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Protection Training Q&A

Protection Training Q&A

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I try and answer every question I receive on dog training. I may often come across as a little on the blunt side, (some may call it brash). That is because I consider myself an advocate for dogs and not dog handlers. I am an advocate for common sense dog training and not the latest fad that appears on the horizon. Good dog training is not rocket science. It's common sense.

  1. If you have a good sport dog do you need a protection dog as well?

  2. Can you recommend videos or books for training a Doberman?

  3. Can you define fight drive for me?

  4. Can you tell me why fight drive is so important in building search training?

  5. I have a client with a 5-year old GSD. They wanted a personal protection dog. This dog only goes after females, usually young and they are always showing fear toward the dog. They want me to fix the problem. What do you recommend?

  6. I called some trainers this weekend and they said the dog doesn’t need to have any genetics, they could teach personal protection. Is this true?

  7. In protection work, should the helper be a stranger or friend to the dog?

  8. I have a rescue dog that is either timid or aggressive around tall men. Should I protection train him?

  9. Will protection training my 2-year Rott put my family in danger?

  10. We just bought an 8-week old pup for family protection. We also have a 10-year old. Is it safe to leave them together when we aren’t home?

  11. Can you give me a list of German commands for my dog?

  12. My 12-month dog won’t bark in protection work. What should I do?

  13. Can I over-socialize my dog for protection training?

  14. I signed up for a protection dog class and I feel that I have been scammed. Can I do the helper work on our own dog?

  15. Can I use a friend as a helper for bite training?

  16. My husband thinks you train a dog to be a perimeter guard dog by spraying him in the face with vinegar. Is that true?

  17. Can a protection dog be used in search and rescue work?

  18. We have 2 dogs in our Sch. club that are 15 & 17 months old. They have no prior training. Neither shows much prey or defense. Can they be trained in protection work?

  19. I want to become a helper. Can you give me some advise?

  20. What do you think of Koehler books?

  21. My dog will protect the home when I am there, but not when I’m gone. What should I do to correct this?

  22. My 11-month Bull dog doesn’t have a full mouth bite. What can I do?

  23. We sent our dog to a guard dog trainer. I think he created some problems. Can you offer any advise?

  24. My friend has a Doberman as a guard dog for his business. The business was recently robbed. Did he over-socialize his dog?

  25. Do your videos train dogs to hit an arm which is holding a gun? We live an area where the Bloods and Cripps have run through our back yard.

  26. My young dog will work in prey, but the instant the helper slips the sleeve the dog spits it out. What should we do?

  27. My female will not out the sleeve once it has been slipped by the helper. We have tried everything. Do you have any ideas?

  28. I live in Greece and have been doing helper work for 2 years. I am having a problem moving a female into some form of defense. Any ideas?

  29. My young male hackles up a little (near the tail) just before gripping in bite training. Should I be concerned?

  30. I would like to train my dog to protect my car. What should I do?

  31. I am having some problems working my dog in defense. He showed aggression on the first session of training (at night) but when we tried the training near our house he did not seem to be very interested. Can you give me your thoughts?

  32. I have a 2 year old male American Staffordshire terrier and besides chasing cats it does not do anything else. I want it to protect me and it is too friendly. A trainer told me this is the wrong breed. What should I do?

  33. I had 2 trainers test my dog. They want to take my dog for 3 to 4 weeks for training in their kennel. Should I do this?

  34. Can you tell me what I should be doing with my 1 year old Dobe to help bring out his defense drive?

  35. My wife and I own a motorcycle shop in a rough part of the cities. Is it possible to have a dog loose in the store for protection and still have a dog that is safe with customers?

  36. Can I buy a trained dog in personal protection. I am leaving in the guards and need something for my family?

  37. Do you recommend anybody to train my dog in Protection?

  38. How can I get my 3 year old Pit Bull to protect my yard if I am not home? I do not have a helper.

  39. I recently purchased a 4 month old Dobe. I want him trained to protect me and my business at night. Do you do this kind of training?

  40. I'm trying to teach my new dog to bark at the door bell, strangers, and knocking but can't seem to get it right. Can you recommend some DVDs or articles to help me out?

  41. My dog's bite-work is worrying. She goes in very fast, pulls hard and holds in there, …as long as the handler is pulling on the leash. As soon as the pressure is off she loses interest and lets it drop. Any suggestions?

QUESTION:

My goal overall is to have a well-rounded dog, as most people. I have seen sport dogs that have obtained titles, and wanted to know realistically, if you have a good sport dog do you not have a "protection dog" as well? I always thought that a protection dog was a dog that basically stays with you or in your vehicle to keep the "bad guys " away. The way I have seen some protection dogs trained here, I would not trust them to come off a leash. I have seen Schutzhund dogs, and Ring dogs better trained than some protection dogs. Can you get your goal of "protection" from a sport dog?

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,
Dawn

ANSWER:

Schutzhund and Ring dogs are much better trained than a protection dog - not even in the same league as far as the amount of training. This does not mean the Sch and ring dogs are protections dogs - they are sports dogs that may be able to do personal protections if they are cross trained and have the genetics for the work.

I recommend that you read my training articles on my web site and maybe start to pick up some of my training videos - this is where you will learn.

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QUESTION:

Mr. Frawley,

I belong to the Peak Schutzhund Club in Colorado Springs, CO. I have been looking for information regarding training Dobermanns in schutzhund. If you have or can direct me in the right direction I would really appreciate.

Thanks,
Pat

ANSWER:

Protection training (like all dog training in my opinion), is not breed specific. In other words, we do not train a Dobe any differently than we train a Rot or a German Shepherd. Training varies according to the temperament and drive of the individual dog and not its breed.

So the job of the handler is to recognize prey drive, nerve levels and hardness (or softness in a dog) and adjust the training accordingly. This is not an easy task for new trainers.

What I recommend is the new trainers begin with Bite Training Puppies and then The First Steps of Bite Training. These 2 videos are going to get new people on the right road. They are far from everything that needs to be known but they are a good start in the right direction.

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QUESTION:

Can you define fight drive for me?

ANSWER:

I assume that anyone interested in this question has some understanding of the drive of protection work. If you need more information, go to the article on my website about it.

My definition of FIGHT DRIVE is this: “A dog has fight drive when his protection work carries the forwardness of prey with the intensity of defense. A dog with good fight drive is willing to engage a helper or suspect in every circumstance, under every condition regardless of training equipment being present or not being present. A dog with fight drive knows he can win every fight that he get into and is willing to carry the fight to the suspect.”

Fight drive is not something a dog can be trained to have. It is a genetic part of the dogs make up. He either has it or he doesn't have it. The American bloodline dogs have zero fight drive. The German Show bloodlines have very very little fight drive. If you would ever find a German Show Bloodline animal with a little fight drive, it is not enough so that dog can ever genetically reproduce it in his off spring. On the other hand fight drive is not something a young dog can have because it requires a dog to have considerable experience in training and maturity before he can develop fight drive. In other words, dogs don't just wake up one morning and have fight drive. It is a result of good genetic make up combined with good training to produce a confidence that the dog can win in every encounter every time.

By this I mean that when people say that their "one year old dog has a ton of fight drive" they are 100% wrong. It is almost impossible to have a one year old dog with a lot of fight drive. A dog is not mature enough at that age to have a fully developed defensive drive. Without defense being developed the dog can not have fight drive. What these people are seeing is a dog that is very intense in prey drive.

Fight drive is more than a dog that is intense on the training field. Its a dog that is willing to carry the fight to the helper or suspect at any time anywhere. This goes well beyond a schutzhund field or a dog that is willing to protect his home against intruders. I tell friends that you need to experience fight drive in a dog to understand what it is and once you see it you will never forget it.

Also it is not necessarily a dog that is vicious, sharp or dangerous to be around. That is a misconception with people new to protection training. My current police dog has extreme fight drive, yet he is very socialable. He is good with children and people. Anyone can walk in my office without any fear of being challenged or attacked. Yet when I work with him on the street he has an instinctive feel for bad guys. This dog senses a fight and goes into high gear. He exudes "fight drive" and when suspects see this they know that they are not dealing with a normal dog. They quickly see that this dog is doing more than just barking at them. He exudes a power and intensity that they can feel. They know he is willing to bite them and bite them with intensity. The beauty of this is that 99% of the time this takes the fight drive right out of the suspect and makes him comply with what I want him to do.

