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There must be some kind of divide between dog owners who want their dogs to be protective, and those who don't, because I have had a hard time understanding this thread. My basic thought is that I don't want my dog to protect me. It's my job to protect myself and my dog. Also, I'm not in any danger that a dog can do anything about (hi, Covid!). My house isn't being robbed, I'm not being mugged in the street, I'm not selling drugs out of my home, I don't have strangers wandering onto my property. It's just me living a reasonably happy safe existence. Is that weird? Are the rest of you regularly being attacked? If you didn't have a protection dog at your side would you truly not be safe?

I acknowledge that many folks are just interested in dog breeds, or anything really, just because it is appealing to them. No other reason needed. I respect that to a point.

The thing about a guardian dog is if there is truly nothing around for them to legitimately guard against, then what is their purpose? Scaring the mail person or your visiting friends/family? Well, that seems unkind to the postal service and your people. I'm saying this from my perspective, of course, because as I explained above I don't need a dog to help me with these things. I do need a dog to alert me to changes in the environment, and to be a companion and, at a bare minimum, be polite to my invited visitors. My dogs are not to bite anyone.

So why am I butting in to your nice discussion about guardian dogs? If it's not my thing, move on, right? Well, I have questions that your public discussion created for me (are you not safe?) And, I've been disturbed by comments made about dogs posturing/lunging? around innocent people. And I wonder, is it legitimate for guardian dogs to threaten innocent people? Is this their most frequent purpose in modern day life?

I would like to give a shout out to dogs who guard livestock. This is one form of guarding I do understand. Probably has something to do with all those summers at my grandfather's sheep ranch. Managing livestock and wildlife is a legitimate dog job.
 

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Firstly, I would like to start off by saying that life is very much unpredictable. Not trying to scare anyone or validate a guard type dog, however, anything can happen. One minute you could be living in a cute suburban neighborhood that’s said crime-free with your doors unlocked, watching an awesome documentary and the next you could be attacked in that very same home. Who knows. That's not a threat or to spook anyone, that's reality. I once thought life was peachy! I went to a private college in an upper class neighborhood, but in one year I was stalked twice and nearly robbed on walks home. Out of the three occasions, two happened during the day. Why am I telling you this? It’s surely not a sob story. Again, it’s to reiterate that life is not always guaranteed and no one is 100% safe, no matter where you live.

Does that mean you should buy hi-tech security cameras and buy a dozen Dobermans right now? No. That’s not what I’m not saying that at all. But only someone living in la la land would think their life is a Disney movie where there’s a happy ending at the end of each day.

As far as dogs go, whether you have a toy or a large dog, some really care enough to want to scope out a scene and alert people of whats to come or if there’s some bad mojo, they want to protect their human. It’s natural for a lot of dogs. Only a few breeds are truly capable of doing it and since it is all they know, I think it is only fair that they know how to do it right without hurting anyone. I’m obviously referring to guard type dogs. It is in their genetics for certain lines, not really something someone can breed out always. Can a dog with a different, more cuddly temperament appear in the litter? Possibly. Nothing wrong with that.

And these dogs aren’t just lunging at people to attack. Yes, some of the dogs Savvy mentioned were in need of training and they mentioned that to prove a point; that certain dogs aren’t for everyone. Others most likely had specific jobs and I’m sure Savvy had their own reasons for their dogs to have their guard up. At the end of the day, it’s all in the training and I personally do not think the lunging is to “kill kill kill” or to frighten people for the thrill. Not everyone is innocent either, may I add.

People have different reasons for why they have a guarding breed. Maybe, someone is scared. Maybe someone just likes those breed and that protection comes with the territory? Or maybe someone like myself just never wants to be in an unsafe predicament, so a protective breed in the future sounds nice.

Also, dogs that protect livestock can very well protect people too putting them in that same category. I’m sure they wouldn’t just protect livestock and not their human, dogs like collies are much smarter than that.

@dogsavvy if I said anything that may be wrong, feel free to correct me.
 

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Discussion Starter #43
Newport,

Folks who have never felt the need to increase their personal security rarely understand. That's not a bad thing. I am glad you've no need for such a dog. Not everyone is so fortunate. One only has to watch the news or read the paper to realize not everyone is so lucky.

