LV DVG America

The only all-breed dog sport organization

Helper program and how-to guide

The Trial Helper Certification Program has three primary goals:

1. To test dogs in an assertive, fair, and safe manner under the protection rules of the German Kennel Club (VDH).  

2. To produce a high level of consistency in testing dogs in the protection phase of a trial.

3. To identify those helpers who excel and who can work at a championship level.

A. Qualifications for Certification: Qualifications for Certification as a national level helper

1. Before you apply for certification, you must have regularly worked with some Schutzhund club as a training helper for at least one year.

2. At the time you apply for certification, you must:

  • fill out the application and have it signed by your KG OfG, Club Training Director, and Club President.
  • be at least 18 (applicants as young as16 can apply, but you must submit written consent from your parent or legal guardian)
  • present your current DVG membership card

3. You must have a thorough understanding of the protection trial rules for all three levels. You should also have a general knowledge of dog behavior and training principles. You do not have to have trained a dog to any title.

4. You must be in good physical condition. You must be sufficiently coordinated to carry out the helper’s task in an assertive, fair, equitable, consistent, and safe fashion for all dogs in a trial.

B. Application for Helper Certification by a Club.

Any DVG club may apply for a helper certification seminar.

The club must

  • first get the approval of its KG board or its KG OfG.
  • request a certification seminar least six weeks before date of the seminar. Send the request to the LV OfG.
  • at the time of the seminar, provide a list of all applicants’ names (at least four but no more than ten) along with a completed “Application for Trial Helper Certification” for each applicant. Applicants lacking the completed form may  not participate.

The OfG certifying the applicants is entitled to the same rates of compensation and expenses as those given to a trial judge.

C. Individual Application for Certification

If you want to attend a helper certification seminar and do not know where they are scheduled, contact your KG OfG for information on upcoming seminars and certifications in your area.

  • contact the club responsible for the certification
  • complete the application. Make sure you have the required signatures
  • mail your application to the club holding the certification seminar at least three weeks before the seminar so they can prepare a list of all applicants and application forms for the LV OfG to check their eligibility
  • bring your DVG membership card.

D. The Certification

The certification consists of the following:

1. A discussion of the rules and updates by the LV OfG.

2. Reviewing the subjects which are part of the written certification test.

3. Trial procedure critiques on the field.

4. A physical conditioning test in which you must run about 400 yards, at a moderate pace, in full protection equipment, without showing physical limitations.

5. Working three dogs showing skill and a correct understanding of the rules in IGP 1, 2 and 3. The number of dogs worked and the rules tested will be at the discretion of the LV OfG.

6. Satisfactorily complete a written test on the trial rules and procedures.

**NOTE** You may have to provide your own protection equipment and a dog capable of performing the bite requirements for IGP 1 – 3 level protection work. Do not expect the sponsoring club to provide this for you. If you don’t have the equipment or dog, the LV OfG may excuse you

If you satisfactorily complete the above you will receive a “Helfer Sportpass” published by the DVG. You will then be eligible to work DVG trials at the level specified in the sportpass. The LV OfG will classify you at one of three levels:

Level 1. You may work in any trial or championship within DVG.

Level 2. You may work in any club trial or in the KG championship.

Level 3. You may work only in a local club trial.

Normally, a newly certified helper will receive a Level 3 ranking, but this may be upgraded by the LV OfG as you gain experience and are recommended for a higher ranking by trial judges, the KG OfG, and the LV OfG.

E. Maintaining Certified Helper Status.

1. To maintain your status, you must work four dogs in a trial every three years or recertify at a helper seminar.

2.  Attending helper seminars is no longer required, but strongly recommended because of the ongoing changes in rules and regulations.  Alternatively, you must review the information published in DVG-America magazine to stay current on rule changes.

3. Your “Helfer Sportpass” will automatically expire if your membership in DVG is canceled for any reason. If that happens, you will have to go through certification again if you want to reactivate your helper status in the future.

4. Your “Helfer Sportpass” expires after ten years from the date it’s issued if you have not worked any dogs or recertified at a helper seminar in that time. The only exception to this rule is for those who have current LV OfG or KG OfG status.  

F.  Requirements for Helper Certification and upgrades:

Club level 3 certification:

Any DVG member can apply for certification. Their club President and Training Director must sign an application verifying the Helper is qualified for certification and has been working with their club for at least one year.

