Can rescued/adopted dog make great protection dog? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-21-2008, 09:19 PM Thread Starter
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Can rescued/adopted dog make great protection dog?


I'm moving to LA and will be alone a lot and I would like to have a companion/protection dog. More companion but in case anything happened it would be nice to feel safe and know my dog will protect me.

I'm thinking between a Belgian shepherd mallinois and dutch shepherd.

I've been trying to find schools that will train them to be protection dogs and I came across a site that sells protection dogs.

I called him and he told me that my chances of winning the lottery is better than me rescuing/adopting a dog that can be trained to be a protection dog. He further went on to say that the protection dogs need to have the genetics (bred from protection dogs), environment and training to be great. Also, the schools that teach dogs and owners how to make them protection dogs will be impressive in school but not in real life situation. Because they are trained with armored suits that are hard like metal and not reflect a real bite.

Is this true? Also any advice relating to this would be much appreciated. I'm used to having medium size dogs.

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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-21-2008, 09:24 PM
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Re: Can rescued/adopted dog make great protection dog?

Can you be more specific about what you would want your dog to do? He's probably correct that you will have a difficult time finding a dog that can be trained responsibly and reliably in protection - that is, actually making contact with the bad guy and taking him down. However, it is relatively easy to find a GSD that bonds closely with you and is very defensive of you and your home. I feel very comfortable walking the dogs at night, traveling, camping, and staying alone in various areas for my job with my rescued GSD. She has good instincts about people and definitely puts up a good show when there's a perceived threat. Would she follow through if I were attacked? I think it's actually quite possible, but that's not a position I ever want to put her in. Is she a good deterrent? Absolutely.

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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-21-2008, 09:33 PM
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Re: Can rescued/adopted dog make great protection dog?

Pup I agree 100%. Rocky is a great deterrent, and I know if it came down to it, he would protect any of us with his life, however it is not a position I would ever willingly put him in.


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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-21-2008, 09:36 PM
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Re: Can rescued/adopted dog make great protection

is he correct - the short answer is yes.

but does the average person need a dog that is professionally trained in protection - short answer - no.

i moved to los angeles when i was 17, rescued my now 9yr old gsd when i was 18... she's got a great temperament and solid nerves... not a day has gone by that i doubted she'd have my back. im still living in los angeles, my 2nd dog is also a rescued gsd, and although he's still young - i believe he "gets it" and will give me the same confidence that i have with gia.

have you already found a rescue you'd like to work with? westside shepherd rescue is pretty reliable in evaluating and matching a dogs temperament to your needs. a few times a year a malinois comes thru the rescue, but not many. there is a belgian shepherd rescue (i believe its Terri at Lily Rock or something like that). i've never gotten a dog from her, but she breeds, works and rescues belgians.

ETA: i just found the link

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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-21-2008, 09:52 PM
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Re: Can rescued/adopted dog make great protection

Sounds like the fellow on the phone had a few facts right, but, really does not wish you give your money to anybody else but him.

You probably want a dog as a visual deterrant only.
If you want a dog who will bite for real, I hope you have fabulously, extravagantly, splendidly DEEP pockets. Your dog doesn't need to bite anyone, simply to have had such real-life bite training (not dogsport), for this to be called into question as legal evidence should someone insinuate that your dog "tried to bite me."

A big GSD will intimidate based on breed, size, barking alone. A Mal or Dutchie may intimidate simply because it is bouncing erraticly off the walls like an electron, and the burglar is terrified of being sucked into the wind vortex created by the perpetual motion. I lived in Netherlands, I love Mals and Dutchies. A dog more nervous than the burglar may be just what the doctor ordered. But-- I would simply have the dog trained to BARK on command, and not bite.

And yes, rescued adopted dogs can make SUPERIOR visual deterrants!

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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-21-2008, 09:53 PM
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Re: Can rescued/adopted dog make great protection dog?

pupresq is right on, and the guy you talked to is also right. To make a protection dog, you need to start with the right genetics then add in the right training. As to whether the dog will bite for real, and not just a guy in a suit in training, has to do with how civil the dog is. A civil dog is one that will bite a person even without protective gear. Many dogs can be trained to bite a sleeve, or bite suite, but will balk at biting a person for real. Even they know the difference between training for fun, and taking on a real threat in real life.

