A dog trained to defend its master and family can be a priceless investment in safety. However, many people going that route for the first time make mistakes. Let’s look at avoiding some of the worst errors.
Train Your Dog
Think in terms of a few hours weekly. If you took an intensive defensive pistol course, never practiced again and suddenly needed those skills two years later, you know you wouldn’t be at the skill level you were when you graduated the course. The dog is the same, only not as smart as you. The animal needs to be trained regularly with you, not with strangers, although professionally supervised training with you and the canine together is the ideal.
Research Breeders & Trainers
Beware the backyard breeders whose poorly chosen animals procreate dogs of less than optimum intelligence that are prone to maladies such as hip dysplasia. Likewise, shun the backyard trainers who beat and starve their animals, turning them into vicious “junkyard dogs.” You want a well-tempered animal who does its protection job dispassionately, like other dogs that herd sheep or lead the blind. One good way to check is this circuitous but effective route: Call your local law enforcement agency, ask to speak to a K9 officer and query as to whether they can recommend a veterinarian. Their dog trainers may work only for police, but you can be sure they’ll know the best vet for working dogs. Then, call that vet! They will know who in your area is breeding smart, sturdy dogs and who is training animals to the high level of obedience that a defensive dog must have.
Check Your Local Shelter
Shelters hate to have to euthanize animals, and they’ll tell you the truth about their dogs because they know that if you’re not satisfied, you’ll never adopt another. A smart, strong dog doesn’t have to be a purebred Schutzhund III imported from Germany that costs five figures. A smart, strong dog that loves to please people by obeying and is big enough to take a grown man off his feet is all we really need. Much as we might like to own Rin Tin Tin or Lassie, Old Yeller will do just fine.
Good luck. Even if you never need a good defensive dog, you’ll still have a wonderful family companion. And if you do, that carefully chosen and trained canine will indeed prove to be “man’s best friend.”