Dogs of Defense: K-9s for Home Invasion Protection - ITS Tactical
 

Dogs of Defense: K-9s for Home Invasion Protection

By Joel Ryals

1 of 5 in the series Dogs of Defense

DogsOfDefenseMain

This is the first article in a follow-up series to our previous series, Dogs of War. In Dogs of Defense, we’ll focus on dogs for personal protection.

Today we’ll begin by asking if there is a need for trained protection dogs. The next article will discuss whether there’s a danger associated with “weaponizing” a dog, followed by an article that considers breeds, trainers, and the responsibilities of the owner of a trained dog.

Later articles will discuss the safety of those around a trained protection dog and how to maintain that dog’s peak performance. We’ll also illustrate methods of integrating a protection dog into a home defense plan, as well as how U.S. laws relating to service dogs can be used to keep your family safe.

Should You Own a Personal Protection Dog?

Any security minded person, especially in today’s society of ever rising crime rates and increasing violent crimes, should seriously consider owning a protection dog.

  • Do you own a gun? You should seriously consider owning a protection dog.
  • Do you have a family to protect? You should seriously consider owning a protection dog.

While there are many other valid reasons to own a protection dog, let’s examine the above questions in more detail.

Crime Rates and Security

Increasingly, we find ourselves in an ever more violent and criminal society. Economic depressions tend to increase this trend as more people find themselves out of a job and desperate to find money and goods to take care of themselves. Of course, many others simply commit violent crimes for the pleasure they receive from seeing others suffer.

Home invasions are one of the most dangerous crimes, often resulting in violence against the victims. Violent crimes in general have steadily increased for more than 20 years. According to the Bureau of Justice statistics on violent crimes, you have a 126% chance of being a victim of violent crime at some point in your lifetime. So do your children.

Many people think that a security system will protect them from violent crimes within their homes. I can tell you, as a Military Police Officer and Sheriff’s Deputy, there is little chance that law enforcement will respond quickly enough to stop a crime from occurring.

Others claim that their martial arts training will protect them. Sadly, this is woefully inadequate in most real world encounters. Are you prepared for multiple attackers taking you by surprise at night when many still have difficulty clearing their mind enough to respond appropriately? This does not even consider the fact that most of these violent encounters involve weapons on the part of the attackers.

But the most popular response to protecting your home from violent crime is having a gun readily available and being trained to use it. I’m an advocate of the second amendment and strongly encourage anyone who can own a gun to do so and learn how to effectively use it. But is having a gun enough?

Firearms for Home Defense: Their Limitations

Home invasions are fast paced and chaotic. You won’t know if there’s one attacker or many. Depending on the layout of your home, you may leave your family vulnerable by unknowingly allowing an attacker to bypass you while you clear other areas of your home. There is a high probability that you may find the attacker between you and your family, even if they are on the other side of a wall, restricting your ability to shoot due to the threat of over-penetration.

If you have a family, your home defensive plan probably looks something like this: We are alerted to a threat, your wife gathers the children and calls the police while holding a firearm as a last defense, in case something should happen to you. You grab your handgun or shotgun, and begin clearing your home to ensure that there is no threat.

Now let me ask you a question: With you by yourself, are you really prepared to take on several attackers with weapons of their own? Please put away the bravado for a second and for the sake of your family, really think this one through. Are you willing to rest the safety of your wife and children on your ability to single handedly clear your home if there are actually attackers present?

Think about that long and hard, because if it ever happens to you — and the chances are increasingly greater that it will — you do not want to make the wrong decision here.

Here is another question to think about: if a special operations team were going to enter your home and clear it, would they send one guy, or a team with a K-9 force multiplier? Can an individual highly trained operator conduct this task at peak performance alone? Unless you are one of these few men, then soberly consider your own limitations and what failure means to your loved ones.

