Guard dogs are free

This question is asked a lot. Why should a private person train a protection dog? First of all: a private person shouldn't own a weapon - neither made of metal nor with fur around it. No animal may be trained on a person or an animal (see also the extract from the VV LHundG NRW). And: a dog does not only learn to protect in the protection service. Every dog ​​with a good bond with its human does this. In the protection service, the sports dog only learns to react to certain schematic situations, which, however, do not even occur in normal life. It is well known that dogs generalize very poorly. From the structure of the situation, they recognize what is expected of them next. Just the sight of the dog place triggers a certain behavioral program in most dogs, which sometimes differs considerably from that outside the place. The Schutzhund learns strategies to conquer its "prey", with which it can not do much in normal life. In real dangerous situations, the sport dog simply lacks prey, because today he is no longer trained on the man, but only on the sleeve. And which bad boy pulls on a protective sleeve before attacking his mistress? ;-) "Protection" service over the prey drive is a sport, nothing more and nothing less. And the dogs "know" that too. Most of the so-called Protection dogs are actually "only" sports dogs that are no longer trained to bite properly. As real protection dogs, as trained by the police, they are of no use!
Schutzdienst Schutzhund
I would like to provoke: one could also ask what agility is actually useful for. And what is the point of tracking? The answer is the same in all cases and quite banal: The dogs are clearly stressed and happy. And that is exactly what makes protection work.
Schutzdienst Schutzhund
I would like to offer my dog ​​employment opportunities that go beyond everyday walks and that correspond to its nature, its breed. Dogs have been bred for certain characteristics for centuries. Today, however, as family dogs, they often only dawn, lead a life that is marked by boredom. I mean, dogs should be able to act out their evolved characteristics. Herding dogs should be allowed to herd, retrievers should be able to fetch and hunting dogs should be allowed to hunt. Sports such as agility cannot really replace herding for the herding dog, but they do create a certain balance. And a working dog like the Hovawart should do eventing. Especially for Hovi males with their insatiable urge to measure strength and let out power, the protection service is an enrichment. Fighting is the favorite game of almost every Hovawart. A hovawart who is allowed to do protection work feels pride and satisfaction. He grows with his tasks and matures in his self-confidence. You only have to see once how proud the dog is when he has conquered the sleeve and how he still carries the prey to the figurant so that the game can go on. Like no other sport, this training corresponds to the breed and satisfies its needs in a variety of ways. "Protection service" is the most insignificant part of the training in terms of time required. In the three VPG disciplines tracking, obedience and protection, the focus is on the dog's versatility. That's why I think it's right that the tests have been renamed from SchH (Schutzhund) to VPG (Versatility test), because this abbreviation reflects what is tested here much better. When preparing for the VPG test, tracking takes up most of the time, several hours almost every week. The dog loves it so I take the time. And I also try to pack the subordination exercises into games in such a way that my furry co-worker will be happy to do it.
Schutzdienst Schutzhund
But although the protection service actually only makes up a small part of the training, it is precisely it that takes up the largest part of the public discussion. For me it is crucial that the dog enjoys the "fight" with his sparring partner. He benefits from it, can act out like he can nowhere else, becomes self-confident, but still retains his bite resistance and philanthropy. And I also benefit from it, because VPG sport is one of the most interesting areas in dog sport. I see it as a challenge to be able to control, guide and direct my dog ​​even with extreme drive behavior. You can achieve that with agility, but should my rather comfortable Hovawart now have to compete against over-the-top Border Collies or agile Belgians? The frustration would be too big for me ;-) But agility is "in" - protection work is "out".
Schutzdienst Schutzhund
One can be quite critical of the VPG sport, mainly because there are still a few who practice it thoughtlessly, use strong compulsion. But then you should argue against these individuals and not against the whole sport. In the meantime, however, you also hear the worst things about modern sports like agility and obedience. It's not the sport, but the pressure of the exams and the ambition of the dog handler. VPG-Sport is older and for this reason alone, old methods are even more represented there. But over time the "old hands" die out and are replaced by younger ones who bring new, dog-friendly methods and push the "old school" from the last millennium into the background. But even with the very experienced "old people" there is definitely a willingness to switch to reinforcement methods because they know the problems of aversive training very well. Meanwhile, a new wind is blowing on more and more dog sites. And at some point you will only smile tiredly at the old methods.

