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View Poll Results: Which breed of dog would make the worst civilian protection dog?
Collie 27 47.37%
German Shepherd 11 19.30%
Rotweiller 13 22.81%
Doberman Pincher 6 10.53%
Voters: 57. You may not vote on this poll

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Old November 21, 2001, 11:14 PM   #1
Anthony
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Do Collies Make Good Protection Dogs??

Hello Everyone,

My wife and I are planning on buying a German Shepherd and Collie when we buy a house next year. While giving protection dog training some thought, it occurred to me that the German Shepherd and Collie share many similar traits:

* Bred to be herding animals
* Bred to protect the flock against wolves and other animals
* Unusually high degree of intelligence
* Similar size
* Similar build
* Similar weight

Yet, despite these similarities, the Collie is not looked upon as suitable for protection work. Please note that I am not talking about a police K-9 unit or guard dog, but a protection dog that behaves like a normal pet until the owner give the command to attack and later the command to release a BG.

The only real disadvantage I can see are the Collie's long hair.

Growing up I had a Collie for ten years and I can tell you from playing hard with her for eight of those years that she could definitely run me down, knock me over, and apply varying amounts of biting pressure.

Help me out here. Anyone own a Collie trained to be a protection dog or know someone who has one?

How did it work out?

If not, are there any dog experts (e.g., K-9 unit officers, trainers) that might be able to give a seasoned opinion?

Thanks for the help and Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

- Anthony
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Old November 21, 2001, 11:43 PM   #2
444
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Any dog that has been made a member of the family and is treated with respect and love will make a good protection dog. By that, I don't nessessarily mean by physical attack but in the sense that the dog is on duty 24/7 with extremly keen senses. It will alert you to anything out of the ordinary long before you would ever be aware of it. Many people worry about self defense guns, alarm systems, cell phones, pepper spray etc. then ignore the ultimate alarm system. I feel a change in myself whenever I sleep away from home. Now I have to listen for noises etc. at home I know that is taken care of. Obviously this can't happen if the dog is chained up in the back yard etc.
I am no dog expert but was involved in a Shutzhund club for about a year. I see no reason why a collie couldn't perform all the exercises nessessary for a Shutzhund titile and perform those skills if needed at home.
In your poll I rated the collie as the worst protection dog of the choices you gave. My reasoning was this: All three of the other dogs you mentioned have been chosen above all others for generations to perform the exact functions you desire. This isn't coincidence. In other words, the people who really are experts chose those dogs because they have proven to be the best at it. The Rottweiler also shares some of the characteristics you mentioned; It was bred for herding. The roman legions used what is now know as the rottweiler to heard live animals behind their armies before the invention of MREs. The city of Rottweil Germany was founded by the romans and the rottweiler dog was left there and thus took on the name. Obviously it also protects the herd against attacks by other animals and has the size to back it up. This fuction also included human and property protection. When the farmers of Rottweil took their herd to market the dogs herded the animals to the market, then the farmer would tie the money around the dogs neck for the trip home. Prior to buying my dog, I researched the topic extensively. I read several books on dog intelligence and found the German Sheperd and the Rottweiler to by either both in the top 5 or both in the top 10 depending on what book you were reading. I don't recall the other two breeds standing. If I was going to buy a dog to perform the functions you mention plus be a loving family dog, I would choose the Sheperd. For my lifestyle and my personal taste, I chose the Rottweiler. A more loving and faithful dog, I could not ask for. He also twarted a home invasion proving his worth and earning his keep for his lifetime.
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How the British Regulars fired and fled,
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
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Old November 21, 2001, 11:43 PM   #3
Art Eatman
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Whatever breed you get, be careful. There has been so much inbreeding that many physical problems occur as a dog gets older--mostly bad hips, among Shepherds and Rotties.

The American Kennel Club has pretty much caused the Collie to be a needle-nosed dirt-dumb Persian Cat sort of thing. Before the 1920s/1930s, the Collie had a more Shepherdlike head and was very bright. Readily trained, etc.