Family Protection: When You’re Gone

Let’s pretend that you are Rambo, capable of taking on vast hordes of Vietcong, zombies and home invaders with ease. You have millions of rounds of ammunition, several strategically placed mini-guns and you even decided to set up some claymores under your porch; just in case. No one is getting into your home and harming your family on your watch.

What about when you aren’t there? “I will always be there,” you reply with confidence. Really? You don’t go to work? You don’t travel for your job? You don’t take overnight hunting or fishing trips with the boys? Will you really always be there?

What about when your wife takes a trip to the mall alone in the evening. Some dear friends of ours just had a terrible experience where the wife was kidnapped in a car, driven around for several hours, and then dumped back off at the mall. Terrible situations like this happen. Are you sure they will never happen to you?

How can you, as a loving protector, ensure that your family will be safe in your absence? The real answer is that you can never fully ensure it, but you can certainly take steps that give you and yours a much increased level of protection.

The Constant Companionship of a Dog

If you have a trained protection dog in your home, you have a team of defenders instead of being alone. Your trained protection dog can indicate the presence of an intruder, often before they ever actually enter your home. Your trained protection dog can be left at a key location to prevent anyone from circumventing you and reaching your family. Your trained protection dog can distract the first attacker, allowing you to focus on the second.

When you are away, your protection dog can warn your wife and children of an intruder. The dog can be commanded to bark, warning off would be attackers. The dog is now the teammate of your family, able to assist them if the need should arise.

When you wife goes out to the mall at night, she can take along the dog. Often the presence of a dog is enough, but, even if that doesn’t deter them, the bite will certainly be worse than the bark.

Force Multipliers

Force multipliers refer to the idea of using something relatively small or simple to give you a significant advantage in a fight. That is what a dog brings to the table.

Should you own a trained protection dog? I strongly believe that you should. We’ll explore this question further, along with the process that you should use to evaluate your specific situation, in the upcoming articles in this new series.

Because so many questions arise immediately when this topic is brought up, I wanted to use this opportunity to provide an overview of what the articles in this series will contain. If you have any questions that do not seem likely to be covered in the series, feel free to ask in the comments below or contact me directly.

Joel is the founder and head trainer of Dunetos K-9, a training facility and equipment manufacturer specializing in Tactical and standard K-9 equipment. He’s been training and handling dogs for over 10 years and works closely with Baden K-9, a highly respected training facility in Ontario, Canada. Joel has served in the United States Army for 11 years as a Military Police Officer deploying to the Pentagon days after the 9/11 attack, Afghanistan (2003), Iraq (2007) and is currently serving in Bogota, Colombia (2011) in the War on Drugs. Joel has specialized in integrating dogs into every aspect of life, from personal obedience and protection to specialized military application.

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Discussion

47 comments
dani1971
dani1971

I have had my garage and house broke into 4 times since august and I want to find a dog for protection. I have a grandchild that spends weekends here so I need one that is good for kids. I will have it trained by a professional. Any one have a good idea of what breed I should get?


Tony Cancio
Tony Cancio

My family spends weekends at a farm where we have to rely on our dogs for security. At night I let loose 3 Rottweilers and 2 German Shepherd's Dogs and I can sleep better. Of course this is not to say that I don't have a backup firearm and security lights around the house.

My dogs have been trained to protect and to bite, the only drawback is that I have to instruct weekend guests to stay indoors while the dogs are out.

Tony Cancio
Tony Cancio

My family spends weekends at a farm where we have to rely on our dogs for security. At night I let loose 3 Rottweilers and 2 German Shepherd's Dogs and I can sleep better. Of course this is not to say that I don't have a backup firearm and security lights around the house. My dogs have been trained to protect and to bite, the only drawback is that I have to instruct weekend guests to stay indoors while the dogs are out.

Jessica
Jessica

Get a Great Pyrenees; they are a natural guardian breed that is very good with children and super protective of their "flock" whether it be four legged or a human one. These dogs were originally bred to fight bears and wolves in the wild so a grown man trying to do a bad thing will shit his pants when he sees 100 lbs of teeth and toenails coming at him.

