Personal Protection Dogs – Some things you should know.

Personal protection training - Dog Training at our facility
A test on this Dobie using an undercover bite suit.

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 from 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, 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 and I’ll mix in some videos to demo my points.  Excuse the sloppiness of this post, I will most likely come back and add to it or brush it up.

Why listen to me?

I have been around the block in this field.  I was formally trained in the sport of schutzhund and in personal protection training,  I have trained for private security, government agencies, and for people desiring protection.  Personal protection training has been a steady part of my business since 1998.

Also, I have been at the other end of the phone and training field with dozens of people (who spent a LOT of money) who 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 a purpose for 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 sport 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:

Prices for trained personal protection dogs can range from $4500 (or less) to over $50,000.

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 are often more than one middlemen 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.

But, I have dealt first hand with trainers that will simply charge what they think they can get from you.  I have known of one trainer who demoed several dogs to a potential buyer and showed the same dog twice (only changing the collar), called it a different name, and gave it a twice as high price tag second time out.  In this way he covered his bases of not losing a sale with a “bargain dog”, but also not losing out if the client wanted “the best money could buy”.  Seems outrageous, but 100% true.

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 (as I mentioned above).

I have known of another trainer that asked a buyer how much he was looking to spend.  The answer was $18,000 and the trainer said, “Well, I just happen to have a personal protection dog that I think you will like and it just so happens he is $18,000”.  He would have sold the mediocre dog for half that amount.  Smart business or unethical business?  It is not really farfetched to what happens when you haggle at the car dealership or at a farm market – but it is the truth in this industry.

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.  In a video below I will show you a dog that you would never guess ran away from creepy people.

The anti-social guard dog option

Back to the shelter…  Maybe you are the anti-social type and don’t have many guests coming around.  Maybe 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.

Control, Control, Control

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.

Personal Protection Dog vs. Gun?

Gun will generally win – this is common sense.  You and your dog’s best chance is if he is trained to bite the aggressive arm.  This might buy you time to escape, but common sense tells us that the dog may die.  If you are a gun owner, the dog may buy you some time to get your own gun and even out the odds. Know your limitations with a personal protection dog.

Some dogs can do it, 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 level 1000 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 VCR tape 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.

Must Do 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 ol’ 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 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 think 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 sport 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 video tape.

These are examples of some Exercises to practice with an experienced trainer for the personal protection dog –

Attack on the handler – The most basic and most important for the personal protection dog.  If a dog does not practice these drills with the owner, the owner can accidently be bit by the frantic dog not exposed to the situation.

Keeping someone at bay – a dog lunging at the end of the leash is hopefully all you will ever need to stop someone from approaching closer.

Attack on the dog – Think like an attacker.  Won’t it make sense for an attacker to try to scare away or disable the dog first?  This is why it is very important for a dog to NOT ignore an object in the hand.

Attack on the dog while someone attacks the owner – This is a likely multiple attacker scenario.  Someone may attempt to occupy the dog while a second assaults the handler.  The priority is to teach the dog to flee from any kind of encounter with a person to get to the handler/family member in need.

Multiple attackers in general – If there is ever going to be a situation  where the training and experience of the dog is going to be a huge factor in making or breaking the likelihood of a person escaping an assault, compared to the situation with an untrained dog, this is it.

Any other scenario that may be likely for your personal situation.


We have a “bite club” for our clients that are interested in practicing personal protection scenarios and training – suits are used to teach the dog to bite (sleeves are RARELY used) all the handlers of the dogs are OWNERS of the dogs – they are there to practice drills.  None of the dogs have any sport titles and most don’t have any exceptional pedigree.  The only thing that they have in common is the natural instinct to protect which you cannot train into a dog.

An important thing to note is the control of the dogs in the videos:  All the dogs were trained in off-leash obedience first.  Then, the dogs and handlers had to master controlling their dogs in different difficult situations, and THEN the dogs were allowed to go through personal protection training.  If an owner can not call their dog away from the front door when someone is knocking, they should not be training the dog to master his fighting skills.

Here are some personal protection videos that illustrate some points:

This is a newer video that shows a couple of dogs being trained to focus on the weapon:

Here is the rottie in the previous level at an earlier date (before he mastered going to the weapon) performing a multiple attacker scenario.  Note that the dog is being used for defense and escape of handler.

Here is a video of a Malinois doing a defense scenario and practicing avoiding the hit of a crow bar.

Note that the obedience allows for better safety of the dog since the dog can escape with the handler.

