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.