Teaching to Protect - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-13-2011, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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Teaching to Protect

Being fairly new was not sure how to get to the area this probably should be posted in!

By now most of you have seen or heard about my wonderful pet Brewski. Brewski as I have said before is a 1 yr old male GSD. Though I had the one incident over him biting me for taking his bath mat off his bed, he is is a fantastic GSD. So here are some reasons we brought Brewski into our home not in any particular order,
1) the children wanted a dog (4 kids 16,12,7 and 6)
2) husband is only home 4 days a month
3) nervous in the house
4) read up on the GSD breed and felt it was a good breed for us
5) love the looks of the GSD (not the tough/scary look, but the hey I am cute look)
6) the intelligence of the GSD
7) the size of a GSD (never been a small dog person)
9) family members had GSD's working, and non working, felt they had great personalities
10) recommended for a our 6 yr old
So here is the question our daughter is 6 and has can hear, but can not speak other then very few words do to a problem with her brain from birth. We were told that do her not being able to inform us should there be danger in the yard a GSD or other companion dog would be a wise idea. The idea being a GSD or other dog would giver her a play mate someone who would be her best friend along with something that could warn her and us of danger where she is concerned. By danger I mean someone who should not be near or in the yard where she is. Is Personal Protection training needed for this to be accomplished?
Don't need an attack unless of course someone is running off or causing bodily harm to my daughter, just need a warning to get the heck away and hey you in the house come quick!
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-13-2011, 09:19 PM
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If all you're looking for is alert barking when a stranger comes on the property, many GSDs will do that naturally once they start to mature a bit and take "ownership" of the property and people. Mine both did.


You shouldn't need to go into formal Personal Protection Dog training, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to get some lessons with someone who does this type of training, especially if Brewsky doesn't show any signs of doing it on his own.

Is your daughter able to recognize danger and is unable to communicate, or is she unable to recognize the danger? If she can recognize it, would she be able to perhaps give a hand signal to the dog? I certainly don't mean to pry into your daughter's disability, just trying to get a better idea of what kind of training may be needed.


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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-13-2011, 09:50 PM Thread Starter
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I would think and hope she would/could recognize the danger, she could give a hand signal. She tries very very hard to say Brewski it comes out "Boo". Brewski is smart as he knows when she says "Boo" she is speaking to him. My daughter was born with her cord around her neck twice and then to top it off a "true knot" (not the type of knot that is usually referred to with the birth cord) but a tight tight knot. The knot caused a lack of oxygen to her brain effecting her communicative part the brain. My daughter would go to anyone with a toy or puppy, it is something we are all working on with her. I need him to give a warning that something is not right. He starts obedience training in Feb at very well known training facility here in Ontario, but they do not do protection training just obedience. No apologies needed ask anything you like... Any suggestions or help in this matter would be greatly appreciated....
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-13-2011, 10:20 PM
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First, and please don't take this wrong way...but I would not leave a 6 year old child unattended with an adolescent male GSD. Especially not if he has gotten snarky with you before in any capacity. At only a year old he is still very much a puppy, but as he matures there is a distinct possibility that during his teenage phase he could object to a child that he does not view as his pack leader. Just look at bite statistics, way too many kids left unattended with the family dog.

Personally, and again I don't want this to sound rude, but the idea that you can leave a dog in the yard to act like Lassie and keep Timmy safe is a little unrealistic. This perception we have is literally something out of the movies. And yes there are stories of the incredible courage of dogs and Yes GSDs can have very good instincts and many will naturally alert to a stranger they perceive as a threat...but it's not something I would want to rely on for my child if you have a serious concern about her safety.

Protection Training of any kind is not a couple of lessons. It's a pretty serious endevour to teach a dog that they can take on a human being and WIN. It requires a lot of foundation, certain genetic characteristics, and routine maintenance on the training. You also have to consider what that lessons means to your dog in terms of it's relationship with the family and with friends. If your dog does not have the correct temperament for the training then their is a possibility that the dog could easily misunderstand the bad guy. In order for a dog to protect, it has to feel a threat, and understand suspicion. If your dog has no natural suspicion, than it will have to be taught...and that's not always pretty. If your dog does have natural suspicion...than chances are that it will alert the way you want it to anyway without any training. A Protection/Police K9 trainer that I worked with would frequently get people out who thought they wanted to turn the family pet into a protection dog for the wife and kids. What was hard for people to wrap their minds around was that for a true protection dog (not a SchH sport dog where there is a stronger emphasis on games and prey work) there would be a period of time where it would NOT be advisable for the dog to be the family pet. As the dog goes through the learning process it learns that humans can be scary and humans can cause pain and that they can overcome that with aggression (things we seriously avoid when socializing our young puppies- this is why many PPDs are sharper than the average dog- they more readily alert)...this eventually clarifies in understanding that it is strangers who act a certain way that the dogs need to watch out for, or people who the dogs are commanded to alert on...but during this learning process a child who accidentally falls on the dog might trigger something undesirable. There's a part of the dog's brain that has to be activated and then there is control placed on top of that. In SchH we activate and encourage the desire to chase and grip in our puppies and in the process we may endure more than our fair share of teeth marks on our arms and holes in our pants from little landsharks- control comes but not all at once. You would be teaching your one year old male to be suspicious. You have to consider all the ways this could (not necessarily will) backfire so that you know exactly what you are getting into.

