Personal Protection Dog - Things You Should Know And Consider

Personal Protection Dog - Things You Should Know And Consider

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Personal Protection Dog - Things You Should Know And Consider

In this article, I am going to discuss some aspects that you should consider if you are looking for a sport dog or personal protection K-9.

Before you buy a personal protection dog or consider training a dog for personal protection, you may want to do some research. There really isn't much advice out there for the person looking to obtain a personal protection dog besides those who are selling personal protection dogs to you. I get emailed a lot of questions so I decided to make a post with some random thoughts, advice, and ideas, and me just being the devil's advocate. The dog world is a very unregulated industry and attracts a lot of unethical individuals. You don't always know who you can trust. So here is a list of some info on my points.

I have been around the block in this field for the past 4 years now I'm still learning all the time and now I enjoy learning and studying. I have ignited a passion that won't fizzle out. I have found a way to do what I love, even if it's only part time for now. I have goals – great and exciting ones. I have discovered things about my own dogs I never knew or understood before and my bond with them has grown and continues to grow. My dogs aren't perfect – they need work. But I have the tools and resources so that they have improved and continue to improve. Most surprising to me is the human friends I have made. I have found people that are as passionate about dogs as I am. I have expanded my social network and meet great people in life and online, all with an interest in dogs.

I have been at the other end of the phone and training field with dozens of people who spent a lot of money and did not get what they expected when they bought a personal protection dog. I get a lot of emails asking for advice and have heard all their stories. So below is some info that will relate to the most common questions I receive and/or wish the average person knew before they purchased a personal protection dog or pursued personal protection training for their dog.

A sport dog is not a personal protection dog

Be familiar with the dog sports of Shutzhund and French Ring in particular. Many places are just reselling dogs that are titled in these sports and dog sports similar to these with little to no cross training in real personal protection training. Sometimes they will demo the sport exercises off the training field and in realistic environments to make it look like real protection. Don't be fooled. Unless the dog is cross trained it may look real to the untrained eye but what you are seeing is a game to the dog. Without the pads and sleeve they wouldn't know that they are supposed to bite and why? Often these dogs are biting the pads off of the same people who take care of them. In most of these sports the dog is working to bite the equipment and is desensitized to think stick hits don't hurt (the original purpose was to prove the dog can take a beating and not be intimidated easily). But just because a dog can take a beating with a padded stick doesn't mean you should set the dog up for failure when they are encountered by someone who is going to hit them over the head with a lead pipe or ax.

Sport training is fun for the dog and more like a glorified game of tug-o-war than personal protection training. Dog sports are good and serve the purpose of selecting good breeding and training candidates but without cross-training it is NOT personal protection training and there is no guarantee that they will react correctly. If a sport dog without cross-training, performs successful personal protection in the real world, they probably would have done it anyway with or without the sport title. Some dogs with sports titles will NOT protect when faced with the unexpected experience of a real threat. I know this for a fact & I have seen it firsthand. The fact that a dog has a sport title will usually drive the price of a dog way up but for the sake of personal protection, it is not needed and can be misleading to what the dog will do in real life. Sometimes it is an easy way for brokers to sell "personal protection dogs", because they can get away with just giving a demo of the dog's predictable sport routine to the uneducated buyer without doing any cross-training.

You do not always get what you pay for, sometimes you do

What are you paying for? Hopefully, a return in investment. Even the most ethical trainers can't get by the cost of a fully trained adult dog. There are usually many hours of labor from multiple trainers over many months of time. Even the dog with no training, is usually worth a pretty penny. Someone is compensated for breeding, raising and feeding that dog for at least 18 months to over 3 years. There is often more than one middleman in the exchange of a good candidate. Sometimes the dog goes from the breeder to an importer/broker to a trainer/business and then to you.

Many dog businesses import a sport titled dog, quadruple the price and let it live in a kennel without any further training until someone buys it.

Personal protection dogs are needed for defense NOT offense.

Unless you are law enforcement or some type of vigilante, there is no reason to be sending a dog to attack a fleeing person that is not a direct threat to you or family members. If you can escape to safety or a phone there is no need to send a dog to “attack” a person who is not challenging your personal space. Some dogs will never make good police dogs or sport dogs because they have no desire to chase someone to the ends of the earth to bite them, but will readily defend their owner if the need arises. This is why you very rarely see any of the flock guardian breeds in law enforcement or sport, but individuals from these breeds are often excellent personal protection dogs. A dog doesn’t have to be very prey driven to do this work.

What this means to you? You do not usually need the “top bloodlines in the world” for personal protection training. Guaranteed I can go to your local shelter and find a dog there that will defend you to a degree with minimal training. What is most important about choosing a dog for defense is the ability and instinct to defend and good solid nerves – not high prey drive. I have worked with dogs that worked great if they were on the offense, but would run away if placed on the defense and felt threatened.

Sport Dog Prey Drive vs. Protection Dogs Defense Drive

Often we hear and read about the drive of the working dog. You can find several good articles on the internet that define prey, defense, and fight drive. However, in this article, I am going to compare the difference in the drive between sport dogs and personal protection dogs. A Sport dog needs high levels of prey drive and this is a big part of what increases the activity level. Note: this drive will trigger the dog's instinct to chase, catch, and kill (bite) which is necessary for bite sports (Schutzhund, Ring Sport, etc).

These dogs generally do have varying degrees of defense drive. This helps bring intensity to the fight after the chase or pursuit is over and the dog is on the bite. Personal protection dogs do not need high levels of prey drive. They are usually on a leash, or at home, protecting the family or property. These dogs do not need to chase, catch and bite everything that is moving or exciting. Note: some prey drives can help in the early stages of training and also decrease the level of stress on the bite. Defense drive however is very important. These dogs should be less forward and more protective in the presence of strangers. A defense driven dog remembers faces, places and are more in tune with its surroundings than a prey/activity-driven dog.

