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Old 09-08-2014, 01:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How to train for protection and stuff like that?

On Friday, we got a call from a neighbor that were was a strange truck in front of our house that was taking pictures of the neighborhood. The house next to mine is abandoned and has had a few squatters a couple of times already that the police had to come and take care of, so when I got this call I just imagined something similar.

My 5 month old Daisy just happened to be in the house with me already so I put my shoes on and grabbed her and walked outside to the front yard to check it out. Sure enough there was a large white van parked right in front of my house but no one inside. Daisy was at my left side standing tall and then I saw this man come out of the side of the abandoned house and walk towards his van. There was a truck (unknown owner) in the abandoned house's driveway and it was between us and this man.

Daisy immediately barked, I had never even heard her bark like this before, and it was nice and powerful and intimidating. The man heard her, then saw her, and stopped walking and just stared at me. Daisy took a few steps forward, barked some more, and then took a few more steps forward. I called to her and she came to my side and then I grabbed her by the collar. I asked the man if that was his van and if I could help him with something and he said he was here to clean the house. I put Daisy inside the house and told my wife to give her praises and a treat for being a good girl, and then I came outside to talk to the man. Turns out he was hired by the bank to come clean up the house because it was now bank owned and it looked like a mess.

Well this whole thing got me thinking about a few things:
1) I want to start some formal training with her
2) I'd like to incorporate some self defense training if that's even a thing
3) I want my daughter and wife to be able to control her the same way I did
4) I was so excited and happy that without any training she was able to do what I always imagined a GSD would be capable of doing

There were other people outside, kids on their bikes and neighbors out in their yard, and Daisy knew exactly who to bark at and she was not aggressive or submissive. Almost as if she could feel exactly how I felt and she responded the same way. I wasn't trying to be aggressive with this person but I wanted to make sure everything was okay.

What do you guys think, aside from not putting her leash on her right away which I realized and will not do again, was this something I did right or wrong? What else could I have done differently that would have made it better or worse?
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Old 09-09-2014, 10:24 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm sure someone who is more knowledgeable will come along and post a more complete answer, but until then I'll give it a shot.

1. Formal training - I assume by this you mean some kind of obedience training. IMHO this is a good thing for all GSD's, even if you don't intend to do anything else with them. I would recommend you look for a good trainer in your area. Maybe a preliminary obedience class. This will enhance your bond with Daisy, make her easier to live with and help channel any excess energy she may have. It would also help to insure you have control over her when she is off leash.

2. Self-defense training - you mean like K-9 kung fu? I assume you're referring to some kind of protection training. If you are interested in this, I would strongly encourage you to find and visit a local schutzhund club, as part of the sport involves a protection phase, where the dog is expected to guard, bite and then out a person on command. However, understand that schutzhund requires a tremendous time commitment. This not something you can do once a week for 6 weeks and your done. Also, a lot of dogs do not have the drives and temperament to be successful in schutzhund. And finally schutzhund is a sport, so there is no guarantee that a dog who has been trained in schutzhund will actually take a bite out of someone not on a field and wearing a sleeve. Nevertheless, if you are interested in doing protection work, IMHO this is your best bet. And even if you don't end up doing protection, obedience is another phase of schutzhund and you can get a lot of training help from the club.

3. Wife and daughter also controlling dog - They should then participate in any training you do with the dog. Obedience training is as much about training you as it is about training your dog. Therefore, even if you spend a lot of time teaching your dog basic obedience, that doesn't mean that other family members can simply step in and exercise the same control over the dog.

4. GSD knowing instinctively what to do - yes GSD's can sometimes have a 6th sense about people and you should be proud of a 5 month old puppy who barked and stood her ground when confronted by a suspicious person. However, it would be a mistake to assume that your dog is a "natural" and without any training would instinctively protect you and your family if they were seriously threatened. Barking is one thing, controlled aggression (and you want any aggression to be controlled) is something very different and cannot really be achieved without extensive training. It is also a lot to ask of a dog that they instinctively be able to differentiate the good guys from the bad guys. Ultimately, that is your job. The best a dog can do is obey your commands. They should not be expected to assess the situation on their own and act independently.
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Old 09-09-2014, 11:46 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by John C. View Post
I'm sure someone who is more knowledgeable will come along and post a more complete answer, but until then I'll give it a shot.

