"I want a guard dog!"

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"I want a guard dog!"

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Old 09-01-2014, 03:54 PM
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"I want a guard dog!"

While there are many great reasons to get a dog, getting one to be a "guard dog" should not be one of them. This is especially so when it comes to making the decision to get certain powerful breeds that may have guarding tendencies, like GSD's and rottweilers.

Most people, when they think of how they expect a "guard dog" to behave, imagine a dog that barks and lunges wildly at any intruder or stranger. One that is distrustful and wary. This behavior is not guarding. It is insecurity and fear, and indicative of a highly unstable temperament. Permitting a reactive dog with these issues to "guard" is asking for trouble. If your dog does bite somebody, you are at risk of being sued, and your dog put down. Even if the bite was to an intruder on your property...It might sound backwards (after all, the person who got bit was trespassing), but there have already been cases like this taken to court in the US, and judges have ruled in the favor of the trespasser. In the UK, you and your dog can get in trouble if somebody even just FEELS threatened by your dog.

Keeping a dog like this also unnecessarily endangers others who might visit your house or your neighbors houses frequently, or even emergency responders. This might include your own family/friends. Your or your neighbor's gardener or pest control service person. The mail person, or package delivery people. Police. Paramedics. A dog like that is not going to be able to distinguish bad guys from good guys.

Some people may want to get a dog and train it to attack for personal protection. Like a police dog. Please know that the training that goes into personal protection dogs and law enforcement dogs is extensive, and they have been selectively bred and highly socialized. Police dogs may seem vicious at work, but these are dogs that the human partner takes home every night to sleep in their house and play with their children. If this work is not trained properly, or if it's attempted with a dog that has an unstable or fearful temperament, the result will be a truly dangerous dog that is a liability.

The writer of this blog has actually pulled out several quotes by dog trainers, behaviorists and handlers, including well known names like Jean Donaldson and Patricia McConnell, that explain their take on "guard dogs": Can your “protection dog” protect you from a dog bite lawsuit? | The Unexamined Dog

It's understandable to want a dog for the feeling of safety. But don't let that be the driving reason for getting a dog period, or for getting a specific breed. Keep in mind that any dog is going to "watch" your house and "guard" to some degree, and will likely bark when a stranger approaches or when somebody tries to enter your home. Just having a dog is likely to deter intruders from entering....Some security systems will even play a recording of dog barking, because that alone is often enough to make a burglar think twice about entering.

When selecting a breed, don't let guarding instincts be the priority. Research breeds thoroughly. Know that guard and guardian breeds, such as akitas, rottweilers, german shepherds, Belgium malinois/shepherds, tibetan mastiffs, dobermans, great pyrenese and so on, are not easy dogs to handle. Without proper and extensive socialization with strangers and other dogs, they can become dangerous. Not just to strangers, but to you and your own family. These dogs are not for novice owners. Get a breed that will fit in with your family and your lifestyle. Buy from a reputable breeder that breeds for good temperament, ease of socialization, and health. Take steps to socialize and train your dog to make it safe.

If you are interested in bitework and personal protection training, remember that it is a huge responsibility. Seek out a trainer to guide you, not just for the training of the dog, but to help you pick out a suitable dog for the work. Treat this more as a sport for you and the dog to enjoy together as partners. Don't think of the dog as a loaded gun that you can pull out if you feel threatened. The dog is not there to make you look tough.

If you are truly concerned for the safety of your family and fear break-ins, there are lots of great companies out there that supply and install home security systems. This is your absolute best bet for keeping yourself, and your family (including your dog!), safe. If somebody is hellbent on breaking into your home, a dog will not stop them. Your dog could easily be hurt or killed by an intruder.
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Old 09-01-2014, 04:14 PM
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Not to say that a dog that will protect your family is a bad thing.
Knowing that my dog would give her life for her family if needed, just as I would, is a comfort in my heart.
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Old 09-08-2014, 05:02 PM
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A book could be written on this subject.

Dogs and protection.

You see a dog behind a fence barking and snarling at people who walk by. Is this a good guard dog?

Probably not.