Now: This in no way applies to every dog of these breeds. It just means you must be careful when you pick one. You need to check with other customers, if you buy from a breeder. See what, if any, "vet problems" they had.

Purely a personal opinion, I'd rather have a Heinz 57 mutt-dog, a bit on the large-ish side...

, Art
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Old November 22, 2001, 12:00 AM   #4
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I wouldn't nessessarily say that inbreeding is the cause; breeding of geneticly inferior dogs is. This is caused by morons who think they are going to make money by breeding their dog. Dog breeding is a science. This brings up an important topic for American dog buyers. Having papers or being AKC registered means almost nothing. What it does mean is that both parents were of the same breed. They might have been the poorest exmple in history of that breed but they still have "papers". Again, there is much more to buying a dog than papers. Of of these is an OFA certification on the parents. The parents hips are X-Rayed and found to be free of disease. One interesting thing I found about buying a dog. You can look in the paper and buy a dog from some clown breeding dogs in the backyard or for the same money, you can buy a dog from a nationally recognized breeder. The dogs are guarenteed as to temperment, health, and comformance with the breed standards. Some of them certify the elbows and vision. Often times you get money back on the purchase price if you dog wins titles such as Champion and Shutzhund titles. Obviously this benefits the breeder since then can now add those titles to the pedigree of their kennel. Many of these kennels will take the dog back and give you a choice of another dog or your money if you are not totally satisfied with the dog. Some of these kennels won't even let you buy a dog unless they feel you can provide the kind of envirnment a healthy dog needs. Obviously with a nationally known kennel, you can research the pedigrees of their dogs. You are looking for stuff like Shutzhund titles. This demonstrates to you that the parents of this pup has the intelligence, temperment, and work ethic required to gain that title. Research the subject carefully before you buy. Forget the local yokels. Don't even go look at dogs because you won't be able to resist a pup. Imagine ignoring this advice. You buy a dog out of the paper without checking it out. You grow to love the dog, you spend countless hours training the dog only to have to have the dog put down because it came from inferior stock. Avoid that at all cost.
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Old November 22, 2001, 01:19 AM   #5
Stephen Ewing
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Have had two of the breeds, dog sat a third on many, many occasions, and lived next door to a breeder of the fourth.

I'd say nice things about all the breeds from protection standpoints, calling all of them sufficient. If one is better or worse than the others, it's by a degree that is doubtful to matter, in much the same way that a 9mm Glock and a .45 1911 will both do the job---with the right training.

And may the AKC burn in hell for what they've been doing to the Collie.

Steve
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Old November 22, 2001, 06:00 AM   #6
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I agree with Art re the destruction of the Collie.

I think the backyard and farm breeders did less to screw up the breed than the money breeders who were going for show winning cosmetic traits and breeding out the brains and stamina in the process.

Same thing happened to the Cocker Spaniel. A once nice small hunting and companion, WORKING dog, turned into a brainless carpet defiler.

I have known really good dogs of each breed on the list, and some real duds.

I would add St Bernard, chosen veeery carefully. Have known some of them that would eat a platoon of terrorists and yet obey their masters to the letter.

Sam
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Old November 22, 2001, 02:05 PM   #7
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We had a Border Collie called 3.14159276 (or Pi for short) when I was a kid and he made a great companion and would never bite a child (a toddler once put index and middle finger up a nostril each and then turned his hand over - Pi only gave a yelp; my sister dressed him up in dolls clothes and he just looked so relieved when mum came and rescued him).

He always got into fights with other dogs (mostly German Shepherds) regardless of their size.

The Rottie is more powerful than the German Shepherd (a trained nighttime security guards Rottie killed one that was attacking him).

