Family K9 Guardians, Sport K9s, & Patrol K9s

The Family Companion Guardian

One  thing about tradition is people have a hard time breaking it. Breeds  like the German Shepherd and Malinois are great dogs for police service  dogs, but it is a mistake to view police, service, and sport dogs as  "protection dogs" when they are not actually protection dogs. Without  question there are some similarities between patrol work and protection  work; however, there are also differences between these avenues as well.  The majority of families simply do not need and most likely do not  want police type "pursuit dogs" once their understand what defines such a  dog. Yes, a  family guardian should have the drives and confidence to reliably  pursue an attacker if need be, but the outlook of this in a family  guardian is very much different than it is for a patrol type dog.  Also, it is not practical for the military or for a police department  to use a dog that weighs in the 100+ pound category. Can you imagine how  inconvenient an over sized 100+# police dog would be to handle every day in an automobile?


In  the past, people have seen police and other service dogs in action and  many have mistakenly assumed that a police or military service dog is  the same thing (or would be suitable) as a family companion guardian.  Although there are some dogs out there that can do both just fine, the  tasks are not as similar as some people initially think they are. There is a different set of needs from a family companion guardian than there is for the police or military.  For example, how safe is the dog with your family? Does this dog have  "rank drive" (the desire to dominate) within its family unit?


Obviously,  dominant behavior stems from rank drive and would be inappropriate for a  family companion guardian. This instinct to climb the hierarchy within  the family unit may be beneficial within a breeding population that  operates under the pretenses of natural selection, but it goes  against the human family's motive of owning a protection dog, which is of course your family's safety.  Despite this fact, dominant behavior or "rank drive" may be fine or  even desired in a service or police dog. It simply is illogical and  irresponsible to have a "protection dog" with rank drive that may  actually challenge and possibly threaten the family it is supposed to  protect. A dog with low rank drive is more sensitive to the family and  therefore generally much safer, yet such a dog could still very well be  more determined in a protective situation than a rank driven dog if the  submissive natured dog is high in pack instinct, pack drive, fight  drive, prey drive, and/or defense drives. As you can see, there are many  drives (motives) for what stimulates a dog to respond. Additionally,  many dogs motivated by rank drive will quit quickly when they realize  they can't overpower or dominate their opponents. Do you want such a dog  to protect your family? I don't. In addition, the "pack" element found  in dogs with high pack instinct allows a unique bonding between canine  and family in which the dogs can work hard but still be sensitive to the  family. This is key to stability and safety, especially around  children.


Fortunately,  people are getting more informed about what a companion family guardian  really is. A family companion guardian is about Personal/Family  Protection (PP) and home guarding. Although a few dogs may excel at  being both a service dog and a PP dog, many "PP" dog breeders and  trainers mistakenly use the same selection processes and training  techniques to select and train “PP canines” as they use train sport or  service canines; and simply put, that is inappropriate. These are  different duties and therefore should have some fundamental differences  in our selection and training methods. Let me point out a few  differences…(Consider these differences when viewing our video page).

Police/Military K9 & Family Guardians

1.  A police/service canine runs people down generally out of prey drive in  order to capture a criminal when necessary. A professionally trained  K-9 officer decides when the deployment of K-9 force is necessary in  police or military service work. For a police or military service, the  service K-9 is a tool actually trained to elicit an attack for the  purpose of catching a criminal (prey) much in the same way a wolf  catches a rabbit. The goal of a true protection dog   however is somewhat different, for the goal of a PP dog is not to run  down and catch someone, but instead to keep a threat OUT of our homes  and OUT of our lives. A patrol dog is actually trained to bring a "perp"  into the lives of the police officers. In other words, the  police/military dog is trained to elicit a response/attack, not to stop  one...while a protection dog should be trained to prevent or stop an  attack.   Consider  a mother wolf and her pups (dogs are not exactly the same as their wild  relative, the wolf, but follow me here for a minute).  If a bear was  minding its own business and far enough away, a wolf would leave the  bear alone. Yet, if the wolf saw a rabbit, it would pursue it. Only if  the bear came too close or was fleeing with one of the pups would the  mother attack it. The same is said for a family protection guardian type  dog. Yes, a guardian should be able to pursue if need be...and they are  easily trained to do this, but the outlook upon such training is  different than it is with a patrol dog. Also, in the home a "pursuit  dog" (a dog whose primary purpose is to run down, catch, and  hold people) is a liability legally speaking...as civilians are not  police officers for this reason they shouldn't try playing "cop." With  training, a protection dog easily accommodates pursuit needs should  such a need present itself. Just as the training of such dogs is  different, so is the breeding of such dogs.


