We don’t need to get into all of the reasons to own a pet dog. Dog ownership is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. But let us be abundantly clear: home defense is not a job suited for an untrained pet dog. That may seem obvious to those familiar with protection dog training, but we often hear people say things to the effect of, “My dog is a German Shepherd/Rottweiler/Pit Bull/Mastiff, so he’ll protect me anyway.” It’s simply not true.
Meet Brinks, one of four German Shepherds owned by Bonnie and Kirk of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Brinks has every reason to be protective: she recently had puppies and is known to be protective of the family’s children. Bonnie said that out of all the dogs, Brinks would be the one to show aggression to an intruder. But when Oklahoma’s NewsOn6 put people’s pets to the test in protection, the results were disappointing:
Rogers County Deputy Kyle Baker walked into the home, checked out the TV and wandered around, and there was not so much as a bark out of Brinks. Bonnie said she was, “Kinda surprised.”
Bonnie was disappointed, but it’s better she learned this lesson in a drill and not when a real threat was at the door. The decoys tried other tactics to get the dog to show aggression:
Then we put Bonnie and her youngest inside with her to see if that brought out more of Brinks’ protective instincts. Even though Brinks went to the couch with Bonnie, she didn’t bark or display aggressive behavior and, in fact, she got behind Bonnie when Deputy Baker got close.
We weren’t surprised to read this. When clients bring dogs with Schutzhund or French Ring titles for training, they are as surprised as Bonnie to see their dog hide behind them in a realistic evaluation. There is major difference between a dog that will go after a bite sleeve in certain circumstances and a dog that will jump over obstacles in a dark house to get to an armed attacker.
Both Bonnie and Kirk said they were surprised, but both figured Khemo would react differently, so we put him in with mom and baby to see what happened. Again, though, it was the same result. Khemo didn’t show a protective side, even when Deputy Baker approached mother and child. Bonnie and Kirk were, again, disappointed. “Yes, I would like to see the guy get bit. It’s mean to say, but I’d have felt a lot better,” Kirk said.
Their disappointment is understandable, but so is Khemo’s response to the situation. Nowhere in this article does it say that Khemo was selected from a litter of dogs because she displayed the kind of drives needed for protection. The article doesn’t mention any careful upbringing or extensive training in a situation like this. Expecting Khemo to handle a dangerous situation would be like expecting your Comcast technician to deliver your baby. The job requires a lot of experience and training.
There are different drives that motivate dogs to bark. What many people assume to be an aggressive bark is usually the result of fear. The dog is barking out of discomfort, not out of boldness. As soon as an attacker males a move, the dog will drop its “tough guy” facade and run, cower, or like one of the dogs in the investigation, actually lick the attacker’s face.
Even if Kirk had gotten his wish that Khemo bit the attacker, the result would be a quick, unrefined bite- not the kind of deterrent needed for a 200 pound man intent on committing a crime. Dogs in the wild may be used to fighting with their mouths, but a home-raised pet has no experience with unlocking the power of the canine jaw. When we test dogs that have not been trained to bite properly, the few that latch on at all will release at any sign of motion, yelling or striking. The one dog in this investigation that did bite an intruder lightly nipped the leg of the threat and that was all. Compare this to protection dogs who are trained to stay on the bite even if they’re lifted off the ground or fought with. From big dogs like Asterix to our smaller German Shepherds like Rex, our dogs bite with enough power to pull a grown man out of a chair.
The news anchor ends the story by giving hope to people depending on untrained pet as a security system. She says, “We can’t test for every scenario. Had our victims been yelling, giving orders to the dogs to attack or exhibiting real fear, who knows what would’ve happened.” At Protection Dogs Plus, we do test for every scenario. Every day we give the dogs new challenges: armed and unarmed attackers, passive and active threats, indoors and outdoor situations with single or multiple attackers.
If you’re serious about home security, please do more to prepare for a home invasion than hoping for the best-case scenario. We offer fully-trained adult dogs as well as training for your adult dog or puppy.