I was recently in a social setting where I was asked about my dog, Rocco. Rocco is my Rottweiler who has undergone extensive protection dog training. We were engrossed in a discussion about his training and capabilities when we were overheard by another person.
"Oh, you shouldn't train your dog to do that stuff. That makes them vicious," was her statement injected into our conversation. I was initially a bit taken-aback and annoyed; not only was her comment unsolicited but it was based on a lack of knowledge. As I thought about it more, however, I came to realize that this is a common style of thinking. There are many misconceptions about protection dogs and protection dog training. Let me dispel some of the myths of protection dogs and talk about protection dog training at its root to combat some of the more prevalent misinformation.
First, let me do a bit of defining. There are many terms thrown around that are often interchanged incorrectly.
Attack Dog- A poorly trained, typically anti-social, and fearful creature. Ineffective except for looking tough.
Guard Dog- A dog that is trained to guard an area. Guard dogs are often used on estates, warehouses, or open areas that need guarding. Guard dogs may or may not be good with people and may or may not have obedience training.
Police Patrol Dog- A dog that is trained to work chasing down criminals. They are trained to be used on the offensive.
Protection Dog- A dog that is trained to be used first and foremost as a defensive deterrent. A protection dog is trained to show aggression on command and turn off on command. A protection dog is trained to attack on command or if the aggressor is not deterred by the show of aggression. A protection dog has high levels of obedience training.
So now let me return to the original statement. Does training a protection dog make him vicious? I understand why many people would assume this. After all, you are training a dog to show aggression, bite a person, and do what is necessary to combat a human. Protection dog training does not, however, make a dog vicious.
There are several styles and methods for protection dog training. At its root, however, there are two instincts, or drives, that protection dog trainers harness time and time again to achieve results. Let's examine them.