Bryan Black
Bryan Black

It's more like a figure of speech John Doe...

Joel Ryals
Joel Ryals

thrush31,

There would be some stabilization with your dog that I would recommend when you know that you are going to have a baby soon. Both Dunetos K-9 and Baden K-9 could help you with this training. However, I would not hold off on getting a dog for this reason. I would, however, recommend strongly that you get a female and not a male for your particular application. Female dogs integrate very well with children. We have 6 children and have grown since we started working dogs. My females have never had a problem integrating with each new child.

If you have further questions, please email me at joel@dk-9.com.

Laurie
Laurie

ANY dog can be a "protection" dog. But think about what it is you need. Do you want an "alert" dog who will growl and bark, giving you time to retrieve a weapon and defend yourself, or do you want something you can turn loose and have it do the work of defense for you? A "protection" dog, one that is fully trained in offensive protection work (will go after someone who is behaving in a threatening manner or trespassing where they shouldn't be) or defensive protection (responds to a direct physical threat to the handler) requires that the handler receive training in order to be an effective owner, and minimize the liabilities that are a part of owning such a dog. I have seen so many awesome dogs turned in to shelters because unscrupulous trainers see dollar signs instead of worrying about what will happen to dogs handed off to new owners who don't have a clue (or training). A first time dog owner may find it much more financially feasible and less emotionally taxing to do any of the following: Go watch a local schutzhund club practice or competition. A well trained dog can be intimidating, especially for a new owner. Look at the time, mental ability of the handlers, and energy it takes to own and train such a dog. As well as the cost. A fully trained protection dog is not cheap. It is an investment in an animal who has been bred to do this job. If you invest in a fully trained dog, do so with a REPUTABLE kennel and trainer who offer training to the new owner (usually it costs money) and occasional refresher training for the dog. Or invest in a family-friendly dog that may not bite anyone, but will at least warn you as to the presence of intruders. Do your homework on dog breeds and training. Most veterinarians can recommend dog breeds and kennels. Local law enforcement K9 unit handlers are often happy to speak to people about the dogs they use and the handler training they went through. And remember, just because a dog costs a lot of money, that doesn't mean you are buying the best. And always insist on seeing OFA ratings, genetic tests, and veterinary records for any dog you are considering adding to your family. ANY reputable breeder will consent to your vet checking out dogs you are considering for purchase. I do not mean to step on your toes Mr Ryals. I enjoy your articles and look forward to more!

-Laurie

Laurie
Laurie

ANY dog can be a "protection" dog. But think about what it is you need. Do you want an "alert" dog who will growl and bark, giving you time to retrieve a weapon and defend yourself, or do you want something you can turn loose and have it do the work of defense for you? A "protection" dog, one that is fully trained in offensive protection work (will go after someone who is behaving in a threatening manner or trespassing where they shouldn't be) or defensive protection (responds to a direct physical threat to the handler) requires that the handler receive training in order to be an effective owner, and minimize the liabilities that are a part of owning such a dog. I have seen so many awesome dogs turned in to shelters because unscrupulous trainers see dollar signs instead of worrying about what will happen to dogs handed off to new owners who don't have a clue (or training). A first time dog owner may find it much more financially feasible and less emotionally taxing to do any of the following: Go watch a local schutzhund club practice or competition. A well trained dog can be intimidating, especially for a new owner. Look at the time, mental ability of the handlers, and energy it takes to own and train such a dog. As well as the cost. A fully trained protection dog is not cheap. It is an investment in an animal who has been bred to do this job. If you invest in a fully trained dog, do so with a REPUTABLE kennel and trainer who offer training to the new owner (usually it costs money) and occasional refresher training for the dog. Or invest in a family-friendly dog that may not bite anyone, but will at least warn you as to the presence of intruders. Do your homework on dog breeds and training. Most veterinarians can recommend dog breeds and kennels. Local law enforcement K9 unit handlers are often happy to speak to people about the dogs they use and the handler training they went through. And remember, just because a dog costs a lot of money, that doesn't mean you are buying the best. And always insist on seeing OFA ratings, genetic tests, and veterinary records for any dog you are considering adding to your family. ANY reputable breeder will consent to your vet checking out dogs you are considering for purchase. I do not mean to step on your toes Mr Ryals. I enjoy your articles and look forward to more! -Laurie

