French Ring is a personal protection sport originating in France. Originally developed to test potential breeding stock for their working ability, it has evolved into one of the most technical sports in the canine world. French Ring encompasses the “complete test” for any dog & handler team – with precision obedience, extreme jumping, and technical protection work, French Ring is a challenge like no other.
When competing in any level, the dog is without collar or leash, and must be obedient off a simple command from its handler. Body signals are rarely allowed, and the precision by which a dog must perform is very strict. The dog must be of the type that has a high desire to work, and must be in excellent shape physically to accomplish their tasks. When combining the raw & high energy of a top level athlete with the discipline and control required of each exercise, you will begin to appreciate the “art” which is French Ring!
In Canada, French Ring is open to any handler, male or female, over the age of 16 years. For dogs, there are 2 categories to compete in. The “Standard” category is the international standard for French Ring, and includes any dog from a list of “authorized breeds” which is sexually intact and is purebred and registered with a nationally accepted registry (eg – CKC, AKC, SCC, etc). The second category is called a “Blue Dog” category and is only accepted in Canada and the United States. The Blue Dog category is open to any dog – mixed breeds, unregistered dogs, or neutered males. The blue dog may compete in regular competitions but cannot earn the title of “Champion” and may not compete internationally.
The men in the padded suits are referred to as decoys and their purpose is to be the dog’s opposition. The decoy tries to steal points from the dog by out maneuvering and out smarting the dog. It takes a great deal of physical skill and knowledge as well as a deep respect for the dog to be a successful decoy.
The judge is the referee of this event, and controls all aspects of the competition. It is up to the judge to mark each exercise as well as maintain a safe level of opposition for each of the competitors.
It takes years of dedication and skill for each player to participate successfully in this sport.
French Ring is divided into 3 main categories: jumping, obedience, and protection work. The number of exercises and the level of difficulty of each exercise varies according to the level of competition.
The agility or jumping portion is for those who are trialling in Ring 1 and above. In Ring 1, the handler can select any of the three options. In Ring 2 and Ring 3, the dog must go over all three jumps.
The Hurdle: a collapsible jump that can be knocked down if touched by the dog. The hurdle starts at a height of 0.9m and reaches a maximum of 1.2m according to the level. Points are based on the heights jumped. The dog must jump twice – away from its handler and returning to its handler. Ring 1 and above (choice).
The Palisade: a solid wooden wall that the dog must climb over. The palisade starts at a height of 1.7m and reaches a maximum of 2.3m according to the level. The dog must again jump twice – once away from its handler, and again returning to its handler. Ring 1 and above (choice).
The Long Jump: a long and low jump in which the dog must clear without touching the teeter-totter type “key” at the end. The long jump starts at a distance of 3.5m and reaches a maximum of 4.5m according to the level. The dog must only jump it once in the direction away from its handler. Ring 1 and above (choice).
Heel on Leash: The only exercise in FR where the dog is allowed to wear a collar. The dog must heel at its handler’s side throughout a pre-set pattern, stopping and starting at the sound of the judge’s horn.
Heel with a Muzzle: The dog is without leash or collar, and must wear a muzzle. The dog must perform under similar conditions to the heel on leash, but also must not show any resistance to wearing the muzzle.
Long Stay (sit/down): According to the level, the dog will be required to remain in either a sit or a down for 1 minute while the handler is out of site.
Thrown Retrieve: Upon command, the dog must retrieve an article (glove, glasses case, or socks) thrown by its handler. The dog must return to the handler and sit, only releasing the article when commanded. Ring 1 and above.
Seen Retrieve: The dog heels at its handler’s side until the handler “drops” an article. The dog must break from the heel and retrieve the article, and then pass the handler, stopping him/her, and return the article to the handler. Ring 2 and above.
Unseen Retrieve: The dog heels at its handler’s side while the handler drops the article unseen by the dog. As the dog and handler continue to walk away, another article identical to the one dropped is placed near the handler’s article. Upon a horn signal from the judge, the handler stops and sends the dog back to find the correct article and return it to the handler. Ring 3.
Food Refusal: As the handler is out of site, food is thrown at the dog while it stays in position. Several pieces of food are also placed strategically throughout the field, to tempt the dog. The dog is not allowed to touch a piece of food any time throughout the competition.
Positions: From a distance of 18m, the handler commands the dog to change positions in an order drawn at the beginning of the competition. The dog must take the position as it is commanded, and must also not move outside a box painted on the ground.
Send Away: Upon command, the dog must run in a straight line away from its handler until it is called back – at which point it must return immediately to its handler. Ring 3.
Face Attack: Dog is commanded to attack a decoy that is confronting the dog & handler from a distance. When commanded again, the dog must immediately stop biting and return to its handler.
Flee Attack: Dog is commanded to attack a decoy that is fleeing (or running away). When commanded again, the dog must immediately stop and return to its handler. Ring 1 and up.
Defense of Handler: The dog attacks the decoy, without a command, when the decoy physically attacks the handler. Upon command, the dog releases the decoy but immediately guards the decoy until he is recalled back to the handler.
Attack with Revolver: The dog is commanded to attack a decoy that is confronting the dog & handler from a distance with a gun. Upon the signal from the judge, the handler commands to the dog to stop biting and guard the decoy. The decoy then tries to escape, and the dog must stop him without a command. This is repeated. Then the handler walks up to disarm the decoy and heels the dog away. Ring 1 and above.
Search and Escort: The dog leaves the field while the decoy hides in one of six “blinds”. The dog returns to the field and upon command, searches the field for the decoy. Upon finding the decoy, the dog must bark, but not bite. When the decoy tries to escape, the dog must stop him by biting. Once the handler disarms the decoy, the dog must “escort” the decoy around the field, not biting unless the decoy tries to escape. After three escape attempts in the escort, the dog guards the decoy while the handler puts the gun away and returns to collect the dog. Ring 2 and above.
Stopped Attack: The exercise is identical to the face attack, except when the dog is within 1 to 4 meters of the decoy, the handler calls the dog back to him. The dog must not bite the decoy and immediately return to the handler. Ring 3.
Guard of Object: The handler places a basket within a marked circle and commands the dog to guard, then goes out of site. The decoy comes along and tries three times to steal the basket away from the dog. The dog must stop the decoy each time. As the decoy moves away from the basket, the dog must let go and return to guarding the basket without any commands. Ring 3.