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Personal Protection Training Dogs – The Secrets Revealed!

Bite work training has magnetic properties, it attracts Cowboys, Passive aggressive people, keyboard experts, video trained super trainers and a healthy dose of confused people who think bite work creates a vicious dog.

protection training

There is a lot of controversy over protection training dogs, some refer to it as a “black art” and will not allow people to watch or participate in the training, claiming trade secrets would be revealed. “Leave your dog with us and we will train it?” they say.

In my opinion, these people should be given a wide berth as protection training a dog is not about secrets, it’s about working within the limit of the dog’s temperament and creating a dog and handler team.

Good protection training can’t be done in a week, or a month or anything like it. Putting that much pressure and stress on a dog will never produce a reliable worker, but a fear aggressive dog that has been taught it can remove its fear by biting people.

I just want you to think about this for a moment;

Do you think to train a competent martial arts fighter takes two weeks?

How about even teaching someone a new language? Two weeks to make them fluent in the new language so that could communicate flawlessly on their own?

If you could train someone to learn these skills in that time, would you also expect them to remember them for life and be able to perform them flawlessly without practice?

protection training

Also do some research: –

Ask your local Police Dog Unit how long it takes them from getting a dog to basic operation status? (don’t ask if it can be done in two weeks, they will laugh)

Contact your nearest Air force Base and ask them how long it takes to train a Military Working dog from obtaining the dog to certified and ready for deployment.

Look I know there are people offering “Leave your dog with me for a few weeks and we will train that dog as a protection dog“. I know it sounds sweet, perhaps just what you’re looking for, but could it be too good to be true?

I am afraid it is.

I don’t doubt that you would go and collect your dog and your dog would show aggression towards the decoy, maybe even bite him, and if you call that protection training then you have the results you were after, but if you are also interested in your dogs state of mind, reliability, ability to distinguish a real threat from a friend walking into your backyard, then you may not have received what you want.

I am going to cover a brief outline of what training a personal protection dog means to me. The list below are the categories that we cover in the training of a personal protection dog.

Temperament evaluation

The dog needs to have the drives and nerves for this type of work, building this work on a weak foundation will see the work fall to pieces under pressure GUARANTEED.

Physical Assessment

The dog needs to have the structure and health to be a fighter, how about we train your dog for two years and retire it after all that time and money because it has hip problems?

Handler Assessment

Putting a weapon in the wrong hands is a mistake, you need reason to have us create this type of dog for you. Simply if you can handle a dog like this and are responsible, this is probably enough.

Available Time

You will need time to train and exercise your dog, it isn’t a piece of machinery that you can put up in the shed for storage.

Once the assessment has been completed and were ready to begin we will be providing training as you need it on: –

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  • Foundation of drive work
  • Fitness and Strength Training
  • Equipment
  • Obedience and Control
  • Target zones – arm, leg, body bite suit
  • Handler training and deployment
  • Scenario and On location Training
  • Building – Room – Location Search tactics
  • Tuning and Maintenance Training
  • Tactics and Deployment
  • Legal Obligations and Limitations of dogs as a use of force.

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We would be building a Canine Athlete that knows the fighting methods, styles and rules of engagement, you need to understand this is a serious business and needs to be trained properly. It is far from just getting a dog to bite or bark, this may initially be impressive but can turn into a liability fast.

Here are some things to note about our Protection Training

  • We never ask you to leave your dog with us or complete any training without you present, watching or participating.
  • We will not overly stress or pressure your dog.
  • Your dog will never be harmfully hit or hurt intentionally.
  • We only ever work one dog and client at a time unless requested by you.
  • The training is progressive, this means that layers will be added progressively, so if you see your dogs capability increasing to a level your happy with, we can move to a maintenance program and not train further skills.
  • You may just need a dog that will stand up to a threat and bark, but no bite training. Perhaps you need a dog that will bite and release on command or a dog that will take on multiple decoys and work on full body bites on the bite suit.
  • We concentrate heavily on scenario based training, rather than repetitive agitation. An example of repetitive agitation is bringing the dog to the same location, working the same moves, with the same decoy every week for 6 months. It’s no surprise when these dogs are slow to react in the street or don’t react at all.
  • Decoy work needs to be imaginative and reflect real life scenes.

