service dog biathlon starts in uniform or in work clothes (long trousers, T-shirt and trainers) without headgear and weapons. The start number must be worn clearly visible during the entire run. The service dog is to be led with a normal collar. Spiked collars or the like are not permitted. This is checked at the start.
What are the most common mistakes?
If you want to pass the obstacles too hectically, it will certainly go “in the pants”. It is important to approach the respective tasks calmly and to always use the appropriate command, eg “jump” if the dog should jump, or “tunnel” if he should crawl through a tube or other comparable obstacle.
Assistance Dog SportsDog DancingDog BiathlonObedienceSled Dog SportsGhey Dog Racing