2. Although I personally  dislike "rank drive" in all applications of any domesticated animal,  some police and service dog trainers/breeders desire rank drive as the  desire to dominate brings an additional form of what's known as "social  aggression.” The social aggression stemming from rank drive relates to  "active aggression" and believe it can play a beneficial role in pursuit  dogs. The reason for this is it is generally easy to develop active  forms of aggression in dogs that display some rank drive. However, in a  PP dog, much training is reactive to a threat. And even though some  needs may need "active forms" of aggression a good trainer will find it  rather easy to develop all the active aggression needed in a PP dog  simply by doing some associative training (classical conditioning...as  in Pavlov's dogs) to combine an engagement command with a  threat...therefore creating a dog that will respond as if threatened  even when no threat has been presented simply because they heard the  command (like Pavlov's dogs salivate without food simply because they  heard the bell). By doing this, a well bred dog will be able to go into  drive, be re-active, and even still be able to perform a prey based  "send" type work very effectively if they have been trained to do so.  When referring to rank drive, I would also like to bring attention the  the fact that many police dogs are kept locked up (away from society) or  muzzled for a reason until they are needed. Police/military officers  are understand the risks of being called to duty and are trained to be  prepared. A civilian never knows when a criminal may attack; therefore,  our dogs can only do their job of PP if they are accessible and not  muzzled.


3.  A service dog needs to be small enough to be highly mobile and has  less need to provide an intimidation factor. I am not saying  intimidation plays no role in a police dog, but only suggesting the role  of intimidation is of lesser importance than it is for a home or family  guardian. Remember, police/military dogs are working with trained  police/military personnel who also provide a formidable and professional  stopping force and intimidation. A protection dog should provide all  the stages of the defensive protocol, one of these being an  intimidation factor...as seen in the "defensive stages of engagement"  listed below. Remember, a protection dog may have to provide all the  intimidation a perp may see...for how intimidating is a small woman or a  child? As mentioned earlier, the goal of a PP dog is to prevent and/or  stop an attack.  


4.  In a police/service dog, one needs a dog to apprehend (catch and hold)  the suspect until professionally trained police officers are able to aid  and control the situation. With the protective family companion  guardian, the goal is to PROTECT your family against any crazy lunatic  and your dog may have to do fulfill this job all by itself...unaided.  When it comes to the protection dog, power is of greater concern, as we  do not need to just slow the criminal down so the police can catch the  suspect. The protective dog has to completely STOP the threat. The  ability to completely stop an attacker may require much more tenacity  and/or power than would be needed to just slow a criminal down to an apprehendable or controllable speed. Also, a police department does not  want to deal with complaints about excessive use of force. For a PP dog,  is there excessive use of force when a perp comes into your home and is  in your kid's room? I will leave that for others to debate, but I would  like to point out that not all members in the typical family (kids,  wife, or some men) can offer the same forceful assistance to their canines that professional police officers are able to offer, and for  this reason the stopping power of a protection dog needs to be sufficient to truly stop a man in his tracks.

The Politics of Sport, Patrol, & Family K9s

Many members of the traditional service and sporting canine community seem  to express a dislike for non-traditional family companion guardian  breeds; however, I believe this expression is sadly motivated by fear of  "losing a market." Additionally, many trainers may even resist these  ideas as they are more familiar with training the traditional service  dog and have often become accustom to training dogs that display rank  drive (which is easily stimulated and requires less work). I make a  living teaching science, not selling dogs and I don't care about a  "market." I care about my dogs and providing a service to those who are  interested in a true companion guardian.  


Regardless of some similarities between service dogs and protection dogs or what some "qualified" people think, I know a protective family companion guardian dog is not the same as a "police dog," and therefore I recognize that a family companion guardian should be bred and trained differently. Police/service work and family protection are two different  tasks, and both types of canines should be bred and trained according to their tasks. Additionally, some sport dogs may work out very well in police, military, other service, or even as protection dogs, but the sporting K9 field is not exactly the same as any of these very specific fields either...and those that specialize solely in sport tend to take a different approach (some times very game oriented).


One of the most fundamental keys to success is to recognize your goal. The goal of the American Sentinel K9  project is to find a group of cooperative people that are interested in  producing the ultimate family companion guardian. A dog that will  protect its family at all costs, but will not challenge its  family...because the goal of a companion guardian is to protect the  "pack!" I am not saying American Sentinel K9s are better dogs than traditional K-9 dogs. I am saying they are a different type of dog with a different and highly specialized goal.