You asked if everyone is in danger? Im not a fair judge of this due to what I do. I see a lot of crime victims/survivors. I dont wish to make anyone uncomfortable but I've told my story to thousands by way of teaching. If it disturbs, I can delete post your reading. ((People who might be bothered by crime talk STOP READING HERE)))

As a child I was raised with Dobermans. The dogs' job was to keep mother & the 3 children safe while dad was off from home on his job. In those days a Native American married to what appeared to be a white woman was a BIG issue. Mom was also Indian but genetics threw her blond hair/blue eyes. At age 5 & again at 10 there were abduction attempts made on me. The last round I had to live under 24/7 surveillance at the hospital where my Dad was fighting for his life. At age 15 while looking after a neighbor's horse I was attacked by a police officer & left to bleed to death in a ditch. The young man I was dating knew something was wrong when he came to see me & my dog was ripping at the fence, he and a tribal officer tracked me using that dog & saved my life. The attacker stalked me for weeks after & was not brought to justice although there were some folks that I suspect impressed upon him that leaving me alone was critical for him. As an adult, I worked extensively with all levels of officers & agents around the world with their K9s. I've trained dogs for rape victims, for other violent crime survivors, & a lot of other things including a 80+ year old woman who was raped 3 times by gang bangers in her apartment. I have had 2 officers give me some trouble because they got fired after I banned them from training for abuse to their dogs & it didn't last long but I had to be careful for awhile. ((End of ugliness))

None of these things that happened to me involved drugs. I dont have shady friends. I don't now or have I ever engaged in high risk activities or behavior. As a teen a party meant pizza & movies at a friend's house or playing tag at night at someone's farm. Until the attempted kidnapping, loose livestock was the most excitement in our area. The place where I was attacked by a cop who should never have had a badge??? Very low crime area. As an adult, I tend to live in remote areas. Crowds or heavily populated areas bother me. This can pose higher security risks but we have cameras, carry, & utilize the dogs. Don't think for a moment that I dont see it as part of my duty to protect the dogs the same as they protect me. That's part of the training but they are my eyes, ears, & I pray daily that all their training is never used. But if it comes to it, they'll buy me time to escape, summons help, or reload.

BTW, no my dogs are not scaring the mailman, UPS guys, friends or family. The same as the dog is expected to alert, he also has to learn to throttle back, nothing to see here. My UPS, FEDEx drivers will call out, "gotta new dog?" And I'll tell them. When they have time & can, they'll come up, shake my hand give me packages to help the pup learn. Police officers loved my Giant in Arizona. She was forever pointing them to where someone was hiding out. Once she met them, they weren't allowed on our place without my ok but she would rattle. There was a huge theft issue to support drug habits. Fancy neighborhood but it didn't stop the thieves.

A guardian dog is not to be relied upon as an only measure. They are a family member who has a job. So if you dont have security issues, it's like taking self defense classes feeling you'll never use them. For the dog he will do the job & be content if you're content. Even if trained he doesn't need to bite.

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Discussion Starter #44
Luluspoo,

Well said. I was once told by a police officer that people who were never touched by crime seemed foreign to him. I think for those of us who've had those incidents, they change you. A good friend of mine was anti gun. One night while her 3 babies slept & she was home alone she woke & felt strange. She went through to check on the kids & a stranger was standing near her daughter's door. Luckily she scared him & he fled. The next day she signed up for every gun course she could. She's conceal carried certified & lived at the range until her instructor had me talk to her. From sleeping with the doors unlocked to being one of the most security minded people... why? Her 3 children, 2 of which were little girls.

Thank God for people who have never experienced such darkness. I do what I do because I survived it & if I can help 1 person be safer, I'm good with it.

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Luluspoo,
Thank you for taking the time to tell me about your perspectives and motivations regarding guardian breeds. I am sorry to hear that you have been on the receiving end of criminal behavior by people. Those are terrible experiences you have shared. Since I think perhaps I have been interpreted as believing my life is a Disney movie, I will share that I too have been the victim of crimes in the past. I was shot on my college campus with a pellet gun, my home was robbed when I was away, and I have been assaulted more than once (minor injuries only)- all of these things were very awful experiences for me. They play a part in my risk assessment, though interestingly they do not play a part in my current dog choices.

The thing is, a guardian dog doesn't give any reassurances about life. Neither does a gun I guess. I am somewhat accepting of the "no guarantees" clause of real life. I have a safety plan based on realistic risk assessment. I will say that despite some bad experiences, the vast majority of my days do end safely (if that's what you mean by a happy ending).

It sounds like you believe that guardian dogs ideally would be well trained enough to not be threatening to innocent people. I also agree that this is important. I wish everyone felt this way and effectively trained their dogs.

I think the main thing I have learned from this exchange is that my assumption that there may be some fear-based reasons why people keep guard dogs, in addition to an affinity for the breeds. It seems like there isn't much recognition of what the experience is like for the truly innocent people who must interact with "guarding" behaviors from dogs. It is threatening to have a guard dog give you the hard stare and move towards you with posturing. I personally dislike it very much. It feels similar to having a gun pulled on you.

For a person who never goes to a home that I am not invited to, and who does not trespass- this should never happen to me, right? But it has. It kind of seems like by making me feel unsafe, the dog's owner feels more powerful, and therefore safer.
 

