I’m rarely unarmed, so it might surprise you that I consider a firearm as a backup personal protection tool. It’s the last thing I want to use. Personal protection is a multi-layered plan, which starts with common sense – and a dog fits nicely somewhere between using your head and a gun.
When most think of personal protection dogs, they have visions of 120-pound Rottweiler with werewolf-like teeth and a bad disposition. The truth is, a dachshund or a Doberman can provide protection; the purpose of a personal protection dog is not to eat people, it’s to keep you safe. The protection a dog can provide ranges from a bark at 2 a.m., to the wrestling of a rapist to the ground.
My family’s situation is a perfect example. We live in the country on 50 acres surrounded by woods. For 10 years our chocolate Lab met anyone who came up our driveway with a bark – a bark leaving most who heard it thinking there was a bite attached to it. In truth, I don’t think our Lab would have bitten anyone. When she passed, we replaced her with a more naturally protective Rhodesian ridgeback. She’s now 70 pounds, and her bark DOES have a bite attached to it.
The thing is, bad guys don’t like dogs – any dogs. They bark and bring attention, they might bite, and they’re unpredictable. And, in all but the most extreme cases, the size of the dog matters very little. I was dog bitten twice as a cop. The first time was by an aging lap dog protecting its dead owner. The second time was by an Australian sheep dog that was irritated by me being on his owner’s porch. Both weighed less and looked less intimidating than my ridgeback.
If you really want serious protection, nothing will beat a dog trained in that art. The mistake many make is assuming just any dog can be trained and trusted to do that kind of work. Genetics matter. Mike Kordusky with Mountaineer K9 Services is like the dog whisper of the Appalachians. He knows a thing or two about man’s best friend. Kordusky can take your naturally disposed guard dog and not only make it more efficient, he can make it totally controllable. In the big picture, the latter might even be more important.
Dogs are wired as pack animals and respond to the Alpha leader concept. According to Kordusky, for a serious protection dog you’re much better off finding a trainer or breeder who has established a history of offering dogs that have been bred right. After all, when you consider feeding a dog and properly addressing all of its heath issues for just 2 years, you’re looking at about $2,500, and that’s not counting the purchase price of the dog.
A trained, 2-year-old personal protection dog might cost twice that much, but you’ll have an established pedigree to trust, and in most cases a health and training guarantee. What you’re buying is a skilled operator, not just a lap dog. A trained personal protection dog will be as loving as a pooch you pick up at the pound, but it will be obedient, controllable, and chew the hands off anyone who tries to enter your home.
If you like guns and like to shoot, keep that in mind, too. I’ve seen dogs so afraid of gunfire they would run when they saw a gun. And, the bad guy you want protection from just might have a gun. I started working with our ridgeback at 8 weeks, shooting .22 shorts from a rifle to condition her to gunfire.
The acquisition of any dog, personal protection or not, is a serious commitment that must be made by an entire family. And, just about any dog will increase the safety of your home. If you want to take that next step and buy a professional protector, give Kordusky a call; 20 minutes on the phone with him will get you started down the right road, and you won’t find another trainer as committed to his craft.
Images by Richard Mann