American Sentinel K9s are  PP companion guard dogs. They are bigger, more intimidating, and more  powerful canines than are the traditional police/service dogs. Yet, they  have very high pack, fight, prey, and defense drives...but to maintain  stability they are selected to be low in unwarranted “social aggression” and low rank drive. The American Sentinel K9s is bred  to be a family companion guardian that fears nothing made of flesh,  except it masters/family. They are loving and sensitive to their family  group.Now, although I believe with the right training the American Sentinel K9s  will perform very well in almost any physical event due to its  resiliency, power, speed, determination, endurance, and their general  mental and physical capabilities...if your goal is to develop a police  type of service dog with social aggression and rank issues...I would suggest another breed. I would suggest a traditional K-9 service breed for such a situation and not an American Sentinel K9. The reason I say this is because the American Sentinel K9 was  not and is not selected with police or sport work being their primary  goal. Mals, GSD, Dutch Shepherds and other traditional service dogs have  been selected for patrol and service work for decades. Although I do  think an American Sentinel K9 would do well in those avenues, the American Sentinel K9 is selected as a family companion guardian above all else. The American Sentinel K9 is to Personal/Family/Home Protection (PP) what a Mal is to police/service work


If you are looking for a dog to protect and have a loving relationship with your family, then the American Sentinel K9 may be  the dog for you. Before you get a family companion guardian K-9, I  suggest you seriously think twice before listening to a person that  produces police/sport dogs. Check and see if they have been bitten by  their own dogs. If so, what did they do about it? Do you really think it  is wise to listening to a person that has been bitten by their own dogs  and justifies this as part of the breed. I would also avoid someone  that doesn't know the difference between protection K9s and other  avenues (police, military, etc) of working canines. A specialized  goal helps produce a specialized canine via performance measures to the  specialized task! Anyone that would like to evaluate my dogs is welcome  to contact me and arrange a demonstration. To do so, email me to make  arrangement. Why am I so sure?...because I know my dogs. I produce a  physical, athletic, powerful, loving, stable, and determined FAMILY COMPANION GUARDIAN.Lee Robinson, M.S.Note:  Before you begin training a personal protection or companion family  guardian prospect, contact professionals for guidance, lay out a good  foundation that includes proper socialization to the many strange things  in the world, let them meeting friendly welcomed guests, and at least  do some basic motivational based obedience work...as these things are  essential in order to have a balanced stable dog as a final product.

The Progressive Stages of Protection

Using an appropriate level of force for Protection

First, I would like to mention the "defensive stages of engagement"  is not necessarily about "defense drive" but about legal means of  protection. Even if the highly desired "fight drive" is the primary  motivator of the engagement, the drives of a protection canine should only be elicited either by a command or an initial defensive response.There  are both legal and ethical rules and "stages of engagement" when it  comes to self-defense and protection. This is not a discussion of drives  or training, but only the laws and ethics. Although, I personally  prefer "fight drive" because it is the strongest and most determined of  the drives (consisting of the stability and confidence of prey drive,  but also including the seriousness and intensity of defense drive),  I must adhere to these "rules" and the "stages" of engagement to ensure  any engagement was a legal and more importantly an ethical action that  can be defined as a protective response of "self-defense" or "defense of  others" (such as family). Again, these rules and stages do not address  "drives" or "drive theory," but only address the morality behind our  actions and the laws that determine justification of such actions.The rules in the "protection protocol" we have listed below are NOT necessarily legal rights. BE SURE TO KNOW THE LAWS IN YOUR AREA!!! The  primary "Rule" of engagement is that a PP dog should only proceed to  the next "stage" of engagement if necessary. If your dog bites someone,  without warning or merit...you risk being in legal trouble. If your dog  is uncontrolled and uses excessive force, you risk being in legal  trouble. If your dog will not out on command, you risk being in legal  trouble. Therefore, be sure to learn these "progressive stages of  protection" regardless of what drive you train in. The "progressive stages of protection" that we use are... 

  1. ALARM - (informs the criminal that their presence has been detected in hopes to PREVENT an engagement) 
  2. WARNING  - When time permits, it is best to warn the criminal to stop or  to leave immediately (This serves as a warning to PREVENT an  engagement). Examples of warnings may include, "Stop and leave, or I  will send my dog," "The police have been notified," or in a very serious  situation perhaps even "Stop, or I will shoot." 
  3. ENGAGEMENT - (to STOP or PREVENT harm to you or others when a criminal pursues with malicious intent) 
  4. OUT - Out on command once a threat is stopped (to PREVENT excessive use of force) 
  5. Hold & Guard - similar to a bark and hold. The goal is to keep the criminal passive until the authorities arrive

Getting the Right Tool for the Job

Why do you want a Bandog?