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Discussion Starter #46 (Edited)
Newport said:

And, I've been disturbed by comments made about dogs posturing/lunging? around innocent people. And I wonder, is it legitimate for guardian dogs to threaten innocent people? Is this their most frequent purpose in modern day life?


In training you teach the dog about threat vs human who just walks differently. My dogs arent lunging at innocent people with the exception of some shady characters who were indeed portraying innocent people.

My Malinois lunging at my husband was not without cause. He was demonstrating a move that the dog is taught to defend against. 2 fingers clipped over her muzzle (not in a harsh way) ended said "response" & she allowed him to pet her as soon as I spoke to her but he got side eye for awhile. She was cautious for a bit.

A threat to innocent people... it is not threat for a dog to bark out at a person at the gate or door. It is a clear alert. This is the most that most guardians will do...in their lifetime. "Woof, hey, visitor here." If the person were to try to enter without permission there will be a threat.

I can promise Newport, youd be welcome in my home. My guardians are put away for anyone uncomfortable in their presence. I never leave anyone to deal with one of my dogs. Although the Chihuahua, Boo Boo would try to talk you into kisses. My Collie likes her scratches. The guardians are aloof. It takes me about 3 seconds to see someone is uncomfortable with a dog

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Unfortunately, the average person's exposure to guard breeds is rarely ideal. Around here, more often than not, they are poorly bred, poorly placed, poorly trained, and poorly managed. I've been on the receiving end of the hard stare, while minding my own business, strolling in the sunshine at a classic car show. The owner was oblivious and yet my skin still crawls at the memory. I was never afraid of dogs until I moved to rural America.

I appreciate this discussion. I just wish everyone were so thoughtful when it came to these breeds.
 

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Dogsavvy,
You must have been posting while I was writing. Thank you for sharing your experiences and your trauma. I am not a stranger to trauma, but I have not experienced the extreme physical abuse and lawlessness that you describe experiencing. I can only imagine how that shaped you. It appears you took those experiences and have used them to impact the world around you for the good.

PTP has also just posted a comment which is exactly what I was thinking. You are an ambassador for guard dogs, an example of excellence (though I would never be comfortable with a dog willing to attack my husband, but I hear you pointing out it was a trained behavior), the majority of others seem to be cut from a different cloth. Which is my way of saying there is a problem with guard dogs, and it is many of the owners and breeders. Whether it is poor training, or poor temperaments, or both, people like PTP, myself, and lots more have had negative interactions without cause.

I will answer my own question I asked above. It is not legitimate for guard dogs to threaten innocent people. It is a tragedy that it happens so frequently. And here is my final guess: use of guard dogs in the ethical manner you have described is the exception. I would like to be wrong about that, but in order for me to be wrong I think the population of guard dogs would need to be very small to represent the population of humans with the right temperament, knowledge and commitment to handle them appropriately.

For clarity, I want to add that I think the work you do to provide trained guard dogs to trauma victims is commendable. It must feel for those you help like getting their life back, like moving past the feeling of victimhood to feeling empowered and safe.
 

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Discussion Starter #49
PeggytheParti,

It can be unsettling & the creepy part to me is the total unawareness of the handler
The worst I had was a Dogo Argento, HUGE dog. His owner can in with a dog out of control & the collar broke as the dog lunged. Trainers scattered & we had a mess of training students who didn't know what to do. I summoned my best drill sergeant voice & recalled that dog, slapped my leg & am still stunned he responded. I hooked him up using my leash as a slip collar & returned him to the guy in charge. Could have been a blood bath as that dog was dog aggressive & hot to bite. He rammed me a couple of test shots but I corrected him & his testing of me was over.

I think I was the lone person with wet britches including the facilities owner. I went & sat down before my knees failed me. Big dog. Big jaws. Will never forget that day



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OMG, Dogsavvy... I would be frozen, I think. We hired a roofing contractor last summer who had an 9wk old Cane Corso pup who he took in his truck everywhere with him. He was adorable and one day I ask if it was OK to meet him. The guy said yes, and the pup came up wagging and happy but got excited when being petted ad bit my hand so forcefully I could not get him off of hand without assistance. I had his bite impression and puncture wounds when he finally released. ...and that was playing! Seeing the raw strength of bite in that young pup really brought home what damage a full grown dog could inflict.
 

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Discussion Starter #51
Newport wrote:

"I will answer my own question I asked above. It is not legitimate for guard dogs to threaten innocent people. It is a tragedy that it happens so frequently. And here is my final guess: use of guard dogs in the ethical manner you have described is the exception. I would like to be wrong about that, but in order for me to be wrong I think the population of guard dogs would need to be very small to represent the population of humans with the right temperament, knowledge and commitment to handle them appropriately.

For clarity, I want to add that I think the work you do to provide trained guard dogs to trauma victims is commendable. It must feel for those you help like getting their life back, like moving past the feeling of victimhood to feeling empowered and safe. "


First off thank you & I am humbled by your kind words. To be thought of as an ambassador for the protection dogs is a very high compliment to me & one I take to heart.

