Protection Training

A Veterinarian's Perspective

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Last updated 11/7/10

Personal Protection Training

Personal protection is a concept that has become very popular in this day and age of robberies, home invasions, car-jackings, kidnappings, and other violent crimes.  When you ask someone what personal protection means, you are likely to get a whole range of answers including owning a handgun, becoming proficient in martial arts, or installing elaborate security systems.

Do these measures work?  In some cases they might. However, statistics show that even the most complex security system can be bypassed.  And, how many times have you read about a child finding a handgun that was kept in the house, and tragically hurting himself or a young playmate?  Most people in law enforcement will tell you that, in addition to being a safety risk, many victims often have had their own weapons used against them.

However, the owner of a trained personal protection dog not only has a loyal and completely obedient companion but also a personal security system that can not be "bypassed" or "used against them".  That same lovable pet who plays with the children and lies peacefully at your feet, will, at a single command, become protective and willing to put himself in harm's way for the sake of his family.  A potential attacker would think twice before tackling such an opponent. 

A well-trained protection dog will protect your house or family with a determination that no human can ever equal.

That being said....Personal protection dogs are not for everyone and protection training should not be causally undertaken.

Things to Consider

bullet Determine your need for a protection Dog
bullet What level training do you need
bullet Make sure your dog is qualified for training
bullet Find a trainer who can understand and meet your needs


Do You Need a Protection Trained Dog?

The first thing to consider is:  Do you really want a protection trained dog.  A dog is a living being and has certain needs that must be met.  Even the best behaved dog is going to be some extra work.  So, you need to be willing to have a dog in your life, and put up with the little inconveniences that go with it.  It is also important to remember owning a protection dog carries with it more responsibility than owning an ordinary house pet.  How much time can you put in to maintaining the dog's training?  Be 100 percent sure that you are willing and able to provide for the needs of a protection trained dog.  AND, Be sure of what level of training you are prepared to undertake.

What Level of Training Do You Need?

There are different levels of protection training.  Each person has to determine what level of training will be appropriate for his or her situation and family.  Each person's self protection needs are different --

Alarm Dog -- An alarm dog is a dog that has been trained or naturally has the instincts to alert the owners of someone's presence on their premises.  All breeds are suitable for this type of work.  An alarm dog's primary function is to alert his owner to threats.  He may or may not stand his ground if the threat proves to be intimidating. 

Watch Dog -- Progressing to the next level of self defense is a watch dog.  Some people also call these "Bluff Dogs".  A bluff dog will bark on command, pull and lunge on leash while acting aggressive and may bite.  This type of dog may not be serious enough in it's attack, though, to stop a DETERMINED assailant. However, most assailants don't stick around long enough to decided if your dog is that determined.  To get this level of response (and control) from a dog requires training.  In fact, this level is what I would consider the average trained protection dog.

True Protection Dog or Guard Dog -- Now we come to the dogs that can be used for serious protection.  These dogs have the courage, the drive and the training to stop aggressive humans.  Fear does not exist in them!  At this point we are in the realm of true guard dogs.  Not only will these dogs protect their owners, nothing will stop them.  They have the courage and drive to hunt the attacker even after he attempts to flee the scene.   This class of protection dogs ranges from trained personal protection dogs on the low end to highly trained police or military dogs on the upper end.  This is a truly unique dog and not every dog is capable of doing this, no matter how much training he/she has had.  

Whatever level of training you chose to take your dog to, it must be emphasized that you must also acquire the special training necessary to effectively control and use that weapon. 

Is your Dog Qualified for Training and are You Qualified?

Do all dogs have the aptitude for this kind of training?  Not necessarily.  The dog must have the right mix of a stable, sociable, confident temperament, as well as courage and tenacity. 

Do all people have the aptitude for this kind of training?  Again, not always.  A good candidate must be extremely responsible and seriously dedicated to the commitment of training their dog.  Also, this individual must take this commitment seriously.  It is okay to have a personal protection dog, just like it is okay to have a gun.  But, just as it is inappropriate to carelessly handle your gun, it is just as inappropriate to carelessly handle a protection trained dog.

Many people express concern that protection training will "change" their dog's temperament.  If training is performed properly, it will not alter the dog's character nor temperament.  Training is meant, however, bring out the dog's natural instinct to be protective.  The dog learns all of the necessary steps for defense.  The training should be enjoyable to the dog because to the dog, training becomes a game.  The reward of the game is his ball, his toy, or even food. 

If the dog does not like "playing the game", he should not be trained for this type of work.  A submissive dog who is "force trained" will turn into a fear biter.  Likewise, if the dog is too aggressive, it too should not be protection trained.

There is a big misconception out there about protection, mainly, because some trainers have no idea how to properly train protection dogs.  Protection should start as a game, conditioning the dogs to "Bark" and "Bite" in a rewarding way. A lot of trainers focus on defensive agitation and this will only create a mean, unstable dog.  Stay away from anything negative.  Protection should be a positive experience.  Every dog is born with protective instincts.  The goal is to simply show the dog

bullethow to use it
bulletwhen to use it
bulletwhy to use it,
bulletwhere to use it
bullettowards whom to use it

In this way, your dog becomes even more stable than what he was without protection training.  The dogs out there that are biting people (like neighbors, kids, and mailmen) are often insecure and or confused.  Confidence is the key to a dog’s stability and confidence building is what protection training should be all about.

Choosing a personal protection dog

A Trainer Who Can Understand and Meet Your Needs...

Here at Sequoyah German Shepherds, we train with Tennessee Valley Working Dog Association.  Protection training is not something to undertake lightly though, so, do your research!  Make sure that the trainer you use understands what you want from your dog.


The family protection dog must be good with the whole family, especially with the kids!





The dog must be good with other animals that are part of the family!





The family protection dog protects his territory against possible intruders or strangers!




The dog will not be deterred by any loud noises or any other threatening gestures by the intruder!




In Conclusion....

Personal protection dogs must be chosen well and properly trained in order to be successful.  It takes patience, perseverance, and discipline in order for these personal protection dogs to accept the responsibility of protecting.  When he does though, he will not protect out of fear or anger, he will protect because he has been commanded to protect.  Most people hope that if challenged, their dog would protect them.  That isn't always true.  Training for any situation is the only way to know for sure.  There is nothing like the secure feeling that a trained personal protection dog can give you and your family.  When put to the test, there is no guessing about what he will do and you will find yourself with real peace of mind.