Dogs that are fearful put up a real good show by barking, growling, and making false lunges, but make no mistake these dogs are NOT up to the task of being guard dogs. Dogs are naturally protective BUT this varies greatly by breed, as well as by different lines inside a breed, and then individual dogs within a line, and then the manner in which that dog was raised. Additionally, a dog's protective nature generally doesn't kick in until age 3 or so, when the dog is fully mature.

Now, let's be serious about how we raise our dogs. We almost universally tell our dogs ALWAYS that teeth are not to be used effect change on the world. Be honest, when was the last time your dog bit any human, or any living animal and you gave him praise? We send our dogs messages each and every day that fellow humans are to NEVER NEVER NEVER be attacked. Can we really expect a dog so indoctrinated to really be defensive? No. Not really.

Now, there is a caveat to that. People talk about having dogs that would lick a burglar and carry over a tennis ball hoping for a game of fetch. This is of course based on how their dog greets visitors. Remember though that dogs are very in-tune with people's emotions. The guests you have over, the UPS delivery driver, the Mormon Missionaries, the Salesmen, and Census Taker are all stranger but all are generally giving off a 'peaceful' vibe. Dogs actually can and will pick up on the vibe a criminal in the midst of a crime is going to give off and will act different.

But, there's no guarantee he will act defensively. He may go and hide, he may bark but constantly be backing up, or he may bark for a while and finally engage.

Dogs from breeds that are genetically strong with the defensive behavioral mindset are more likely to respond by (eventually) engaging. Dogs that have for some reason or other been taught that it is good to in the right circumstances force change on the world through teeth are also more likely to engage. Here I am thinking of dogs that are hunters or farm dogs where they have on many occasions used their teeth on things and been praised, just probably not humans.

There are also 'protection' dog sports such as Schutzhund, French Ring, and a few others. Speaking in rough generalities, a dog that participates in those activities is also more likely to actually engage a threat. Those sports weren't invented to just be sports, they were actually conceived as ways of testing how effective and protective a dog was to help further breeding programs for military and police work. However, things have changed and now these sports are just sports. Placing highly and winning is the goal in and of itself. To that end many dogs that excel aren't actually protective or acting in a protective manner when they run down that guy and bite on his padded sleeve. They are playing a game. It's all great fun to them, just like going after frisbees is fun for a Border Collie. For that type of dog, 'playing' the sport of Schutzhund does not equate to necessarily being better than average at actually defending home and hearth.
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Last edited by akodo1; 09-08-2014 at 05:11 PM.
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Old 09-08-2014, 06:00 PM
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"I want a guard dog"...exactly what does a person mean by this?

Dog Present

Most burglars want to get in and get out without much fuss. Any dog, or any signs of dogs will cause them to just go to another house. In this manner a dog increases security, but honestly a doggie bowl and some chewed up toys in scattered around the house would accomplish the same thing. A couch potato greyhound or little dog that would dash away at the sight of a stranger would fall in this category.

Watch Dog.

This is the next step up, and here is where most dog owners should hope to be. The dog thanks to his or her more advanced senses of hearing and scent, detect strangers approaching before the humans do, and bark to both alert the human owners as well as to hopefully scare off the intruder. Different breeds are more or less likely to bark, bark a lot, and bark at the right thing. Hounds and the Spitz breeds are great watch dogs partly because they are keen on barking. Note that while dogs that love to bark make great watchdogs they can cause problems with all that barking. If you are constantly telling your dog to NOT bark when strangers approach your house, realize that your dog will NEVER have the intellect to differentiate between the meter-reader and the burglar. You will need to find some neutral ground where you praise the dog for barking whenever someone comes onto your yard, yet also train him to STOP barking once you have been made aware of the 'intruder'

In the roll of watch dog, any size dog will work. Burglars don't want to get noticed, AND they don't want to get bit, but MAINLY they don't want an armed home owner to investigate and take action.

Also note that in the roll of watch dog you are not expecting your dog to fight off invaders, armed or otherwise. You, the human, need to fill that roll. You the human can decide if that means having a gun and the training to use it properly, a baseball bat under the bed, a taser, pepper spray, or whatever you choose.