Joel Ryals
Joel Ryals

Laurie-- You make some great points, and I touch on most of these on my website BLOG. I agree whole heartedly with you that the owner/handler needs as much training as the dog, and we always include training for the buyer into our protection dog sales. Any breeder/trainer that would sell a trained protection dog without training for the buyer is questionable. This is one of the reasons that they are not cheap. However, I will say that Dunetos K-9 and Baden K-9 both have very different philosophies than anyone who would use Schutzund training or any other kind of sport training. While these sports were originally intended to test working dogs, they have developed into show that has little real application in actual tactical and home protection situations. I don't have anything against the sports themselves, only in the trainers for these sports claiming that they are ready for real protection or tactical work because they perform well. The dog world has become a place of many frauds and people flashing papers as if they actually mean something. Unfortunately, many people with papered dogs from the AKC and CKC find that they recieved dogs that are only shells of what the breed is supposed to be. Finding a breeder who specializes in breeding working dogs is becoming harder and harder. The breeding program at Baden K-9 is one of the few in the world that I would recommend. While it is a good idea to make sure you are getting a healthy dog, unfortunately, most people do not have a kennel or breeder near enough to them that has healthy and genetically strong dogs that they could simply take them to the vet. I recommend to anyone interested in getting a protection dog that is already trained to travel to the trainer and pick up the dog there. This affords them the opportunity to see what they are getting. Buying a protection dog, like buying firearms in your home, should not be taken lightly. They are both good ideas, and I recommend both for your personal and home protection, but both bear with them responsibilities of the owner. If you have children, firearms must be kept safe and children must be taught that they are not toys, but tools and are to be treated as such. Similarly, dogs must not be considered children or toys, they are animals that share our lives with us and serve a very specific purpose. The decision to purchase one should be taken seriously and soberly. For more information on this and other topics of interest to dog owners and prospective dog owners, visit my website at www.dk-9.com.

thrush31
thrush31

My husband and I are very interested in getting a protection dog, but I'm unsure of the timing. We currently don't have any children, and don't plan on starting a family for another 4 or 5 years... Would you recommend going ahead and getting a dog now or waiting for when we start a family? I would really prefer to have one now, but don't want to make the "mistake" of getting it prematurely.

Joel Ryals
Joel Ryals

John,

The statistic is intended (both here and where it was origninally found) to communicate that many people experience multiple violent encounters in thier life. This is not a math class. It is an article on dog training and use in light of violent encounters. If this were an accounting blog, then perhaps your complaint would be valid.

I am sorry that you missed out on the valuable information because you were unable to percieve the intent of the statistic. I hope that others do not encounter this struggle.

Orion
Orion

Excellent article, Sir. I have been trying to talk my wife into allowing me to bring a Guard dog into our home. This series of articles will help me express the importance of dogs to her.

fastmover
fastmover

i have a small dog, he will offer nothing in the realm of attack/defense. But as a force multiplier, he is like having 4 ranger E3's in LP/OP's. He alerts and orientates me to the threat, i have the responsibility of response. I have trained him not to bark (because i hate little yippee dogs) and based his reward on what i am alerted to: a noise = good dog, a cat, squirrel, other dog = good dog and a pat on the head, a human on our property = all the above + treat. Now, after some time, i can tell what he thinks he is alerting me to. That took time, but combat ESP between teammates takes time.

Junebee
Junebee

I think this article is unfair to the martial arts. Good martial arts schools try their best to prepare students for such scenarios. Granted, there is only so much preparation one can do in the do-jang

but I know at least one school that even intentionally puts students in a sensory deprivation environment for training.