Helpers must have enough experience to safely pass both written and practical tests under their KG or LV OfG with a minimum rating of (S) satisfactory.

Regional level 2 upgrades:

For level 2 upgrades, Helpers must have worked at least (5) trials and/or seminars with (20) dogs in their books signed by the Judge or OfG with a minimum rating of (SG) very good.

The Helper’s club president & training director must sign their application verifying that they are qualified and ready for a level 2 upgrade.

National level 1 upgrades:

For level 1 upgrades, Helpers must have worked at least (8) trials and/or seminars with (40) dogs in their books signed by the Judge or OfG with a minimum rating of (SG) very good.

Level 1 upgrades must be done under the LV OfG, Helpers must pass with a minimum rating of (SG) very good.

*To maintain any level of certification you must be a current DVG member in good standing and work at least 4 dogs in a trial or Seminar every (3) years*

Honorary status:

Honorary status is for any level 1 Helper that is retired or injured and can no longer maintain National Championship level work.

Emeritus status:

Emeritus status is for our elite level 1 Helpers, who have served as KG or LV OfG, been selected for KG and LV Championships, mentored multiple Helpers who have also worked our Championships, and are now retiring after years of service to LV America. All nominees must be approved by our LV OfG and LRO.

G. Sanctions.

If you fail to perform at a trial in a fair, equitable, consistent, and safe manner in accordance with the DHV rules, you may be sanctioned, as follows:

1. The trial judge may take your “Helfer Sportpass.” If the KG OfG or the LV OfG sees the violation, they may also take your pass. The LV OfG may  suspend or cancel your “Helfer Sportpass,” depending on the violation. The trial judge or KG OfG should take your pass and return it to the LV OfG if your violation is flagrant, or if it is impossible to adequately judge the dogs’ protection skills based on your work. All infractions will be reviewed by the LV OfG, who makes the final decision on your status. The LV OfG can develop a corrective action plan and place conditions on you to help you regain your pass, or to have it reissued.

2. The LV OfG may downgrade your status, based upon feedback from judges and KG OfGs in the Trial Helper Evaluation.

H. Trial Requirements

1. All DVG trials require a certified helper for protection. The helper must be certified minimum level 3 for club events, level 1 or 2 for regional events, and level 1 for championships.

** If the club does not have a certified helper available, a one-time waiver may be granted, in writing, prior to the trial by any OfG or judge. **

** To issue a waiver, the helper must work (1) IGP 3 routine and receive a minimum (G) rating. The critique is then written into a trial helper evaluation form and sent to the LV OfG. **

** DVG does recognize certification/helper books from any AWDF club. **

2. Germany requires that the level of helper work be at the level expected of a level 3 helper. If a non-certified helper is used in a trial and cannot or will not perform at a level expected of at least a level 3 certified helper, the trial judge must excuse that helper. If the host club does not have a competent substitute helper, either certified or uncertified, the judge must cancel the trial.

3. Trial judges should submit a report on all certified helpers they see work a trial to the LV OfG. This information is invaluable to the LV OfG in identifying helpers that are working both above and below standards. It is also one way the OfG identifies championship helpers.

I. Helper Equipment

1. You must wear complete protection equipment when working a trial. Complete helper equipment consists of protection pants, protection jacket, groin protector, protection sleeve, and proper shoes. If the temperature is over 75 degrees, you need not wear the jacket.

2. Helpers are also required to carry a trial helper’s stick, which must meet these specifications:

  • The outer cover of the stick must be leather
  • The seam of the cover must be sewn on the inside
  • The stick must be at least 60 cm (23 5/8″) long, but no longer than 70 cm (27 1/2″)
  • The inside of the stick must be flexible and about 10 mm (25/64″) in diameter. A fiberglass rod is preferred. The space to the outer skin is padded.  

3. Complete helper equipment must be worn at our Championship trials, including jackets, regardless of the temperature.

J. Championships

Only certified helpers may work in an LV or KG championship. To work in an LV championship, you must first work in another championship held under the rules of VDH.

**Note**  To all Championship Helpers:

LV Championship Helpers, for the year they are selected, are not allowed to work any dog(s), IGP 1, 2 or 3, participating in the LV Championship from 12:00 midnight the Sunday before the week of the Championship until the Championship trial activities are completed.

This rule was adopted at the General Membership meeting on June 25, 1994 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

For more information about the Trial Helper Seminar and Certification Program, contact the LV DVG America OfG:  CONTACTS



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