What is PSA?

Protection Sports Association (PSA)

Civilian competition in canine obedience and controlled protection recognizing achievement with titles and prizes, and promote competition with club trials and championship tournaments. PSA will endeavor to set a new standard for training excellence in the protection sports, and PSA shall encourage cross-over from other protection sports, to provide a competitive venue that will test the best against the best, and encourage excellence, sportsmanship, and integrity throughout the dog training community. There is a mandatory entry level certificate, called a PDC, that must be achieved by all competitors before going on to the competitive levels of PSA 1 through PSA 3.

In each successive level the dog-handler team is asked to negotiate obedience and protection routines that are increasingly complex, difficult in terms of pressure from both decoys and environmental distractions, and as well the handlers must strategize how to work through scenarios involving risk-reward tradeoffs. As the scenarios can change from trial to trial in the upper levels, handlers must be able to train components of exercises, and pattern training is a virtual impossibility. The higher the levels, the more surprise scenario components in both obedience and protection are presented to the handlers.

Trials are normally held as weekend 2 day events, but many trials are held in conjunction with IPO or Ring Sport events as well. PSA Judges are required to go through an apprenticeship under two senior judges as well as the Director of Judges. Decoys working trials are certified by PSA, through regional directors and the PSA Director of Decoys, as knowing the trial routines, being physically fit to perform, and safe to catch the dogs. PSA is a unique sport, and separates itself from other dog sports by having suited decoys on the field during obedience routines in the competition levels of PSA 1 – PSA 3.

In the PSA 1 level a decoy in a bite suit sits in a chair during the majority of the routine, and during a recall from a down position, will toss some distractions past thedog in a down before the handler recalls the dog to heel position. In PSA 2, the decoys (multiple) will walk/jog around the dog/handler team and interact with the handler verbally, as well as provide food refusal and distraction during position changes, retrieves, and jumping exercises. The pattern of the obedience in both PSA 1 and PSA 2 is known to the handler. In PSA 3 the obedience routine is drawn up by the judge as a surprise scenario. Skills such as heeling, retrieves, jumping exercises, climbing exercises, food refusal, position changes are known to the handler, but the order of the routine is unknown to the handler until the day of the trial. Heeling is judged strictly even under these distractions. In PSA 3 the decoys on the field run, agitate, while the dog is heeling, staying, and doing motion exercises. It is an extremely challenging environment for handler and dog!

In PSA Protection, the PDC and PSA 1 have a hidden sleeve bite during a car-jacking scenario, handler attacks, courage tests (the PSA 1 Courage test is our signature exercise), and in PSA 1 there are 5 possible surprise scenarios of which the judge picks one on trial day, randomly. In PSA there can be hidden sleeve bites in all levels, mandatory in PDC and PSA 1.

In PSA 3 there can be muzzle attacks as well. All other encounters are in full bite suits. In PSA 2, there are 4 protection scenarios, 3 of which are known ahead of time to the competitors. There is a 2 decoy courage test, a fended off attack behind a vehicle, a call off, and one surprise scenario is drawn up by the judge for trial day.


Training Notes on PSA 1 Surprise Scenarios 2015-2016 By Jerry Bradshaw Tarheel Canine Training

PSA 1 has included surprise scenarios for the past few years. The judges and directors have the intention to use the PSA 1 surprise scenario in the protection

phase to prepare handlers for dealing with standard scenarios in the level 2 as well as to get handlers thinking about surprise scenarios in the higher levels. You can see how each of these scenarios has a theme or themes that are usually related to the beginning stages of the upper level types of scenarios. Approaching surprise scenarios includes training and handling. The training part should be done before you show up at a trial. In this short booklet, we will break down each of the five scenarios into their component training elements, so that the elements required can be trained. Once the training is done, handlers must understand how to handle their dogs through the scenarios, and to understand the risk-reward tradeoffs that are what makes PSA so exciting. Therefore, we will break down the five scenarios one by one into component skills, train the component skills, and then put the exercises back together. Many of the component skills are the same for multiple scenarios. At the end there will be a short discussion of handling strategy in the PSA 1.