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QUESTION:

I have a question regarding a client that has a 5 year old un-neutered American bred GSD that is a fear biter. This dog only goes after females, usually young and they are always showing fear towards the dog. This dog has bit several times, only breaking the skin. This dog has had "protection training" from a very questionable trainer in the area...very defensive oriented, from the old school. The Jack Healy method out of US K9 Academy.

This dog is nothing but a poorly trained guard dog IMO, no protection dog. The dog seems to be alright with the family but very nervous around guests.

My question is what would be your first step in trying to alleviate this problem? Now the family really does not want to give the dog up and have made it quite clear how much they love him.

Any suggestions?
Jeff

ANSWER:

This is rather simple. As a professional dog trainer you will find that honesty is the always the best solution. Sometimes it's going to make people mad and sometimes it's going to mean turning business away. In this case these people need to have a very clear explanation of the situation.

  1. They need to have the temperament of the animal explained from a drive standpoint. You need to explain exactly what a "fear biter" is and why this is so dangerous.

  2. Your advice should be to destroy the dog. It does not matter if they disagree. They must understand your position and how dangerous this animal is to all children. It's like allowing a hand grenade to be left around the house while kids are playing.

  3. They need to understand that the dog should have "NO MORE" protection training. At 5 years of age this dog is not about to be changed. In fact if they refuse to destroy the dog they should do an about turn and discourage all types of aggressive behavior in this animal.

  4. You should stress that the dog must be 110% obedience trained. It must be under control at all times, in every circumstance and under any distraction.

  5. If they are not willing to make this commitment, then walk away from them. Your reputation is more valuable than getting involved with something like this.

If this dog has gone through the Jack Healy method of protection dog training. He has gone through avoidance bite training. Basically this is barbaric. Healy and his crew will take any pound dog (which is the major source for their dogs) and protection train them through avoidance training. They will also tell any customer that their dog can be protection trained. They just don't tell them how they do it.

They tie a dog out on a very short line and then basically put so much pressure and stress on a dog that it in goes into a fight or flight mode. The dog's possibility of flight has been removed because it is tied out on such a short line. Its only option is a "fight for your life" situation. This training often involves beating a dog until it can no longer take it. At that point the dog learns to attack. It learns that the only safe thing to do is bite a person. This training produces very dangerous dogs to be around. They bite their handlers, their family members and anyone else that comes close. This training basically "makes a dog a little crazy." I call it the GULAG method of dog training.

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QUESTION:

I called some trainers this weekend and they said the dog doesn't need to have any genetics and they could teach the dog Personal Protection. Is this true?

ANSWER:

In good old American english, this is 100% bull shit. These people that you are talking to are either inexperienced trainers or rip off artists that are only interested in getting your money.

Genetics is the most important aspect of personal protection training. This is followed by a sound foundation in prey bite development and then a solid foundation in defense to build the dogs fight drive.

A dog’s ability to work in prey is 100% genetic. If a dog does not have prey drive it can not be properly trained in protection work. Prey drive is needed to release the stress of defensive bite training. If a dog does not have prey and a foundation in prey bite work it has no way of relieving the stress that's brought to the dog in defense. Dogs that lack prey but are still trained in defense become neurotic, sick crazy dogs. These are dogs that are dangerous to be around.

For a dog to work as a personal protection dog it must have fight drive. (If you don’t know what fight drive is, refer to my article on the subject). Fight drive, like prey drive, is 100% inherited. It can not be trained into a dog.

All dogs can be worked in defense. Dogs that lack a foundation in prey and a genetic foundation in fight drive will resort to avoidance as a means of defense. If they are not allowed to run but are backed into a corner and forced to fight - most will fight, but later in real life when presented with a stressful situation they will always resort back to avoidance. This is how these guys that call themselves professional dog trainers will train a dog that's not genetically capable of doing the work. They tie them up in the same spot and beat them until the dog fights in fight or flight. But once that same dog is in a different spot and it’s not tied up, it will run.

With all this said, I will say that most dogs can be trained to bite. If they do not have the genetics needed for the work they can be trained through "avoidance" to bite people. This is a barbaric method of training a dog. The dogs are tied out and basically beat on until they learn that the only safe thing to do is bite a person. Trainers put these animal in the fight or flight mode by adding so much stress that the dog is literally fighting for his life (because they eliminate the possibility of running away through being tied out.) This kind of training usually makes a dog neurotic and a very unstable dangerous animal to be around. Dogs trained like this will often bite their owner and family as well as guests.

My advice is to call these so called trainers back and tell them that you sent an e-mail to a guy who seriously questions their statements, methods and integrity.

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QUESTION:

My question is about choosing a helper. Should the helper be someone the dog knows, or not? I have read a lot of articles, and some say the dog shouldn’t know the helper, some say they should and some say it doesn’t matter. I have read a lot of your articles online and it seems you know what the hell you’re talking about. I would appreciate it if you gave me an answer to this question.

Sincerely,
E. Jones SFC
US Army

ANSWER:

This is a good question. When a young dog goes through bite development it does not hurt for the dog to know the helper. In fact, it does not hurt if the helper teaches the dog some of this work. The fact is that prey work is not threatening for the dog. Prey work is a comfortable place for the dog to work.

When the dog begins to mature and is worked in defense, it should be worked by a stranger. If you expect to develop the dogs into a serious sport dog, a personal protection dog or police service dog it must learn to look at the helper as a fighting partner. This can not happen if it knows the helper as a friend.

I remember 15 or 20 years ago when we did not know anything about protection work. We would work a dog in bite work and then afterwards allow the dog to approach the helper, be petted and treated like an old friend - HOW UTTERLY STUPID we were. In trying to prove how safe this work and our dogs were - we were actually confusing the dogs.

Take it from someone who has made most of the mistakes one trainer can possibly make - if you train with helpers or people who do this - either convince them of their folly or stop training with them. Protection training is serious business. We have a moral responsibility to train dogs with sound temperament and good nerves. If one accepts that, then we owe it to our dogs to provide the best training possible. This is not a game.

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QUESTION:

I have a one and a half year old male GSD. He was a rescue dog and hadn't been socialized at all when I got him (almost a year ago). He is very smart and learns everything I teach him right away. I've been wanting to start him on some protection training, my problem is that he is very dog aggressive and tends to be either intimidated or overly defensive around tall men, although he has been slowly improving in both areas. I don't want to encourage any uncalled for aggression. Would protection training at this point just mess him up or would it make him more confident and less intimidated around men? Would using only women agitators make a difference.

ANSWER:

My feeling is that it would be a mistake to try and protection train this dog. The odds of getting a dog coming from a dog pound with the genetics that allow him to be protection trained is about 1 in 100,000. Your dog is already showing signs of bad nerves (shying away). This means he is stressed from just the sight of a tall man. To add the stress of a man (or woman) putting pressure on him in bite work would send him over the edge and make him neurotic.

In my opinion the only dogs that should be protection trained are dogs with good temperament to start with. These dogs have good nerves and can handle the stress of bite work.

You would be better advised to work on calming your dog down around tall men. Do this by trying to keep a small bag of treats with you when you are out for walks (hot dogs work well here). When the dog shows signs of avoidance or aggression towards tall men, ask them if they would mind tossing your dog a treat. Make tall men "hot dog machines" to your dog. This will often change the dogs attitude towards them.

If you try and solve your problem with protection training you will end up with a dog that is so sharp (aggressive) that he is a danger for people to be around. Dogs that are like this can only be used as security dogs behind a fence where they never come in contact with people. I don't think that is what your goal is.

You would be better off to concentrate on obedience training. I recommend my video titled Basic Dog Obedience.

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QUESTION:

I have a two year old Rottweiler. He is friendly and we live in an apartment building. He is fully obedience trained. I would like to train him to be capable of protection work. My concern is that he will become aggressive towards neighbors and children during the training period? Will this training program change his personality and make him unpredictable?

ANSWER:

If a dog has a good prey drive and good temperament before he starts training he is not going to have that temperament changed by bite training if it is done properly.

Read the articles I have on my web site about drives. There is nothing dangerous about prey drive work. In effect its a game for the dog. The dogs love the work (if they have prey drive).

