Although we know more and more about dogs, Lassie is deep within us: friendly to good people, fighting bad people – and able to recognize them without error! In fact, the dog as a herd and territorial animal is aggressive by nature. The point is not that every pet favorite is an uncontrollable beast, but that he solves some situations as instincts dictate. For centuries, we have used these instincts – even to guard our possessions. During defense training, dog drives are also used: booty drive – telling the dog to chase prey, fight drive
– willingness to face the opponent – and instinct difficult to translate, called „avoidance” in English, prompting him to attack in self-defense when he feels leaning against the wall.
Brave or fearful?
While in obvious situations most people can assess whether an animal is afraid of something, we can not recognize some anxiety reactions and interpret them the other way around. Example: in the street, a passerby extends his hand to a dog on a leash. If he curls up or jumps away, no one will doubt his feelings. But already the animal that snaps its teeth, snarls or barking, is sometimes referred to as „sharp”. Meanwhile, most quadrupeds present the so-called „apparent sharpness”, or aggression in fear. Well, at some point in life a dog with a weak character discovers that barking you can scare off the disturbing phenomena. And we think we have a guard dog and it would be a sin not to develop in it these natural predispositions …
Learning to defend or dissolve?
Attempts to work defensively with unsure or unbalanced dogs can look promising. As long as the owners and trainers want to play strictly sports defense, based only on hunting drive, which the dog can have regardless of general fear, nothing particularly bad is going on. The problem is that many trainers keep customers in the belief that such a dog will chase away or disable the attackers in the event of an attack. Of course, this will not happen – in class, the helper asks him to deign to catch the sleeve at all. Meanwhile, the layman owner, watching the exercises, thinks that this fight is taking place seriously.
To make matters worse, quite often during such „defense exercises” the border is crossed, behind which the dog begins to use the most dangerous, because the least susceptible to control – biting in self-defense. There is then a greater likelihood that he will try to resolve another situation that has stressed him.
Most owners cannot read their dogs well, so they do not know what is really going on in the training ground. Picture from a dog school in a big city. An adult dog, helper, an adolescent guide and … a complete lack of reaction to waving the quadruped in front of the rag’s nose. The animal has no innate drive for booty, no one has tried to develop it. The helper is upset because the protracted scene looks funny. He starts to tease the dog, pulls out his fur. The animal finally reacts, jumps towards him with an outraged bark – relief, the customer will be pleased.
After several such meetings, the dog owner begins to have trouble with him. The quadruped attacks young men on the street, and she can’t keep him on a leash …
– Hello, are you conducting defense training? – I’m calling one of Warsaw’s dog schools. – Because I would like my dog to protect me. – After our trainings, we guarantee that the dog will protect you! – the answer is given. I was not asked what he already knows, what race he is, at what age. No meeting was offered to watch.
An effective guardian – a dangerous animal
Most misunderstandings about training a dog for defense are due to the fact that we believe he can pretend to be aggressive. Meanwhile, working with a guard dog is to stimulate and calm his emotions – and these dogs can’t play. In order for him to attack effectively and persistently, he must arouse the desire to confront and win – and we cannot demand that he turn on or turn off the battle drive depending on our needs. We would like our shepherd to protect us against thieves; but an attack on a guest who came to visit would be unacceptable! He should alert us to something suspicious near the house, but not bark at passers-by. Meanwhile, dogs work best in situations that are very readable to them. It is easier for them to understand the principle: „attack anyone in your area” than „look after the property from twenty to seven.” However, trying to orient the quadruped in such a way that it accomplishes the mission of the defender without exceptions, we risk that it will hurt someone innocent.
So the more effective our defender is, the more precautions are required. No more a closed gate, a tasteful low fence and walks during which our dog runs merrily without a leash and muzzle …
Safe bogey dog
What remains if the model of life with a defender does not suit us? Can he teach a dog just to grin and growl at a command? Theoretically, this is possible, but … very soon it starts to look unnatural. In life, the dog tries to solve the situation as soon as possible – by fighting or escaping – and not threaten forever. Therefore, he may choose the „less effective but safer for the environment” option? Teach him to respond to situations in which there is a row, struggle, scuffles? Only then we limit the number of situations in which a pet would defend us – only an obvious fight will prompt him to act.
Sport – a gate for those who like emotions
Should defense training be a thing of the past? Certainly not. Defense sports are a natural continuation of this type of dog work – a ritualized sequence of behavior (more at www.psy.pl). I am pleased to observe the great importance attached by people practicing sports defense to understand the psyche of their quadrupeds and to guide them so that they are not burdensome for the environment. I would like everyone to be equally responsible for those who give the announcement: „All types of defense training …”.
Would you like to train defense with your dog? Ask yourself a few questions:
- Can I realistically assess the dog’s character?
- Is my dog subordinate to me? Can I take him on a walk even from the most interesting things?
- Will I be able to follow the safety rules necessary in the event of keeping the dog after defensive training?
- Do I know the difference between sports defense training and personal protection training?
- Does my sense of danger have a real basis?
Do you think your dog is a geek? Read!
Calm, balanced and confident dogs do not react aggressively to their surroundings. Convinced of their possible victory in the event of a conflict, they do not argue for any reason. The exception may be aggression directed at same-sex brethren – but even this does not mean blindly throwing yourself at every dog in sight, but rather a desire to „test yourself” with a worthy opponent.
A normal puppy with a good character should not look back, grinning teeth, not let himself be touched, bark at us. Such behavior is not evidence of courage, but of timidity.