Here is a video of dogs doing various personal protection exercises at the “bite club” for owners of these dogs to master handling techniques and for the dogs to get better and more confident with different scenarios.  It is usually a lifetime commitment for owners to own a dog with types of skills.  Note that we test the dogs on muzzles and hidden sleeves.  We also have a full hidden suit that fits tightly under clothes (not seen in video):

Here is an older video of a dog being used OFFENSIVELY not defensively.  You would never guess by watching this video, but this particular dog would run away from anyone who truly creeped him out.  I am the one taking the bites from him, but I was also his care taker and he really loved me.  I am not saying that all dogs that are used for offense will run away from a threat, but I am just giving an example of how what you see may be deceiving.  He only wanted to peel the suit off me and drag it around.  We got a lot of calls for the purchase of this dog, but we ultimately gave him away for free to a good home because we knew he didn’t have the correct temperament to be a realiable personal protection dog.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the post. Sorry so sloppy.  If you want stay updated on any new blog posts I put up, BE SURE TO JOIN MY MAILING LIST BELOW AND FACEBOOK PAGE HERE: Click for my facebook fan page.

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  1. malcolm

    Very well said. I have been working with Police canines for about 20 years now. I have seen so many Police and Personal protection dogs that are a joke ! A very good video for sure !

  2. Vladimir

    Who cares that the article is “sloppy”, and it’s not BTW. This is THE article on personal protection!!!! I don’t even know you and based on what I read I would send my dog to you for any kind of training. No, I am not a trainer but I read a lot on the topic, I use common sense and I am very analytical. Your logical thinking, responsibility and attention to details is what separates you from other so called trainers. The only other place I would also send my dog for any kind of training is Red Star Kennel (RSK), feel free to check out their website. It is pretty much IDENTICAL read about personal protection dogs, except that I haven’t ever read anything about a dog focusing on a weapon. That is amazing!!!!! I don’t know if RSK is doing that too but it is not mentioned on their website.
    Thank you for such an educational article!!!!! Considering that you are in NY and RSK is in WI maybe we will meet one day. I currently live in Boston MA. I do want to go and visit RSK and see their presas.
    Thank you once again.

  3. TremaineGordon

    Real good info i have seen alot of “SLEEVE” dogs get sold for crazy amounts of money… whats funny is you take the sleeve off and the dog is your best friend no matter what you do to it

  4. O.Rego

    A very impressive set of videos and I commend you for mastering an incredible method of dog and owner training! Absolutely loved the last video with the (bad) human, who had an accident while master was out! I expect once the videos go mainstream you are going to be real busy. Congratulations…..

  5. Melody

    Great info.
    To Tremaine; unless a “sleeve” trained dog is being sold as a personal protection dog it’s not crazy. In sportdog training that is exactly what you want & they are sold for lots of money but responsible people sell them for sportdog work not a PPD.

  6. I always thought Sporting Dogs can perform well as Personal Protection Dogs, was proven wrong by this post actually. Along with some other valuable points too, that are quite foreign to me at first. This is an eye opener and I’m glad I’ve read it all(though it required a few minutes and a few cups of coffee). Would like to read more of these Mike, terrific work!

  7. Tony Fitch

    I have been training dogs for over 42 years . I’ve been out of the business for 8 years . There is so much bullsh;t in dog training today like clickers and a new scientific method . I’m happy to know that there are still some good trainers doing the right thing . Protection dogs are not a sport .

  8. Tyler

    lol i agree 100% with you guys… you two are soo realistic, the dog world needs way more trainers like you. people that are truly trainers and practice in sports like ringsport and shutzand know 100% that there dogs are working/comp dogs and that is all. on the other hand there are “sales people” who train a dog to bite a sleave and let go on comand just for a video then put there living “check” in a kennel and maybe provide a good life untill he is sold. honestly i have seen some people not even train their dog to “out” and say “hes a protection dog. but when they go to get the dog off the sleave the dog bites the handler too. i dont know about you but to me that is very F*CKING dangerous and those people should sell cars or t.vs at futureshop. no? like come on lets face it, if your dog loves you and actualy wants to work for you, he will put his life on the line for you in a heart beat. now lets say you beat the ****&*% out of you dog on a regular basis so your dog sits, or you take the leash of you dog and you dog runs as fast as he can the other way chances are if he sees you getting hurt he will be more likely to (not literaly) grab a bag of pop corn and high five the person hurting you. do you defend the bully at school? no you join in when others beat on him. dogs are a hell of a lot smarter than us, they can tell you energy they dont feed into your lying one bit. so if you are not actually in danger the dog will not do anything, if your friends come to the door and he bites them all he is not a gaurd dog he has agression issues that should be delt with ASAP before they sue you for everything you own. as a kid i took alot of beatings because of being a nerd cuz i liked dogs alot or because i was 3foot f*k all or probably alot of other reasons too. i can admint it but i know damn well i was a good dog owner because if some one tried to hurt me my rescued shepherd would stop it asap. this dog was 9 years old, she was roaming in the bush pretty deep in it too, i was acres away from her, i could not see her at all, some punks decided they would jump me with sticks, hit me only once and the dog flew out of a bush and helped me out. she knew something was wrong even before i did i swear. she was never given training for that work (all through i trained the dog to do everything else imagainable) she put her neck on the line for me more than once. when we got her she was literally afraid of her own shadow or the door or my 1foot tall stuffed animal. i guess the moral is if you show any animal or human for that matter respect and treat it with dignaty they will protect you at any cost. no matter what! dont get me wrong though i washed the dogs disk out EVERY time she ate or got water. you could see your reflection at the bottom at all time well unless there was food in it:). soo enough of my rambling i would just like to say i really respect the work you do and would like to someday like to take part in your goal.