If a dog does not have prey drive then that dog can only be trained by using its defensive drive. I do not recommend this. There are too few trainers that truly understand this type of work and it is too stress full for most dogs. I do not believe that family dogs should be trained strictly in defense. It makes them unstable.

So that's the way to view this. If your dog has good prey, you have little to worry about. If he does not have prey drive - forget it. You will only stress the dog and no one really knows how the stress will manifest itself without knowing the temperament of the particular dog. It is not worth the risks to family and neighbors.

It is very easy to determine if a dog has prey drive. Even inexperienced dog trainers can figure this out if they have the right information. If you decide you want to learn how to work a dog in prey, I recommend my tape titled The First Steps of Bite Training.

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QUESTION:

We have an older dog, (10 years), will it be OK to leave him with our puppy when we are not home?

ANSWER:

Absolutely not, if a pup is left to grow up with another dog it will look at other dogs as companions and not people. Pups should be kept separated from older dogs unless the owner is present to supervise. It is OK to take them out together when you are with them (for walks and play) but they should be in separate crates or kennels when alone.

In addition, older dogs tend to try and dominate puppies. This is not the atmosphere we want our future family protector to grow up in.

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QUESTION:

I purchased a GSD that has excellent working bloodlines. He has super prey drive. I did not discover your videos until he was almost a year old, but I still wanted to train him in personal protection. So I started with the 1st steps of bite training. He does really well in the bite work. I just cannot get him to bark at the helper, even when he pops in and out of the blind. When I took him out in the field and tried the stranger in the bushes, he just looked cautiously, but never barked. What do I do now?

Jamie

ANSWER:

Get my video, The First Steps of Defense. It sounds like this is a dog with very high thresholds (hard to tell from a email). If it is - it does not do a good job countering but rather locks on and does not let go. If this is the case (and it is a high threshold dog its going to take a skilled helper to bring the dog out properly and even then its never going to be a great working dog because it does not receive threats and therefore does not react. This is often a genetic thing.

If it is this - the dog needs to go out and have the snot scared out of him to teach him that there can be bad guys out there. Once he realizes this he will bark. I would strongly not recommend this without studying the tape I talked about above. If its done on the wrong dog or done to much on the right dog - it will destroy what you have worked to build over this first year.

On the other hand it may just be poor work - either from the helper or the training techniques. Again - not something that can be determined from an email. Don't take offense - but it is always a possibility when I have no idea who people are or what their skill level is.

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QUESTION:

I have a 10 1/2 month old female German Shepherd. Is it possible to over socialize a dog? If so, I think I did this. My dog LOVES everyone. I take her to meet a lot of people, and there're are a lot of family and friends coming to our house on a daily basis. She does not bark when our doorbell rings, and when it does ring she runs to the door tail wagging and ears pinned back. My problem is that I do want her to start protecting the house w/o being a killer dog. (I have 3 children). She treats family and friends the same way she treats strangers. Is she too young to start showing aggression(barking) towards strangers who come to house? Will this aggression (barking) come naturally or must it be taught. Our last female shepherd was a great watchdog and it was not taught, it just came to her. Should I keep socializing her, or should I back off a little?

Thanks,
John

ANSWER:

Your dog sounds like a nice dog, becoming territorial is a factor of genetics and maturity not socialization. Your dog sounds like it has good nerves. If you want it trained you will have to do some testing when it is older, (18 months). The bottom line is that if you want this you need to learn about the drives that are used in the work. Go to my web site and read the articles.

A lot of dogs will bark at people when they reach maturity. They do it because they have weak nerves. The very instant anyone puts any kind of pressure on them they turn and run. The fact is 99.999% of the dogs out there fall into this category.

If you would like to learn more about this work you should begin with our tapes The First Steps of Bite Training and The First Steps of Defense.

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QUESTION:

I've been doing agitation work, and training my dog for the past 6 months now. To better my knowledge as an agitator, and trainer I've recently purchased a couple of your training tapes, and numerous books on the subject. I've come to the conclusion that I've been caught up in a bit of a scam. It's a combination obedience-protection class. One Hour of obedience (mostly healing) immediately followed by bite work. The class contains approximately 15 dogs.

All dogs are present during the bite work. The advanced dogs would all fall in to the category of extreme prey drive with no defense training. I love working with the dogs and wanted to continue towards Schutzhund competition. My girlfriend is also in the class, due to her need of a protection dog. Would my working our dogs myself cause problems? Could she pose as the handler, and myself as the agitator, or would this open up problems in the advanced stages? Your tapes talk of the handler working the dog in prey drive early in the training, but I'm unsure to what degree of isolation between the dog and agitator should be used in the defense stages to prevent problems. We both have quality bloodline Shepherds and want to continue in our training. I've been unable to locate any kind of club or training in this area that's of any quality. Can I continue to train our dogs or have we been left up creek so to speak?

Keith

ANSWER:

While it’s always better to have experienced strangers do helper work this is not always possible. You can do a lot of the prey work and bite development yourself.

You can not do defensive or aggression work yourself. At that point you are going to have to find another person to help you.

A lot of dogs are trained in sport work 100% in prey. This happens when people do not understand bite work or when an individual can not handle a dog in defense/aggression so its better to work the dog in prey.

I would recommend my video The First Steps of Defense.

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QUESTION:

Will it be a problem using a friend of mine as my dogs helper for bite training, concerning being around my dog when we are not working?

Thanks,
Sean

ANSWER:

It’s not a problem, but do not get stupid and show everyone how great your dog is by letting the friend buddy up to the dog after the bite work, or be buddies at any other time. He must remain neutral around the dog when he is not working. He does not pet him, he does nothing with him.

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QUESTION:

My husband and I are opening a shop. My husband wants to get a dog that will offer some protection when we are not there. He is talking about "perimeter training" the dog. I think by this he means that the dog will guard the property in the night. He says to train a dog to do this, the trainer uses vinegar and sprays the dog with it. He says this is only done at night, so that when customers come into the shop during the day the dog will not attack. Is this the proper method to use? And can you train a dog just to attack at night? (Our shop will be open in the evening when it is dark outside.) I should mention we have a small child and I am concerned for her safety around a dog that has been sprayed with vinegar. Another question I have is if we leave the dog in the shop at night he will be alone for at least twelve hours every day. Isn't this too long? I should also mention the shop area is not fenced, and there are other shops in the same block.

Rhian

ANSWER:

This vinegar idea is a crazy idea. Whoever told you this knows nothing about dog training.

Spend your money on a good alarm system because you are asking for problems to approach this security issue thinking the way that you are. You are 100% correct - 12 hours is too long to leave a dog without the opportunity to go outside.

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QUESTION:

I have a male GSD that I have started trailing work with for SAR. I would also like to get into one of the Protection sports, such as NAPD. My questions is this: Can a protection dog be used in an SAR environment? People have hold me that he would be fine for trailing, but could not be trusted, due to his bite work, in air-scenting, when he is running free.

ANSWER:

Police service dogs with proper training are used for off leash searches all over this country. It would be very simple to do S&R with a sch sport dog. Most sport dogs will never bite in a real situation anyway.

If you want to learn how to do this, get my video that I did with the RCMP, Training Tracking Dogs S&R - Police.

They are the experts on S&R and all of their dogs bite - isn't that an interesting point?

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QUESTION:

Last night at our Schutzhund Club practice here a member brought by a 15 month old bull mastiff. I have a rottweiler of the same age, and because neither were trained or worked with earlier, neither have much prey or any defensive drive. Do you have any videos or books or advice that deal directly with this problem? Some people do not have the ability or desire to purchase another dog/puppy, but desire to work with the dog they have. Is there anything that they can do?

Mike

ANSWER:

At 17 months it's kind of late to start a dog. The emphasis needs to be in developing prey. I go into this in my video The First Steps of Bite Training.

The work on older dogs may mean that the dogs are stressed a little in defense (this must be by an experienced helper.) The dogs will bite and then he must be worked on the carry. In the beginning the dog will not want to do it. When he hits the sleeve the helper must instantly come back in a give pressure. The dog will learn that to keep the helper from stressing out he must hold the sleeve. When the helper has slipped the sleeve the helper should stop - move back and face to the side and not directly at the dog there should be no eye contact during this time. The instant the dog drops the sleeve he turns and comes back in to stress the dog.

The risk is to stress too much and push the dog into avoidance.

But what you need to find is if the dog really does have prey. Many have prey, but because they did not go through bite development during the early months the dogs do not look at the sleeve as a prey item.