Our heads are round so that our thoughts can change direction.
Francis Picabia

To decide whether our protection service is good or bad, I look at my own dog. In the dog park he is open, free and happy with the matter. Outside the square, he behaves calmly and confidently, even in the thick of the crowd of a noisy fair with its flickering lights, and allows strangers to touch him and stroke his head. When we meet a noisy school class in the forest, I can run it freely next to me without it bothering the children. And when the children surround him, wave their arms and touch him, he still remains friendly and relaxed. And men with a stick also leave him indifferent. If I had to even begin to realize that Argus harms the "protection service" training on the prey drive in any way or worsens his social behavior, I would break it off. For me, the limit has been reached where dogs are bullied in such a way that they feel seriously threatened. Above all, I reject any protective training outside of the dog area, in which the dog is used to "everyday biting situations" in civil work.

The Raison d'être the versatility training is given, among other things, in the better selection of breeding. The VPG test in particular requires the dog to have a broad spectrum of behavior. In the track, the performance of the nose and the dog's ability to concentrate are tested; In the subordination, enthusiasm for work, learning ability, intelligence, but also obedience and social behavior are required. In the protection service, the dog is challenged in its natural instincts, has to withstand stress and tension and you can see whether the drive areas of prey and aggressive behavior, and thus a strong will to assert yourself, are sufficiently present. First and foremost, obedience, control and also the nerve strength and self-control of the dog in stressful situations are checked. All of these are behavioral qualities that make the dog more environmentally friendly.
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Especially the dogs with distinctive working dog characteristics such as resilience, manageability, etc. are also those who master normal everyday life best. Therefore the "family only owner" should care about the preservation of the working dog characteristics. Uncontrollable, weak-nerved dogs, unpredictable fear-biting dogs or dogs with heart and joint diseases have no chance in a Schutzhund test. The aim of breeding is a working dog that is predisposed to perform well and that presents itself as balanced, nerve-proof, self-assured, absolutely impartial and good-natured, attentive and docile. If dogs are preferred in breeding, which require special physical and psychological performance, this not only has an impact on the performance of the breed, but also on other vitality factors such as resilience and instinctual security. And there are certainly indications that the preference for animals with high physical and psychological performance could lead to an improvement in genetic diversity, but this still needs to be scientifically examined.

Quote from Prof. Dr. Dorit Urd Feddersen-Petersen from "On the aggressive behavior of German Shepherds":
"In summary, so far it can be stated that a breeding selection that promotes dogs with varied, balanced social behavior, whose aggressive behavior is effective as a regulator, must be good. The selection criteria for breeding this breed are varied, the protection service has been designed in such a way that it is completely safe not to be confused with aggression training, which is produced by animals with behavioral disorders, as they are non-biological and one-sided, generally in violation of animal welfare. According to the previous findings, the direction of development in terms of behavior is socio-ethical (in the sense of Hassenstein) in German Shepherds This is not the case with many domestic animals. One-sided breeding selection according to (dubious) beauty criteria while neglecting the behavior have produced animals that, according to Section 11 b of the Animal Welfare Act as amended in 1998, are classified as "tortured breeds" are designated. AS A CRITERION OF THE BREEDING SELECTION, I CONSIDER TODAY'S "PROTECTION SERVICE" (carried out strictly in accordance with the examination regulations in a playful sense).

It doesn't matter what a dog looks like, it could even be green for me - it just has to want to work !!

