Do You Want a Terrifying Dog?
Last year I fell off the wagon when it comes to my running regiment. I was up to 13 miles, but when my 8 year old dog, Snitch, died it broke my heart and I stopped doing a lot of the things that use to bring me joy.
Recently I decided it was time to start lacing my shoes and hitting the road again. I take my 1 year old puppy and 18 month old dog with me when I run, not only because it makes me feel safe, but also because they need the exercise and mental stimulation of it all.
The other day as I was running (they are always in “heel” position when I run) a squirrel ran out in front of us. I swear if I had seen it coming I could have touched it with my foot, it was that close and thankfully my dogs have a good “leave it” and know my expectations when it comes to running. Otherwise, I would have had some road rash on my face, down my body and into the woods. I live in a very rural environment!
As I stutter stepped and continued my run I beamed at the loyalty and obedience of such young dogs. I was quite proud of them and could have understood if they had miss-stepped and tripped me to the road.
But it wasn’t until about 2 miles later that I realized how crucial good obedience is in my running program.
An SUV slowed down beside me and I stopped. As I stopped my dogs immediately sat and then I directed them into a “down” as I pulled the tunes from my ear.
The man in the car said “I have seen you running out here before and I saw that squirrel run in front of you earlier” and I just wanted to tell you “your dogs are terrifying”.
“What!!???” I asked, somewhat astonished that anyone would refer to my fur babies as terrifying.
“You have so much control over them, a person doesn’t know what they have been trained to do or what they might be capable of.”
“I am very familiar with those breeds.” He assured me.
“Well,” I said, “Then you must have a background in police and protection dogs?”
“Yes. I have worked with many K9s over the years” He agreed.
I assured him that I could neither confirm nor deny his report without having to kill him, 🙂 haha. But I agreed they were quite formidable and very, very well trained in a variety of skills.
As he drove away I chuckled and gathered my dogs together I thought to myself. It is true, I bet there is nothing more terrifying to someone looking to commit a crime on another person than a large, well behaved dog. I don’t even know what HIS true intentions were stopping to talk to me while I was out running alone.
Don’t get me wrong, I recognize that just the appearance of a large dog is a deterrent but a well-trained dog is even more formidable!
Imagine if you will seeing a big imposing dog pulling his owner on his leash, choking himself as he runs from tree to tree.
Now imagine the same dog in perfect heel position, stopping and sitting when his owner stops, looking up at his owner’s every move and listening flawlessly to each command.
Which dog would you think was protection trained?
Poorly trained dogs are not scary, they are unpredictable but not scary. A loud noise, a tossed treat, or a dropped leash would be all it would take for dog #1 to be gone from the scenario; however dog #2 might have been trained to work through any distraction.
That is not to say that all well-trained big dogs are protection trained, but it gives a criminal some pause to their thinking!
I have always been of the opinion that an obedient dogs is more of a deterrent, but to hear it from a passerby was conclusive!
As a female I often worry about jogging alone, driving alone, or otherwise being in a bad situation, but having a dog by my side evens the odds a bit.
I have always taught my dogs to bark on command and with a small hand signal in case I should ever need a little reinforcement to warding off strangers.
When I had Rottweilers, my female Rottweiler loved all humans. If someone stopped to speak to us, her whole body would wag; starting from her buttocks and working its way through to her ears. She was adorable, but she wasn’t very imposing if you knew dog behavior. However, I could at anytime by just clicking my fingers together get her to bark ferociously. This would deter anyone from asking to pet her or wanting to talk to us.
On most occasions I let anyone pet her, but there were a few people I didn’t want getting that close to me while I was alone, they just made me feel uneasy and so I would get her to bark.
We live in a scary world where people do unmentionable things to other people, but I don’t believe that aggression training or protection training is always the answer.
She had no protection or bite training but she had great obedience and would bark at the drop of a hat and that was all I needed. I didn’t need the liability of having a dog trained to bite or be protective.
Sometimes I would lie and tell people she was so that they would stay away and not want to pet her, but again that was only if they gave me that creepy
feeling. I knew they would never “test” my statements.
Protection dogs or teaching your dog to be aggressive is a HUGE liability and sometimes once immersed in the process it can be very hard to control the dog. For the most part I don’t recommend this type of training.
But, I do know the benefit first hand of training my dog to be obedient and teaching them to look scary.
Be very careful what kind of behaviors you promote in your dog training! Even though I could and can get my dogs to bark, they never associated it with barking AT someone or driving someone away and so I was always safe and in control of situations as they arose!
Remember, if you want a dog that will keep you from being bothered, work on your leash manners and obedience commands and that is all it takes to keep people at a safe distance from you and your companion.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.