Some dogs have absolutely no prey these dogs should not be trained in bite work. They can be trained to bite but it will have to be strictly in defense and because the dog has no prey it will have no conduit to release the stress that is used in defense.

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QUESTION:

I am interested in becoming a trainer. I used to go with a family member every week while he worked his GSD, so I am not new to the sport but I am a new to training. I own an American Bulldog from good lines now and I am working him, and I have a female puppy coming as of June this year and she is from excellent lines and I am going to work her. I am interested in becoming a trainer/agitator for other people. What advice would you have for me? I live in Weymouth, Ma.

Scott

ANSWER:

I recommend you read all my training articles if you want advice, there is a ton of it there.

I also recommend you get my video, Bite Training Puppies. This video is going to help the selection test for the litter that you are going to get your pup from.

If you want to learn to be a helper you will need 4 additional videos:

There is a ton of things to learn and nothing compares to experience but these tapes will get you way down the road to doing things the right way.

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QUESTION:

I know you are busy but I would appreciate some feedback from you regarding treat rewards. I am currently training my two year old rott/shepherd mix, a family pet, and will soon start training a GSD for police work - I'm a deputy sheriff in Oregon.

I've done my homework on many different types of training methods. Most seem to be useless for my purposes. I doubt a strong tempered/dominate dog would really respond to those types of training which are geared for the politically correct - which I am not a current member of!! (Nor ever will be!)

One of the methods that I've been very impressed with, and one that will get the results that I want - a dog that obeys my commands RIGHT NOW! - is the William Koelher method. I did try this method but the preliminary work was extremely boring for both me and the dog.

I recently purchased your video on basic obedience training. I have to comment that I was very impressed with your methods. It is a very common sense approach to dog training - and I like common sense. (Apparently you are a reserve LEO so I'm sure you know what I mean.)

The one and only concern that I have with your method is using a treat during the first stages of teaching the dog a command. Will this have any negative effects in the long run? Am I going to end up with a dog that does not obey my commands RIGHT NOW!?

I guess what I am fishing for here is some thoughts from you on this matter - a little reassurance perhaps? I have been in contact with people who train dogs for the blind, etc. I have also contacted a representative of the Koelher method, who assured me that giving any treats during training will basically ruin the dog - more or less my interpretation of this person's answer.

I've switched my tactics and am using the methods you teach on my mix dog, with great results. He seems to enjoy the sessions and so do I. Not at all boring. I've also done some preliminary work with my GSD puppy using treats with equally positive results. I of course do not "correct" my puppy, who is 15 weeks old. It is a positive play session.

Anyway, I am thrilled that I happened onto your web site. The department that I work for requires us deputies that are "so bent" to obtain, train and obtain certification for our dogs. Yes we are a little behind times, but that's the way it is - and I love dogs so I'm willing to do whatever is necessary to have my own K9. I appreciate the fact that you offer the types of videos that you offer. I'll be able to train my dog from these videos.

Sincerely,
Robert

ANSWER:

Twenty five years ago I bought the Koehler books. At the time this was the only information available on this work. The books were my first experience with protection work, and at that time they made sense.

Over the years the training concepts have advanced light years ahead of Koehler, to the extent that his methods are on the same level as the model "T" ford. In my opinion if they took his books off the shelves at the book stores it would be better for dog training and dogs.

So with that in mind, you now understand how I think about whoever represents Koelhers books and training methods. They need to either get out of the business or come into the 21st century.

Dogs go through 3 phases in training:

  • The learning phase
  • The correction phase
  • The distraction phase

In the learning phase the handlers should use any motivations (fun) method the dog responds to. This means they should use food, a toy, exaggerated praise, or all of the above. To teach the dog the meaning of a command. We don't want to beat ( correct) a dog for not performing a command that he does not know. This is simply unfair and will destroy the relationship between the dog and his handler. Doing this (using the Koehler methods) is the reason dogs go out to do obedience and look like they would rather be anywhere else on earth than out there working with the handler.

If people want snappy obedience they need to learn what stimulates a dogs interest and use these methods. If a dog responds to food (and not all adult dogs do) then use it. If they respond to a toy then use it. The job of the handler is to find out what motivates his dog and then use that as a tool in the learning process.

For those people that say "If you use food the dog will always require food" - well - these people are not dog trainers. They don't understand the process.

Once the dog knows what a command is they are expected to mind when told to perform the command. If they do not they are corrected for not doing so. After a correction it is very important to praise the dog to show him that you still love him and respect him. He just needs to learn that you are the pack leader and you expect him to mind. New trainers fall down here because they do not praise enough. I go through all of this in my video Basic Dog Obedience.

After the correction phase, the dog then goes through the distraction phase. This is where the dog learns to respond in every circumstance - even when there are other dogs, kids, your wife, food bowl, or tennis ball laying on the ground in front of him. By raising the level of distractions as the training progresses (and always being ready to back up the training because you went to far to fast) you end up with a dog that is quick, happy and obedience. By setting up training scenarios where the dog sees a distraction (ie his favorite ball laying on the training field), and teaching him that the road to that ball is to perform an obedience exercise first the speed at which a dog works will go up and up. Part of the training will be to correct the dog to show him that he can not just run over and grab his ball without working.

Let me give an example. I use this exact process in training my police bite work. One of the exercises is to send your dog after a suspect who is standing 100 yards away screaming at you. Part way there you must either down your dog (as he is charging the man) or simply stop the dog and do a straight recall. This is a very very difficult exercise for a high drive trained police dog. The helper is a level 10 distraction for him.

The training begins with a long line. The dog is sent and before he gets to the end of the line he is told to down. If he does not do it he flips over backwards as he hits the end of the line. Once down he is called back to you and the very instant he reaches your side he is sent in for a bite. When we begin to see anticipation on the "down" we drop the long line and go to an electric collar to reinforce any mistakes.

In the end the dog learns that his road to the helper is to down, bark, then return to the handler on a recall. After he does all that he will be sent for a fight. When this light bulb goes off in the dogs head and he realizes that this is how the game is played the speed with which he returns is amazing.

As far as we are concerned, the helper stimulating the dog to try and provoke a fight is a distraction. It's no different that a hot dog for other breeds of dogs. The helper is a tool to distract the dog so we can force him to be obedience and mind.

So to say that you should not use food in training is stupid. You use what works to maintain drive and working attitude. Being consistent with your corrections and praise is the key.

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QUESTION:

Hi, I was wondering if you can help me. I have a 3 year old American Bulldog that won’t protect the house when I’m gone. But he does when I am there. When I am home he won’t let anyone come in. He will protect me but when I am not around he doesn’t do anything. Can you tell me what I should do?

Dawn

ANSWER:

This dog has a strong pack drive - that's why he protects you (as the leader), but lacks some territorial drive - he would protect or at least bark when you are gone.

He needs to have his defense drive stimulated when you are not there. If you want him to bite then you need to take him through the bite development in The First Steps of Bite Training and one on The First Steps of Defense.

You could just do the defense work if you are only interested in the dog barking - you just need to make sure you do not do too much of it and make him neurotic.

I would also read the articles on my web site about bite work.

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QUESTION:

I have purchased your puppy tug, bamboo whip, first steps in bite training video, and now your soft sleeve. I have an 11 month old English Bull dog. He weighs 80lbs.

My question is this. Even though he is extremely aggressive towards the tug and the sleeve, I can't seem to get him to bite with a full mouth. He constantly tries to bite with just the front part of his mouth. Is he still too young? His mouth seems to be big enough to handle it. Any suggestions on how to make him grab on with a full mouth? He really attacks the hell out of the sleeve. By the way I'm very happy with all my purchases. I hope you can help me with this.

Thanks,
Frank

ANSWER:

A full mouth grip is a genetic issue. While there is a possibility that your training is flawed, which is causing the poor grip, it's more likely a genetic factor.

You need to not worry about it, continue to do what you are doing and let the dog grow up. When he is way more mature, maybe 18 months - you start to do defensive work. Stress will always improve the grip, but if you do defensive work too early on your dog it will kill his drives.

