We often receive enquiries to train client owned dogs or to be precise puppies. Although commencing ones training as soon as possible is commendable you need to understand the limitations of your puppy and that it really isn’t possible to have a 12 month old fully trained protection dog. In this blog I address
1) What to consider prior to buying a puppy,
2) What training you should be undertaking at home,
3) Importance of socialization and desensitization,
4) Interacting with your puppy, essential to future learning.
1; what to consider when buying a puppy: When choosing a puppy with an aim to train in personnel protection you have a number of key elements to consider.
Always do your homework and buy from a trusted source, look at the health and wellbeing of not only the pups but also that of their adult dogs. Ask to see the mother and if possible the father or ancestors, observe their mannerisms and how they interact with you. The puppies should be confident and engaging, avoid those that are overly shy or nervous. Ask the breeder what they have done or plan to do during the first 8 weeks prepare them for life outside of their litter.
Genetics play a huge part in your puppy’s potential; if they are genetically predisposed to protection work then it increases your chances of being successful with your training. Remember; just because you have bought a Doberman / German shepherd / etc. it doesn’t automatically mean you have bought a protection dog or indeed a dog with the capability to train in protection. Always look into the ancestry of your potential puppy, is there evidence which supports the working potential of the dogs or are they from a line of show dogs which look the part? Unfortunately for novice owners the genetics can be a mine field, experience and knowledge greatly increase your chances of picking a successful puppy and even with all of the above taken into consideration it still doesn’t give you any guarantees. It is however always advisable to keep to the traditional breeds that have been bred over generations to work within the personnel protection sector.
2; what training you should be undertaking at home? Don’t wait for tomorrow start immediately; you don’t have to do anything that you wouldn’t do with any normal pet dog. Train your positions, house manners, recall, etc. A strong bond with your dog is essential as too is their willingness to interact freely with others. Keep the training positive and reward based, remember your role is to teach the pup what is desired and indeed what is inappropriate.
3; Importance of socialization and desensitization: Going back to the pups first 8 weeks of life I would hope that the breeder has exposed the litter to many different stimuli which helps them with future life. The exposure doesn’t end at week 8 however; it is now your job to continue to positive experiences. Take the pup to busy areas, meet horses, buses, exposure to sounds such as firework noises, gunshot etc. All sounds are best undertaken using a controlled environment where you can increase / decrease noise levels. Give the pup different experiences in a play environment, an open umbrella, tunnel, and bottle filled with stones can all make interesting stimuli for the pup. Your goal in this part of your training is to develop a confident pup that can perform no matter what is put in front of them.
4; Interacting with your puppy, essential to future learning: Outside of the pups teething period you should encourage it to engage in a simple game of tug, this is the basic foundation for any pup which aspires to be a protection dog. Keep the sessions short and fun, let the pup win as this will help build its confidence. Once the pup is confident and understands the principles of the game its drive will build sufficiently to allow it to engage with others, when he reaches this stage you are ready to introduce a helper / decoy, now the real work begins.
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