Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
Dog problems update, guard, and personal security dogs
Case 1 Bitch taken over as leader.
After a week, the bitch shows no sign of relinquishing her leadership roll to the subordinate (the owner). As properly fed, I have suggested the owner reduces the bitch’s food ration. If possible, feed her after the dog providing he will not let her steal his food. This will move the bitch to below him in the hierarchy. Until there is a definite change in her attitude, it is difficult to use any enforcement methods of lead control to stop her showing aggression. This is not serious aggression but simply the barking is something she thinks she must do in order to protect the property. Though the owner is concerned at the apparent lack of progress I am certain this remains only a leadership problem as in obedience classes the bitch has no problem with other dogs and people. I visited the owner to check on the progress after two weeks. Working for me, she showed excellent heelwork. She also immediately stopped barking whilst at the fence and returned to me on my commanded so there are encouraging signs of improvement. To help things move along the bitch needed the owner to become her saviour. To encourage her to re-thinking her position as the leader I therefore evicted her from her own home. I accomplished this by standing between her and the only open door into the house. Remember that dogs are pack animals so a loaner is not an option. Whilst the owner called her name from inside the house, the only way in was through me. I will not describe what I do as no one should try this with a dog. To achieve the eviction I use the same technique used by a wolf as he would against a subordinate dog. The bitch now began to show to me major aggression and what was more important her fear. Only when she appeared repentant did I allow her a way into the house by stepping aside. She then raced in to her owner with relief and received lots of praise and a sausage. The result of such action is the bitch must now reconsider the owner as a leader as she saved and protected her. There should be signs of improved responses over the next few weeks. I will keep in touch and inform you of the progress.
Since arriving home, what is it I actually do relating to dogs is a frequent question. I taught Police, Security and Civilians all forms of training from police work to personal security dogs and competition dogs. I advised on house security and training dogs for personal protection. I also trained search and rescue dogs, drugs and explosive dogs. As a canine behavioural expert, I travel giving talks and writing articles on understanding dogs and correcting problems. I also teach instructors how to teach dog owners to teach their dogs. I have advised a government committee on improved training methods and training aids as well as writing court reports on dogs subject to control orders. (I also drive my wife up the wall)
The one thing I cannot do is become a one-man socialisation class. For the training of any dog from police to pet, they all need to learn how to socialise with other dogs and other people. There is no substitute for this training as it teaches the concept of the infinite pack. To skip this training allows dogs to see other dogs and people as other packs and many dogs then follow their instinct and show protective aggression. Most questions asked of me regarding dog problems relate to the lack of attending these classes. You can train a dog on its own to the highest possible standard but you cannot afford to neglect this important learning exercise. Dogs will naturally jostle for position within the classes and around your houses and other areas without resorting to fighting by their use of body posture. If you fail to allow this important integration then fighting will be the most likely outcome in confrontation between many older dogs. What is worse is they also fail to learn that other children are higher than the dog and they too can become victims from a highly protective dog. I can only repeat that this type of class is most important and how ever busy we are time must be set aside to let puppies and juvenile dogs go to such classes. It does not mean you have to attend classes forever but this time pays major dividends saving serious injuries and lives.
Like in the UK, there should be a total ban on Guard dogs without handlers in enclosed areas where it is possible to gain entrance. In an earlier article, I quoted statistics that out of 150 fatal dog attacks from guard dogs, only one was a criminal. In the United Kingdom, this practice is illegal but we do still find owners who tie one end of a piece of rope to the kennel and the other end to the dog and then snap the rope. I have seen many places guarded by so called guard dogs but to the serious criminal a dog is not a problem. Please check with your insurance policy small print as having a sign that says ‘beware of the dog’ may actually invalidate your insurance cover. Under European law, criminals can sue you for injuries received whilst breaking into your property. (I am saying nothing I will leave that up to Ian Frewer)
A Dog that barks is good so long as he only barks at intruders. Unfortunately, they bark at all sorts of things and if they bark too often, people do not even bother to look out. It is like security lights that come on and then stay on for twenty minuets. People do not take any notice after a time. Set the lights to stay on for only seconds then a light that goes on and off will attract attention. I do agree that dogs barking from inside the house do deter the opportunist burglary and may indeed displace the crime to someone else’s home.
I do not expect my dog to lay its life on the line simply for my possessions especially when I can replace them from an insurance claim. Returning to your home following a burglary is bad enough but to find your dog incapacitated or even worse is too much. Having wreckers on all the windows makes you think you are safe but we read that determined burglars just hitch a chain to a car and wrench them out. If they are prepared to go to such lengths then a guard dog is not really a deterrent.
In very early times, we had to walk, and then ride and now we can drive and fly. This is progress and so it is with dogs. German Shepherds do not guard sheep any more. We can now install a burglar alarm that can detect anyone in our home or who tries to force the door when it will then dial the police. If you purchase one needing approval from the Spanish Police they must respond. Now have you seen a dog dial the police or ambulance and be alert 24 hours a day? There are no power blackouts, works while you are on you are on holiday and costs less than one euro a day, installed free. My understanding of the new Valencia noise abatement laws state you cannot have an outside alarm bell fitted but you can have a sound blaster inside your home. All the alarms are tamper proof but I can think of many ways to immobilise a dog. Accepting the occasional false alarms, for efficiency and cost effectiveness, a dog just cannot compete.
Eventually it may be that all houses are fitted with alarms as standard. I know Telefonica is slow with phone installation but you can still use a satellite and mobile phone if necessary. At worst even the sign that you have an alarm installed maybe some protection. My belief is that in time even the Spanish police with an increase of false alarms as experienced in the UK will be unable to respond to all the calls. I expect then the need to upgrade to a two-way intercom system where the monitor can listen and talk to anyone inside the house. Only if the monitor positively detected an intruder, would the police then respond and how they do respond when they think they are onto a winner.
If the over stretched police do have poor response times, private security firms could send a dog handler to patrol a community. Simply positioning themselves down wind of a community a trained dog will ignore the ordinary residents but can detect any criminal who enters the community. Villains are excited and agitated so much so that some even have to relieve themselves anywhere in the property, as they have no time to find a toilet. In the days of the hunter-gather, they are in ‘flee mode’. We have shown that a properly trained dog can detect someone in such a state. You may think of it as smelling fear. We have instances where twenty police combed an area and building and found no one yet one dog did this easily and quickly even with other people moving around. It is a pity that Spanish Police and Spanish security firms ignore a dog’s potential effectiveness in crime control. A further deterrent introduced in the United Kingdome is the use of private companies with mobile video vans. These position themselves in a problem area and film perpetrators engaged in antisocial behaviour and minor crime.
Dogs for Personal Protection.
Personal protection with a dog is another matter and it is then I would expect my dog to do all it can to protect my family. I still do not teach a dog to attack but I do expect a dog’s instinct to take over and believe it would naturally make a defensive attack. The insurance implications that could follow of a commanded and trained attack by your dog on any assailant could cost you a small fortune. I will teach a dog to show defensive aggression as well as teach it excellent control work whilst remaining a most sociable and friendly dog. If the owner or a member of the family felt threatened, they could give a silent command to the dog to show what appears major aggression. This would be enough to deter most people intent on harming the owners. As to the effectiveness for protection against bag snatching and muggings, I think they move too quickly so even the dog may not detect the attack until it is too late. Never the less its presence may deter an attack and again displace it in favour of someone less protected. There is a device where one part is in your pocket and the other in your bag. Move to far away then the alarm will sound.
Next week it seems appropriate I should include an article on what to consider when purchasing a dog as a pet.