How many times have you answered the phone only to find as you get further into the conversation that this fellow not only wants his dog to “mind” but also wants him to be a guard dog? Here are a few reasons people have given for needing a guard dog.
“I have to be away from home for 4 to 5 hours a day for a part time job and I need a guard dog to be in the house and protect my 3 year old child.”
“I have had some funny situations happen lately and because of where I live I need more protection. I have 4 mixed breeds from the pound and want one of them trained to protect me.”
“Our house has been robbed 3 times in the past four years. We live in a sub-division with 4-5 acre lots and after we have our dog protection trained, we’ll let him run free when we are at home and put him in his pen when we have to go off.”
“I want a dog so mean, you can’t even throw him a biscuit.” (This fellow had a St. Bernard and lived in a sub-division with small lots).
“I want this dog to be protection trained because his daddy was an Army dog (which they still had) and he ought to be a good one.” (This dog had never been off their property until he was brought to class at 9 months of age. He was fearful of both dogs and people).
Few people who want this type of training need it and even fewer understand the training needed and the liability laws governing dogs which have been trained to bite. I handle these situations by first assessing the need. In 99% of the cases there is no real need. Now comes the tough part, convincing them they don’t really need this training or the liability associated with a dog trained to bite. I explain the length of time needed to train the dog and probable expense, the need to maintain the training and the fact that they can’t treat the dog like any other dog and let him run free. Most people expect to pick up their dog fully trained and never do anything else with him until he is needed.
Liability laws differ from state to state. In our state a dog is considered a vicious dog if he has shown a propensity to bite or has been trained to bite. If neither has occurred and the dog does bite an adult, you might be able to prove the dog was provoked.
We suggest instead that the dog be made as much a part of the family as possible and enjoy being around people. It’s surprising how many don’t want too many people around their dog for fear he will be too friendly and will not protect. We explain that unless the dog likes people and is not fearful of them, the only time the dog is likely to bite is to protect himself. We encourage teaching the dog to alert and bark at strange noises around the house and then seek out the owner and stay with them.
For those who plan to keep their “guard dog” in his pen or fenced back yard so as to prevent break ins, I have a simple question “What good is it to have the dog in the back yard if someone is breaking into your house unless you keep your TV set, money and valuables in the yard with the dog?”
If my efforts are in vain or they really need a dog, I explain that I don’t do that type of training and am not setup for it anyway. I refer them to a friend who does do protection training and he tells them the same thing.
©1985 W. Herbert Morrison, III