Archive for May, 2009
Thursday, May 28th, 2009
A decade ago, in the acidic Otago region of the south island of New Zealand, a friend of mine planted hazel trees in hopes that a fungus would take over its root system. It paid off and I became the lucky recipient of a small black truffle, a gift that is good on eggs, even better on pasta.
Truffle hunting, in my mind, always conjures up images of French men handling large pigs on leashes. But this is old school truffle pursuit. Today, we find (who else?) but trained truffle dogs on the job, nose down to the ground, scouring every inch of the truffiere plantation in hopes of striking ‘black gold’. Not only can a dog’s superior sense of smell locate an underground fungus, but they are also smart enough to be trained not to eat the truffle upon discovery. An added bonus, dogs fit much easier in the back of the car.
Humans have been capitalizing on the canine’s superior sense of smell for longer than we really know. Put to great use, many a dog nose has been responsible for finding lost people, apprehending drug traffickers, and locating disaster victims. Cadaver dogs, in particular, often facilitate the justice system and provide closure for family members. There are dogs that can noninvasively determine if a human has cancer, is about to have a seizure or has low blood sugar. Anyone whose luggage has been lightened at the airport by the removal of contraband cheese will attest to the power of canine smell (and also that beagles REALLY love a good English Stilton).
When training my own dogs, I take advantage of this extraordinary sense. Search and rescue command is probably the most obvious use of smell and the canine nose certainly comes in handy when it comes to our child protection program. But there is more. Protection dogs have a natural desire to defend and guard their handler. The bond between the handler and dog cements the desire. Dogs bond with you through their senses; while they do see you and hear you, the dog most identifies with your smell. They are able to determine your mood and emotional state from your body language and by your hormone levels, which they smell. Ever heard the phrase ‘the smell of fear’? Protection dogs are especially interested in knowing when their handler is afraid, for obvious reasons.
So don’t be surprised when you come home from work and your dog is waiting by the door. Their unique gift lets them know that they will soon be united with their handler; they literally smelled you a mile away.
Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
It’s always great to match a perfect dog with an equally perfect family. This Memorial Day weekend we delivered Tina, a Level I personal protection dog who graduated at the top of her class.
Tina, a female German shepherd, was the pick of the litter. She is the offspring of two Level III German Shepherds from West Germany and was born here at the CCK9 facility.
Tina passed her Level I training with flying colors and is an expert at targeting the weapon hand when defending her family. Her level headedness, sociability and intelligence are balanced with her man-stopping devastation in defense and sound nerves.
She was enrolled in the Level II program when our clients, a couple with 4 small children and a male pet dog, decided she fit the profile of everything they wanted. Tina acclimatized very well and seemed as delighted with our client’s children as they were with her. As usual, Tina and the family’s male German Pointer got along great.
Our clients are extremely pleased with their newest family member and we are pleased to have provided a dog that will not hesitate to come to our client family’s defense.
It’s deliveries like these that reinforce that I have the greatest job in the World.
Monday, May 25th, 2009
This Memorial Day we remember the soldiers, officers and K9′s who have served and continue to serve our country heroically.
Monday, May 25th, 2009
In the protection dog industry you’ll hear a lot of discussion about K.N.P.V., also known as the Royal Dutch Police Dog Sport. The sport originated as a certification program for civilians to train dogs that would then be made available to the Dutch police. Like Schutzhund titles, K.N.P.V. has migrated from its original purpose and is now a popular, enjoyable sport for some dog trainers.
The frustrating part of this is that trainers are willing to sell K.N.P.V. titled dogs under the guise that they are true protection dogs. Nothing could be further from the truth. A sporting dog will not protect you or your family; I cannot stress this enough. Consumers, understandably not knowing the background or methods of K.N.P.V., are susceptible to thinking that the training methods employed for K.N.P.V. sporting dogs are the same as what we do. Genetics, too, play a strong role in whether a dog will be a prey dog (sporting dog) or personal protection dog. It’s important to know the difference before purchasing a protection dog.