1. Formal training - I assume by this you mean some kind of obedience training. IMHO this is a good thing for all GSD's, even if you don't intend to do anything else with them. I would recommend you look for a good trainer in your area. Maybe a preliminary obedience class. This will enhance your bond with Daisy, make her easier to live with and help channel any excess energy she may have. It would also help to insure you have control over her when she is off leash.

2. Self-defense training - you mean like K-9 kung fu? I assume you're referring to some kind of protection training. If you are interested in this, I would strongly encourage you to find and visit a local schutzhund club, as part of the sport involves a protection phase, where the dog is expected to guard, bite and then out a person on command. However, understand that schutzhund requires a tremendous time commitment. This not something you can do once a week for 6 weeks and your done. Also, a lot of dogs do not have the drives and temperament to be successful in schutzhund. And finally schutzhund is a sport, so there is no guarantee that a dog who has been trained in schutzhund will actually take a bite out of someone not on a field and wearing a sleeve. Nevertheless, if you are interested in doing protection work, IMHO this is your best bet. And even if you don't end up doing protection, obedience is another phase of schutzhund and you can get a lot of training help from the club.

3. Wife and daughter also controlling dog - They should then participate in any training you do with the dog. Obedience training is as much about training you as it is about training your dog. Therefore, even if you spend a lot of time teaching your dog basic obedience, that doesn't mean that other family members can simply step in and exercise the same control over the dog.

4. GSD knowing instinctively what to do - yes GSD's can sometimes have a 6th sense about people and you should be proud of a 5 month old puppy who barked and stood her ground when confronted by a suspicious person. However, it would be a mistake to assume that your dog is a "natural" and without any training would instinctively protect you and your family if they were seriously threatened. Barking is one thing, controlled aggression (and you want any aggression to be controlled) is something very different and cannot really be achieved without extensive training. It is also a lot to ask of a dog that they instinctively be able to differentiate the good guys from the bad guys. Ultimately, that is your job. The best a dog can do is obey your commands. They should not be expected to assess the situation on their own and act independently.
Thanks for the reply. I'm going to look into the puppy training and then obedience training and see how it goes.

I remember seeing a video a while back about a little girl who was being confronted by a man in a park and then she gave a command and the GSD attacked the person. It was controlled and simulated of course but it helped convince me even more about why I thought a GSD was perfect for us. I'd like something similar to be able to happen. If say my daughter is playing outside with her neighborhood friends and Daisy is around her, and a suspicious person approaches my daughter, I'd love for my daughter to be able to call for Daisy and me and have help right away. Of course my daughter would never be alone in any place especially at a young age but I think we know what I'm trying to describe.

I didn't know about the sport you mentioned. I'm going to look that up and research it. If she does well on the basic training it might convince me that she needs higher caliber training so I can enroll her in that. If it turns out to just be me that pays attention then I'll have to train my family first lol

I was just so happy with her, I felt like I had the best GSD in the world and I wanted to hurry up and get her the best training possible
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Old 09-09-2014, 11:55 AM   #4 (permalink)
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What you want...will take years of training and then years of upkeep. The dog needs to have the right temperament to be able to not make that decision itself, and the attack on/off needs to be trained by people that know what they're doing.

What you saw in your puppy...still doesn't say what the dog would actually do in an attack. At the end of the day...your dog barked at a friendly person and the person didn't attack or confront you in any way that was anything but friendly. I would really discourage your dog from barking at anything that seems "weird" to you because eventually the dog will start making the decisions about what is weird and what isn't without you.

Dogs are very black/white. Although you say the dog ignored the kids and everyone else and barked at the "right person." That is something that is easily transferred to the "wrong person" that you don't want your dog barking at.

