French Ring Sport is a European dog sport that originated in France during the 1900′s. It shares a common history with Belgian Ring Sport and has a similar set of rules. Although the idea of dog sport began as a way to test the working ability of participating dogs, French Ring and Belgian Ring have always been somewhat of a spectator sport, intended to impress on-lookers with feats of canine agility and bite-work. This has lead to the development of some of the most physically demanding exercises of all dog sports.
One of the toughest exercises in French Ring is known as the palisade. It is considered an advanced agility exercise, and is only required for Ring II and Ring III titles. The palisade is essentially a vertical wall that the dog is expected to scale. The palisade must be jumped twice in a single exercise: once over, and once more to return to the handler. The minimum height for a palisade is 1.7m (5.5′), but an additional 2 points are awarded for extra 0.1m of height added to the palisade, for a maximum of 2.3m (7.5′). To put this in perspective, most municipalities impose a limit of about 2m (6.5′) on fences surrounding residential property.
The palisade in French Ring is built from horizontal planks of wood stacked one atop another and held in place by two wooden posts. During training, an incline is sometimes added to one side of the palisade to allow the dog to descend easily rather than dropping the full height of the palisade to the ground. This incline is, of course, not present in official competition.
To train a dog to scale a 2.3m palisade is certainly an impressive feat, but one should keep in mind that impressive feats in sport do not always translate to effective protection in real life. A dog that can take on a palisade with a smooth wooden top may have a great deal more difficulty attempting to scale an uneven chain-link fence. Respect should be given to those who put in the immense amount of dedication required to train their German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois for French Ring, but true protection work should be left to dogs who have been properly trained for protection work in the real world.