Note that it is a certain kind of criminal that chooses to keep on coming even after the dog is barking. He may think the home-owner is not home or that the dog is bluffing or that the dog is in a kennel run or someplace else where the dog actually can't get to him...after all criminal break-ins aren't common and a dog that is willing to run up and bite a stranger trespassing is probably a greater liability than risk of theft, so most people who do have dogs who will bite put up barriers to keep the dog in check. Or, the criminal has brought along something to deal with the dog, such as poisoned meat or a gun.

This is the other reason that size doesn't really play a part in the guard dog roll. A Pomeranian and a Rottweiler are both able to raise a ruckus and scare off a burglar and/or wake the humans present. For a criminal that isn't scared off by the ruckus the dog creates, yes, a Rott is going to be more physically capable of attacking if the criminal is just not scared off by dogs barking because he is dumb/desperate/crazy on drugs. But in most instances of a dog not scaring the criminal off, a Rott and a Pomeranian are both equally vulnerable to a tasty treat with poison, or to bullets. Realize, dogs without actual protection training, who DO eventually have their own protective/defensive instincts kick in and go to attack, this doesn't happen right away. Generally the dog tries to stand it's ground and bark and growl hoping the threat goes away, hoping he doesn't have to attack. This makes the dog very vulnerable to being shot with a gun, or peppersprayed, tased, or whatever.

Dog For Protection

This is a class of dog that comes from a breed known for it's strong defensive instincts as well as it's strong trainability. Common breeds are Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Malinois, Dutch Shepherd, and Doberman. From within these breeds there are 'working' or 'defensive' lines where the parents have specifically been chosen not for show room conformation but for temperament, defensiveness, and trainability. These dogs are then trained by specialists and when the dog is fully matured and fully trained, they are sold. These are dogs that are trained to only eat what the master gives them (this avoids circumventing them by throwing them some food either as a distraction or filled with poison), trained to bark and to stop barking on command, and trained to attack on command (and release on command). These dogs are generally most effective when the human owner is there directing the dog's actions, but can also be left alone to defend a home or yard if given the 'guard' command. Note that when they attack they are often trained to do so silently so they have the element of surprise (less opportunity for the criminal to use his own gun, taser, pepper spray against the dog). Some are trained so that when guarding, in the absence of human command they default to barking to drive the threat away. Training varies by individual trainer, and how much each dog can learn.

Note that these dogs will run you anywhere from $20,000-$50,000 with the very best trainers and the dogs they view as their very best prospects, those prices can easily double.

Junk Yard Dog

These are dogs that are kept someplace with the idea that they will attack and attempt to kill any animal or human that enters 'their' territory. This term of course originates with car parts junk yards who have a tall fence but who still risk intruders hopping over it at night, helping themselves to needed parts and departing. The owner then gets a dog and lets it loose to patrol. But this term works equally well for the Billionaire who has a gated estate and some dobermans who patrol at night willing to attack any trespasser they find.

Note that in today's day and age, the liability involved in this practice has basically driven it extinct in the USA, but there are areas of the world where it is still practiced...areas where there are distinct and wide class differences between the rich and poor, or where justice can easily be influenced by cash. It is for good reason that this practice has basically become extinct. A good(and I use that word loosely) 'Junk Yard Dog' is not selective. It's a roving land-mine with fur. This does not mesh with western society. If your dog rips up the legs of a burglar trying to escape the dog owner is going to be in for a world of hurt let alone one of these dogs going after a neighborhood kid cutting through your yard.

In many cases, especially with the true 'junk yard' dog, these are actually dogs that are scared of everything and hence bark and snarl to drive everyone off, but if a person actually hops the fence, would simply back off and keep on barking, if not silently run off and hide. Other times dogs with true defensive drive would have it 'enhanced' through starvation and then throwing cats or other dogs into that dog's territory and praising the junk yard dog for killing (and possibly eating) the intruder. Additionally, there are a handful of exotic breeds created behind the Iron Curtain for patrolling prisons, military bases, and nuclear sites that by there very nature are basically roving land-mines in fur as their base type with no additional training or encouragement needed. In fact they get trained to be controllable. There were some western breeds who hundreds of years ago were this way as well. Bull Mastiff, designed to be a dog the rich landowners could have roaming their estates and who would kill any trespassers...assumed to be poachers...that they could sink their teeth into. As most of the surrounding folk were peasants, no one was going to say a word to the Barons and Dukes who owned these dogs. Of course a 'death penalty' for the minor crimes of trespassing or shooting the 'King's deer' to feed feed a starving family is something that just isn't acceptable, and that temperament has been bred out of the dog 200 years ago.
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Old 09-08-2014, 09:24 PM
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Amen!!! This can't be stressed enough!