The anti-social guard dog option

May be you are the anti-social type and don’t have many guests coming around. May be you live in a very secluded area. Most shelters have dogs that are excellent with the people they are bonded with, but are very suspicious of outsiders. Create a bond with these dogs, put a little bit of obedience into them, and you usually have a great budget personal protection dog (and guard for the property) that is not going to stand there and watch as someone threatens you. You will sleep well at night knowing that this option isn’t going to lick the face of someone climbing in your window. The con of this option is that this dog may require closer supervision and management if needed to be brought into social situations. But for the right responsible person can be a rewarding choice – especially paired with the right obedience program.


I want to emphasize how important control is in the personal protection dog. The dogs with the sharpest instincts to protect are potentially a liability and danger to friends and visitors without good control, boundaries, and structure.

You want the real deal?

In the rare case, you believe someone might challenge a personal protection dog, the last thing you want is a dog that was trained to take a beating with a stick that causes no harm. If someone is going to challenge a dog it will not be a competition clatter stick – it will be an ax, a crowbar, lead pipe, bat, etc. If you want to rely on the dog for real direct physical challenges, you must make sure the dog is trained for real direct physical challenges.

Some dogs can do it, but most just can’t.

It doesn’t matter what breed or sex the dog is. Some dogs can be personal protection dogs and others just can’t no matter how much training you put into them. If starting with a pup you can increase the odds by picking from a litter of proven lines and running some temperament tests. Ultimately you won’t know for sure if the dog will do personal protection until he/she matures.

With older dogs, an experienced trainer can usually run a few tests to see if he/she is a candidate without having to wait for the dog to mature. Attempting to train a dog to do personal protection that doesn’t have the instincts or correct temperament can be cruel to the dog. Most dogs do not excel at personal protection training no matter how much training you do with them. You usually need to seek out a candidate.

Here are some potential red flags when considering a personal protection dog for sale

Is the dog biting a big sleeve and getting hit with a stick? Give the dogs some credit, they are actually smarter than that. This is a game, they want to pull the sleeve off the guy and run away with it. They are not defending themselves or the handler and probably have not been trained to. A seller that promises the dog will protect you, double as a nanny, and fold your laundry. If you don’t see it, don’t believe it. Dogs capable of personal protection should never be left in the care of a child period and should not be left to make their own decisions if left out in the yard with a child playing. Dogs can be fooled and dogs can make bad decisions.

Super-duper elite executive protection dog packages – Same thing here. If the dog will do all those things be sure you see it and wonder why you will only need a two-day handling course or VCD to be trained to handle a dog like this. Training is only as good as the person in control of the dog, therefore the more advanced the training the more advanced the handler training should be or else it is useless.

Tests for the Personal Protection Dog

If you decide that want to invest money in a fully trained personal protection dog, these are tests that you must do if you are going to rely on this dog to actually engage with an attacker.

The muzzle test: Will this dog defend and do everything that is promised if the dog is wearing a muzzle and the attacker is wearing only jeans and a t-shirt (and no bite pads)? If the dog is trained to bite the legs will it defend if the person is wearing shorts?

The passive test: Does the agitator have to act “like an agitator” to alert the dog? Some dogs will only give the display that you are hoping will deter a creepy individual if they start shaking a stick or making herky-jerky movements or exaggerated “bad guy” postures or dressed in a big puffy suit or wearing a big padded sleeve.

The hidden sleeve or hidden suit test: Will the dog bite, without hesitation, agitators wearing hidden protection under various types of clothing?

Is this dog controllable? Seriously will this dog be controllable by you? If the trainer has to yell at the dog or choke him off a bad guy or throw his arm out jerking the dog expect you will have to do the same to control him. A poorly trained dog can cause more of a danger to family and friends than that of being an asset to your feeling of safety and well-being. And just because a dog has earned an obedience title or sport title don’t assume he is going to be a dream to handle in the real world, off the training field, where there are cats, skateboarders, neighbors’ dogs, and kids running around. See it first and then believe it.

The best advice for a personal protection dog

If someone asks and time is on their side, I say get a dog with solid genetics from a proven line that has done the work, raise it correctly, socialize it and train it in off-leash obedience. A dog that has the instinct to protect will protect. It doesn’t need much training to do that. What separates the personal protection dog from a dog that will bite is the control that the owner has on that dog and the ability to bring the dog with you places so that the dog will be there to act as a deterrent and if needed act upon his instinct to protect you.

A dog, can of course be trained how to fight an attacker more effectively but the dog picks up more bad habits than good from most dog sports (such as allowing themselves to get beat with an object or thinking there is going to always be some kind of padded arm to bite). I prefer to not have to undo some of that training and start with a dog that hasn’t been exposed to the preferences of sports work. A dog that will naturally bite the most aggressive body part will be able to stay in the fight longer and keep a true attacker occupied long enough to give you the greatest chance for escape.

The only way to be smooth in intense situations is to practice the drills, hence all the fire drills as a kid. If you have a real need for this type of dog regularly scheduled scenarios with a professional or club is recommended – not a videotape.

A real protection dog requires solid nerves, learning aptitudes and the qualities to be a good companion dog. In Saharikenn9 we have developed our own line of real protection and defense dogs. Our long list of satisfied costumers testifies to the high quality of our dogs

Please contact us if you are interested in protection/guard Dog training or available trained dogs for sale.

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