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Protection Training, Is It Advisable

Before we get into the issue of using a dog for home protection, we have to have a definition of terms. Without the definition of terms, we cannot objectively analyze what we expect of the dog and how the dog will impact our homes. I am going to divide the term "protection dog" into three categories: psychological deterrent (or "alert dog"), home protection dog, and guard dog. Each one of these categories has both negative and positive sides.

A psychological deterrent, or alert dog, is what most dogs living in a home environment can be trained for. Basically, all it requires is for the dog to alert the people in the house when there is a threat and cause a perpetrator to turn around when he sees the dog displaying aggression. However, from the time they are puppies, most dogs in most homes are not specifically raised to fulfill the role of protector of the home. Most dogs raised in the average home suffer the emotional ups and downs of the household. They are not taught to stand on their own four legs and go head-to-head with a human being. In fact, they have been taught just the opposite. They have been taught that they must cave-in to human beings' power through obedience, abuse, etc. If a dog is not too far-gone emotionally, and has maintained some of his canine protective ancestry, he can possibly fulfill this role. The training for this is stressful for the average dog, but if the dog is not rushed, and you take the dog's problems into consideration, he/she might make the grade. Except for frightening the bad guy (a dog should be at least 60 pounds for this), any dog can be used for alert status. Now how does this impact the house? Although the dog has not specifically been taught to bite, there should be responsible people around in case the real deal happens. These responsible people should also be around when company comes over, the insurance man, a neighbor, etc. Why? Because the dog is still an animal, and the difference between a non-biting dog and one that has been taught is only a tooth away. Caution should always be exercised when a dog has been introduced to any protection work. Alert dog status, although only basic beginning protection work, is still protection work. Be especially wary when children bring friends into the house. Many actions of children get a dog excited because the children's actions imitate protection work's moves, and it could cause him/her to bite.

A protection dog is the real thing. He must be able to corner or take down a bad guy. He can be taught to stop when the bad guy stops fighting (which I personally don't like) or he can keep going until there is nothing left of the bad guy. Why I don't care for the former: A bad guy can stop fighting, an then gingerly and deftly slide his hand into his pocket, and shoot the dog through that pocket. Or he can catch the dog off-guard in that moment when the dog has stopped attacking, and stab him with a knife. I am from the school of thought that there can never be overkill; just kill. What type of dog will be able to do this work? He must be stable, standoffish with strangers, yet not shy or nervous, have an attitude where he thinks he is God's gift to dogdom, and he cannot be emotionally damaged. Many trainers out there would love to take your money and promise you the world. They will show you that your dog can bite them and a couple of other people in the trainer's hire (whom the dog has gotten familiar with during training).

Nevertheless, the bottom line is if the dog does not have the above-mentioned qualifications, the dog could fold when the moment of truth arrives. Most dogs choose flight rather than fight if they do not have strong integrity and the above qualifications. If you decide to have your dog protection trained, set up a "real" situation to proof your dog. For example, go out at night and pick a spot your dog has never been to, have a "perpetrator" (one whom your dog has never seen before) "attack" you (with padded sleeves on under his coat). Make sure the "bad guy" does not alert the dog before the attack with sounds, etc. Make the attack as silent and real as possible. If your dog passes this test by unhesitatingly attacking the perpetrator, then you can rely on this dog for future real incidences. If your dog does not pass this test, get your money BACK from the trainer. I cannot speak in legal terms because I am not a lawyer, but a protection dog is usually considered Deadly Physical Force. To train him and use him as such, you must talk to a lawyer to find out what your rights are. As far as security in the house when other adults and children are coming in, the responsible people should be on red alert. If one of the outsiders makes a gesture or sound that imitates a training procedure, the dog could bite them. You must be vigilante and have a good OUT command instilled in the dog. An OUT command is a stop command. In the training, the dog must be taught to think for himself; he cannot wait for a command to bite.

For example, what happens if you are walking down the street and someone comes from behind a car to hit you on the head with a bat to rob or rape you, and you do not see this person, but the dog does. Do you want your dog to wait for you to command him, or should he make the evaluation himself and take action? He must be taught to take action by himself. But remember, when a dog is trained to think for himself, you must have "eyes in the BACK of your head" so your dog does not make a mistake and bite a child running out from behind a car with a bat to play baseball. It takes a very special household to have a real protection dog in it.

A guard dog is a dog that has been taught to bite, has been poison-proofed, stays in an enclosed perimeter, has only one friend who feeds him, and who wants to eat the whole world. He must be very strong in mind and spirit and be able to make short work of a bad guy. The guard dog works totally by himself. Again, I do not know what the laws are, but they should be checked out. (For example, what happens if a child climbs your fence to retrieve a ball, and the dog eats him?) A decision to have a dog in the house trained with any type of protection work under his belt is a very heavy responsibility and should be taken cautiously and with prudence.

Written by Neal Seaman

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