Many people want a dog who will make bad guys think twice about bothering them, but according to dog trainer and retired police K9 handler Julia Priest of Galt, Calif., the reality of a “protection” dog can be quite different than folks imagine. “Walking around with a protection dog can be riskier than carrying a loaded gun,” she says.
“A trained protection dog can inflict serious damage, and unlike a gun that does nothing independently, the dog may respond if the owner forgets the dog’s watching and starts wrestling with someone in fun,” Priest says. Because absolute obedience always remains a priority, training never ends with a protection dog and responsible owners must learn to become qualified handlers.
Priest says the best canine defense for most owners is a well-behaved dog who heels, sits and lies down on command. This offers a high-profile presence that others notice.
Medium to large size adds to that presence as does proper conditioning – an overweight dog looks less impressive than an obviously fit canine. For travel, train your dog to ride wearing a car harness, providing a more visible deterrent than if she travels in a crate or behind a barrier.