Buster and I are doing a thing. On September 29, we are going on a road trip to Ohio for the weekend to attend a mock Mondioring trial. This will be our first solo road trip and our first mock trial, and holy crap, I’m nervous and excited!
If you haven’t heard of Mondioring, it is a sport very similar to IPO (formerly, yet still sometimes referred to as Schutzhund), French Ring, PSA, etc. Mondioring is composed of 3 exercises – obedience, jumping, and bite work. Meanwhile, IPO is composed of obedience, tracking, and bite work. This sport is open to any breed, and there is also an obedience only and an obedience + jump only certificate for those who don’t want to do bite work. Mondioring, just like IPO, is a sport and does not translate to making your dog a personal protection dog. While Mondioring is a bit less robotic than IPO, it is still a sport that is trained and rehearsed in a very detailed and meticulous fashion in various training fields and arenas.
All of these sports have an “entrance exam.” They obviously don’t want to accept completely crazy off-their-rocker dogs, so you must pass their entrance exam. The entrance exams are usually pretty easy and are mainly just composed of heeling alone and in a group, recall, down stay, and identification check (a judge scans your dog’s microchip). In IPO, the entrance exam is called a BH, and it is an actual title that the dog receives once he passes. In Mondioring, it’s called the Sociability Test, and unfortunately, the dog doesn’t earn an actual title for this one.
The main purpose of these sports is to 1) have fun with your dog and 2) give your dog a job, especially since most (but not all) are German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, etc. These sports take training to a whole other level and dimension that most people probably don’t even realize exist. These sports are all about highlighting your dog’s attitude, along with your training abilities and your team work. The dogs that compete at the highest levels nationally and internationally are often bred, so their success is really a testament to their genetic inheritance as well.
These sports involve such intricate and precise training (and not to mention the help of a decoy if you’re doing bite work), that you have to find others who are like minded to help you along the journey. You’ll find that in the capacity of “training clubs,” and each sports’ website should have a list of clubs so you can find one nearby. While there are clubs across the country, they aren’t everywhere, so often times, people have to drive 1-2 hours to train one to two times a week. These clubs then network amongst themselves and host trials.
If you do know anything about these sports, you’ll know that they are rooted in many, many years of old school, harsh and aversive training methods. To be completely blunt and honest, these sports were started by big, burly men with big, intimidating dogs, and those big, burly men have a propensity to train dogs the way they’ve always trained, including choke chains and prong collars and shock collars. Those big, burly men didn’t have time or didn’t care to see if other training methods exist or work. But, spoiler alert – in recent years, there have been quite a few women who have competed and titled at the highest national and international levels without the use of force or aversives. It should go without saying that Buster and I, along with our club, are training this positively with food and toy rewards and clickers.
So, how did I get involved in this?
My friend and training buddy bought a German Shepherd puppy almost two years ago specifically to train in a bite work sport. We started in IPO but ended up in Mondioring for a variety of reason, and then we started a Mondioring Club. At first I did it mainly to get out of the house and have a dedicated training day with Buster. To be honest, I didn’t really even take it seriously. We would walk onto the field and play around and do silly training, like targets and down stays and tricks. But then, as time went on and Buster’s high energy self kept being high energy, I decided to take it more seriously. So, we go to training club every Sunday, and we practice the same thing as the other GSDs and Malinois in our club. And, by the way, Buster rocks it.
So, on September 29, we’re road tripping to visit the mock trial for some more training and experience. We’ll likely take the Sociability Test either in November at the real trial or perhaps in the spring, depending on how things go. Right now, our training is focusing on the obedience and jumping only certificate. Buster enjoys tugging and has the potential for doing bite work, but I just haven’t decided if I want to formally train and compete in bite work.
We’ll see how it goes at the end of September. I can’t wait to walk onto the field with my little wrinkly, wiggly butt mutt in tow and show everyone just how crazy awesome and high drive he really is.
If you want to learn more about Mondioring, be sure to click this link!
Wish us luck!