The protection service is now fraught with so many prejudices that it should actually be renamed. Because the dog doesn't really learn to protect. Responsible "protection" training does not make the dog a bodyguard. More correct would actually be designations like "instinct promotion" or "security service" ;-) Through this work one wants to achieve a balanced, obedient and busy dog, which does not need to procure substitute satisfaction through possible aggressiveness itself.
Schutzdienst Schutzhund
The so-called protection service is probably the most misunderstood part within the eventing sport. Too many people still believe that dog sport leads to the training of "dangerous" and "sharp" dogs. Admittedly, up until 10 or 20 years ago, a lot of things were done differently in this sport than they are today. In the early days of this sport, there was a lack of in-depth knowledge of the dog as a living being, as well as an insight into cynology in general. "Old school" protection was war and the helper was the dog's enemy. This protection service "survived" only those dogs that actually showed a high degree of aggressiveness, all the others were simply "no good" and disappeared somewhere into oblivion.
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Today, however, much has changed fundamentally in this regard. The knowledge of the partner dog has become greater than ever before. Today the dogs are trained in good dog sports clubs using their innate urges. The (fearful) aggressive, vicious dog of the past is not welcomed on dog sports grounds, but the stable and balanced working dog is required, which is always in the hands of its owner and carries out its tasks joyfully and as a real team with its human.
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The Hovawart has a more or less pronounced innate self-confidence, which he later develops and consolidates. A confident dog that is not afraid will not bite, in a sense it does not need to. Just his charisma, his body language, is enough. That is why one tries in the protection service to strengthen the dogs in their internal security by letting them win in the fight for the prey. The strengthened dog also learns to lose if the prey is taken away from it in between.
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A Hovawart carefully trained in this way will behave appropriately in every situation that may come up to him, in contrast to an untrained and possibly even nervous dog, whose behavior is far less reliable. If the protection dog is properly worked on, it results in a nice sport for the Hovawart together with his human being, in which he can live out his innate urges in a controlled manner. And that's actually what it's about. The eventing sport is a possibility for these dogs to use their excess energy and their zest for action in a targeted manner. The dogs are not made angry in the protection dog sport, but the dog learns to deal with his pronounced urges. The dog learns to control his instincts and to maintain self-control, which increases his threshold for uncontrolled aggression - he becomes safer. In everyday life these dogs are just as peaceful or even more balanced than some under-challenged and underutilized couches-and-nothing else. And so you always see completely surprised faces when you explain to Schutzhund opponents what a supposed "monster" they are stroking ;-)
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The result of a responsible training in the protection service is not a Rambo on four legs, but a self-confident, stress-resistant, busy dog, which, despite a high level of irritation, stands in the obedience of its dog handler.
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But I would also like to warn all VPG students against all too frivolous wishful thinking: it is not enough to pass a perfect VPG test at the dog park if you don't assert yourself in "real" life. Dogs learn situationally. And VPG dogs also have to learn to be in all Obeying situations. The true education does not take place in the dog park but in the rough reality of everyday life! This applies to all training - whether hunting training, agility, obedience or multi-purpose sports.

- Prejudices -
Is a trained protection dog dangerous in everyday life?

