Gun World Magazine on Protection Dogs from Wayne Simanovich

A Family’s Best Friend

Important Tips For Adding A Protection Dog To Your Home

If your vision of a protection dog involves a malnourished canine chained to a junkyard pile, you’ve been watching too many Hollywood movies.The reality is that you can find the perfect combination of a home protection dog and a family pet, as long as you know where to look.
Employing a dog as an addition to your home protection plan can be an excellent way to deter criminals and ensure that you’ll be defended by your family pet if a crisis should strike. But you can’t do this with just any animal. “I have answered a million alarm calls where there are one or more dogs in the house and I have to make entry (broken window/door forced open), and all I have to do is make friends with the dog first,” says Officer Rusty Echols with the Atlanta Police Department. “They really can’t tell who is friendly or not. The exception to that rule is a professionally trained guard dog or the dogs that I deal with in the ghettos where drug dealers beat and starve the dogs to make them vicious.” While you certainly don’t want a vicious, starving dog in your home, visiting a professional dog trainer should be on your checklist if you’re in the market for a home protection pet.

Dogs Are Identified As Puppies

Not every dog can be trained to protect your home—it takes a combination of proper breeding and sophisticated training to end up with the right family dog that can serve as a protector. But the key to ensuring that the appropriate dog ends up watching over your home shows itself during the animal’s puppyhood.

“Early on, we have to identify the dogs that are talented enough to do the job,” says Wayne Simanovich, who has bred and trained award-winning protection dogs for 33 years. “Selection is the most important part of the process, because the dog has to have the drive to do it,” he says. “We start training those dogs at about 12 weeks, but it’s closer to a year before we really can confirm which dogs are trainable for this type of work.” Simanovich works with German Shepherds because of their combination of skills and intelligence. “The German Shepherd has been bred for well over 100 years for this type of work,” he says.

“They are not only manageable and easy to handle, but also determined in the protection phase if need be. While there are other great breeds, including the Belgian Malinois, the German Shepherd combines the protection traits with also being a nice family dog.” Despite the German Shepherd’s amazing suitability for protection, not every dog of this breed will be an excellent home protector. “There are genetic differences that no amount of training can overcome,” Simanovich says. “It’s like saying, ‘If I practice basketball all day, I’ll be as good as Michael Jordan.’ That’s why having a professional select the right dog is key.”

Don't Expect Dogs to Be In Constant Attack Mode

Your protection dog should first and foremost fit into your family—you shouldn’t expect it to be standing at the door ready to attack at all times. The dog should be able to handle the typical American family chaos without jumping on the defensive at all times, Simanovich says. Bringing in groceries with the door open while the kids are running in and out is something that the dog should be able to handle easily.

The dog’s protection skills will allow you to feel more secure both day and night. “We have placed dogs with a lot of people who maybe didn’t even want a dog, but they’ve had bad things happen,” Simanovich says. “We get calls from people who may not want or need a dog, but restraining orders don’t work, security systems have a lagtime before they work, and a firearm won’t wake you up at night, so they get one of our dogs. And then they’ll say to us, ‘How did I go all these years without this?’” Properly trained protection dogs will attack only if they must.

“In 33 years of training dogs for home protection, I only know of three situations in which the dog had to bite, and two of those were domestic violence,” Simanovich says. “However, it’s impossible to quantify how many times our dogs have deterred a potential crime. The visual deterrent and the threat of a well-trained dog is all that is needed 99.9 percent of the time to get a criminal to avoid your house and move on to one that would be easier to invade.”

Delivered To Your Door

Simanovich trains his dogs at his North Carolina facility, but can deliver them all over the world. When a family first calls him, he discusses their specific needs so he can custom train a dog to meet their family situation. “The waiting time for a dog is typically 30 to 60 days, and that gives us time to train it for what the family needs. However, if there’s a problem or an emergency, we can get a protection dog anywhere in North America within 24 hours.”

Once Simanovich takes a dog to its family, his trainers stay in the area for a few nights and work with the family on various principles to ensure that the dog’s integration in the home goes smoothly.

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