How to Pre­pare Your Dog for Home Se­cu­rity

Home Defender - - Home Defender - By Amelia Earl, Pho­tos by Larry Atil

When you think of home de­fense, you prob­a­bly think of guns, alarms and other tech­ni­cal gad­gets. But don’t stop there. Your furry best friend is an­other way to bol­ster your fam­ily’s se­cu­rity.

Pro­tec­tion dogs are re­mark­able for sev­eral rea­sons and can make one heck of a de­fense weapon. In the fol­low­ing story, Steve Moore, the 36-year-old owner of Ca­nine Con­sti­tu­tional, re­veals how to get Fido ready to pro­tect your home and fam­ily.

Q: De­scribe what pro­tec­tion dogs are and what they can do.

A: Hu­mans use dogs as de­fense mech­a­nisms in a wide va­ri­ety of ways. Many times, peo­ple who want a pro­tec­tion dog are look­ing for a guard dog or a watch­dog. Early train­ing and so­cial­iza­tion for any of those dogs is go­ing to be much the same, so the dif­fer­ences come from what later stage train­ing the dog will re­ceive and what roll the dog will play in keep­ing peo­ple, prop­erty, live­stock, etc., safe.

The pri­mary func­tion of a guard dog or watch­dog is to no­tice peo­ple or an­i­mal en­croach­ment on the dog’s ter­ri­tory and bark or growl to alert the owner of the sit­u­a­tion. Guard dogs are not at­tack dogs in that they are not trained to at­tack and of­ten won’t make a good at­tack/pro­tec­tion dog.

At­tack/pro­tec­tion dogs, on the other hand, are trained to bite and stop bit­ing on com­mand. Usu­ally, you see these dogs used in po­lice and mil­i­tary work. These dogs should be friendly with strangers, un­less com­manded oth­er­wise.

Q: At what age should you be­gin train­ing your dog?

A: The train­ing should be­gin the sec­ond you get your dog, no mat­ter what you are train­ing it for. The younger the bet­ter. The early so­cial­iza­tion win­dow starts around 3 weeks of age and closes by the 5-month mark. This de­vel­op­men­tal pe­riod is cru­cial and of­ten ne­glected.

Dur­ing the so­cial­iza­tion pe­riod, you want your dog to ex­pe­ri­ence ev­ery­thing from lit­tle kids, to car horns honk­ing and all that’s in be­tween. Make cer­tain the dog has pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ences with ev­ery­thing it is in­tro­duced to. If the dog misses out on too much dur­ing that early so­cial­iza­tion pe­riod, it be­comes very dif­fi­cult to help it ad­just to the world, and in most cases, we never see a dog reach its full po­ten­tial, even as a fam­ily pet.

Q: Can any­one train their dog to pro­tect? If so, what is the best way to learn how to do it?

A: Many peo­ple can learn to train their dog for a wide range of jobs. If you can train your dog to sit, which to me means the dog puts its butt on the ground and re­mains in that pos­ture un­til told to do some­thing dif­fer­ent, then you can train your dog to do al­most any­thing. How­ever, peo­ple who train dogs pro­fes­sion­ally should know all the tricks and un­der­stand when things aren’t go­ing as they should.

They should un­der­stand how to work around any prob­lems and know how to over­come them. As stated be­fore, the early so­cial­iza­tion pe­riod can and must be han­dled by the owner, which will make train­ing eas­ier.

Q: How long does the train­ing process take?

A: There is no de­fin­i­tive time­line. That is true no mat­ter what a dog is be­ing trained to do. When you are train­ing a dog in your own home, it de­pends on the amount of work you put into it. Train­ing a dog, in many ways, is like hav­ing a child. It re­quires sig­nif­i­cant time and en­ergy to raise it to be a re­spon­si­ble mem­ber of so­ci­ety. I per­son­ally don’t like putting dogs into work­ing rolls be­fore the age of two years be­cause dogs aren’t typ­i­cally fully ma­tured un­til then.

Q: Name some char­ac­ter­is­tics a pro­tec­tion/guard dog should have.


Dogs are fight-or-flight an­i­mals, which means that when placed into a sit­u­a­tion in which they are fear­ful, they can feel trapped and bite, or run away. You won’t get this type of dog to stop bark­ing when faced with a trig­ger­ing sit­u­a­tion and, just as in at­tack dogs, we want our guard dog to both bark and stop bark­ing on com­mand. For this rea­son, guard dogs are less about the breed and more about the per­son­al­ity and tem­per­a­ment. I want a dog that is con­fi­dent, but nat­u­rally a lit­tle sus­pi­cious. It can’t be more con­fi­dent than I am, how­ever. It needs to be com­fort­able to po­si­tion it­self be­tween my prop­erty or my fam­ily, rec­og­niz­ing the threat, but not be­com­ing overly ag­gres­sive.

Train­abil­ity is also very im­por­tant when se­lect­ing a dog. Pit bulls might be highly train­able be­cause they are ex­cel­lent re­la­tion­ship builders, but they lack some of the other qual­i­ties.

Q: Do you have any good sto­ries of when a pro­tec­tion dog saved the day?

A: I live in a very ru­ral area. Peo­ple use dogs for guard work very com­monly around my area. Last sum­mer, we had an ar­son­ist in the area start­ing fires, one of which burned down a por­tion of the town of Lower Lake. A vet­eran that I am work­ing with on some obe­di­ence train­ing lives alone with his dog out in the coun­try, and the ar­son­ist was on his prop­erty, try­ing to get a fire started. The dog is used as a prop­erty guard dog and no­ticed the ar­son­ist on the prop­erty and alerted the owner to his pres­ence. The vet­eran got pic­tures of the ar­son­ist and scared him off. The ar­son­ist started the fire much fur­ther away, and the man’s prop­erty was not burned. The photo ev­i­dence he had taken was used by the fire depart­ment and po­lice to put a time­line to­gether and helped con­vict the ar­son­ist. HD

How long does it take be­fore a dog is ready to pro­vide se­cu­rity? Moore says there is no de­fin­i­tive time­line. It just de­pends on how much work you put into it.

A: For home se­cu­rity, you can train your dog to do sev­eral things, in­clud­ing bark, ad­vance to­ward and re­treat from, rec­og­nize and re­act to spe­cific stim­uli. If you can train your dog to sit, you can train your dog to do al­most any­thing, says Scott Moore.

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