Having the opportunity to travel to Europe to work with the top K.N.P.V clubs as well as the Royal Dutch Police, I have first hand knowledge of the training techniques used. Watching K.N.P.V. training in action really drives home the differences between what they do and what we do. For instance, the “revieren” command instructs the dog to search for a box or person in the woods. The dog is released off leash, locates the box or decoy, barks frantically and often aggressively bites the object. Obviously, when we train protection dogs to do scent work we would not want the same results. Protection dogs do not attack the object or person found; this is never acceptable under any circumstances.
Another K.N.P.V. exercise involves searching for an article. Protection dogs are often trained to do this as well. Our Level II and Level III protection dogs are also capable of article search and it is available as a custom command. In K.N.P.V., the dog is deployed off leash, finds the article, and returns to the handler with it. This seems like a great idea if you’ve lost your keys but if the dog is sent to find a gun would you want him or her to return to you with the article in its mouth? Not only is this dangerous to the handler but to the protection dog as well. True protection dogs will locate an article- on or off leash- but are trained to indicate by sitting next to it.
Food refusal is another exercise where protection dog and K.N.P.V. sporting dog training differs. K.N.P.V. dogs are pattern trained to refuse food. The trainer will throw a piece of hot dog or other food to the left, right and in front of the dog. Each time, the dog must have the control not to eat or smell the food. Unfortunately, this doesn’t truly poison proof the dog; it pattern trains the dog. In reality, people do not attempt to poison a dog in the manner described. They may throw food over your fence, hand feed the dog, or poison the dog in an infinite amount of other ways. It is important that the dog is trained never to accept food from anyone other than the handler or individuals that the handler has introduced to the dog as safe. Poison proof training involves focusing on the relationship between the handler and dog, not the food itself. We have a special method for training food refusal and it is guaranteed 100%.
Another dog sport called French Ring Sport trains their dogs to perform aggression alert while walking backwards. Unfortunately, there are those in the personal protection dog industry who are selling sporting dogs who perform this impressive looking but erroneous skill. Teaching a protection dog to walk away from a threat gives a negative psychological message. Protection dogs should never back away from a threat or hesitate to defend their handler regardless of the situation. Their purpose is to engage in defense even if the person they are protecting is running from the situation. Sporting dogs (prey dogs) lack nerve and will back down; their genetics and training dictate this behavior. Training them to walk backwards is needed to obtain a title but has no use in the real world.
Many of my friends and associates participate in K.N.P.V. and French Ring title dog sports. Like any other sport, they do it for the challenge and pleasure of working with dogs. It is amazing to see the variety of skills that canines are capable of mastering. If you are interested in getting involved there are many breeders that can supply a sporting dog. We also offer a service where we will vet sporting dogs for our clients. However, if you truly want a dog that has the right foundation training and the proper genetics to protect, then beware of any trainers that insist that their titled dog will come to your defense no matter what.
Titles are impressive but not nearly so impressive as a when a properly trained protection dog saves your life, protects your property or recovers a lost child.
Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
One of the most frequent topics of conversation I have with clients involves Schutzhund titled dogs. There is a lot of confusion surrounding the difference between Schutzhund (sporting) dogs and true protection dogs, even within the dog industry itself. Both dogs vary widely in their training and genetics but one thing is fact: Schutzhund trained dogs, with few exceptions, rarely make excellent personal protection dogs. It’s a controversial statement to make but my years of experience have shown this to be true. Unfortunately, much to the detriment of a person needing true protection, companies are selling Schutzhund titled dogs and labeling them as protection dogs.
“Schutzhund” literally means “protection dog” in German. The sport, originating at the turn of the century, was used as a testing method for determining if a dog was suitable for breeding. Through the years the strong genetics once indicative of a Schutzhund dog have become diluted. Additionally, the training required to become a titled dog is contradictory to the methods protection dogs need to utilize when fighting off an attacker.