Police here in Austria prefer the German Shepherd for K9 units.
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Old November 22, 2001, 05:49 PM   #8
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OK. Here goes. I'll reply to this. This happens to be my forte. No a collie will not do as a protection dog. Nor will most Rottweilers, pit bulls, Mastiffs or Dobermans. They make excellent deterants. And that is what most people only need. Most people never need an actual protection trained dog. Protection trained dogs are a large responsibility and liability. They need lots of maintenance work. They are not robots who lie dormant until given a command and then spring into action. They are dogs. You must learn to be a handler. And to know the dog and what situations you can put them into and how they will react. When asked what dogs are best for serious protection work I tell them German Shepherd dogs, Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds. When asked why Rotties, pit bulls and Dobermans are not good I respond " Use what most police depts and the military use." And that are German Shepherd Dogs, Malinois and Dutch Shepherds. I know! I train them. I've trained Rotties, pit bulls, Doebermans and Mastiffs. They GENERALLY just do not have the nerve for the work. There are some exceptions. But not many. I know that you said that you are not talking about a police K9. But if you want a serious protection dog I suggest that you look into the breeds I mentioned. But I really suggest that you think about a dog as a visual detterant instead of for protection work. And do not believe the myth that any dog will naturally protect his pack or family. Contary to what others will say, this is a myth. And people will argue. But I do not have time to go into the reasons right now for what people consider being protective. And do not get a puppy expecting to protection train it. You cannot tell if a puppy will develop the traits and qualities needed for protection work. Even in the dog breeds more suited for protection work, only some of those will be suited for bite work. Check out our web site. www.lawsonK9.com
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Old November 22, 2001, 05:51 PM   #9
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Old November 23, 2001, 08:55 AM   #10
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I have an older German shepherd who guards my appartment all the time unless he gets a workout (which is 4h a day). He's also a very, very child-loving dog which sometimes, if a small child in a pram starts crying like an air-raid siren, starts 'vacuum-cleaning' the tears away since he doesn't like the noise.

However, burglars definitely don't like Jaffi. In the last 13 years, he caught two of them trying to steal their masters possibility to fill their bowl with dog food. One attacked Jaffi, and the dog then turned the tables and injured that scumbag very badly (ie, arm muscles torn apart, bite wounds in the legs, the neck and the crotch area).

However, I also like Great Danes. A friend of mine has two. Burglars get in, barked at, and stay there for the morning. No exceptions. They also like me a lot, which explains my heightened usage of aftershave after I visited that friend at home.

As a guard dog, I've also seen a Dachshund doing it's job. It barks. If perp doesn't retreat, there's a second bark, though.

A muzzle bark. The owner already has two burglars on his account. Too bad for the local press that said burglars were armed both times.
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Old November 23, 2001, 05:14 PM   #11
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Any dog will do. The dog is the tripwire; you do the fighting.

Collies are good in case you have kids that are always falling down wells. "Quick, Lassie. Timmy's in trouble at the old mill."
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Old November 23, 2001, 06:17 PM   #12
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Boris,I really don't understand you when you say that pitbull terries don't have the "nerve" for the work.
I'm not a trainer,but my grandmother does breed german shepards.
Here are some things I observed.
1.The pitbull terrier is used more than either other breed through out the world for hunting wild boar.
2.I've never seen a pitbull back down from a fight with another dog,I've seen german shepards back down from dog fights many times.
3.Most drug dealers don't use german shepards as guard dogs.
4.Terriers are aggressive by nature,they were bred to hunt.
5.The vast majority of illegal dog fight envolve pitbulls.

Boris,do a search on australian hog hunting on the net and you won't see hardly any german shepards on those sites.

I do agree that shepards make better guards dogs though,but I do not believe that they are any more aggressive or braver than pitbulls.

