How to Prepare Your Dog for Home Security
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.
“… GUARD DOGS ARE LESS ABOUT THE BREED AND MORE ABOUT THE PERSONALITY AND TEMPERAMENT.”
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.