Even among the dogs tradionally used for protection work, like German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, Rottweilers, bred for the work, only a small number will be civil and suitable for real protection work. So he is right that the chances of finding a dog from a rescue or in a shelter that has what it takes to be protective is very slim. A protection dog needs to be very stable in the head, very amenable to training, and extremely well sociallized so that they can differentiate between harmless people acting a bit weird, and bona-fide bad people posing a real threat. In addition, as the owner of a protection dog, you will need training to be able to maintain the training that the dog has received, and to learn how to handle your dog. This will require regular work, and one must be ready to commit the time and energy, otherwise the dog will lose the training that you paid so much for.

Most big dogs that bark will be a great deterrent, and that may be all you need. Just walking down the street with a large dog by your side will act as a protective shield. I mean, why take chances against someone with a dog when they could much easily target someone without?

If you want a Malinois or a Dutch shepherd, be aware that they are working dogs and will need some regular training and activity to keep them sane and happy. It would be fun for you to try to train them yourself for PP or for Schutzhund, but even then, don't count on your dogs to protect you, even a well trained PP of SchH may not protect when the threat is real, but you will have a lot more confidence and a great bond just through the work you will do.


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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-21-2008, 10:08 PM
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Re: Can rescued/adopted dog make great protection dog?

It is not enough to purchase a trained great protection dog, you have to know how to handle one and be able to handle one, especially if you are someone used to medium sized dogs. Otherwise you'll have a liability at your hands. How much time, effort and money are you willing and able to invest into the dog and the training? This is a completely different ballgame from caring for a medium-sized pet.
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-21-2008, 10:19 PM
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Re: Can rescued/adopted dog make great protection dog?

most gsd's as well as herding dogs in general have been genetically programmed to "protect". to what degree they do that varies. my storm is a bit "over protective". i have to be real careful who approaches us and in what kind of manner. he is also very fence protective. put it this way, i really do not think anyone would want to chance coming into my yard to do wrong, or approach me on a walk to hurt me while storm is with me. however, with that being said, if someone wants to get in your house bad enough, they will shoot your dog. i just read a story on my pug site that someone beat a dog with a hammer breaking in the house, so do you really want to put your baby in that kind of situation? as far as being alone, my husband leaves at 3 a.m. every morning for work and i am alone with my 2 kids from then on. i do feel very much protected since i got my storm and my whole neighborhood knows not to mess with our house. i think that might be all you need.

other then that, good luck with your new addition. aside from being protective (and even if you get a gsd that is not) they make a wonderful pet with the love and loyalty that they give. they intelligence makes them very easy to train.

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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-21-2008, 10:30 PM
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Re: Can rescued/adopted dog make great protection dog?

I would use an analogy: you can buy a race car (a top protection trained dog) but are you prepared to be a race car driver?

My two GSDs will jump on the burglar, knock him down and lick him to death, the burglar will most certainly die from a heart attack. I like it that way. However, nobody will mess with me when I walk my two guys. One of them did have some protection training but I am not sure whether he would protect me in a real-life situation. I prefer to avoid such situations.
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-21-2008, 10:46 PM
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Re: Can rescued/adopted dog make great protection

Call me naive, but I think if you are in a big city and worried about people hurting you, you don't need a trained protection dog. You need a great GSD who is intimidating-looking with a solid temperament - or a gun to do the job right. If someone wants you bad enough, they will shoot your dog. Most thieves or rapists or whatevers are looking for the easy target. That is NOT someone walking with a great big tough-looking dog. Most predators are wary of being hurt themselves.

My amazing Klaus was 125 pounds (yes - way oversized - and not an ounce of fat on him). We called him a Lab in German Shepherd clothing. He was wonderful - and a huge ambassador for his breed. He loved EVERYONE! However, one day I was home alone and a man came to the door. I opened the door with Klaus next to me. Totally uncharacteristic, Klaus did not like this guy. He sat next to me as I talked to the man through the screen door with teeth bared and a low growl. I was shocked, as I had never seen this behavior in him. As I talked to the man, who was giving me a story about his car being broken down - but there was no car to be seen - I, too, became concerned. The man was asking to use my phone. He put his hand on the door handle to open it (without my permission) and Klaus exploded - barking and snarling and jumping at the door. It scared this man so badly, he fell backward off the porch and ran. Klaus never had acted this way and never did again. I know he saved me that day.

If I am off-base, I hope someone will explain the benefit of owning a trained protection dog. From my experience, it would seem a liability and a great big huge handful in my home, where most of the time, I want a loving companion. It's actually something I've wondered about in the past, so I pose the question - is there a real benefit to having a trained "weapon" in your home?


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