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Old November 23, 2001, 06:55 PM   #13
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Pawcatch. You said it all in your post. You said that German Shepherd dogs make better guard dogs. We ARE talking about guard or protection dogs. Also you stated about pit bulls vs wild boar and pit bulls vs other dogs. People ain't dogs or wild boar. Yes pit bulls are aggressive. They are bred to be that way. But towards other dogs. The breed came about as a gaming breed. ( Dog fighting). They were not meant to be man fighters. They were bred with the dominance and territorial traits that would make them dog aggressive. Now I'm not knocking pit bulls. They tend to be great pets. And some of the most loving pets. But the fact is they were not bred for the traits that make a good candidate for a protection dog. If they were, as I stated in my earlier post, police and military would use them. They don't. Now don't get aggressive sounding barking or showing teeth confused to be a sign of being a good protection dog. A lot of the time the dogs who bark the loudest and act the toughest are masking their insecurities and fears. Now that is not a put down at all. It takes a very confident dog to make a real protection dog. It has to be sure under load noises, overcome pain, obstacles and threat of injury by it's desire to bite. A lot of pit bulls have the prey drive to want to bite the sleeve. But when there is a man attached to the sleeve, they tend to be reluctant to bite. And they can sometimes be worked to bite to where they can look impressive to unknowlegable people. But knowlegable trainers can tell. And you don't want to wait till the dog is put to the test to find out it won't bite for real. NOW, There are exceptions. I have seen some pitbulls as good as anyone would want from any breed. BUT, They are few and far between. I speak of the breed in general and as a whole. Now if you have a pit bull, you may have that exceptional one. But before you try to train it in protection work, have it evaluated by several different trainers knowlegable in training protection dogs. Don't just take one trainers word for it.
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Old November 23, 2001, 07:38 PM   #14
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KSFreeman:

Any dog will not always do. Some breeds have so little territoriality and so much stranger friendliness that they will be worse than useless as guard or protection dogs.

A prime example is a Siberian Husky. Siberians Huskies are good looking, wolf-like sled dogs that are very powerful. However, the Chukchi people who bred them encouraged gentleness (particularly toward children) and a complete lack of suspicision toward strangers.

Many people who are unfamiliar with Huskies are afraid of them because of their appearance. Contrary to the Jack London stories, the reality is that most Huskies will kiss any burgular who breaks into their house and will be happy to play with their "new friend."

They also do not bark (they will only yodel in company of other Huskies) and make terrible guard dogs (they welcome strangers).

BTW, there is a difference between a "guard" dog and a "protection" dog. The former will bark and announce the presence of a stranger, the latter will defend a certain perceived territory. Some dogs are good at both, others are only so with one of the two tasks (while still others like Huskies are bad at both).

My favorite dogs for both guard and protection duty are German Shepards and Akitas. Both are outstandingly loyal, intelligent and powerful. Both have strong guard and protective instincts. However, both require firm but gentle "alpha" trainers who can lead them but not break their spirits.

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Old November 23, 2001, 09:53 PM   #15
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I have an AKC Am Staff and a non papered American Pitbull female I got from the pound.

Both dogs are very protective of the home and family without any special training. The Am Staff was raised form a puppy and developed a protective sense around 6 months old.

I think the breed is not well suited for police/military use because
they are a bit too playfull. However for a family pet that will be a real deterent to home invaders I think they are a good choice.
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Old November 24, 2001, 12:43 AM   #16
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These four dogs are all good, trainable breeds. Unfortunately, they have all developed problems over the last few decades due to MASSIVE overbreeding. The latest "trend" in overbreeding is currently taking place with the rotts. They are quickly becoming sickly dogs, with bad attitudes and zero intelligence.

If you and your wife plan to have any children around, (in the next 10 years), I would give serious thought to investing in an alarm dog, rather than an attack dog. Go with the collie.

Also, try a setter, a lab, or a retriever. Rely on the telephone, the blade, and the alarm system for home defense.
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Old November 24, 2001, 01:11 AM   #17
Anthony
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Thanks for all the great input so far guys. Please keep it coming.

Let me clarify things a bit. My wife and I are both 32. No kids and do not plan on any.

