At CQB K-9, we understand protection, and the capabilities a well-trained dog can bring to that consideration. There are many options—and sometimes confusing interpretations—of what makes a true protection dog. It all begins with selecting the best dogs from knowledgeable and dedicated breeders who breed from high-quality, reliable bloodlines. Protection dogs need to be athletic with a decent build. They also need to be in the best of health with up-to-date vaccinations, all while being fed the very best dog food. Intelligence is also a requirement, and the animal must possess the particular drive required for play and hunting as well as offensive and defensive work. We often look at 25 dogs and select only one we feel is suitable for the training and the eventual work. It’s very helpful in this preliminary selection process to be able to read the animal and understand what motivates it.
I incorporate various factors into developing any dog for our purposes at CQB K-9. As we move through the training, we only use positive reinforcement. We sometimes offer food as reward or encouragement but never use punishment, including devices like electronic collars. I can take my time with the dogs I train, which is a rarity in today’s world. We train in advanced modules consisting of socialization, obedience and protection work. Some of our high-end clients use the dogs for multiple situations.
We like to see dogs that show “courage under fire” but can also happily and safely play with children. I call this having an “on/off switch,” and we train this into every dog we work with. We accomplish this while socializing them as puppies and young adult animals.
We employ neurological stimulation techniques, using firecrackers or small-caliber gunfire, for example, to get the dogs accustomed to loud noises, and we expose them to different types of stairs and flooring. A good trainer will differentiate between those animals capable of being simple family guard dogs and others that can handling multiple threats and locate explosives on behalf of high-risk clients. At this stage of training, I put the dogs through as many scenarios as I can think of to make them well rounded for handling the many different situations they could potentially be exposed to. Some may work out best as a protection dogs in service to executive-protection clients. Others are more suited to single moms worried about the safety of their children, families crossing international borders, retired couples in need of security, and business owners.
It takes two full years of intensive training, from when the dog is a pup, for an animal to be ready to become a personal-protection dog as well as part of the family environment. Manners, observation and a tactical approach are key elements we incorporate into our training, including familiarization with traveling in cars and becoming part of the “pack,” but with the dog always remaining on the alert for “bad guys.”
And there are many bad guys out there. Training for real-world situations is critical. Gun and knife attacks, robberies and home invasions are essential training scenarios to cover with these types of dogs. The world is a dangerous place. But having another set of eyes and ears, plus a keen nose and teeth, can save your life. You have only seconds in a “fight-or-flight” situation when it arises. A tier-one executive-protection dog can be vital for an ordinary civilian or security team.
The Discriminating Dog
The dog has to be able to discriminate targets and “read” good and bad intentions in others; that includes on the street, in the office or when traveling. The dog might have to defend against a potential stalker or other high-risk threat. Being able to travel in aircraft, SUVs, in and out of hotels, private residences, offices and an assortment of job sites could all become part of this “black tie” canine’s daily assignments.
For the three-year-old executive-protection dog, we are looking at substantially more training and exposure. The more mature dog might receive cross-training in explosive detection work, which we perform more often than you might imagine. Sometimes we include drug detection work, such as for parents concerned about their children’s friends. We also fulfill custom protection requests for particular requirements. The dog should be absolutely social in every way unless commanded otherwise, or if the situation escalates. The trainers and people involved with the dog are also essential. They all have to love people as much as the dogs.
Ongoing training for you and your protection dog is another key part of the formula. Just as with a pro MMA fighter or security guard, reinforcing skillsets is crucial to the dog’s advanced training. This gives both the dog and the handler more confidence as well as a good workout. It also helps the owner in adjusting and maintaining their own approach to the animal.
A good trainer is constantly on the go, developing puppies and young adult animals into effective working dogs, constantly flying and driving to various destinations, working overseas on security assignments and selecting new recruits to become elite furry protection agents.
Over decades obtaining the very best German shepherds from either the Czech Republic or Slovakia for police forces, security personnel, military units and families, I’ve developed many connections. We are proud to provide quality over quantity and produce only a relatively small number of dogs, only a litter or two a year, which helps to keep the standards high. These dogs are used for border patrol, street work, detecting drugs and explosives, tracking suspects and apprehending high-threat criminals. Some dogs work in tough prison environments, while others function in escorting VIPs on protection details.
Over the years of working in actual protection operations and listening to undercover and K-9 police officers, I’ve learned a lot about what could go down once you get your dog and it assimilates into your family. Oftentimes, during broad daylight, criminals will try various tricks to gain access to your dwelling; for example by distracting you and having an accomplice break in through another access point you’re not watching as the moment. Or you might face a nighttime home invasion, and—with its superior hearing and vigilance—the dog will react to the threat in less time than it would take you to retrieve and engage with a weapon.
Carjacking is another potential threat. Many criminals are on drugs or otherwise unhinged. A dog can deter carjackers and keep you safe. Another scenario involves a criminal trying to kidnap a client in a park, or sexually assault a client who is running or hiking. I frequently hear of thieves trying to rob businesses they think might be “easy scores.” If there are large amounts of cash or valuables on site, the criminals will case the shop or building to find the easiest way to perpetrate a crime. Criminals interviewed often state that the last thing they want to come up against is a trained dog.
It’s not a safe world out there, especially considering that police typically react to crimes only after they occur. And it usually takes cops 15 to 30 minutes to show up—if they get there that fast. But an attack, and subsequent takedown by a trained dog, will take only seconds. The protection dog will recognize these threats while remaining social and playful.
Worth The Journey
It’s a long road from a puppy being born to becoming a new member of the client’s family, not just a tool or a weapon. Dogs are amazing creatures. Their innate ability to “guard the flock” is an essential trait for protection dogs.
We strive to keep abreast of the latest scientific information in genetics, nutrition and veterinary care. We also strive to utilize the most advanced equipment and training methods. Working with the best breeders and trainers to produce “super dogs” has not been as easy task. But it’s extremely rewarding for me to get a phone call or text from a client saying, “You’ll never guess what Max just did!”
For more information, visit cqbk9.com.
This article is from a past issue of Personal Defense World magazine. Grab your copy at OutdoorGroupStore.com.