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).
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.
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.
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...
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 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.
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 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.
American Sentinel K9, LLC - Creator of the American Sentinel as the premier family K9 companion guardian. The American Sentinel is the most tested and proven bandog in existence today, and performs very well in protection dog applications or as a canine hunter (aka..."catch dog") of dangerous wild game, such as wild boar.