Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Security as you grow older: Dogs

I visited a friend a couple weeks ago and was reminded of something.
As he notices himself, the local street thugs seem to detect when his body hurts more than usual and has a bit more trouble than usual moving around. But they also notice the big white dog next to him, that looks just like a Dogo Argentino but is actually a white Pitbull and Boxer mix.

On a different note, during the tactical entry course I took last weekend, dogs where also mentioned. Unfortunately we couldn’t bring along the dog they had, the instructor thought it wasn’t wise to introduce the dog to new “team members” during a thundering storm (it was pouring rain). We were told that the Rotty works well in teams, even with new guys, given that it differentiates good guys and bad guys based on the body language and the way you move.

Too bad we couldn’t try it out but again, I was reminded of the importance of having a canine partner for security both at home and on the streets.
This is a pretty good idea and something worth thinking about seriously, specially as we grow older in an increasingly violent society.
We’re not going to be young forever, and eventually we lose speed, strength and reflexes. A canine partner can compensate for that on the streets.

Its of course better if you get started now, learn how to handle big dogs, have at least a couple around at home.
You need to find a breed that is both intimidating and capable of developing a defensive/security role.
Also very important, you need to have the right “alpha” personality to handle these strong animals well, so that they understand their place in the “pack”.
Too many accidents occur because old women (or sometimes sissy guys) treat the dog like a person. You can get away doing that with a French poodle, the dog taking a leading position in the family, but do that with a big strong dog and it will attack family members or others when it feels they aren’t obeying him.
Certainly not for the novice, but well worth considering and investing some time. You also get to have some company, and an excellent excuse to walk more and exercise.

FerFAL

17 comments:

Pitt said...

Aha!! This is so true. I've often said that a dog is the one defensive measure that will act as a deterrent, an alarm and a weapon all at the same time.

Fernando, you may remember that I had contacted you for advice a long time ago about helping a friend who had an Argentine Dogo that I was training in protection. I want you to know that while that particular Dogo will never be a strong working dog, he does perform defensive duties around my friends house and car and keeps strangers from getting too nosy.

My friend has since acquired another Dogo pup that is about one and we started this one off right. Hades (the puppy) has already surpassed my friend's older Dogo, Kronos, and is now being trained for Schutzhund.

I've found that the Dogo is very protective around his home and yard and responds well to agitation if you start them off young.

If you buy a protection dog, spend the money to get a well bred dog from a breeder that is doing some kind of protection work with his dogs. Just going to the pound and picking out something is not going to work unless you have some personal experience with recognizing civilly aggressive dogs.

Anonymous said...

A large, protective breed requires the investment of time and training. However, the hunting breeds may be more forgiving in terms of training by the alpha human, and will alert to anything that is out of sorts. Not as powerful as a Rottie that's pissed off and ready to take someone's leg off at the knee, but still helpful by providing critical advance notice of a problem. Some breed are more naturally protective of their human. I recall a neighbor's labrador retriever that was a kitten ... until he felt his "kids" were threatened, then he turned into a crazed pit bull on steroids.

Don Williams said...

1) I prefer a small dog that will wake me up if someone tries to invade the house while I am asleep. Most home security systems, in my opinion, only give the illusion of security and can be easily bypassed.

2)I like small dogs because I can be sure of feeding them if times get tough. Having to kill your best friend (i.e. your dog) because you can't feed him and he is starving to death would be one more horrible stress at a time you don't need it.

3) Not even the most powerful dogs can stand up to a man with a spear or sword.

I think if you are going to be alpha dog, you need to be ALPHA DOG. You protect the dog --the dog doesn't protect you. I never met a dog yet that could hold a pistol and fire it.

Kenneth said...

One thing to consider. Dogs age fast. Our 12 year old, 100lbs Doberman sometimes needs help getting up and around. When he needs to go to the vet he must be picked up and put into the car. I can manage him when he is in a bad way but my wife certainly can't.

Our next dog will need to be smaller.

Anonymous said...

A large dog at home is fine, but on the street in the USA could be trouble. If someone stupid (a kid) runs up to the dog and scares it, grabs it, etc. the resulting bite can lead to an expensive lawsuit.

Lamb said...

I have a dog that is my companion, friend, partner in security, protector and protected and a good all around dog.
She is a mutt--GSD/pit mix.
At 6 weeks I got her before she was about to be taken to a local dog pound...where they euthanize 90% of the animals they get.
I didn't know if she was going to be a good security animal. My grown son that had moved in with me wanted a pup, so I got him one.

It didn't take long for Siona (that's what my son named her)to assert her personality. When I went in my sons room to put up laundry, she would do a puppy growl and stand fast at the foot of his bed. I got in the habit of telling her "Good girl" and tossing her a treat to encourage her protective behavior. Later on, when she had free run of the house, she would alert us to anyone coming up the sidewalk.
I gave her basic canine training and she learned fast.