No - the protection service, as it is operated today, does not make the dog dangerous, but achieves the opposite. You can't use an aggressive dog in dog sports and that would only create problems in sports. This sport, now known as the versatility test for working dogs, aims to keep a dog under control in highly stressful situations by means of call signs.
Schutzdienst Schutzhund
If there are problems with a protection dog, the real problem can always be found at the other end of the leash! There are black sheep everywhere. Therefore it has to be an important task of the trainer to forego part of the dog's potential in case of doubt or even to refuse the training. The decisive factor is the training method and the motivation of the owner.
Schutzdienst Schutzhund
Only rarely do you hear sound and reasonably affect-free arguments from opponents in discussions on the subject of protection. Usually these discussions are very emotional. The opponents only see what they want to see - and that's a dog that bites into something. You don't want to hear that these dogs in the family are just as compatible as other dogs, sometimes even better. That doesn't fit into the prejudice with which one can react so nicely to one's own emotions. Nevertheless, I will try here to deal objectively with various arguments of the protection service opponents.
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Service / police dog and Sporthund are quite different (see also the extract from the VV LHundG NRW). Sports dogs are not to be used as protection dogs as trained by the police, because they are only trained to be on the hunt arm and not in full protection. Dogs for the police service are specially selected for this and must have a lot of drive, prey and also aggression in order to be able to stand in the service of their "dog". But they also have to be completely in the hand of their dog handler, because it is not their job to bite people for no reason, but to reliably position and guard people. The police dog gets its prey (here it is the full protective jacket) through aggressive barking. He reacts to queuing and commands and then works in the usual way, like any other dog. Only that the prey of the police dog are people with thick jackets and not a hate sleeve. Police dogs also live predominantly in the family and have good bite resistance in normal everyday life.
Civil protection dog training (= figurative is bitten with intent to damage) is reserved in Germany for the service dog-keeping authorities as well as specially authorized persons. However, the SPORTY training according to the examination regulations (= dog does not bite the protective arm with the intention of damaging the figurine, but out of prey instinct) can be operated by anyone who has the necessary qualifications and a suitable dog.
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in the Sports However, you need a dog who likes to play and fight prey with strangers with perseverance. In the game, a sports dog must be able not to get out of a strong opponent or fall into defensive behavior. A sports dog barks at the helper because he wants his sleeve (the prey) and gets angry that he doesn't get it. In threatening situations, a sports dog only threatens back - it does not immediately become aggressive.
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The protection service in the VDH does not aim to protect dogs "sharp"or"snappyIt's a sporty competition, nothing more. After all, no epee fencer would really impale his opponent and a boxer also fights in the ring according to fixed rules and doesn't hit everyone on the nose on the street. It's similar with our sports dogs. It is only a matter of performing the exercises prescribed in the VDH examination regulations as correctly and concentrated as possible.
Schutzdienst Schutzhund
Whether or not a dog bites in everyday life is primarily up to the owner. The owner must be able to handle his dog. Insecure owners, who give their dogs lots of leashes because of their insecurity, are particularly noticeable. These dogs have become insecure themselves and therefore difficult due to the insecurity of their owner.
Schutzdienst Schutzhund
The training of the eventing dog is based on the game /Prey drive carried out and not through the defense or defense instinct. The modern sporting protection dog training can be seen as an object-related social game (with possible aggressive elements) between the protection service helper and the Hovawart. Whether the prey object is a rabbit, a dummy / ball that is retrieved by the dog, a rag, a bite sausage or the so-called protective service sleeve makes no difference to the dog. This so-called The dog tries to conquer hate sleeves by grabbing it and possibly shaking it. Nevertheless it remains Bite resistance fully received in relation to man. A protection dog has to learn the same bite resistance as any other dog (human skin is taboo). However, this does not prevent the dogs from biting a sleeve if no human arm can be felt. A sports protection dog would never bite properly 'civilly' if it has good anti-bite properties - but still fully and firmly in its prey. The helper can also touch the dog with his bare hand during the "fight" without being bitten. And if the helper falls down during the protection service, it can happen that the dog sucks off his face apologetically ... The figurant's leather clothing mainly serves to protect against scratches.
Schutzdienst Schutzhund
You can also send a guard dog to a figurine who is part of a large group of people (people from the population, no club members, people of all ages) without the dog showing even the slightest interest in the people and single-mindedly looking for the helper with the booty sleeve . He is not interested in people even if they try to distract, harass or prevent him from reaching the helper. If there are several helpers on the field, the dog will always turn to the helper with the rabble arm.
Schutzdienst Schutzhund
