Updated: Sep 12
Many dog owners have a misguided idea about their dogs willingness and ability to protect them in a dangerous situation. They may have visions of their dog saving them from a would be attacker, and knowing exactly what to do and how to do it. However the reality is that a vast majority of dogs would just run and hide and another large portion would not preform as a true trained protection dog is supposed to (yes there is a right and wrong way for a dog to attack someone).
Your pet dog who growls at people who approach you is not "being a good dog and defending their owner". This dog sees you as a resource he needs to keep to himself, so he acts out to make others back off. This may seem like a good thing, but it's actually a liability waiting to happen. If your insecure, resource guarding dog mauls someone, justified or not, you will more than likely be sued and your dog could lose its life. This is never something I encourage in your average pet dog, even if an owner is interested in protection training. If a true protection dog is their aspiration, then I will help guide them to a suitable breed we can train as a puppy from the ground up. You need a different kind of relationship with a protection dog. That is not to say they cant play with you, have fun, and be a member of your family; but a protection dog is a partner and needs to be treated as such.
A true protection dog is not "On" 24/7. What I mean by this is they are not blatantly aggressive to every person and every situation all the time. They are more alert than your average dog, yes. But they have an on and off switch. They know when they are working, and when to be on higher alert. Again, they are your partner. You need the type of relationship where they trust you to start the fight, and if need be they can help you end it. Most of the time you would not know a real protection dog unless someone told you, or if you saw them in true action. Just like police dogs, work is work and play is play. And just like the general public, police are not immune to "use of force" investigations when deploying their dogs. I just yesterday read about a police officer who was disciplined for deploying his canine before there was probable cause to. He may not get to be a handler anymore.
Remember when I said there's a right and wrong way for a dog to attack someone? If you watch a true police/military/protection canine they bite down and hold. The flailing comes from the person being bitten, not the dog. They are taught from an early age to get one good hold and stay there until their handler gets control of the person. A dog that bites down, releases, bites again over and over is not a true protection dog. A dog that grabs hold and whips their head back and forth is not displaying proper form. It is not an all out assault on the person, and they can be called off by their handler. If your dog can not be controlled during states of heightened arousal, you do not have the bond necessary for protection work. Your dog must respect your signals to back off and trust you to be lead until such a time as they see you can not be.
Please don't encourage your dog to resource guard you. It's not cute, it's not good, and it can get you both into a lot of trouble. And again, it is coming from the insecurity of losing their most valuable resource, not from having their partners back. If you truly feel you want a protection dog do your research on blood lines and highly skilled trainers to guide you. This is NOT a DIY training situation! There are major, sometimes life or death, consequences if you get it wrong. As always, good luck out there. Reach out if you need our help!
For the Dogs,