Protection companion work  - YES - If you are looking for a dog to serve as a home protection  companion, a personal protection companion, or for business protection,  then you are in the right place. 


Therapy work - NO - If you are seeking a dog to be a K9 therapy dog, then I do not recommend the bandog; not because bandogs cannot do therapy work, but because there are better choices more suitable for such tasks.


K9 Sports or Police/Military service  - MAYBE - If you are looking for a dog to compete in K9 sports or to  train as a police/military dog, we wish you the best of luck with these  exciting venues.

Bandogs are very capable dogs physically and are rather intelligent as well, so it is reasonable for one to pursue K9 "protection" sports or perhaps even police/military service work should they wish to do so; however, please realize that the bandog was not developed for these applications.


Below  are a few thoughts about the exciting venues of K9 sports and also  police/military K9s, as well as an explanation as to why herders  dominate the venues of K9 sports and police/military K9 service. It is not our goal to try and turn the bandog  into breeds like the Malinois, as bandogs are bred to be gladiators first and foremost. What this means is bandogs are  bred for physically stressful combat such as hog hunting or catching, stopping, and controlling violent men. 

While sports are physical events, successful trainers will  admit that K9 "protection" sports and police/military work are more of a  mental test than a physical one, and those that wish to pursue sports  would be wise to not try to convince themselves otherwise. The herders  dominate in K9 sports and police/military applications as the herders  are canine geniuses; meanwhile, the bandog dominates the herder breeds when tasks become very physically combative. I would also like to add that bandogs tend  to be more affectionate which influences their pack instinct as well as  their desire to seek and please even when working, meanwhile herders  tend to work more for self rewarding motives.

K9 "Protection" Sports

K9 "protection" sports are an awesome measure of both a dog's capabilities  and the trainer's ability to train the dog to perform in said venue.  Depending on the chosen venue, dogs may be asked to perform certain  scenarios or routines in some sports, while in other sports the rules may be more vague while attempting to measure overall general  performance in various settings. Experienced participants will admit  that "protection sports" not really about measuring a dog's capabilities  as a K9 gladiator. Unfortunately though, if we are completely honest  about K9 sports, we will find they really do not even measure the dog's  ability to protect in the real world. At best, K9 sports measure drive,  nerves, malleability, basic athleticism, and stability. At worst, they are a deception of confidence as the dogs perform fake "protective"  tasks when the training or in sport trials. These "engagements" are  often taught in such a way to remove all conflict from the routine by  nurturing the dog through training in such a way that the dog never sees  any aspect in a trail as combative or taxing to one's  self-preservation. Most sport trainers will admit the desire to remove  all mental conflict in the dog's development. This methodology is done  by the majority of sport trainers because "conflict" may result in signs  of stress, and signs of stress cost points in a trial. If they wish to  win in a trial, then they cannot afford to lose any of these valuable  points. Conflict and stress are removed by using reward based "grip"  (bites) training during the "bite development" stages of training. Once  bite development is established, dogs are introduced to various  situations and training progresses in such a manner to either prevent  mental conflict or to hide the side effects caused by conflict.


For example, in the bark and hold (as seen to the left) onlookers often  think the dog is barking aggressively at the man. After all, the dog is  barking in the man's face. It looks aggressive to the untrained eye and  general public. Ironically, aggression may not even be a thought in the  dog's mind. Many successful sport trainers have simply taught the dog to  bark at the man so the decoy (aka..."helper") will present the reward  (biting a bite sleeve for that is used as a toy).The dog is actually  trained not to bark at the "bad guy," but is instead taught to bark for  the toy.   This is similar to "flushing out" behavior by hound dogs that want a  rabbit to jump out of the bush. The man is not the rabbit. The sleeve is  the rabbit, and the dogs are taught to not bite the rabbit until the sleeve moves. The  toy may start out as a tennis ball, a tug, a bite "pillow," or as a  bite wedge, but eventually becomes a full sized Schutzhund/IPO sleeve.  As training progresses, the display has to become more and more  impressive before the toy is presented, and the result becomes a dog  that is jumping up in the decoy's face to get the reward. The sleeve has  simply become a reward toy for providing good obedience in its bark  routine. This task is a progressive development of rewarding the dog to  bark for its reward, starting when the pup was young and playing with a  toy, and progresses into the impressive display shown in the image with  the man in the blind. Click HERE (2:33 mark in video) to see the dog being developed to bark for a tennis ball.  It is beautiful training, but notice when the ball is hidden (rabbit in  the bush) the trainer progresses the dog's development and rewards the  bark. Some  other "K9 protection" sports have popped up to address these short  comings in "protection sports" by using full body suits instead of  sleeves, or by alternating the events in the trial to replace routine  scenarios with more "protection oriented" measures as a result of how  Schutzhund competitions have deviated from their original purpose as a  "breed suitability test" for the German Shepherd. 