When training the central elements of a security service - grasping, holding and letting go of the object - good security service helpers proceed in such a way that they gradually integrate the threatening actions required in the examination regulations, such as slashing movements with a stick, and with other friendly actions, such as Mix strokes or pats. This creates trust in the dog. These security a well-trained eventing dog is one reason for the rare occurrence of aggressive behavior towards humans.
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This is a very pronounced instinct in the dog Guarding and protecting of his people and of his own home. Even dogs without training show this natural pack behavior. Untrained dogs can then get into a situation that arouses the defensive instinct and in which they start to defend against an alleged attacker. The dogs bark, growl, tug on the leash and can hardly be dissuaded from their aggressive behavior. Most dog owners then have to more or less successfully prevent their dog from becoming a "hero" in this situation by leashed or locked away. In the protection service, on the other hand, the dogs are led in free succession, so in such a situation they have to be fully obedient to their dog handler, even without aids, solely by calling the call sign.
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Man as prey? Scientific studies clearly show that only dogs that have no social contact with humans consider them prey. Dogs classify people as social partners and, in an emergency, as competitors. Even if protection dogs are trained today about the prey drive, these dogs always only see the protective sleeve as prey, never the person who is in it. This can be demonstrated very easily, for example, by having the helper throw away the sleeve while the dog is already running. A dog trained to prey will snap up its sleeve - not humans.
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When you see a dog in the protection service, the question is not "how does it look for humans?", But rather "what is the motivation for the dog to do this?". And his motivation is the prey! He has learned to show certain behaviors in order to achieve his instinctual goal (the prey, i.e. the sleeve). Even if the protection service looks very dangerous - the Dog is obviously biting - so this "biting" primarily serves to hold on to the prey (a steady, firm grip is required, which is also held). The dog has no hands and arms. The only tool available to him is essentially his muzzle and his teeth. With them he grabs when he wants to hold on to something. With them he also cuts the umbilical cord of his offspring, tends and cherishes them, transports food to them, and even carries them away when danger threatens. So what else is he supposed to use to conquer his prey? So if we are to judge a dog that is using its teeth, we should first try to understand what is going on in its head! Damage biting also looks very different.
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The sport dog learns at the so-called. "Escape" also not, People to to hunt. Fast movement triggers hunting and play instincts in many dogs. This completely normal behavior, which particularly annoys playing children, joggers and cyclists, does not have to be trained first. It becomes a problem especially with young and insufficiently trained dogs. But that is exactly the situation that requires obedience, which is required of the sports dog when training in stimulating situations. Trained eventing dogs remain manageable even in such strong instinctual situations.
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Dogs that have only been trained in basic obedience with a seat, a place to sit, a foot, etc., often fail to obey in extreme stimulus situations. The subordination in the protection service is much more demanding than in the companion dog examination. In the protection service, the dog is artificially put into stimulus situations in order to then be able to act on him through appropriate training with commands. In the protection service, the dog learns to obey even in an extremely high drive position. And who else can say that about his dog? In protection dog training, the focus is not on "biting" or packing the prey, but on obedience under difficult conditions. Control over the dog is improved by commands such as "foot", "here" and "off" during the protection service, especially when the Hovawart is particularly high on the "instinct". This means that the owner of a versatile dog can better control his companion even in tricky everyday situations and avoid accidents.
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As an example: In VPG 3 the dog has to move around 6 hiding places, although he knows exactly that the figurant is only in the last hiding place. These detours are very difficult for the dog to take, and many try to just take shortcuts and leave out a few hiding spots. When the dog finally comes to the last hiding place and "finds" the figurine there, it is still not allowed to touch the sleeve, but has to bark first. If he has done this extensively, there is still no reward in the form of playing with the sleeve. The dog handler only calls his dog "at foot", that is, the dog even has to leave the figurant with the beloved sleeve again. Then it goes a few steps on foot, then the dog still has to lie down, whereby the dog handler withdraws again. And only then - finally - when the figurine "flees", the dog is allowed to follow and bite.
I think this exercise shows very well how much obedience is involved and how long the dog has to wait for its reward in the form of a drag game. Biting is just the end of a long exercise. And I don't think it's good if you always only discuss the end point, but never about what obedience the dog had to do beforehand.
Schutzdienst Schutzhund
Various studies have been carried out in Switzerland and wherever sport / protection dogs are recorded in the statistics, these dogs bit by far the least.

More about protection service:
Dog-friendly training - Die Triebe - VDH examination regulations VPG - Excerpt from the state dog law NRW
Thoughts on the protection service - the sports dog - the real protection dog: dangerous dog or dangerous person?
Schutzhund-Flyer.pdf