I think I would just keep an eye on everything and wait to see how the dog matures. Like others said, most dogs will naturally alert to strangers in their territory as the mature and become more territorial.

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-13-2011, 10:54 PM
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Obedience training is the first step. Actually, the first step would be socialization but your dog is already past the socialization stages so obedience is the next step. Once your dog matures the natural instincts should come out, many GSDs will naturally alert to strangers or anything "odd" in the environment so that is not necessarily something that needs to be taught. However teaching barking on cue (if your daughter can give a cue) would be useful. I would suggest focusing on obedience at this point and allow your dog to mature and see how he develops.


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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-13-2011, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you and I do not take offence to any comments or suggestion on here. as I post looking for opinions, and if I agree with your opinion or not it is what I asked for. I am not looking for a dog to attack as I have said, and certainly do not want a "Lassie" just need Brewski to let me know when someone is around that should not be. I will/do not leave him alone with any of the kids including the 16yr old at this stage of his life. Indeed he is a puppy still, one that thinks he is the size of a 8wk old instead of a small pony. What I was/am asking is what can I do to start preparing him for the task that is required of him. I understand things change somewhat as the GSD matures and hopefully a few protection instincts will kick in. I was/am not looking for Brewski to be that warning dog today, I am trying to figure out how to work with him to get him to that point in the future. My daughter will need some training obviously as Brewski must see her as a higher pack member then himself. So other then basic obedience training is there or what is there I can be doing to encourage him to give warning at this stage in his life and what can I or should I being doing at this point to be sure he realizes my daughter is above him?

PS at this point my daughter is not able to be out anywhere without adult, GSD supervision or not. Will be that way until at least 2012 according to Dr's.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-13-2011, 11:33 PM
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It sounds to me like the OP isn't wanting to leave her daughter alone with the dog, or leave the dog in charge of the child's safety. She just wants Brewski to bark when an unknown person comes around. This is something a lot of GSDs do naturally and should't be hard to train, which is why I suggested only a couple of lessons with someone who understands this type of training. She doesn't want a full-on PPD, just a warning/alarm system like a lot of us have naturally.

Rocky, my weak-nerved fraidy-cat GSD, barks like a maniac whenever anybody comes on our land. It can't be that hard to train for.


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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-13-2011, 11:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lora View Post
I am trying to figure out how to work with him to get him to that point in the future. My daughter will need some training obviously as Brewski must see her as a higher pack member then himself. So other then basic obedience training is there or what is there I can be doing to encourage him to give warning at this stage in his life and what can I or should I being doing at this point to be sure he realizes my daughter is above him?
I don't know anything about training a dog for real protection work but if this was my little girl I would start by building the bond between her and Brewski.

Let her help you feed him, teach her to brush him, walk him on the leash etc. (all with you there too obviously) When you train him let your daughter help. Let them spend a lot of time playing together. I'd pick one toy that he loves, loves, loves and make that the toy he only gets to play with when he's with your daughter. Treats of a really high value would come from her. The more they interact the closer the bond should become.
The bond he hopefully develops with her is what's going to keep him nearby when she's outside playing. Half the battle will be teaching him that the person he wants to be around the most is your daughter. (I think that's your objective?)

The bark will more than likely come naturally as he matures, for now I wouldn't even worry about it. Socialization and training (obedience for sure) are always a given.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-13-2011, 11:57 PM
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As a former K9 handler, I would agree that the basic foundation for what you are looking for is obedience training. In your case, it also helps to foster what you are looking for in a dog. It will help to increase Brewski's confidence and it will also help the bond between you. It has been over 15 years since I lost my last partner (*sniff - I still think about him every day*) but out of the 12 weeks we trained (mostly 10 hour days to give you an idea of the time put in to just the first phase) the majority of the time was obedience training. Your dog simply HAS TO OBEY via voice command or hand signal and you don't want to have to continually repeat commands because the dog doesn't want to work.
I know it is done a lot differently now, but the first two dogs I had in the mid and late 80's were both shelter dogs. 99% of the dogs trained by the St. Paul PD at that time were owner surrenders or taken from a shelter, thus the amount of time spent on bonding and obedience. If you watch K9 handlers train and refresh training with their dogs, there is not a lot of apprehension or bite work, it's mostly recall and obedience.
If you focus on obedience, IMHO you will naturally help build a confident dog that feels bonded to you (and yours) and will be naturally protective.
There is a good reason that GSD's are used in this type of work, but it doesn't just happen. I'm afraid to think of how many hours I put into my dogs.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-14-2011, 12:16 AM Thread Starter
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Brewski and my daughter bonded from the get go I would say, he is gentler with her then any of us. When walking he pulls a little on the leash with me, but if Emily walks him on the leash in the fenced yard, he walks gently at her side. We have implemented a few things, Emily is in charge of getting Brewski his water, and she is the only one that gives him treats for shaking paw.

Emoore you are 100% right that is exactly what we want from Brewski.
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