Her favorite breed is the German Shepherd and mine is the Collie. I plan on training the German Shepherd to be a protection dog, but I would like both of them to be identically trained.

Do you feel it is an unrealistic belief that the Collie can be trained to do the same PROTECTION functions as the German Shepherd?

Based on my three years of working with a vet I really don't see a problem; however, I have never worked with trainers.

With all of this concern over the breeding problems with Collies, does anyone know of a reputable breeder with a good bloodline of working Collies that has not be corrupted?

Thanks for the help...keep it coming.

- Anthony
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Old November 24, 2001, 06:55 AM   #18
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Let me say this straight out. COLLIES are not for protection dog training. If you want a PROTECTION TRAINED dog, no collies. Nothing against collies as pets. But we TRAIN PROTECTION, POLICE K9, SEARCH & RESCUE, COMPETITION dogs. As well as we have a lagre pet training program. Everyone has posted good opinions. But I'm telling you as a trainer. If you want a serious protection dog, look into the breeds German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds . If you want a possibly protection dog. Maybe Rotties or Dobermans. I suggest that you look into some protection dog sports and see what dogs are prevailant in those sports. Also look at some web sites to see who is training what. Here are some suggested web sites.
www.lawsonk9.com
www.leerburg.com
www.tarheelcanine.com
www.badenk9.com
www.germanshepherddog.com
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Old November 24, 2001, 07:04 AM   #19
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I agree with boris_01. I grew up with two collies, and while wonderful pets, I wouldn't use them for protection dogs. Most people see them as "Lassie" and more of a loving family pet than a serious bite threat. Get a Belgian Malinois. I've seen the FBI use these at vice-presidential functions, and I've been at demonstrations where they scale 8-foot wooden walls. Great dogs.
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Old November 24, 2001, 12:08 PM   #20
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Shattering all conventional wisdom....

Why not a mutt? There is nothing that says a collie/sheperd cross would not excell in the role you are seeking. It is a common cross/mix breed and not too terribly difficult to locate.

I agree with much of what has been said and disagree with other comments. But the bottom line when dealing with any breed of dog is there are no NEVERS, ALWAYS, BEST or WORSE.

Pick a puppy you both agree on and love. Do three things in its initial training:

Do not let anyone other than the people living the house touch it when it is young. (Puppies are cute and people love to show them off and others love to pet them and going on about how sweat they are. By taking the pup out and letting everyone and their grandmother pet and love on it you have just taught it that everyone in the world is its friend. It should distrust everyone other than you and the wife initially. Once it has learned to distrust people there will be time to teach it that grandma, who comes over to visit on weekends, is acceptable and should not be eaten alive. It is up to you how you train it to react to your mother-in-law.)

All puppies will playfully "react" when they hear a stange noise. Encourage this. Tease them. Drive them nuts with this. There will be time later to sort out with them what is acceptable to bark/growl at and what is just wanting to hear their own head rattle.

Love it.....a lot. If you show the puppy love it will return it ten fold. That love will also be returned in the form of wishing to protect you and your wife, the ones that show it love.

Do these three things and train it in basic obedience in its first six months and then plan any type of formal training that seems needed and justified in terms of applying money where it is not wasted.

