Protection Sports Association
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 the dog 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 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. In PSA 3, guidelines are provided to the judges to make scenarios for a courage test, call-off, test of environmental stability, and a searching exercise or muzzle attack. Further guidelines within each scenario are also given, but these scenarios are not known to the handlers except in principle until the day of the trial.
Because of the surprise scenario nature of the trials, and high level of training, many law enforcement K9 teams are giving PSA a try, and PSA encourages cross-over from other protection sports, or from police K9 units to add to the excitement of the sport. Many of our top certified decoys are police K9 handlers and trainers. Because of the difficulty of the routines (you must pass OB and each of the protection routines to pass for the title), teams are competing mainly against the sport and not one another, so there is a sense of camaraderie found in PSA that is unique. To title, a dog/handler team is required to pass one trial in PDC and PSA 1, and teams must pass 2 trials completely to earn titles in PSA 2 and PSA 3.