I can walk this dog down the street (on a leash, of course) and unless I tell her it is okay, no one can get within 20 feet of me.
She has helped me fend off an attempted home invasion.
She has attacked someone that was attempting to attack me and held them down until I ordered her to release them.
She has NEVER bit without provocation or within my ordering her to do so.
Siona also trained herself to detect drugs! Or rather, some of the people around here trained her. I run a rooming house and when I first moved here to take over, some of the tenants smoked crack cocaine and meth. These same people had a total dislike of dogs and would kick at my dog or otherwise try to harm her when I wasn't looking. Siona rapidly associated the smell of those drugs with BAD...BAD people!
Now, she alerts when she smells it.(Her hackles raise, she gets stiff-legged and growls--deep and low)
She will not tolerate it in her house!
I don't think I could do this job without her!

Contrast this with my next door neighbors, who, 9 months ago, paid out almost two thousand for a Fila Brazilia puppy.
Impeccable blood lines. Gorgeous pup from champion dam and sire.
Useless now.
I suggested training, the neighbor said he would let his sons train her. His sons are ages 9 and 12. I tried to diret them to web sites that detailed proper training for the breed, along with proper diet, etc.

Now I can look out my window and see the poor animal pacing on the 25 foot chain she is kept on. Her diet is mainly scraps from meals. Yes, she is well fed as far as calories are concerned, but her body tone has suffered...not only due to the poor diet, but also due to very little exercise.
She has NO CLUE how to behave properly. Even her natural instincts as a protection animal have been thwarted. Instead of standing in front of the children when they are approached (as a good fila would), she hides BEHIND them.
It is a sad sight.
I suspect that in a couple years (max) she will turn *chain aggressive---as many large dogs will--and will injure someone and have to be put down.

If you get a dog of ANY breed and plan to have them as a protection/security animal, get them properly trained!
If you can't train them yourself, hire a professional!
Pedigrees, bloodlines, AKC papers don't mean a damn thing if you don't properly train your dog!

David said...

Just got back from the vet. The bill was $150 for annual shots, heartworm pills, etc., and the vet wants to do blood tests and clean the dog's teeth under anesthesia (another $300+). Add food for an annual cost easily 1000 $USD or more for a pet.

Protection training? Add (guessing) $3000 minimum, and for a larger breed (shorter lifespans) you're easily paying $1500-2000/useful year of dog.

Maybe others have this kind of $$$$ to toss around, but I don't. A dog is becoming a luxury I can't afford, and I probably won't be replacing the old girl when she runs out of time.

Anonymous said...

Total dog novice and non-dog lover here, but the writing is on the wall with kids, the wife and the changing times. Let's say i've come around lately.

What breeds are best for a tiny farm?

I've always like German Shepherds, but am open to suggestions.

I am a research nut, so I will be thorough before I buy, but I am wondering if someone can point me in the right direction as far as breed and the costs associated.

Thanks in advance.

Lamb said...

David:
My dog was free. I get her shots and her boosters every year (she is now 4). I had her spayed at 1 year. The spaying cost 200., the shots cost me about 100 a year.
To get a dog competent training as a protection animal will cost you about 500 bucks for a good trainer.

Anonymous Dog-Novice:
A German Shepherd is a good dog to get...but INSIST on getting a certificate (guarantee) that the dog is free from hip dysplasia. GSD are eager to please and quick to learn. Most localities have free or inexpensive *puppy classes* to teach puppies (and owners!) the basics of obedience. Once your pup has that down pat, you can move on to more protective or herding behaviors (German shepherds were originally bred to be herding dogs, as their name implies!)

Pitt said...

Anonymous said...
A large, protective breed requires the investment of time and training. However, the hunting breeds may be more forgiving in terms of training by the alpha human, and will alert to anything that is out of sorts.

This can be true, but if I wanted a dog to chase rabbits or tree raccoons, I'd get a hound dog. If you want a dog to defend you home, you get one that was bred for that.

Don Williams said...
1) I prefer a small dog that will wake me up if someone tries to invade the house while I am asleep.

Not a bad idea really. Mr. Williams is right, a big dog can hard to feed, or is he? If a dog is part of your plan include his care in your preps. Even high grade dog kibble is affordable if bought in bulk. Also, some smaller breeds are very capable of dealing out damage when properly motivated. I have 2 American Pitbull Terriers. The male is 75lbs and is formidable looking. He is a great working dog. But the one I would grab if there was some hooligans around my home is the 42lb. female because she means business when she goes after someone. With pitbulls, the females are more serious in their protective drives. The play to win.