(As a side note; Do not try to compare police dogs with one to be used for a family pet/protection. They have two completely different functions.)
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Old November 24, 2001, 12:23 PM   #21
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Like I said, any dog will do. I guess I should have typed "any doggie that will bark will do." Even if the dog won't bark (funny how none of those dogs live in my neighborhood--maybe I should get my neighbors Huskies from Cibr this Christmas), he may have some deterrent effect.
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Old November 24, 2001, 03:11 PM   #22
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Any dog will do. Yes. Just as any car will do in the Indy 500. Just as any gun will do in a war. etc.
Sorry for the sarcasm. But remember that the original post was about protection dog training. To suggest that any dog can be PROTECTION TRAINED is regretably wrong. If this was the case and all we had to do was what J.B.Hickok suggested, then we as professional dog trainers would be put of a job. Not to mention that the military and the police have been going about things wrong for years.
Now yes there is a difference between a personal protection dog and a police K9. But there also a lot of similarities. And for a SERIOUS protection dog, you would need most of the same qualities as a police k9 does. I cannot go into all about prey drives, defensive drives and explaining avoidance, etc. or this post would be forever long. Also it would do no good if the one reading it is not knowlegable in this type of training. But all I can say now is that there are many misconceptions, fallacies and urban legends about this type of dog training. My best advice is to educate yourself and do lots of research about the subject before making decisions or making false, misleading replies promoting more false information about subject. We as dog trainers have to deal a lot with bad images from misinformed people about this type of training. It's bad enough when the media misleads the public any time a dog bites someone. Mistaking a properly trained and properly handled dog as being the same as someones dog tied up in the backyard that bites a child.
Sorry I'm not trying to come down on anyone. But remember the original post was about whether a collie could be PROTECTION TRAINED. And I still say no. But there is always that exceptional one. Better to get a dog bred for this type of work.
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Old November 24, 2001, 03:28 PM   #23
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I suspect that you are more correct than you realize in that if more people were better informed about dogs many professional dog trainers would in deed be out of work.
You will notice that I also said after the initial training/breaking in period the owner should then decide if additional/formal training is needed, desired or justified given the animal and its instinctive ability.
Dog trainers are an invaluable asset to the law enforcement community. They are equally over rated in the so called civilian community.
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Old November 24, 2001, 04:02 PM   #24
Anthony
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Here's an interesting point no one has brought up.

After reading a few of your replies I went back through my LFI-I notes from taking my shooting class with Massad Ayoob and Lethal Force Institute.

He told us about his "protection trained" dog. A brindle Great Dane of all things. He was known as Jeramiah Puppybeast. Not only was he the family pet, but fully "protection trained" with his commands in Arabic.

Ayoob went on to chronicle several incidents in which the dog performed his "protection function" beautifully. Although I am aware of the fact that the Great Dane was originally bred as a war dog of some sort, it has undoubtably not been bred for such work in some time. Further, I have no reason to doubt Ayoob's accounts.

When was the last time you saw a Great Dane at the end of a soldier or police officer's leash?

Why should I believe that a Collie cannot be "protection trained" when a Great Dane can be?

Thoughts? Opinions?

- Anthony
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Old November 24, 2001, 08:06 PM   #25
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J.B.Hickok. You are right in a way. Trainers are not over rated in civilian community. But rather people misunderstand the protection trained dog. Quite often people get it in their head that they need a protection trained dog and nothing can be said to change their minds. I stated in my first post that perhaps the person should consider a dog just as a deterant. I said that. Look at my first post and you will see. A lot of people get their protection trained dogs and after a while, they change their minds and sell their dogs, or even return them, rather than deal with the responsibility that comes with the dog and it's upkeep. We interview prospective clients and customers and try to evaluate whether they need a protection dog or deterant dog. And what the extent of training needed. Because any bad experience or unhappy client will reflect badly on our business. But if you will read the original post and stick to the text of the original post you will see that I am posting to what was asked. About protection trained dogs. And as to whether a collie would do the work.
Which leads me to Anthony. I deeply respect Mr. Ayoob. And his vast knowlege. But as to how knowlegable he is in protection dog training, I do not know. You said that he has a protection trained Great Dane? Good Also how extensively was his dog trained? As I also stated in earlier posts, There are always exceptions. In any breed. But if you want a dog for protection training, stick to a breed that is bred and proven again and again in this area. Analogy( I asked a motorcycle mechanic once if there was any thing he could do to improve my honda cb750's performance? I stated that the gsxr750 suzuki was incredibly fast. Why was the honda slow? He said " If you want a bike that performs like a gsxr750, buy a gsxr750.) So if you want a dog to do protection work, buy a dog bred for this work.
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