Should I get a Personal Protection Dog?
I get this question a lot… Should I get a Personal Protection Dog? It’s “NO” for me and here’s WHY...
I was a K9 handler/Trainer for 15 years and exposed to the “Behind the scenes” work that goes into building bite dogs. I’ve seen the wizard behind the curtain if you will. I’m very aware that there are so called “Professional Dog Trainers” who offer protection K9’s for a hefty fee or will claim to protection train a client’s dog. I disagree strongly with MOST of these people.
One of two things are almost guaranteed to happen with these Dogs:
- The dog will not protect them in a real life scenario.
- The dog will have an accidental bite which will most often be on family members or on the owner.
Owners must understand the liability they assume when they buy a trained dog. The likelihood of accidental bites are high. When that happens the dog’s owner is going to get sued. Home owner’s insurance may cover the first bite, but they will also cancel insurance policies. If the owner keeps that dog, he is not going to find another company willing to insure his home.
Let’s take a moment to understand Drives
There are a number of dog sports that train dogs to bite decoys aka people in suits or wearing sleeves: Schutzhund, IPO, Mondio Ring, French Ring, Dutch KNPV Etc.
People new to bite training often mistakenly believe that dogs trained in these sports will naturally protect their owner in a real life encounter.
Most often nothing could be further from the truth. There is a dramatic difference between a dog learning to bite a decoy wearing a bite sleeve or a body bite suit while on the training field and the dog biting a person with no protective equipment. This is not a dog that will engage someone walking down a dark alley. It’s definitely not biting an intruder in the owner’s home.
Most sport dogs are trained in prey drive. When a dog chases a rabbit or a ball it does so in prey drive. A dog plays tug with a rag or tug toy it does so being in prey drive. The tug toy is then changed from the tug to a protective bite arm, the dog is still biting in prey drive.
Or if the tug is substituted for a leg sleeve and later for a body bite suite it is still biting in prey drive. The sleeve or suit have just become big prey items to these dogs.
Take the bite sleeve or body bite suit away and the dog is not going to bite a person that was previously wearing the sleeve or suit, much less bite a complete stranger in a non-training environment.
Unfortunately I’ve seen this firsthand throughout my K9 career.
People charging at dogs screaming and hollering only to see these physically imposing K9’s turn and run from the threat! These dogs had been trained in prey drive. They were not protection dogs. The majority of dogs in the protection dog sports will not bite a human that does not have a sleeve or bite suite on.
While those dogs may not have bitten the perpetrator/decoy they very easily could have bitten a child in their home who got too close to their food (while they were eating). They could bite a child that trying to take a toy away from them or bite a child that jumps on them while they’re sleeping.
My point here is that there are unscrupulous, dishonest dog dealers selling dogs that come from these various protection dog sports. They put a sleeve on their decoy and then show their prospective client how tough that dog is.
When in fact, the dog is a sport dog and not a personal protection dog!
When people ask me what I think about getting a protection dog I tell them to go out and find a nice dog. If they really are concerned for their safety, they should get a nice large dog; learn how to manage the dog in their home. Very few criminals are going to come into a home with a dog of stature or rob or kidnap someone that is walking a large dog. If they do, the owner needs to shoot them. Point blank. The military and police K9’s you often see deter things from ever happening by being a psychological deterrent.
Visual intimidation goes a long way.
What the owner can do is to teach their dog to wear a muzzle. Dogs wearing a muzzle send a message to people. Reaching down and sliding the muzzle off the dogs head sends a message to a bad guy. I used to purposely have my Dutchie wear his black basket muzzle in guard mount. He resembled Bane from the Batman movie, so one came near him. Psychological deterrence at its best.
In the end I need to say that it takes a special dog to become a personal protection dog. These dogs are confident and strong both mentally and physically. They need a lot of training and the owner needs to 100% understand the training, handling and management of these dogs. These are truly the Michael Jordan of K9’s.
Be very careful in who you listen to.
I hope I’ve swayed some people not to bring a personal protection dog into their home. Buying a personal protection dog and getting maybe 5 to 10 training sessions to allegedly learn how to handle them is nowhere near enough training or the way to go. Reach out to me and I’ll be glad to do my homework on whomever if it’s still something you’re considering. Bottom line is 99.9% of criminals will walk away from a home or person with a large dog. Those criminals that choose to come through an imposing dog to do you harm need to be shot. Point blank. End of story.