Also the situation you want your dog to “react in” is extremely dangerous. Say your daughter is just having fun or rough housing with someone, and she screams…without proper training, your dog will react to the aggressor that is “play fighting” with your daughter. That is something that happens all the time. And starting actual protection training will give the dog confidence to truly bite a human rather than just try to get them off with small tugs or just a “soft grab” of a body part. The level of training required for the situation you’re talking about…will take a huge commitment, and a huge understanding of the liability you will then have in your house. That being said…I train both of my dogs in Schutzhund and accept that liability.
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Old 09-09-2014, 04:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by martemchik View Post
What you want...will take years of training and then years of upkeep. The dog needs to have the right temperament to be able to not make that decision itself, and the attack on/off needs to be trained by people that know what they're doing.

What you saw in your puppy...still doesn't say what the dog would actually do in an attack. At the end of the day...your dog barked at a friendly person and the person didn't attack or confront you in any way that was anything but friendly. I would really discourage your dog from barking at anything that seems "weird" to you because eventually the dog will start making the decisions about what is weird and what isn't without you.

Dogs are very black/white. Although you say the dog ignored the kids and everyone else and barked at the "right person." That is something that is easily transferred to the "wrong person" that you don't want your dog barking at.

Also the situation you want your dog to “react in” is extremely dangerous. Say your daughter is just having fun or rough housing with someone, and she screams…without proper training, your dog will react to the aggressor that is “play fighting” with your daughter. That is something that happens all the time. And starting actual protection training will give the dog confidence to truly bite a human rather than just try to get them off with small tugs or just a “soft grab” of a body part. The level of training required for the situation you’re talking about…will take a huge commitment, and a huge understanding of the liability you will then have in your house. That being said…I train both of my dogs in Schutzhund and accept that liability.
I wish we had a Like button. Well said.
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Old 09-10-2014, 04:29 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I'd like to ditto on that. I'm a serving police officer, and though a lot of the police dogs are extremely well trained, all the officers know that even though the dogs are trained to bark on command, we can't just approach and pet some of the dogs.

Most of them are pretty good, and only do it on command, but theres some (more specifically ones trained for armed offenders) that are rougher than others. It takes ALOT of training to get them to that level.
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Old 09-10-2014, 01:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks guys for all the replies. I'm going to look more closely into training cause I know I'm not capable of doing it myself at all.

In my mind she did the right thing and responded just how I would have wanted her to but I do see all the points being brought up, especially about the one with my daughter playing and screaming as part of a game. I already tell my daughter to not pretend fight with her, or to let her chase her around the house yet. I don't want to give her mixed signals and let her think that it's okay to chase my daughter and nip at her or anyone else. We try to make sure that no one overly excites her and we don't let anyone play fight with her or run around so she can chase them. If Daisy is going to chase anything it's going to be a ball or a frisbee or whatever toy it is we are playing with and we want her to chase it.

Like I said I was just excited and happy that she responded the way she did. I always make it a point to shh her when she barks at something insignificant but only if I'm sure of what that is. When she barks, I go out and check to see what she's barking at and give it a good look. I want her to notify me, I don't want her to bark because the dog 2 houses down is barking. I read and heard stories from my friends with hunting dogs like labs that told me it's the only way to teach them what you want them to bark. You have to be okay when they bark at something you wanted them to and say good girl and give them praise and a treat but if they bark at something else then you need to correct them. One friend who lives in a really big farm described it as he wants them to bark when anything larger than them approaches the house, and sit still if it's just a pair of squirrels and cats having a turf war. He also doesn't want them to bark when they're hunting so they don't alert the animals. I just want her to bark when she sees or notices something I don't and she's calling me over.

Thanks again everyone, the help I get here is amazing!

Last edited by YORCHI; 09-10-2014 at 01:04 PM.
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Old 09-10-2014, 04:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I have never protection trained my gsds (although I did import one from Germany SchH3) and for 40 years I haven't worried about my family's security.