I have Rottweilers and many people asked me why I needed guard dogs?!

They also laugh when I tell them that I will be the one that protects them!

Please, people, research the breeds you are interested in, talk to responsible breeders and owners of said breeds for personal experiences.

Also remember that it can take you years before you are ready for your dog and that's perfectly fine too!
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Old 09-09-2014, 03:41 AM
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The school where Shadow the BC goes teaches dogs to do protection. Shadow started her training and she's done really well in it. We were worried that this would affect her general behaviour but it didn't at all. Since she is so advanced in obedience this to her is just another step up. She follows her 'mothers' cues and commands and looks to her for direction (as much as a BC can with their independent streak).

I think if you spend much time training your dog and you do live in an area or country where at some point your life might be in danger, training your dog to protect you ie not just their natural instinct, with the right cues, it can be very beneficial!

Some dogs however just suck at this, like Leesi's besties who heard the intruder come into the house and just went back to sleep.
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Old 09-13-2014, 10:21 PM
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I want 2 guard dogs! They both count on me to keep them safe.
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Old 09-19-2014, 11:15 PM
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Here's my "Guard Dog" you can tell shes especially vicious by the minnie mouse chair behind her, but she still makes me feel safer when I know shes sleeping in my bedroom closet & my barker is on the foot of the bed. I doubt theyd attack anyone but if someone stepped in my room & she stepped out of the closet.... deterrent for sure. When unknown people pull up to my house I let her out so they see her & just know not to mess with this house. She isnt trained in protection & acts like a normal friendly dog but I know it will deter someone from messing with my house.
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Old 09-30-2014, 05:52 AM
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As a single woman...

It comforts me to know that my dog barks at the doorbell and if strangers come into the house. That the fact my dog looks scary I feel a LOT of security as a single woman who lives alone that someone might be snooping around and I can't hear/see them. But my dog would never attack.

If you want a GUARD dog - it is ESSENTIAL you get him trained for PROTECTION SPECIFICALLY by certified protection trainers. The dog MUST learn to 'settle' 'warn' 'attack' (if god forbid it's necessary) and - perhaps most importantly - 'stop'

If you do not get specialized training, you will just be encouraging your dog to attack anything and will have no control to make him stop, and that could lead to injuries, death, and maybe even lawsuits.

Teaching your dog to attack is like opening Pandora's box especially with naturally protective dogs bred for protection i.e.: Rottweilers, dobermans, GSDs, so it's essential you decide if you want a watchdog or an attack dog.

Some dogs, like English Mastiffs, don't really need protection training since they are naturally extremely protective. That being said the training is essential in equal part to protect and to STOP protecting.
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Last edited by GiantBreedMom; 09-30-2014 at 05:54 AM.
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Old 11-05-2014, 09:20 PM
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For most part there is some excellent sound advice in the various posts. Not suger coating the reality of having a quality trained protection dog is important. Too many owners live in la la land thinking their untrained dog will unleash hell on one or multiple adversaries that are hell bent on killing you and your family. Your dog could love you immensely does not mean it will engage willingly in an all out brutal fight with a human. If done right protection training is a work of art, a masterpiece that showcases the outstanding genetics, quality relationship between dog and owner(handler/trainer). Socializing, confidence building exercises, puppy foundation work all are vital. Of course finding a trainer who understands this is like finding Bigfoot. Sport like Schtzhund, ring sport etc are great sports but they are exactly that SPORT! The training for such is pattern based not reality based. For my psd Dutch shepherd(brindle malinois) his training is reality based. The harsh reality of what he encounters on the streets every night truly tests the character of his breed.
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