You have most likely seen photos or video of sporting dogs biting and holding onto a sleeve of a decoy pretending to be “the bad guy”. It can be a rather impressive display. However, true protection dogs should never be trained in this manner! Hanging onto the sleeve of an attacker gives him time to use a weapon against the dog. Unlike protection training, Schutzhund does not require the dog to target the weapon hand first. In fact, sporting dogs focus on the forearm. Our training method involves teaching our dogs to bite the wrist of the hand holding the weapon since this is fastest way to disarm him. True protection dogs will then inflict a series of deep bites to both the legs and the arms until the handler calls the dog off. If you were being attacked and your dog needed to come to your defense, which method would you prefer?
Other training techniques vary greatly. For instance, sporting dogs are trained to search and rescue by taking scent on the ground. Our dogs are also trained for search and rescue but, like wolves in nature, they take their scent from the air. Taking scent from the air is very useful for rescue since the terrain of the ground may be aged- an impediment for ground tracking. Dogs trained to take scent from the air are more productive and have fewer challenges in finding a missing person, especially along large expanses of ground.
It is rare to see a sporting dog with the genetics needed for protection work. Genetically, we look for dogs that have a ‘guard drive’, a strong desire to defend and the nerves to back it up. On rare occasion, I will run across a Schutzhund dog that is genetically equipped for protection but it doesn’t happen often, perhaps five times in my career. CCK9 does not sell sporting dogs; we only sell protection dogs. We take the safety of our clients very seriously and will not jeopardize this for the sake of sales or for the display of flashy titles. Frankly, I couldn’t sleep at night if I did.
I am often asked if Schutzhund trained dogs can be trained to be protection dogs and vice versa. The short answer is no. When placed in a situation where the dog needs to defend its handler, he or she will revert to their original training. Dogs resort to their foundation education under stress. For the most part, a titled dog will likely run out of a room with its tail between its legs; they lack the nerve and training. Cross training simply is not a good idea.
Sporting dogs definitely have their place and many find the sport enjoyable. The sport does have a dark side and I have heard of dogs being granted a Schutzhund title over a cup of coffee. It’s important that these dogs are purchased from reputable breeders. If a client of mine insists on a titled dog I will evaluate Schutzhund dogs for them- but only after making sure they know that the dog isn’t trained to protect. I always emphasize, however, how great it is to own a true protection dog. Not only are they balanced, stable and great with children and pets but ready and able to defend your family. Plus, you can take them anywhere- the park, shops, the airport, anywhere without worrying about the dog’s behavior or your own safety. Personal protection dogs truly are the best of all worlds.
The choice is yours. But do your homework before purchasing a protection dog. After all, if you ever have the misfortune of being attacked one thing is certain- titles will not serve to defend you.
Monday, May 18th, 2009
Last week I received a call from a trainer who works at a local shelter. He called to ask me a few training questions; I’m always happy to oblige since the work that shelters and rescues do is so important.
The deeper into conversation we got, the more I began to cringe. While the trainer had only the best of intentions, he failed to understand the naturally balanced relationship between mankind and mankind’s best friend, the dog.
During the discussion he explained his attempt to become the “pack leader” over a dog that had a variety of behavioral problems. One method he employed was biting the ear of the dog. Another ritual he adopted as a training technique involved “alpha” rolling the dog, like wolves in nature. He is correct in his desire for control but his misunderstanding of the dynamics of the human/dog relationship means he’s going about it the wrong way.
I’ve heard other people advocate this type of training and I’ve come to the conclusion that dogs understand their role in the human world better than humans understand it. Simply put, they don’t view humans as other dogs. Actually, it’s a good thing. Considering the complexity and intricacy of canine interactions, it is arrogant to think that humans are able to accurately replicate it. Given that dogs are masters when it comes to body language, they view human attempts at imitating canine behavior as abnormal at best. When a dog bites another dog’s ear there is much more going on than meets the eye, more than we understand.