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QUESTION:

I really enjoyed reading your site, & like everyone else, have a few questions. (I hope you don't mind) I had my GSD obedience & protection trained at the Guard Dog Training center, Berkshire Park, NSW Australia, by Fred & Lewana Osmani. When I first approached them Lewana talked to us about dog training, but every question I asked she seemed to cut me off & asked me to buy their video showing what you get. We did & were impressed with what we seen. After 2 weeks (in which they said it would take three) they rang & told us he was ready. When we returned they said he had pat the "test" for protection work, but would need more lessons with us present, he was fretting. They showed us how he would walk etc. but he looked like he was crawling on his belly so to speak. When challenged he would bark in a high pitched tone at the other trainers. We took him home & could not get him to do a thing, we returned him (as they say they guarantee the training) & he would walk OK etc. for them. What they didn't tell us or the video didn't show was that you have to jerk the neck off the dog to make him respond! Also, his protection training was poor. We have since attended approx. 7 lessons, with admittedly better results. He attacks the trainer well now but when at home or on the street he is not as ready to defend. I think his protection work is "environmental" he sees the trainer from 50 meters away & starts growling, barking & even shaking. He attacks him well though.

He still doesn't do all of the things that they show in their video, such as bark & hold, off the lead attack, not eat food from the hand etc. One other thing that irks me is that at the end of each lesson they say a few more lessons will do him, then when I ring up in a couple of weeks they say he's finished? I suspect they are so busy they don't remember what they tell you.

All in all, I'm not sure what drives my dog has, his obedience is sloppy & protection work inconsistent, sometimes when he is chained in my work use & someone walks by he will bark & growl at them in any area, & other times he will do nothing? I don't know why. People come to the house & he will run at the door-barking etc., we put him outside & every time he catches a glimpse of them through the curtain he goes crazy again. The slightest noise sets him off barking (sometimes) making him an excellent guard dog, but the inconsistency is what ruins him. I can't be sure what he'll do & when. Its like a car that won't start, you never know when though. I feel he has the potential, we never hit him, he was easily house trained, and he will pull very hard on the tug for ages (longer than I can) he's not nervous etc., when he attacks the trainer he gives a fully bite on the sleeve, unlike others I have seen just nipping. The trainers say he's good but is not a hard dog, they want to sell us a female to toughen him up.

I am saving to buy some of your videos on obedience etc. but I would like to know where he is at & where to go from here. Do you think he is trained? Maybe I'm expecting too much? I don't trust them to do any more training, I've never heard them speak of drives or defense. Their method is jumping around at him agitating him with a stick with a piece of nylon cord on it, whipping him on the leg whilst he goes for them? He chases a tug really well & has a firm bite, would it be O.K. to work on his defense more or go back through bite work?

Thanks,
Darrel

ANSWER:

I think you got caught in a commercial guard dog operation that is more interested in making money than training dogs. They pushed your dog into defense and did not put a foundation of prey drive on the dog. Most places like this do that. They do not charge enough money to do a proper job of training the dogs. They just take them out - push them into fight or flight and make neurotic dogs out of them that will light up when they feel threatened. This is no different than Table Training, (read the article on my web site about Table Training and you will understand what is being done here.) I will not repeat what is already written.

If you want to learn how to take your dog through the proper steps of bite training, get my video titled The First Steps of Bite Training and The First Steps of Defense. By studying that tape you will determine yourself what level your dog is at and what damage has been done. You will also see if the damage can be repaired.

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QUESTION:

Dear ED,
I have a question about socializing guard dogs. Can you over socialize? My friend has a 3-year-old Doberman Pincher. He bought him from a family that was afraid of him (because he is an aggressive and dominate dog) and left him in his kennel a lot.

The dog was 11 months when he got him and vary aggressive. He had to chain him up when people came around in fear that he would bite someone. In the past two years the dog has had a lot of socializing. He works in a shop were he lets the dog run around. Every one that comes over pet's him or play's with him. He has ton's of prey drive, he's always wanting to play tug or tarring something up. The problem is that the other day someone broke into the shop and stole a bunch of things from him. Is this due to over socializing? Is there anything that he can do to make sure his dog will protect his property when he's gone. I do believe the dog has the genetics. Once someone came at him in an aggressive type manner and the dog bite him so he is protective and he does bark at the door when people knock or when he heir's a strange noise. I hope I gave you enough information so that you can help him with his situation.

Thank you for your time,
Jason

ANSWER:

It's hard to answer a question like this in an email.

It is very unlikely that a Doberman would have a very strong temperament. The true working ability of this breed has been bred out of it (which is too bad). Showing aggression, and biting someone like you describe, does not necessarily indicate a dog that will be a good protection dog.

If your friend wants a dog that is going to protect his business when he is gone. He should not allow the dog to be friendly to everyone who comes in. The dog should be kept away from the people and then receive some training. Dogs don't naturally become good protection dogs. They need to learn skills and gain confidence in their own abilities to fight humans.

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QUESTION:

I was wondering what your opinion is on the idea that a canine should take out the weapon hand when confronting an armed suspect. I live in a neighborhood where two rival gangs live; the "bloods" and the "cripps," and there have been times when the chased suspects have run through our back yards. Some have been armed, some have not. Do you have any videos showing how to train a canine to take out the weapon hand and then bite strategically to disable the intruder. Here is a scenario: An armed suspect/intruder enters the back yard of a house. He/she is carrying a weapon (i.e. a gun, knife, and bat etc.) Isn't the canine in jeopardy if the canine bites everywhere on the body, but the weapon is still in the hand of the intruder? Isn't there the great possibility that the dog can get killed? Please give any thoughts and opinions on this matter. Do you have any videos or are you willing to show on video how to train a canine to take out the weapon hand? Do your videos give the viewer adequate knowledge to train a personal protection canine, police canine, etc.

ANSWER:

Your questions indicate a complete lack of understanding of dog training or the use of dogs in personal protection.

If you want to train a personal protection dog, get a dog and train it according to my videos. You do not train a dog to go for the gun arm, if an assailant has a gun in your home, you shoot him, you don't send a dog after him.

I am a police K9 officer and we do not train dogs to go for the gun arm. We train the dogs to attack when told to or when fought. If we encounter someone with a gun and they will not put the gun down we shoot them.

Bad guys occasionally shoot police service dogs. But if you were to look at the number of bad guys bit vs the number of dogs shot you would see that the shock of being bit hard by a strong dog is more than most people can stand. Plus, the dog is a diversion to allow the handler to take cover and return fire.

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QUESTION:

Mr. Frawley,

I seem to be having difficulty with my dog not wanting to hold the prey. When I try this with a puppy sleeve or with a tug she still stops playing as soon as there is no movement. I purchased your video on The First Steps of Bite Training; however, I had already created the problem. As puppy, we played retrieve with her constantly. She will hold on the sleeve and pull hard until the sleeve is slipped, as long as the sleeve is moving. She loves it when we challenge her with the prey, not in a defense drive but as play. But as soon as we stop she paws and barks at us to challenge her or to throw the item. Now, whenever she does the counter while on the line and we release the prey, she will immediately drop it and look at the helper to take it. I've tried frustrating her by not allowing her to get a bite, numerous times, but after several days of building frustration when she does get the bite, she will still release it and wait. I even tried running in circles with her after she has the prey, but as soon as we stop running, she spits it out and looks at the helper. I've even asked the vet if she has any problems with her teeth and he says that is not the problem. Any suggestions would be helpful.

Pamela

If any readers see this... please learn from my mistakes and get the video for puppies before purchasing a dog!

ANSWER:

The dog now must learn through stress. In other words, your helper needs to stress the dog the instant it slips the sleeve. The dog must learn that as long as it grips the sleeve the helper stands passively and waits. But the instant the sleeve is dropped the helper steps in and cracks the dog (how hard depends on the temperament and drive of the dog) with the stick or whip.

When this is done properly the dog will learn in one or two training sessions that it is much wiser to grip and hold. This is the first step to take the dog into defensive training. It is critical work and must be done with a feel for the dog. If the dog is stressed too much it will shut down and go into avoidance (not good).

The First Steps of Defense is the video that shows how to move a dog from bite development into the more serious work. All dogs that are going into more specialized training (Police Service Work, Schutzhund Work or Personal Protection Work) need to go through this phase of training before moving on.

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QUESTION:

I just read the question on the dog outing the sleeve when the motion stops - I am having the opposite problem where my dog will not out the sleeve after carrying it. I have worked all her foundation with an excellent helper and we have tried almost everything to get her to out on command. He even had a very experience & good handler handle her to see if I was the problem but she did the same thing to him.