Kenneth said...
One thing to consider. Dogs age fast. Our 12 year old, 100lbs Doberman sometimes needs help getting up and around.

Kenneth brings up a good point. Try to stay away from breeds that were extremely popular at one time. American show breeders have ruined some great breeds (like the Dobermann, the GSD and the Rottie) because they made them popular and then people started breeding them for money rather than the betterment of the breed. Consider some of what I call the "sleeper" breeds like the Australian Cattle Dog (can you say "Mad Max") or the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Both of these breeds are very protective, but won't make your homeowners insurance skyrocket.

Anonymous said...
A large dog at home is fine, but on the street in the USA could be trouble. If someone stupid (a kid) runs up to the dog and scares it, grabs it, etc. the resulting bite can lead to an expensive lawsuit.

This is where socialization and training come into play. A fearful, shy or bite crazy dog is a huge liability. But a dog that has been exposed to a lot of things as a puppy (like kids at a playground, or auto noises on a busy street or strangers approaching with treats) will look at such things as normal human interactions and won't respond with aggression. Remember, you dog can't talk, so he pays attention to body language. Aggressive postures and sneaky behave will elicit the proper response from your protection. His instincts are way better than yours, they just need channeling.

Pitt said...

Sorry, had to split my post in 2.

David said...
Just got back from the vet. The bill was $150 for annual shots, heartworm pills, etc., and the vet wants to do blood tests and clean the dog's teeth under anesthesia (another $300+). Add food for an annual cost easily 1000 $USD or more for a pet.

In my neck of the woods we have mobile petmeds that will come to your neighborhood grocery store parking lot and give your dogs their innoculations for a fraction of a vet office visit. He is a real vet, he just comes to you instead of the other way around. Also as a "survivalist" (I hate that term by the way) you must learn to take care of the small things yourself. Big issues are for the vet, nicks and cuts are done at home.

As far as the cost of protection training, you can actually do a lot of it yourself (look at Lamb's posting and see what she did). A lot of protection work is encouraging your dog's natural instincts.

Anonymous said...
Total dog novice and non-dog lover here, but the writing is on the wall with kids, the wife and the changing times. Let's say i've come around lately.

What breeds are best for a tiny farm?

I've always like German Shepherds, but am open to suggestions.

I am a research nut, so I will be thorough before I buy, but I am wondering if someone can point me in the right direction as far as breed and the costs associated.

If your are in America, you have lots of choices. Lets list by prices.

Cheap (Under $300)
1. American Pitbull Terriers
2. Boxers
3. German Shepard Dog
4. Australian Cattle Dog
5. Rottweilers

Moderate ($300-$600)
1. American Pitbull Terriers (ADBA papered)
2. GSD (well bred, AKC papered)
3. Rottweiler (well bred, AKC papered)
4. American Bulldog
5. Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Expensive (Real work dogs, $1000)
1. Belgian Malinios (working bloodline, only for expert dog people)
2. Dutch Shepard (just like a Malinois, very high powered dogs)
3. Very good German Shepard
4. Very good Rottweilers
5. Cane Corso Mastiff (bred to guard farms in Italy, Powerful)
6. Argentine Dogo (powerful, but stubborn)
7. South African Boerboel (extreme breed, $2000-$3000)

PS: Japanese Akitas make good protection dogs, but can be hard to find. I've never trained one personally though.

These are just some suggestions off the top of my head. Do your research and get what you like.

Don Williams said...

(continued)
can't provide the care it needs, it is best to not get one.

The children will be in love with the dog for two weeks and then largely cast it aside and look for a new toy -- although I think the experience of growing up with a dog is valuable to them.

But you need to realize that you and your wife will probably be stuck with walking the dog ,feeding it etc . Corgis need about 3 walks a day , of about 20 minutes each. Some breeds are much more demanding re exercise -- you need to know what a breed will require.

7) Herding dogs like corgis tend to follow you around and will sometimes try to boss the family into being in the same room. Some herding breeds require a lot of emotional support and company -- other breeds are more aloof. Herding dogs tend to stick around when you walk in a field with them off a leash. Hunting dogs, in contrast, have strong prey instincts and are apt to go howling off into the far distance chasing something. You may have to go find them --and sometimes carry an exhausted one a mile or two back to the car.

If you are not a jogger, probably best not to acquire a large running dog like an Irish wolfhound. Small toy dogs, of course, need walks but usually of shorter distance. Most young dogs are active but some breeds are really active and need lots of exercise.

8) If not exercised and bored, dogs tend to overeat and get fat. Corgis are chow hounds in this regard.

9) Most dogs get anxious and can develop psychological problems if left alone for 8 or more hours a day. They really are pack animals and it is cruel to isolate them. In my opinion, you need to ensure that someone can let them out at lunch if you and your wife are going to be at work during the day.
This is probably less of a problem if the dog can roam around outside versus being shut up in a small urban apartment.