The original goal of Schutzhund was to measure the dog's right to breed, but over time winning became the goal and training was modified to get highest  possible scores. Unfortunately, as soon as a new sport pops up, similar  problems with them surface, and good competitive trainers find ways to  get around the stress component of protection work. The grip on full  body bite sit is again often used as a simple reward, which is fine when  one's goal is to win in sports instead of measuring a dog's actual willingness to ignore self-preservation instinct in order to remain in combat. The reason this is the case is because none of the "K9  protection sports" (for obvious safety reasons) have a "no holds barred"  event. "Pressure" is really never that physical in these events. It is  almost all mental. As a result, a great sports trainer is able to find  ways to get their sport dogs to not see such things as pressure, since  the dogs will never be hurt physically in a "K9 protection" competition  or trial. On the right, one will see a dog doing a reverse heel, as this  position of heeling allows for the fastest engagement in the "attack  from behind" scenario. I have never seen a dog owner walk their dog down  the street in real life, only in sports. As a result, malleability is  of utmost importance in K9 sports. Drive is important, nerves is important, stability is important, athletic ability is important, but  the most important component in K9 sports is malleability. This is where the herder excels most. Herder type dogs like the Malinois, Dutch  Shepherd, German Shepherd, Tervuren, etc are without question some of  the most malleable breeds on the planet. If K9 sports are your primary  goal, those are the breeds you should look into first.

Police/Military Dogs

Many  thanks go to these outstanding dogs and the trainers that develop them.  Their contribution to our national safety is invaluable. That said, one  would be wise to not confuse their job with the duties of a bandog.  I would venture to say the police/military service dogs used for  detection work (drugs & bombs) probably more often than they are  used in apprehension work. Again, as a result, malleability is the  primary goal. Additionally, when police/military dogs are used in  apprehension work, they are needed to be highly mobile in any  environment and in many types of vehicles ranging from patrol cars all  day every day, to helicopters, boats, and what not. As a result,  officers need to be able to assist the dogs when in situations that  demand such without breaking their backs, and the dog needs to be able  to be comfortable in such situations 40+ hours a week. Additionally,  while it is rare that one will drive into even a 50-65# dog, should an  adversary provide overwhelming force to the dog, the police/military dog  has professional armed back up by its side. Once again, the  malleability and size requirements place the Malinois at the top of the  list of suitable dogs for such applications.

The Companion Guardian/Protection Dog

The bandog is different. The bandog is a K9 gladiator...and that is how a bandog should be measured...by his ability to catch and control man and/or beast. A bandog should  be capable of earning a sport title should one wish to do so. They are  intelligent, they have high drives, they display good stability, they  should have good nerves, and their willingness to please their master  makes them highly trainable in general, but again we have no desire to  turn the bandog into a Malinois. While the herder's main attribute is not its physical capabilities, but its mental capabilities, the bandog is the converse. Bandogs are very smart, but the herders are very "Einsteins" in the working K9 world; meanwhile, the bandog is the grappler. The herder is the chess player, the bandog is the bulldozer. If you want to measure a bandog, measure them correctly. It is unlikely that the bandog will  win national K9 sport competitions, and while they also have a great  nose which helps in hog hunting, they are not police/military detection  dogs either. All that said, when it comes to catching and stopping man  and/or beast in situations like hog hunting and/or home/business  protection, the bandog is one of the best choices around. If you want to measure your dog's abilities to work as a bandog,  you have to see if the dog will catch dangerous game or dangerous  people...and how far it will allow itself to be taxed in such  measures...be it hot, tired, pressured, etc.  One  of the most important aspects to succeeding at what you do is knowing  to get the right tool for the task at hand. While my views on this  matter come off offensive to some people, it is not my intent to be  offensive. Instead, my intent is to share my honest opinion on the  subject because I believe honesty and truth to be of utmost importance  in one's pursuit of successfully obtaining their goals.