- American Sentinel Bandog
There is a major misconception in the K9 industry that misleads many people into believing that protection dogs, sentry dogs, and guard dogs are one and the same with police K9s, military K9s, and/or the dogs competing in many of the so called "protection" sports. This is not accurate. Police and military dogs are patrol type dogs that seek engagement of specified targets and suspects, and if a dog owned by a private citizen engages someone without first having a justified reason for engagement they are likely to be sued, and may even have criminal charges filed against them. Those dogs work with professionals that are afforded special protection by laws that often provide some security to those K9 handlers.
While "protection sports" are demanding, challenging, rewarding, and tests a dog in many ways, but it is still a game. Dogs that do well in those games often look impressive and generally have good attributes that one might view desirable in a protection dog, but know that such activities are games, and the dogs are trained to complete tasks in those sports as if they are performing an obedience routine, and therefore those sports generally do not actually test a dog for realistic protection applications.
If competing in a K9 protection sport of some type is of interest to you, please understand I am confident our dogs certainly have the traits needed to excel at such tasks. I only state what I have stated here because a person should know that one's approach for training to compete in a sport is a bit different than the approach one would take to create the optimal guard dog or protection dog, and can actually be counter-productive in some ways when it comes to real life protection work and sentry work.
Most protect their car more so than their own daughter...(EXPLAINED IN THE VIDEO ABOVE).
1. Accepting personal responsibility
2. Environmental awareness
3. Skill set (knowing how to use what you have)
4. Training to advance one's skill set
5. Eliminating things that distract you from what matters
Sports like dogs that stay in the pocket. Is that wise in protection work, or would it be better to take the man's back? Tactics matter. When it comes to protection, the goal is to not get hit, and if you have to hit, do that also without being hit. Protection is not about points.
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.
Bandog are K9 gladiators and their abilities should be measured by their ability to catch and control man and/or beast. Nevertheless, 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 the bandog should not be confused with the Malinois. The herder's main attributes are not its physical capabilities, but its mental capabilities. The bandog is the converse. Herders are the "Einsteins" in the working K9 world, while the bandog is the grappler. The herder is the chess player, the bandog is the bulldozer. It is unlikely that the bandog will win national K9 sport competitions. They also have a great nose which helps in hog hunting, yet they may not make the best police/military detection dogs. 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.
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