The ideal protection dog is a confident animal that is comfortable doing the work, not one that bites out of fear or is under extreme stress. This at best will produce a dog that indiscriminately will bite or attack anyone it isn’t sure of, at worst; it may become dominant and bite the owner/handler.

Once a dog goes through this type of training, the damage is irreversible, not only will you never be able to train this dog reliably in protection work, but you may end up putting the dog down, as it’s just plain dangerous.

Here are some of my top tips when choosing a trainer.

  • Ask what they will be doing and how that will translate to producing a dog that will do what you need it to.
  • Ask what drive they will be working the dog in and will there be any drive interaction.
  • Ask how the trainer will apply pressure and how they will deal with the stress this creates.
  • Finally observe the trainer, their equipment and the way they conduct the training or plan to, if it doesn’t look like it is going to be aimed at creating the target behaviour or looks hectic and out of control, leave…

If you do have a dog that has the genetics to do this work, it is valuable to maintain the dogs integrity, respect the years of genetics that are within that dog and find a good trainer.

Just like all our blog posts, we would love you to comment below…

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15 comments

  1. Hi Stevek your post is outstanding. I completely agree with your comment. Waiting for your next post..

  2. Great article a lot of facts about personal protection dogs

  3. The best sense of security comes to you when you keep the best personal protection dogs with you. Their bite causes pain, and everybody whom you consider is a threat to you knows about it.

  4. There are thousands of blogs that requires comments on them. What is the intention of blog comments? Sent From Blackberry.

    • Hey Andrea, the idea of allowing replies and comments is so that the post can promote discussion and the information can be more tailored to the questions and comments added.

  5. After being privy to some of your training sessions and remembering Ouzo both during and after training I realise exactly how important this is. Great article again Steve, hopefully it opens some blind eyes.

  6. Great post Steve – and a very timely one for me. Most of my queries and uneasiness have been answered but do have one question: would you teach bite-pillow work on a non-working, reactive/aggressive dog over 12 mths without having trained basic obedience? I understand “training in drive” (or I should…lol!!) but am confused as to what this type of training (bite work) leads to if there is no basic obedience to begin with or am I not seeing the wood for the trees?????
    PS – this question is from my observations re average pet owners who want their dogs to be protective at home and not in reference to Skye!

    • Hey H, in theory you could use a bite pillow as a tug and use this to channel drive, add a TID reward program, but it is a big tug and no better in my opinion for drive work than a hand held tug if your not going for protection at some stage.

      The lack of OB isn’t a concern if no aggression is being trained with the pillow, it is no more risky than the tug, but again, there probably should be some goal to it?

      Having a bite pillow won’t in anyway train the dog to protect a home, having that said, if I am reading you right, your talking about the average Joe who invests in a bite pillow and has his mates tease / threaten his dogs and have them take a bite on the pillow.

      I pretty much hope these guys never die out, they are so funny to watch when the dog bites so called friend as they have no clue.

      I have been sent video’s of people playing helper and as soon as I see them in shorts, a white singlet and thongs I know I am looking at a quality decoy.

      In the end I use a bite pillow to transition a dog to a sleeve, not for protection work, I wouldn’t agitate a real dog with a bite pillow in my hand, thats why I have both arms still intact!

  7. Great article Steve everything you say here is so valid Genetics are vital as is correct training using the dogs natural drives and a trainer understanding them. After years of watching both good and bad trainers at work the sad thing about the bad ones is they make the job 100 times harder for the good trainers. purely by the damage they do to public image alone. I am so happy to see someone come out and be honest about it.I have owned a fully trained (by good trainer) PP dog andshe had her CD titled and was a AUST CH in Confirmation both these acheived whilst and after she completed her training and nobody new any different due to the fact she was and remained totally approachable.

  8. Good article. I totally agree with your coments.

  9. Hey Steve where do I start you hit the nail on the head big time. Especially in the security when I see guards working 6 month old dogs , dogs that are neurotic and handler aggressive , trained in protection without even basic obedience in place and I could list all night.

    I think two of the basic problems are the fact there are no standards in place ( in Qld ) for minimum standards of what constitutes a personal protection / security patrol dog. I feel this is due to a lack of a nationally recognised certification for dog protection trainers so anyone can hang out a shingle and start doing protection training. Also lack of governing body like NASDU in the UK to certify handlers or dogs.

    People don’t realise that owning a Pp dog is a 24/7 job. Anyway I could go on and on but you definitely hit the mark with this one.

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