She has an extremely strong grip and does not want to give the sleeve up. I have used flanking, prong collar, another sleeve, etc... The next step is the electric collar.

She is very obedient in everything she does except for this. I am very tired of having to go to such extremes. She does out without a problem for a hold & guard. She also will out without a problem when I put her up after her set of bite work is done. She will drop the sleeve and jump in her crate! I bred this dog and ever since she was a puppy she has been extremely possessive. I have always worked her in obedience with a two toys and I have always offered her "trade" in order to get something away from her. Was that my mistake?

What suggestions do you have?

Karen

ANSWER:

The out in this situation is 100% a rank issue, in my opinion).

A dog must completely understand whom the pack leader is to have a clean out. You do not have this and you have not established this position with your dog. To do it properly it must be accomplished in every aspect of the dogs life, not just on the "OUT off the sleeve."

I have written articles on dominant dogs and how to raise and live with them.

Two ball is a good start on this but it must expand further than that. Many times a dog will not have as strong of a drive for the ball as the sleeve. Therefore the work starts with a ball. The dog must OUT the ball when told and if it picks it up it must be corrected very, very hard. The bottom line is that the dog must clearly understand that if it does not "OUT" the ball it will have a very hard, hard correction. When the dog does OUT it must have a lot of praise. It must be very clear that you are pleased that she did what you asked.

When it understands this then the same thing must be done with the sleeve. The same thing here too - the dog must be praised for dropping the sleeve.

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QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Frawley

My name is George and I e-mail you from Greece. I work as a decoy for more than two years and I met a problem with a soft temperament GSD I started to train her on tugs, sleeve, jan biere, and body bite suit (only a few bites). I have to admit that I even pushed her a little inside her home yard in order to give me a more defensive bark but the things became worse than before. This dog is over socialized handler addicted. Now I work her in spooky mode with me covered with a sheet and holding a whip but she still gives me a bark more prey orientated that defensive. She has a good grip and she fights for her prey. I tried her in different locations and at the end of the session I allowed her to take the sheet off me. Do you have any other ideas of working her?

Best regards,
George

ANSWER:

It sounds like the dog is "locked in prey." Always a problem because these dogs need to be hurt a little to make them realize that the protection work is no longer a game of prey.

If she is ready for this (mentally and training wise) work her in muzzle and also with a whip. I have an excellent Muzzle fighting video - you can read about it on my website.

The bottom line is that a helper must learn to stress a dog according to its temperament. It's your responsibility to know where the "avoidance edge" is on each dog and work it close to the border when the time comes that the dog is ready. It sounds like this dog must learn that the helper is not a prey item but a fighting partner. I seldom take females in this direction and am not sure that you should.

As far as I am concerned females can be sport dogs and not service dogs. They can be worked in prey but the risk here is that the handler loses control in obedience when the prey is so high.

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QUESTION:

Mr. Frawley,

I know this is going to be hard for you to answer without you seeing what is going on but I am going to try to explain clearly.

Cyric my 10 month old is doing something very strange in his bite work. Just before he takes his bite on the chase he will hackle up just in the crop area in front of his tail. Now he doesn't show anything else that would suggest that he is afraid or intimidated as a matter of fact he commits very well and bites full and hard. I was wondering if this hackle could be from adrenaline or the excitement of the catch? What do you think? I was also thinking that maybe it could be a hormone thing as he is about in to man hood. LOL Please if you have a second just drop me a line and let me know your thoughts. This pup is an Alk grandson and is doing very well as he is already on bark and holds.

Thank you for your time.
Mary

ANSWER:

You are probably right on the hormone issue. This is a goofy age. It is an indication that the dog is a little stressed but this is fine - it's the beginning of aggression coming into the dog. It is also something I like to see in my dogs because dogs that do this at this age usually have aggression that can be channeled as they grow.

If this gets worse - concentrate on prey work for a while. But in my opinion it would be a mistake to do ALL PREY at this point. The dog will get "locked in prey" if you do this. It must work its way through this as a natural part of its evolution to become a working dog.

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QUESTION:

My name is Kearney. I have a 3 year old male German shaped I had some Schutzhund obedience training. He is the son of Yanku von wilhendorf Sch1. I want to learn how to go about car protection. And he is not lifting his leg when urinating. He is a housedog. He has good drive, I want to do more with him can you give me some advice. he's a wonderful dog one of the best I have ever had, and have had German Shepherds for 16 years.

ANSWER:

I cannot tell you through an e-mail how to train your dog to protect your car. He must have the correct drives and genetics.

If you just want the dog to bark at people that come near the car, then all you need to do is to leave the dog in the car with the windows down about 3 inches. Let someone walk up to the car - when the dog sticks his nose out - the person should snap him pretty hard on the nose - when the dog barks - they should run away. During training the dog must learn people it barks at run away. It would not take long for the dog to be barking at people who come around the car. If you want to do additional training I would suggest getting a few training videos.

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QUESTION:

Hello Mr. Frawley-

I got "First steps of Defense" awhile ago and I have begun training a new dog with your techniques. His first session was away from home, a totally new place, and lit up on the decoy right off the bat. All forward motion, deep defensive bark, very focused. I was very happy. The next session I used the same decoy, and used the same distance (about 30 yards) with the same body language and verbal threats. The difference was this time I chose a spot about 10 yards from the house, and it was 10 am. His response was lackluster. He did bark at the decoy, but showed only a little forward motion. When he did bark and the decoy backed up, he seemed to think the threat was over, and started to investigate some horse poop on the side of the road. Just not very focused. Common sense seems to say to go back to the night sessions for a while, but I wanted to get your take on it. Also, should the decoy move closer and closer over the period of a few sessions? And how do you move from the civil agitation into an actual bite? This dog already has a good foundation in prey drive. Thank you for your excellent videos and your professional advice.

-John

ANSWER:

The poop sniffing could be avoidance - without seeing it I am not sure but it sounds like it.

The bottom line is that a dog should continue to show aggression to a helper who is threatening. The issue in training is where a dog shows avoidance, not the line that a dog shows a lack of interest because he knows the helper or the place he is working. The goal is for a dog to show strength when put in these defensive situations. The long-term goal is for the dog to gain confidence and strength through multiple exposures to the helpers.

If your dog has correct bite development and the right genes it should flip into prey drive if the helper moves away from him.

One point you should keep in mind is that if you do not have an experienced helper the dog should be taken to new places for defensive training. Some dogs do not feel threatened when they are worked by inexperienced helpers in familiar locations (like you describe here).

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QUESTION:

I have a 2-year-old male American Stafford shire terrier and besides chasing cats it does not do anything else? It is not a guardian at all. If someone strange comes into my house, my dog does not care at all, sometimes he even moves his tail around and is ready to play with the stranger. I hate this kind of behavior; I want to make it a very good guardian. Can I do something about it? A trainer that I asked told me that if I wanted a guardian dog I should get a Doberman or a Rottweiler because the American Stafford loves everybody and that his skills are only useful in the pit.

Is that true that the American Stafford’s are not guardians at all? What kind of breed do you suggest me to get (apart from German Shepard) in order to have a very good guardian dog?

ANSWER:

This is total bullshit – you talked to a fool for a trainer. We just had a man killed by two security pit bulls.

If you want your dog to work you need to learn something. You are at least making an effort but it is obvious that you only know what end of a dog the food comes in and what end it goes out. I do not like to be blunt, but this is the case. So the problem is with you and not your breed of dog. You will have the same problems with Rotts or Dobes.

For a dog to protect, it must be trained. You would not expect the son of a soccer player to be able to play soccer without training?

Here is a list of training videos to consider:

The First Steps of Bite Training explains the importance of bite development and the steps a dog as young as 6 months of age must go through before it can be ready for more serious defensive training. I would suggest that you read the description of this video on my web site. If you are not 100% sure of the drives that I refer to, I would direct you to the articles I have written on this subject on my web site.

The First Steps of Defense is the video that shows how to move a dog from bite development into the more serious work. All dogs that are going into more specialized training (Police Service Work, Schutzhund Work or Personal Protection Work) need to go through this phase of training before moving on.

Muzzle Fighting for Police Service Dogs. This video will explain the work necessary to proof a dog that is nearing the end of it’s training. The information in this video is not only used for police work and personal protection work, many sport trainers muzzle train their dogs to raise the level of intensity in the dog.