I usually like everything on ITS but I'm really surprised you allowed a writer to publish such a put-down of the martial arts.

I'll be the first one to say practicing martial arts in no way makes you invincible. We're taught that from the day we walk in the dojo door. But it can improve the odds.

For lots of people, having a dog just isn't feasible (cost for a highly-trained animal, allergies, living in rented housing, other pets, etc). For some people, having a firearm isn't desirable either. Please give more credit to everyone who devises their own security plan using what resources they have, feel comfortable with, etc.

Junebee
Junebee

I think this article is unfair to the martial arts. Good martial arts schools try their best to prepare students for such scenarios. Granted, there is only so much preparation one can do in the do-jang but I know at least one school that even intentionally puts students in a sensory deprivation environment for training. I usually like everything on ITS but I'm really surprised you allowed a writer to publish such a put-down of the martial arts. I'll be the first one to say practicing martial arts in no way makes you invincible. We're taught that from the day we walk in the dojo door. But it can improve the odds. For lots of people, having a dog just isn't feasible (cost for a highly-trained animal, allergies, living in rented housing, other pets, etc). For some people, having a firearm isn't desirable either. Please give more credit to everyone who devises their own security plan using what resources they have, feel comfortable with, etc.

Joel Ryals
Joel Ryals

Junebee, If you recieved the impression that martial arts are bad from the article, I encourage you to re-read that section. The point being made is not that martial arts are bad, but that unless you spend many years training and achieve a very high level of proficiency, then you ought not to rely on this for protection. Also, you are not always there with your family, and can offer no protection in your absence if martial arts is your defensive plan. Furthermore, none of the mentioned methods of home defense should be relied on exclusively, including dogs. It is the point of this article to show that every home should integrate as many different aspects as possible into their home defensive plan. Would I recommend learning hand to hand defensive tactics? Yes. Would I recommend buying and becoming proficient with a gun? Yes. Would I recommend some form of home alarm system to notify you of invasion? Yes. Should everyone who could feasibly make it happen add a dog to these plans? Absolutely. Hope this helps.

Eric S.
Eric S.

You bring up some great points. Clearing your house by yourself is a huge one. No way I would do this at work and there is no way I would do it at home.

Another excellent article!

Eric S.
Eric S.

You bring up some great points. Clearing your house by yourself is a huge one. No way I would do this at work and there is no way I would do it at home. Another excellent article!

tiger27
tiger27

Joel, Thank you for a good read. I have been contemplating adding a Dog to my Family for Companionship and for Protection. I do have small children, and have been concerned about what type of dog to get. I've been looking at a Canaan... as both a good family dog and potential protection dog. Can you give us some recomendations for dogs for those of us who have small kids but still want a dog that can take care of business WTSHTF? Thanks. -Chris

Joel Ryals
Joel Ryals

Chris, One of the upcoming articles does address breeds, but for now, I think one of the most important things you can do is get the dog very young (6-8 weeks if possible) and raise it with your children. Encourage them to play with the puppy, and do not allow the puppy to be agressive with them, even in play. This will establish acceptable practice that will grow with your family. I have had German Shepherd's Dogs, Malinois, Dutch Shepherd's Dogs and Airdaile Terriers in my home in this fashion and never had an issue with aggression toward my family. It is important to establish and maintain discipline inside and outside your home, but if you do so, you should not have issues with dogs and children.

tiger27
tiger27

Joel,

Thank you for a good read. I have been contemplating adding a Dog to my Family for Companionship and for Protection. I do have small children, and have been concerned about what type of dog to get. I've been looking at a Canaan... as both a good family dog and potential protection dog. Can you give us some recomendations for dogs for those of us who have small kids but still want a dog that can take care of business WTSHTF? Thanks.

-Chris

Michael Liptak
Michael Liptak

"you have a 126% chance of being a victim" - it's typo, right? :)

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