You will need a vet -- and your vet can advise you on the above considerations and others re a particular pure breed.

10) Also be aware that some foods are poisonous to dogs -- raisins, chocolate, garlic etc. Again, your vet or the internet can advise you.

11) Oh, and be sure not to leave a dog in a car on a hot summer day with the windows up -- it can easily kill the dog within an hour or so. (They are wearing a fur coat and can't sweat -- they lose heat by panting.)

12) Obviously, the dog breed needs to be suited for your climate if it is going to be outdoors -- Alaskan sled dogs with heavy coats have problems with hot summers in the South -- short haired terriers get cold in Northern winters, although you can get sweaters for them.

Don Williams said...

Re Anon's question at 2:44PM:

1) I personally like working type dogs/farm dogs -- and I like smaller dogs , so I really like the Pembroke Corgi. I've had one for 12+ years.

They are actually a dwarf. If you check their teeth, you will find that they are almost as large as larger dogs. If in good shape, they can jump fairly high and can run fast (used for herding originally.) When they run, they bend their back and bound.

2) Mine, however, now has Degenerative Myelopathy -- a form of creeping nerve degeneration similar to human Lou Gehrig's disease (aka ALS) which leads to slowly increasing paralysis and death in about 1.5 years. This is due to a genetic defect and is increasingly showing up in several other breeds of dogs, including German Shepherds.

3) There is something to be said for going to a pound and rescuing a healthy mutt. My parents always had mutts and they were very healthy (hybrid vigor) although it is harder to predict their temperment,etc compared to pure breeds.

4) I think that American pure breeds suffer from the Champion Dog syndrome. Everybody wants champion bloodlines, although the judging is based on conformation rather than performance. The result is that the champion male is bred to dozens of females and the other males are neutered. Over time, this has caused a narrowing of the gene pool and increasing amplification of genetic faults.

Don Williams said...

PS Whatever type of dog you get, it is probably worthwhile to ask a trainer to teach the dog not to accept food from strangers.

The area where I grew up hit a hard spot economically and my parents told me about a rash of home robberies that occurred when unemployment spiked and the owners were away during the day (grocery shopping, jobs,etc.)

In several cases, the house dog had been killed by tossing it hamburger meat poisoned with a common household chemical that I won't specify here. It was a horrible death for the dog.

Don Williams said...

Oops. I had to break up the 7:11 PM post above into two pieces and
I messed up on the cut and paste. Here are the missing paragraphs
5 and 6:
------------------
5) The breeders are not totally at fault -- they are, after all,
giving the public what it wants but the public is largely ignorant of
breeding principles and the need for a diverse gene pool.

6) It is very important to realize that you are basically adopting a
3 year old child -- a feeling animal which has a degree of intelligence
and emotions. If you can't provide the care it needs, it is best to
not get one.

The children will be in love with the dog for two weeks and then
largely cast it aside and look for a new toy -- although I think the
experience of growing up with a dog is valuable to them.

But you need to realize that you and your wife will probably be stuck
with walking the dog ,feeding it etc . Corgis need about 3 walks a
day , of about 20 minutes each. Some breeds are much more demanding
re exercise -- you need to know what a breed will require.

Don Williams said...

PS I should note that raising dogs in the countryside differs from the suburban and urban areas.

In the countryside, dogs roam free, males are often not spayed, and if a female has a litter it is usually not a problem to find homes for the pups. Since dogs are left free and can be fed scraps, they are less trouble (don't require an hour a day of your time for walks,etc.)

Also, if you have two or three dogs, they form a pack , keep each other company, and don't have the emotional neediness for attention that a solitary dog in an urban apartment has. Farm dogs are much less bored.

Note, however, that some male dogs tend to become aggressive and surly if they are not spayed and yet are not mated with a female.
If they are to be spayed, best done early (first six months). Vet can tell you more.

HaVoK said...

I have two female pitbulls and they are truly my best friends. Lovable, loyal, powerful and smart. None prone to any other genetic problems aside from a tendency to be aggressive and this can be solved with proper socialization and training.

I have had dogs all my life and I favor the Pit over any of the other breeds, including GSD, Rottie and Doberman. I had a male Pit as well but I had to have him put down last year as he was becoming crippled. He was over 17 years old and he had 0 health problems until his last year. He was a fantastic companion. I rescued him from a shelter.

My dogs have had minimal protection training because I did not want to encourage aggression. They are smart enough to know when harm is intended and will not tolerate any aggression directed towards me or other members of my family. They are calm and passive towards anyone else that acts the same.

Dogs are the best friend a man can have.