Training Personal Protection Dogs (get this last).

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QUESTION:

Hello Ed;
Thank you for producing such informative videos, the information you present has not only helped me to understand the drives and drive development for protection work but has also saved me thousands of dollars on worthless trainers. It has given me a better dog, I have owned protection dogs before but he is by far the best.

Jasper is now 20 months old and nearly finished with his training, he has a strong prey drive and a solid defensive drive with good nerve. The trainer I have been working with recently lost his defensive helper (due to a move). The trainer had suffered a stroke several years ago, he wants to help finish my dog but I doubt he can do much more. Because of his stroke he can not properly hold the sleeve, as a result the dog targets his hand instead of his arm.

Jasper is not yet finished as his grip is still a little weak when placed into a strong difference situation. He shows no hesitation on his attacks though. The problem is that he will not advance on the helper or bark when told to "watch him" unless the helper provokes him. How do I get him to show aggression on command without him waiting to be provoked? He readily barks for his tug and sleeve when playing at home or in the field but when it is serious he will watch and wait.

Recently I had him evaluated by 2 well known trainers in my area and both did and said the same thing. They said they would test his prey drive but instead of acting like prey (moving laterally) they came straight in to him which provoked him in defense. They claim he needs to be started over since he did not react in prey! They also say he is "handler addicted" and that in order to have a confident and stable protection dog he needs to be boarded with them for 3-4 weeks so that he can receive intensive training with more than one handler. They claim this is the only way a dog gains confidence! Is this true or a line of bullshit just to get me to buy their (expensive) program?!! He has a strong pack drive and respects my position as his alpha, on our property and on our hikes when he is off leash (the areas we hike in are remote and rarely ever run into other hikers), he never lets me out of his sight. Ed, these people even use this as an example of poor self confidence on the part of the dog! I don't think he lacks confidence since he has never shown any signs of avoidance and is very forward in his work. What do you think?

Sheryl

ANSWER:

No, you should never allow trainers that you are not very familiar with to take your dog. This is a big mistake. It is very common to take dogs and work them solely in fight or flight - this is terrible work. Worse yet many of these guard dog trainers do TABLE TRAINING. That is barbaric training. You can read about this in the articles on my article page on my web site. I also discuss it on my web discussion board. Do not go back to these people that want to take your dog for several weeks. They are either amateur's or crooks. You are 100% correct - they did not test the dog in prey drive, the dog is not weak because he chooses to keep his eye on you while you hike.

I would suggest that you get The First Steps of Defense, the video that shows how to move a dog from bite development into the more serious work. All dogs that are going into more specialized training (Police Service Work, Schutzhund Work or Personal Protection Work) need to go through this phase of training before moving on. This will teach you how to train the dog to react to your voice commands when he does not see the helper.

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QUESTION:

Dear Ed --

I just wanted you to know that your training tapes were very helpful and my Doberman has turned out to be an awesome dog. He's great around people, has a tremendous amount of prey drive, and is doing very well in beginning defense. I really owe a tremendous amount to your videos -- my trainer is amazed at how fast my dog learns and how much foundation I had laid in his early puppy-hood. I give the credit to you.

I have a question my husband asked and I don't know the answer to. I haven't asked my trainer this either -- he's been very good with my dog and I trust him, but not enough to risk screwing up my dog's psyche.

Is there a command that you give a dog, besides "watch him," that steps up the dog's threatening posture -- i.e., growling, etc., before an attack? I'm probably showing my ignorance here, but when you live in a place where there is a high crime rate it's nice to ward off any attackers before they push the envelope. My son's best friend moved here from Oregon two months ago and was mugged at knife point during broad daylight last week. He was just walking from the beach to the store in an area that's not known to be dangerous. Hence the question.

My dog has a lot of nerve and is not a fear biter -- doesn't do a lot of growling in bite work. He's still a young dobie -- just over a year -- and I've chosen not to push him in defense. We set up a scenario for the first time last week where I was standing by my car with the back door open and told my dog to stay. The agitator was wearing a body suit and walked behind me several times before making an aggressive move toward me. At that point I gave my dog the command to go for him and he flew out of the car and grabbed the guy by the arm. He did the drill perfectly. We did it two times and the second time I actually noticed my dog bare his teeth and growl. I think that was the first time I'd seen that reaction.

We have an older dog that's a Schutzhund 1 GSD from Germany that we train side by side with and I think Ruger actually studies him to figure out what he's supposed to do next. Uncanny.

Anyway, didn't mean to bore you. Thanks for all your good advice.

Cheryl

ANSWER:

Nice to hear the tapes helped. There are a couple of issues here.

  1. Be very careful about working a dog (especially a Dobe) in defense at one year of age. Dobes are usually defensive as a rule. They are very intelligent and if you make a mistake in training they are not going to forget it anytime soon. So keep working the dog in prey. The only defense I would be doing would be at night. Take the dog out for a walk. Walk into the wind - have a helper hide up wind. As you approach, have him rattle the his keys or money in his pocket - if your dog’s ears go up give any command you like - i.e. “Hey you in the bushes - my Dobe has a thing for your ass,” (just stick to the same command - BAD GUY also works :)) The guy steps out make a few threatening gestures - not too much pressure - just enough to set the dog into barking - do not make him bark a lot before the guy runs off - you chase for 20 feet and praise your dog. You will get 10 times more effectiveness than what you are doing now. You may want to consider my tape on Training Personal Protection Dogs.

  2. Unless it is done properly, too much bite work in a suit becomes prey work for the dog. The simple sight of the suit will put the dog in prey drive. After the dog has learned to bite the suit - I do not believe that it should be used that much - only for testing.

  3. Start to consider getting the dog used to wearing a muzzle. So when it is old enough to do muzzle fighting it will be used to having it on.

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Question:

Hi Ed,

I've spent the last several days reading as many of your Q & A sections, training articles and so forth as I can. Thanks for providing relevant and useful information, instead of just the usual sales pitch.

My wife and I run a motorcycle dealership (as you might have noticed) that is located in the core of the city, and as such isn't always the safest neighborhood. We are not a 'tough-guy' motorcycle shop in any way, in fact none of our clients would qualify as a stereotypical biker (most of them oil company execs, software barons and the like). 99.99% of the time we have nothing to worry about, but every now and again we are reminded of the reality of our location.

My wife often appears to be alone in the shop during the evenings as I am typically in the service department still wrenching. To someone passing by, it may appear to be the perfect chance - a lone woman at night - for an opportunistic robbery or worse. The amount of things that can happen before I'm aware there is a problem and arrive 'on-scene' is a bit nerve wracking to say the least. It is an unlikely situation, but the potential exists for certain.

Is it possible to train a dog to protect my wife and I in the store without disrupting the normal interactions that take place? Because of our location we have the occasional prostitute that wanders in to use the phone or street people trying to escape the elements for a few minutes. We also have our clients, prospective clients, friends, children (sometimes horrible little monster children) etc - all the normal sort of people that you'd see in a retail store. Can a dog that is protection trained handle that sort of scenario without being confused? Is protection training the right route?

I would expect that the dog would be with us virtually 24 hours a day. He or she would live in-house with us, and be with us in the store while we are there.

Thanks for your time Mr. Frawley,

Andrew

Answer:

If you knew what you were doing you could find a dog that can be trained and still safe. The dog market place is littered with crooks and swindlers people who prey on people that do not know temperament and training.

You need a strong male with absolutely excellent nerves (not a sharp dog) but one who is tough and self confident. The only way to get what you want is to train this dog to alert on command and to only bite on command – a very difficult thing. There are very few people who I would trust to train a dog like this.

If you get a sharp dog you have a liability.

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QUESTION:

Ed,

This may be a stupid question but I am wondering if I can purchase a "trained" dog for my family's protection. I live in a desolate area and worry about my family when I'm gone. I have two nice dogs but they won't even bark when people visit (they are lab and ??? mix). If it weren't for the deer that feed near their underground fence (by the way it works great) and geese that fly in to feed on acorns I don't think you could get a bark from them at all. I love them but travel with my Guard job a lot since Sept. 11 and just don't think they would protect my family. I am expecting a long deployment soon and don't have time to train a pup. Is it crazy to think I could buy a trained dog for protection??? Thanks for your time.