Yes, I agree with the special protection training is a whole other level and I agree that individual dogs all have their strengths and weaknesses, but I also firmly believe that the average GSD is more than up for family protection detail.

My first GSD (American show lines) was a floppy eared mammoth that seemed to attract toddlers to him like flies. They would all grab onto him with these huge bear hugs, while the Moms were generally freaking out. The dog just loved people though, so we were not worried. Except during his 11 years of life there were two people he didn't like. Once there was a knock on our door and suddenly the toddler lover was quietly lunging at this one guy's throat. Both times the people left so quickly that we never knew if they actually were a danger to us or not, but honestly I don't care. Small price to pay if he was wrong.


I've noticed over the years that often the number of barks in the series can tell you how big the threat is. One to four barks (so bark, bark, bark. Pause. bark, bark bark.) is probably something like a chipmunk or a maybe a strange smell. Refrains over 9 barks are serious threats. Once we had some robbers try to force their way through our front door and I counted something like 17 barks in the refrain (there might have been more.) I don't think we train the dogs to do this, but we could be unconsciously rewarding them somehow.

The current gsd (Czech working / American show and a trauma out rescue) does not do small alarms at all. Actually, she didn't even bark for the first three months we had her. We think they had a bark color on her. So now when she does we respond by getting up and checking out what she wants to warn us about. The happiness in her eyes and her joyful body language tells us just how important this ritual is to her. She does tend to abuse it a little, she likes to do a parameter check a little after sunset and she will use fake barking to get us off the sofa if we don't pick up on her first few hints, but we don't have the heart to call her on it.

So, I think you are on the right track for what you want to achieve. Yes, a protection trained gsd is a whole other world, but I think the guys who life in that world might lose track a little bit of just how protective your average gsd can be naturally when the circumstances really warrant it.

Good luck!

(p.s. funny story -- The SchH3 we imported decided that we were not up for the responsibilities of owning a protection trained dog about two weeks into our ownership. :-) We were walking in the middle of an arts festival and I got the German commands mixed up, so rather than telling her to go heel, I told her to attack! She whipped her head around towards mine and gave me the "you moron" look. Before that she had trying so hard to figure out how to be the perfect SchH dog and was very frustrated by our ignorance. After that though, she decided that she was just another pet dog and we all settled down into a very happy family pack. Thank god she was smarter than I was about it. )
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Old 09-10-2014, 05:08 PM   #9 (permalink)
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SchH of any level does not equal a protection dog. It might show that the dog has the ability to be a protection dog, but doesn't really mean anything more in the real world.

The "you moron" look was probably more of a "huh? Wheres the sleeve?" if you must personify it.

Owning a protection dog is a significant step above own a sport dog. The amount of training required is above and beyond most people are willing to commit to or can afford. Granted those reading this board may be those who are willing to commit.

Most GSD's are going to be a visual and vocal deterrent to anyone who may want to cause you harm/steal your stuff. You will always find exceptions to the rule, but I would guess these dogs, assuming they are not trained, are not good dogs with any stranger. My main point being, don't get lulled into a false sense of security just because you own a GSD.

A man once told me his security system was 4 chihuahua's. 2 gated near the front door, 2 gated near the rear door. As he said "They wouldn't do much to stop anyone, but they would wake the neighborhood if someone tried to get in"
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Old 09-10-2014, 05:26 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The "you moron" look was probably more of a "huh? Wheres the sleeve?" if you must personify it.
Lol...I wanted to say that!

And yeah, it's pretty true. 95% of Schutzhund trained dogs won't touch a person without a sleeve...especially without the threat actually coming at them/being on their territory. The "passive alert/attack" is also probably one of the hardest things to train into a dog...

True protection, having the ability to get civil with a person, is genetic. If you didn't do the training yourself...you'll never know what kind of dog you have.

Luckily...a big bark and a big GSD will scare away 99% of threats without any training.
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