Protection dogs are unique in how they work. This is what differentiates them from the more passive and reactive guard and watchdogs. Rather than working without supervision and off of its own initiative, a protection dog will be controlled by a handler and have received high levels of training. To be effective, protection dogs must be intelligent, obedient, courageous, and possess temperamental stability. Without these characteristics, they are unlikely to be suitable for this line of work.
Dog intelligence can be hard to define, but Stanley Coren’s authoritative book ranks dogs by their ability to understand new commands with as few training repetitions as possible, as well as obedience to first commands. Perhaps put more simply, this demonstrates an ability to assimilate information then demonstrate a level of comprehension on command. From our perspective, this translates as a dog’s potential to receive advanced training. Without this, they are unsuitable for protection work. Similarly, intelligent dogs must also be obedient. Unless they can be relied on to follow commands, we will not be able to use them in protection settings.
Courage and temperamental stability are also vital. A protection dog must be able to stand their ground and face a threat down. Unfortunately, poor breeding has led to a proliferation of anxious and nervy dogs “working line” dogs who lack the courage or stability and reliability to undertake protection work. We mitigate against this by carefully screening all puppies we consider working with, as desirable and undesirable attributes are often apparent even at young ages. Raw potential matters most, and if a young dog we are assessing demonstrates nerve or timidity then we are unlikely to take them forward for more advanced training.
If you would like to discuss this matter further with us, please email [email protected]. We are passionate about developing and improving what a protection dog is and can be, and are keen to network with other likeminded trainers, handlers, and enthusiasts.