ANSWER:

Most of the time people who buy trained dogs get screwed. The personal protection dog market is filled full of low lifes and hucksters.

You also have the problem of your two other dogs. Trying to add a third dog is a problem because it creates a dog pack and this brings new problems.

If I were you I would find some weak nerved piece of garbage dog that is afraid of everything. These dogs don’t sleep too well because they know the boogie man and OBL are right around the corner – so they bark at the drop of a hat. Spend the money you would have spent on a trained dog and buy a couple of guns – teach your family how and WHEN to shoot. Anyone who comes through 3 barking dogs (or one barking dog and two that wag their tail) needs to be shot in the head.

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QUESTION:

Hi Ed,

I am moving to Indy from Texas. I have a SchH3 female that I adore. She is very smart and very loyal and very affectionate. I had her bred to a breed certified male SCh and she has had 4 great puppies, all with her smarts and demeanor. I want to get one trained specifically for protection ( as in elite protection) and perhaps tracking/rescue( I am firefighter). The only one I can find nearby that looks like I can trust is Al Gill, but he is too busy with police work. Can you recommend someone?

Thanks,
Ed

ANSWER:

Thanks for writing. I NEVER recommend people for this because I don't believe in it. I recommend that you go to my web site and read the article I wrote on my philosophy of dog training. I think you will get some good ideas there http://leerburg.com/philosohy.htm

Professional trainers NEVER take the time to do something like this at a speed that allows dogs to learn at a pace that does not stress it. The result is they use too much FORCE because they have time constraints.

Do the foundation work yourself. That's how it is suppose to be done. Train the bite development in Prey - all the work in the first 12 to 14 months is done by the handler - anyone who says differently needs more training.

There are 2 training videos I recommend people get to start the protection training process.

Training Drive Focus and Grip & Preparing Your Dog for the Helper

I produced both tapes based on the training of Bernhard Flinks. He is a German police K9 handler and top Schutzhund competitor..

The beauty of this training program is the handler does all of the foundation work in protection training himself. With young dogs this can start at 8 weeks and go to about 12 to 13 months of age. Older dogs receive the exact same training as young dogs they just proceed through the program quicker. These videos teach handlers how to do prey drive work with their own dog through drive exercises. Dogs learn the foundation of the exercises that they will need to know when they meet the helper for the first time. I compare this to a father teaching a child karate. He is not really fighting with his children, he is teaching them the moves to use in a fight.
I recommend starting with "Training DRIVE - FOCUS and GRIP" It is one of my best training videos. It's the first is a series of tapes done with Bernard.

It is the foundation of Bernard's training program It teaches handlers how to build a relationship of trust and understanding with the dog. Bernard is the only instructor I have ever seen that places so much emphasis on building a bond between the handler and dog.
The Drive and Focus video teaches you how to build drive in your dog. Every dog inherits a genetic level of drive, this varies from dog to dog. The training in this tape shows how to bring your dog up to its own genetic level of drive. The tape then teaches the dog to show self control while in drive. If you think of it when a dog shows self control when he is in drive this is in effect working under extreme distraction and that's the foundation of obedience training.
Every dog MUST learn to control it's drive if it is to become a competitive Schutzhund dog or a Police Service dog or a Personal Protection dog or a Competition Obedience dog. The later videos in this series will train the dog that heeling, sit, down and come are drive commands and not compulsion commands.

Through this training we show how to work at building a calm solid grip from day one. A solid grip shows a clear mind. We teach the dog to be comfortable in maintaining the calm grip in the presence of the handler. If a dog cant have a solid grip in the presence of his handler he has a problem with the handler. We show how to address this issue. We also teach the dog in the first steps of the OUT command.

It takes 3 to 5 weeks to work through the training in this video. When the dog has finished this work he is ready to move into the training in the second video. (Preparing Your Dog for the Helper).

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QUESTION ON PROTECTION TRAINING:

Hello,

I have a three year old American Pit Bull. He has had Schutzhund training with a trainer in my area. He was a very good trainer but now has retired.My dogs training is not finished and not many people are willing to work this breed in Schutzhund. He is a great dog with solid nerves and has done a lot of bite work. My problem is he will not guard the yard. He loves everyone! I have encouraged him to bark at the door when someone knocks and he does. It seems like the only time he has showed aggression is when someone was lost and pulled into my driveway, got out and approached me to ask me directions. I think he only showed aggression because he was on leash, by my side. How can I make sure he will protect my yard and home without me commanding him to or if Im not home? I don't have a helper. What do I do??

ANSWER:

There is nothing you can do without a helper.

If you want some very good advice – don’t do this. It is crazy. Anyone who comes into a yard with a pit needs to be shot. If the dog protects the house you have the best of all worlds.

You are setting yourself up for a law suit. If you choose to ignore this advise I suggest you make sure you have good insurance.

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QUESTION on Protection Training:

Hello, I live in Floral City, Florida.

I own a car lot in Inverness, Florida that has been broken into several times.

I recently purchased a 4 month old dobie. I am looking to send for training for two reasons 1 protection for me and family and 2 for protection at night at the lot against robbers who jump the fence.

Do you provide this kind of training?

ANSWER:

You screwed up.

A 4 month old pup is not going to protect anything for 18 to 24 months.

Dobermans have had their working ability bred out of them. The only thing you have is a visual deterrent.

I recommend that you go to my web site and read the article I wrote on my philosophy of dog training. I think you will get some good ideas there. You will see why sending a dog out to be trained is a bad idea. I don’t train dogs for people and don’t recommend it for dog owners.

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Question:

I need help with Protection Training!

I have briefly reviewed your web site and downloaded your podcasts but I was hoping you could suggest some training or DVD so my new GS will Bark at the door, strangers etc.

My previous GS was fabulous and performed all these functions perfectly with little training from myself. Unfortunately he passed away from Cancer this past summer and I am trying to train a new GS.

The GS I have now I adopted so I do not know what happened in the past and she is 14 months old. She is a well behaved dog, trains fairly well, working on attention span but I believe it will be eventually worked out.

My problem is she does not bark at the doorbell, knocks, strangers in the yard etc. I have worked at the door with "speak" and rewards ready but she does not make the connection. She does nothing if someone knocks on the door and she sees them as well other than want to play with them. She is smart, I just have to find a connection.

I live alone so I need her to protect myself and the house. Please recommend a download, DVD or book, thank you!

Regards,
Jane

Answer:

The answer to your question is on the website.

http://www.leerburg.com/bark.htm  

There are recommended DVDs within the article, they are excellent!

Good luck with your dog.


Question:

I have a 12 month old GSD female that I am gearing up for Schutzhund work. I refer to your excellent DVD's for inspiration, especially those by Bernhard Flinks, that I consider to lay the state-of-the-art ground rules for us.

My female, aka Chinook, is coming along very nicely except in one area: bite-work.  Her tracking is very, very good. Her obedience is as good as I can expect in a 12 month old bitch, but her bite-work is worrying. She goes in very fast, whether on a cushion or a sleeve, pulls hard and holds in there, … as long as the handler is pulling on the leash. As soon as the pressure is off, or the helper slips the sleeve or lets go the cushion, she loses interest and lets it drop. She has no instinct to possess the prey item, let alone carry a sleeve or anything else back to the car or the crate.

The helper is very experienced and knowledgeable. I have also worked her on other helpers who dismiss her as “needing her bite corrected” but so far, no deal. I can’t help thinking that the genes are simply not there. I was very attentive to begin with and chose a very active pup (I had virtually the choice of the litter) but maybe I mistook hyperactivity for fearlessness. My helper doesn’t think a bungee is the answer. His attitude seems to be “Let’s hope it fixes itself on its own …or…” I took my last dog, a male, up to a pretty good level in IPO 3 and he was a natural to bite-work. This problem has me stumped and I am thinking of maybe letting poor Chinook go. Any suggestions?

Tony

Answer:

Has she always shown this behavior on the grip, or is it something new? Has she been through her first season yet?  Sometimes adolescent dogs go through some funny phases as they reach sexual maturity.

How about when she plays with you?  Will she grip and hold on with you off leash?

Depending on your answers to these questions, the easiest thing to do is to give her a bit of time off and let her mature and see if things change. If you are working with experience training helpers and they are doing all the problem solving properly, it may very well be that the dog is either immature and going through a phase  or really doesn’t want to do this.  

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