    Thank you for reading my late night ramble.


  9. Kyle Seagrove

    That is the best article I’ve read on protection dogs so far. Since I moved to North America, I could not find ANYBODY who would understand the diffrerence betweeen a “protection training” and “sport training”.
    I bred dogs (not a puppy mill, but a real kennel) my entire life. Own couple of European Champions. My females were not allowed more than 3 litters in life.
    And some of my dogs were trained protection dogs. I got a new dog now here in Toronto, and he was given away because people could not handle him. I turned him 180 degrees around. But he has a great potential to be a protection dog. I just need someone who will help me train him AND my partner. It’s his first dog, but he’s learning fast.

    Anyway, what I wanted to say is that I loved the article, and very happy that I found a person that actually knows what he’s talking about.
    Thank you!

  10. Paul

    This is the best, most comprehensive article on the distinctions between various levels of dog skills (but then, what’s new fro you guys) ; it also parallels the types of training in people when demanding self defence skills, but actually getting sport training.
    LOve the warnings about the increased levels of care and responsibility required for anti social protectors – same goes for people.

  11. Willow

    Great info ! Have been looking for solid information on what I did “right” that helped my “he who grew real big…real fast..and was a challenge” Bingo become the most mellow yet protective Shep/Malmute/? mix. Always had dogs…I believe the best thing I did right was get a” professional” trainer to one on one with me and family. Basic training,off leash and hand commands. Children (girls) were 4 and 9, we lived rural. Had our older lab who was wonderful little mother and then our Bingo who eventually hit near 150 lbs. and was a courageous “character”. We never could have “controlled” him without the benefit of training…us and him. He was neutered. He saved my youngest from assault by a pervert…no attack..all he did was lunge and hold. (we had a mouth policy…but hold was OK). Left a few bruise..the jerk pulled away and got scratched from his watch. Animal control were in awe that the idiot still had his hand and vouched for Bingos character.
    We were lucky to find him. locally..born and around children in a responsible family. so I felt good getting him. Once I came home (fenced property) and found a trespasser frozen down by the pond. Had signs posted (some never listen !). He saw me and yelled….help…I’ve been here a half hour, your dog won’t let me leave. Bingo was circling this fellow. Now when local children/to teens came around…Bingo was happy for their company. “Just doing his job sir…put down your fishing pole and be quiet”. Called Bingo…and that was that. I warned this trespasser to stop hopping fences where Beware of Dog is posted.
    Miss him and appreciate his character and sense of duty. When I was alone on property , he literally began a new routine…ran in and checked every room in house. He would sit up at bedrrom porch door until I fell asleep. Never trained him to do those things.
    I would love another such as Bingo. But…tell ya what…I would always get professional guidance !! One cannot be the confused boss when the dog outweighs you by 40 lbs ! Must be a partnership with definate boundries and bonds. Amazes me so many people just think they can have large dogs and get away without responsible training. I should credit my lab mother Shadow for some of his socialization . And my children for following “most” of the rules. And friends who were really hesitant at first but learned Bingo was no threat despite his size so I didn’t have to isolate him from life in a famiily. And to the people who bred this mixed breed line for temperment.
    Thanks for your responsible open approach,information and a chance for me to “blab” !

  12. Sophie

    Well written and informative. We are looking to buy a smart, loving calm family protection German Shepherd dog so I began my research, after swimming through an avalanche of information and I began to think that a protection dog was really wired and high energy dog and not really a family dog. And family dog was calm loving and gentle. The protective “executive ” had this crazy price tags of 25 grand I felt that it made me feel like there were something unethical going on… you can almost sense it .I decided to really proceed with caution and learn as much as I could, but it all seemed like the same info. . I finally came across this article and you really shed light on the subject with your honesty , experience and knowledge . You really give the field the respect, that it deserves. I also believe that the bloodline of the dogs will create some innate tendencies I would love to send my puppy once adopted to you for training,

  13. Kabir

    Hello,I’m from India. And I just happened to come across your website via google.
    I’ve been studying dogs -their training,behaviors,massage etc(esp. about Pitbulls,since i own one) .And since i badly wanted to learn to train dogs professionally,I was thinking of training under a local trainer who was a Millitary dog trainer.but then i just happened to read this whole article,And now i think,I am more enlightened about Protection/Guard dog training.