Observing wolf behavior highlights the differences between wolves and dogs. Dogs are not wolves. The ways in which wolves interface should not be applied to our own interactions with dogs; nor should the way dogs interface with each other. The differences are apparent. While wolves do all that they can to avoid humans, dogs readily leave their littermates to join them (the reverse of the pack instinct). Dogs will even defend their two-legged companion against another dog. They are fully committed to defending their human handlers whereas in nature pack leaders often have to defend their position from members of their own pack. These behaviors, a few of many, demonstrate that dogs view us differently than they view their own kind.
So when asserting yourself with your protection dog or canine companion, please keep in mind that he or she does not see you as another dog. Dogs see us as something they think is even better: a human.
Friday, May 15th, 2009
Ever go to someone’s house and their dog is frantically running in circles, pacing and chewing inappropriate things- like the furniture? It’s really quite an uncomfortable situation for all involved, especially the dog itself. Fortunately, I was at an acquaintance’s house and I was in the position to be blunt. The problem was easy to solve- the dog needed exercise, ASAP.
Both large and small dogs require structured walks with their handler. Running in the garden or chasing a ball doesn’t fill the requirement. Since domestication has only occurred within a relatively short time frame (about 15,000 years or so), canines still have the instinct to roam. They want and need exercise.
You’ll benefit too. Walking your dog on a leash by your side lets them know that you are their leader; it reinforces your role. The health benefits of a fit dog are obvious as well. However, the benefit you’ll notice in the short term is their balanced, calm state of mind. Inappropriate behavior in the house is often the result of anxiety and the anxiety is often curable with a 20-minute jaunt around the block.
German shepherds and other herding dogs such as Belgian malinois and Dutch shepherds need to be walked. Sometimes my clients will see this as a drawback to owning a personal protection dog. Yet once they get into the habit, they view it as a great opportunity to strengthen the bond they share. Exercising with your dog is akin to the human/family bonding ritual of eating dinner together.
Exercise can help a host of behavioral problems in dogs just like it can help reduce anxiety and other health problems in humans. Family members should alternate walking duties. Ideally, two twenty-minute walks or at least one longer walk each day is needed. I know that there are days when you just won’t feel like going for a walk. But just think: as much as you don’t want to, your dog DOES want to…and needs to.
So consider the benefits. Your dog protects you and the family, looks after the home, provides companionship, and makes your life happier and safer. A good way to return the favor? Grab the lead and go.
Thursday, May 14th, 2009
SOLD- PRIVATE SALE
Erika is a solid black, 1 year old German shepherd. Highly obedient and easily controlled, she is both on and off leash trained. Her genetics are excellent; her father is a German imported Level III elite executive protection dog (see photo below). Erika is a working line dog. One of five dogs, she was the pick of the litter.
Erika is very social, affectionate and especially fond of children. She has a high degree of guard drive but has not been trained to do bite work. She currently weighs 75 pounds (will be 85-90 lbs) and has a dense bone structure and a robust build. Her appearance and personality are very masculine for a female; she is remarkably similar to her father.
Erika would be suitable as a family companion/property protection dog.
Please call 1.866.865.2259 if you have any questions.
Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
One of our recent clients is the owner of a small computer shop in a very nice part of California. She called me after having her shop broken into afterhours, resulting in the loss of thousands of dollars of equipment as well as a broken back door. Her alarm system did not deter the person or persons who broke in. We were happy to help and after determining her needs and evaluating her situation we delivered a balanced, strong nerved guard dog.
A few weeks ago I posted a blog called “Guard Dogs: Defined”. The flood of calls and emails I received surprised me! Obviously, there is a void in the amount of information available on this topic. I’m happy about such a positive response and would like to address some of the questions in case anyone else is wondering about the same thing.
