I wrote a previous blog titled "No Dog is Hopeless" about my German Shepherd who unfortunately had some behavior issues, and ended up biting a couple people because I had not yet formally learned anything about dog training. Everything I knew up to that point I had learned from Google searches and watching YouTube videos. I remember thinking, well maybe if I taught him how to bite on command, maybe he would understand the difference between when to bite, and when not to. In hindsight, I am so glad that I did not follow through on that terrible idea in the slightest!
Now that I've started my own dog training business, I am actually pretty surprised by the number of clients I receive that are interested in training their dogs for protection work. During my dog training certification, I got to learn just a bit about the introduction to protection training for dogs, and how to choose the right dog for the training, and most importantly, WHY choosing the right dog is so important.
Protection training, from my limited understanding, is teaching your dog to effectively subdue a perceived threat. Primarly, a dog would use its natural means to subdue the threat, i.e. by biting them. Now, let's think back to my dog that seemed to bite people for no obvious reason. Protection training is about teaching a dog to react to what it is that they "perceive" to be a threat. Now, my dog had a pretty messed up idea of what was a threat and therefore would bite out of fear of otherwise non-threating people.
The ultimate goal of protection training is to know that if you were ever in a situation that your were legitimately at risk of being attacked or injured by an actual threat such as a robber or a violent attacker, that your dog would act accordingly and subdue the threat preferably without command.
Now, the other side of protection training that many of the of curious onlookers don't understand, is the absolute insane level of obedience discipline that appropriately trained protection dogs have. I had the opportunity to attend an open training event and I was truly humbled by every single dog and handler team I saw training with their dogs during the event. These handlers and dogs had undoubtedly put in countless hours and years or work and practice and training into developing the obedience and skills that go into protection training. Additionally, you could tell that every single one of the dogs on the fields were specifically chosen for the training based on their temperment and personalities.
Ideally, a dog that is chosen for protection training should be friendly with people, sociable, willing to work, and prey or toy driven preferably. What that means is if a dog has any type of reactiviy, aggression, or fear, they probably are not going to be suitable for protection training.
If you think your dog has what it takes, and you want to learn more, the best way is to find a Schutzhund (now known as IGP) or PSA club in your area and send them a message. When I went to the open training event, at first I felt very out of place, but everyone was very friendly and seemed to really enjoy teaching me all about some of these sports and similar sports such as Frenchring and Mondioring as well. So I do encourage you to find someone in your area and just start asking quesitons. Most clubs may allow you to attend one or two practices or training events for free, or even allow you to spectate frequently! It never hurts to ask.