    Now it seems,the more i read about dogs,the lesser i know. And Please,do let me know if I would be allowed to join you guys to learn more about dogs under your tutelage,if given a chance I would come down there. I am damn interested in your techniques & knowledge about Canine friends.E-Mail me.


  14. Joyce Hettrick

    I’ve trained border collies to work stock for years and for obedience as well as German Shepherds. Due to a stalker who is getting out of prison soon, I have decided to get a personal protection dog and have purchased a young, but well started Dutch Shepherd. Even as an experienced dog trainer, I am engaging a professional trainer for this dog. Right now she is at a trainer’s for some advanced training and will be coming home this weekend to get started with bonding with my son and me. I am looking forward to continuing her training and working with her, as well as learning some new dog training techniques myself.

    I am hoping that she will not only be a companion, but that if push comes to shove, she will sacrifice herself to give me the extra 30 seconds to get my weapon…”God made man, Mr. Colt made us equal.”

  15. This remains the best article on PPDs I have yet read. I wish you guys were down here. I’m a dog trainer (mostly family pet manners classes, private behavior modification, & obedience or conformation competition classes) in the upstate South Carolina area & I’ve been involved in Central Asian Shepherd Dogs for about 4 years. I compete in obedience, conformation, & weight pull & my dogs are also working livestock guardians & property guardians. I had my first litter about a year ago & have another planned for (hopefully) next year.

    I’m ready to start scenario training on my adult bitch, Astrid. She’s completed the appropriate health & temperament stability testing & is solid in offleash obedience & control, & is also extremely well-socialized & safe in public. But I can’t find a trainer in my area who will do even a basic civil defense test, let alone the kind of training I want done (disabling the weapon arm, defense rather than offense, muzzle work, pretty much all the stuff you teach). They’re all Schutzhund trainers & the only breeds they know how to work are GSD, Mals, etc. Nothing wrong with those breeds, I have a great deal of respect for them & those who train them. But I need someone who has experience with a wider selection of breeds or at the very least is willing to learn how to work dogs with little or no prey drive but tons of natural defense drive, & who doesn’t want to try to train my dog as though she is a sport dog. Also having a hard time finding anyone who doesn’t want to take my dog & train her for me. Um no, you teach me & my dog together. I’m her owner, I’m the one who’s going to handle her if a real life situation occurs, I’m the one she needs to listen to. Not like she’s going to tolerate a total stranger anyway, Central Asians are not push button dogs who will work for whoever is holding the leash. It’s frustrating how little creativity & innovation is in the protection training industry & how hard it is to find anyone with any knowledge beyond their own extremely narrow experience. Your site & your work is hugely refreshing.

    Anyway, just wanted to commend you for your fantastic article, always informative & entertaining videos, & general common sense philosophy toward the training of working protection dogs. And if you are ever within driving distance of me for a workshop or anything, I AM THERE. In the meantime, my search continues!

  16. Chris

    Thank you for this wonderful article. Like many readers, I too have struggled to find a path forward to a solid defensive dog for my family. After surveying the market and talking to many dog behaviorists and trainers, I did very much follow the spirit of this article. Some tips to share with others. Start with a compreshensive (but realistic) list of skills that you need from the dog. Start searching online for dogs that have good genetics and clean bill of health. Starting with the internet, pictures and videos initially make the decision less emotionally biased. Find an expirienced trainer that is open and honest, shares the same philosophy and has a history of PPDs. Talk to previous clients and ask them lots of questions. Go and meet the dogs that you have preselected. Make a connection. IMHO The most important characteristic is the disposition of the dog (alone/with your family/with unknowns). We have found the newest family member (2 year old female mal named Shadow)who is being trained 4 hours from our home for the next 8 months. She is an in-house dog, bred and raised by our trainer. We work cooperatively on the skills outlined in the list (refined by the article above), statusing progress from a daily training log. The trainer has come to our home and done “a day in the life” to better understand context and refine the training approach and scenarios. We (myself, my wife and 8 year old daughter) participate in training as often as we can, focusing on communications and bonding. We need to be taught to be good handlers and owners, way more than Shadow needs to be taught to be a good protector. We have a final exam planned based around the must haves in the above article. Thank again for taking the time to help educate us all to make better decisions when it comes to something so potentially important.

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