Stability in a protection dog

Scout put into obedience on an elevated surface, in this case, a table.

Scout put into obedience on an elevated surface, in this case, a table.

Today on we will be talking about stability of a protection dog.

I’ve been away for the last couple of days so it’s been Ash, Ry, and Scout manning the home front. Ash relayed a story to me about taking the dog to the office with her. Ash was plugging away on the computer with Scout lounging out behind her and then someone began opening the door. Scout did exactly what we wanted her to do, let the person know that they shouldn’t open the door unless they are supposed to. Scout immediately moved to the threat and let them know in no uncertain terms that she was there and ready to defend her owner. In this case it was just the office help but it surprised both Ash and Scout. Ash recalled Scout and put her in down stay on an elevated surface. Scout did great on the initial threat reaction but had trouble turning off the switch. She remained on high alert even though clearly there was no threat.

The point of this story is many so called protection dogs have no problem turning on the switch to go into 100 percent aggression mode. But the real test for both the dog and the training is how well they turn off the switch. This is where stability exercises come in.

You want your dog under your command at all times, even when you are both confronted with a high stress situation (in this case an unknown person opening a door). The foundation for stability is placing your dog and yourself in artificial stressful situations, starting small and working your way up. This can be simply placing your dog on elevated surfaces and putting them into obedience. And as complex as the crazy exercises we conducted at Baden K9 in Ontario with blindfolds, one hand immobile, and lowering 80 lbs German Shepherds, 8 week old Belgian Malinois, and full grown Dutch Shepherds into dark tubes in teams. The more you place yourself and your dog in stressful situations the better bond you will have and thus you will have more command of your dog.

Remember, don’t ask something of your dog you aren’t willing to do. Dyas K9 says the best way to build a bond with your dog is to do stuff that you find stressful. He said to run with your dog if you don’t like running, climb with your dog if you are afraid of heights, swim with your dog if you don’t like swimming.

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