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Leerburg Dog Training Blog

The best source for dog training news, tricks and treats, right from world class leaders in dog training.

The best source for dog training news, tricks and treats, right from world class leaders in dog training.

Should I buy a PUPPY for personal protection?

Over the past 25 plus years, I have been asked about my ideas of buying a puppy to raise as a personal protection training. See the most recent email below. I have written articles in the past on why I felt this is not a good idea. Then I started to think about all my dog friends who have trained dogs, which made me write this blog post.

Here is the email that triggered me writing this post:


I’m 59 and will retire in a few years. Although I had a German Shepherd as a teen we’ve had a series of
Newfoundlands as we have raised our kids.

Thus the idea of combining my love of dogs with protection training a dog. I planned on spending a great deal of time before retirement learning about protection training, then spending the 5 or 6 thousand dollars it apparently costs to buy a good pup. So, am I an idiot who needs to just buy a nice dog and forget the protection angle?


Well, to start with you need to walk away from the person that is telling you their WORKING LINE GSD puppies are $5,000.00 to $6,000.00. I can tell you that in my opinion, anyone who is selling puppies for that much and telling you they are going to make good personal protection dogs is a scammer.

I say this with the knowledge that no one in this country has bred as many good working bloodline GSD’s as I have.  I bred working GSD’s for 35 years and I retired from breeding 10 years ago.
I can’t begin to count the number of people like yourself who came to me over the years and bought dogs for the exact reason your considering. They all got a dog that had the genetics to do the work if their dog got the right training.
The problem was not many of them ended up with what I consider a truly great personal protection dog because the owners didn’t make the effort needed to do the training.  Don’t get me wrong, they all ended up with a nice dog but there is a difference between a nice dog and a well trained personal protection dog.
I used to get that point across by using Michael Jordan and his kids as an example. Michaels kids have the genetics to be great basketball players. But would they be able to play in the NBA without training? We all know the answer to that question. The same applies to people who buy a nice puppy and hope for a personal protection dog.
The problem is people just don’t know what they are getting into. They don’t understand the amount of work and time it takes to train a dog in bite work and the obedience that’s needed to go along with that training. The fact is new owners have 100 times more to learn than their new dog.  That training starts when the pup is 8 weeks old and it really never stops.
A dog can’t be expected to do serious defensive protection work in a non-training environment until its mature. That varies from dog to dog but it is somewhere between 18 and 24 months of age. To prepare for that requires a tremendous amount of work – both in obedience training and bite work training.
Then once the dog is mature and pretty much trained it will always need maintenance training, and that should never end.
Then on top of all this the owners need to learn how to manage this dog that is now trained to bite humans. Mistakes made in management result in accidental bites. Accidental bites result in losing homeowners insurance.
 So we come back around to the question. What to do?
For me, that’s an easy answer.  Get as much training as you can before buying a puppy. Find out what you don’t know so it doesn’t come as a surprise when you realize how much work it is. There is also a good possibility that you will run into a lot of people who are not qualified to offer advice on protection training.
 Here is what I now tell people, get some our training DVDs or streams and study them. Don’t just watch them, watch them again and again and again. Here is where to start.
  • Become a student of MARKER TRAINING.  Read the article I wrote.
  • Learn how to use FOOD as a motivator.  Our video THE POWER OF TRAINING DOGS WITH FOOD
  • Learn the correct way to use TUG PLAY as a motivator and as a step to prepare young dogs for bite work. THE POWER OF PLAYING TUG WITH YOUR DOG
  • Learn the correct way to introduce a puppy to bite work – THE FOUNDATION OF PUPPY BITE WORK – with MICHAEL ELLIS
  • Learn how to raise a working puppy.
  • Have a look at the free online course I did on how we MANAGE the 5 dogs we live with.( Two of which are protection trained dogs.)
 If you are prepared to do the work in these training videos then you will be in a better place to answer your question on “Should I buy a puppy for personal protection?”
 But finally, there is one more important reason you need to know and be able to do the work in these videos.  You will be doing all the foundation tug work on your young dog, at some point, you will need to pick a decoy to let work your dog.
 A decoy can either make or break a young dog. You need to know who is good enough to do decoy work on your dog. More importantly, you need to know who to walk away from and say “THANKS but NO THANKS”.
There are “training decoys”, “trial decoys” and “bad decoys”.
 There are very good young physical “trial decoys” who don’t have enough experience to be called training decoys and there are a lot more bad decoys that in my opinion should not be working any dogs.
 Bottom line is, the more training you have the more you’re going to be able to answer your own question on buying a puppy for personal protection.


  1. Avatar
    October 25, 2017

    I’m in the same boat as the original email you received. Which of the listed resources and videos would you recommend starting with?

  2. Ed Frawley
    Ed Frawley
    October 26, 2017

    Thats depends on your current level of knowledge on dog training. So if you are an absolute beginner then get the video stream THE POWER OF TRAINING DOGS WITH FOOD.

  3. Avatar
    Gregory Wolfe
    November 30, 2017

    I enjoyed your article very much. I’ve had GSD dogs all my life, most were rescues, they all had limited obedience training, but all were great pets with typical behavior characteristics, never the less they all looked scary and barked when the situation warranted. Probably a big obedient dog that looks scary is all most people actually need.

    My wife purchased a GSD puppy from a breeder with a great genetic bloodline. From the start, I did not have the prerequisite skills or understanding to begin developing his potential. This dog is now 2 years old and I have worked consistently with local trainers, but found Leerburg’s courses have provided the best foundation for understanding behavior training. I still have a 100 times more to learn than my GSD. Thanks

Sorry, comments are closed.

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