Businesses, especially businesses with valuable inventory, use guard dogs as an alarm system. It would take a very stupid burglar to break into your business after hearing the serious bark of a guard dog on the other side of the door. Their most likely response is to skip your business all together and move on to a locality that presents less obstacles (such as a huge, snarling, barking and possibly hungry German shepherd who has been awoken from a sound sleep). They are also used to protect outdoor assets, such as in a fenced construction site.
As I have said before, beyond training and genetics, balance is part of what sets a guard dog apart from an elite personal protection dog. Guard dogs lack the social skills and perfect manners that a protection dog is genetically equipped and trained to have. They are highly territorial and trained to protect their (really your) space. Protection dogs specifically protect YOU and your family though part of this includes eliminating threats in your environment. For instance, if someone were to break into your house as you slept, the dog would prevent the opportunity to harm you.
My client who owned the computer shop was under the impression that a personal protection dog was the best choice for her. However, she didn’t personally feel threatened, it was her business she was worried about. There is a large price difference between a guard and personal protection dog. While protection dogs run between $18K to $35K and above, a guard dog only costs about $3,500-$5,500. I did not want my client to incur the extra expensive so after explaining the difference she happily took delivery of a guard dog. In fact, she said her dog cost less than the security alarm system she had installed!
It is possible to rent a guard dog though for most home and business owners this is a much costlier way to go. It does provide a good solution if you have a short-term situation but if you want to protect your business for an extended length of time, buying is definitely the way to go. Most businesses have worked the numbers and are increasingly purchasing dogs rather than subcontracting with a security company. Additionally, rented guard dogs always come with a patrol officer. This really drives up the cost. Whenever I’m consulting with a client I’m always upfront about the rental alternative. We do not rent dogs, they are only available for purchase at CCK9, but I want our clients to know every option.
Another consideration is the environment that the dog will be guarding. It is important that much thought is put into potential dangers for the dog itself. Automotive shops, for example, need to ensure that anti-freeze or other chemicals aren’t lying in the open. If the dog will live outdoors, a doghouse needs to be stationed to protect and keep the dog warm. Guard dogs are known for their toughness but have needs like any other dog.
I specialize in training elite personal protection dogs. However, given the state of the economy and rising crime, we are increasingly asked to provide guard dogs. We put a lot of effort into training or locating guard dogs that have balance. After all, our clients are paying for dogs that are obedient and present less liability. Otherwise, they would just pick up an aggressive dog from the local pound.
So know the difference and assess your needs. We ask A LOT of questions in order to determine what is the best fit for you. Always feel free to call us with any questions.
Monday, May 11th, 2009
A few years ago, a friend of mine called me in a panic. She told me that her German shepherd was whining, attempting to vomit, panting and had a bloated stomach on the left side. I told her to immediately take the dog to her vet. The symptoms were strongly indicative of a life threatening health concern called gastric torsion, or commonly referred to as stomach flipping.
Torsion is most prevalent among large breed dogs. The stomach of the dog will twist or rotate after eating and then engaging in rigorous activity. The problem is further compounded if the dog drinks large amounts of water before or after eating or exercising.
In order to reduce the chances of torsion, never exercise your dog after he or she eats (within 2-3 hours). In fact, after mealtime is the best time to crate your dog. Additionally, do not allow the dog to drink large amounts of water directly after or one hour before exercise or eating kibble. Feeding your dog two meals a day instead of one is helpful. If your dog should exhibit bloating and pain, take him or her to the vet immediately since this is a life threatening situation. Some studies have shown that only half of all dogs experiencing gastric torsion survive. The key to survival had to do with the timeliness at which the handler sought medical attention.
Genetics play a role. Do not a purchase a German shepherd or other large dog without inquiring if any relatives of the dog have experienced gastric torsion.
Fortunately, my friend’s dog made it. She has not had a repeat occurrence now that she knows what to do and what not to do. The chances that your dog will experience this health problem are slim. But on the off chance it does happen, your dog will have a higher rate of survival because you now know what to look for.
Knowledge is a powerful thing.
Call Us Toll Free 877.687.CCK9 (2259)
/ Or Email Us