If you've not been around it then it very hard to fathom because for every one of us that takes all of this as serious there are many who are Neanderthals. They think their big bad dog is a reflection of their status, their importance, how 'dangerous' they are, & implies their verility. This is what's happened in the breeding of our guardian dogs. For some of these people taking a dog to one of their bite sport competitions is very much like the gorilla who beats on his chest to show the others how important he is. And I nearly sprain my eyeballs from rolling them so hard. This stupidity is weakness. Weakness has become common place & that weakness is in the breeder first then he breeds his mess into the dogs. They make excuses or they focus on a bigger, meaner, bad*** dog. What this translates to is they are playing to their own ego. That makes a mess of working dogs & produces bullies instead of guardians.

But believe it or not there are many handlers of guardian dogs out there who spend thousands of dollars, lots of hours working those dogs, coming to someone like me to train & hone the skills but also to stabilize the dog. Like people, dogs make mistakes. It's best if that happens on the training field, not on the street. When I had an issue with a dog of mine that I'd never dealt with before I found someone who has dealt with this on a master's level & it took a trip out of country & we got it figured out. I then use the knowledge I learned to help others.

For some they get the dog due to the fear of what might happen. For me, it's quite opposite. I know what can happen, I can't control all the what if's. I can control me. I can train with my dogs & we can work together as a team. You train for the best possible outcome to the worst scenarios. I am at ease with the dogs. I don't get to work the victims' dogs programs like I used to but I keep my hand in. Every time I get a call or check in on someone & they've made it to the ATM with their dog & feel that sense of empowerment, that they could do this after a mugging. That they were able to stay home alone with the dog without medication or having a meltdown, it's a win for the good guys. That is what counts to me. I have to step back from it now & again because sometimes I find myself becoming too... something. It's like being swallowed by darkness. So I step away, renew myself & when I'm ready I go back at it again. To me, it's very important. For every person who encounters those monsters, it takes more courage to survive than to die, because when you live you are forever changed then you gotta figure out how to navigate a world you had once only heard about.
 

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I live in a fairly safe neighborhood. But even the safest of places can be dangerous. A couple of months ago, somebody was shot and killed a couple of blocks away from my home, in their own place. They were my age. And of course as a girl I grew up hearing "don't trust strange guys, keep an eye out on walks, don't ever walk in the dark"... To me a guardian would be more of a safety net than anything, giving me alert time to maybe grab a weapon and call the police before I try to escape from my house. And I would hope that the dog being with me would be enough of a deterrent to keep nasty people away when I am simply out walking, and if not, those people are going to go after me, not the dog, and I would expect the dog to hold them off while I call for help. Can't take care of the dog if you're not alive and capable to do so. Biting would be a last-straw kind of thing, and I wouldn't expect the dog to act aggressive around other, non-insane people.

There's a German Shepherd that lives on my block. Gorgeous dog. The owner stopped in the trail once to look up at the trees, and the dog leaned beside her, watching me very carefully as I walked away (this was a t in the road, and my destination was on the left rather than the right). But I bet if I had walked up to it in that moment, the dog would have accepted me passing without a single bark, so long as I didn't act weird. The dog walks wonderfully beside other people, especially kids. Greets them politely. Doesn't raise a fuss if people walk up to it. That's really what I'm looking for when I say I want a guardian.

Crazy macho people that ruin the breeds, though, really give my patience a run for its money. Just... Whhhyyy?! There should be a test to own them, honestly.
 

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Discussion Starter #53
Raven's Mom,

Imagine being in the bite suit with a full grown one who is being trained to eat you. I have joked before that I do NOT taste like chicken. There used to be a picture used at the place they train military recruits with K9s. It is a picture of the quad muscle removed from the leg bone of an adult soldier. This was done by a Malinois. The photo was used & every potential dog handler had to go look at it very closely to understand the power of what they handle. The Molosser breeds (like the Cane Corso) are capable of doing damage to bones. My wrist is x-small. I have dogs I cannot work in a bite suit or I have to wear special bite bars & that puts the dogs' teeth, jaws in jeopardy. The Beaucerons I worked were brutal. The Cane Corso & some of the others like the Kengal would be pain, lots of tons of pain. When those molossers don't release wow. That Cane Corso pup may be among those who have little of the true Cane Corso Italiano blood & may have the boxer & the Pit Bull to thank for his clamp. I'm still working with breeders to learn to distinguish the difference. Thanks to this discussion I am fascinated. The owner would likely not know, in fact there are breeders in the US who believe they have the true CC but do not. I met one during my search & he had dna tests & found zero CC in his line.

You bring up a very important point in this discussion in this encounter with the Cane Corso puppy. Imagine that much power except in an adult. What you have to decide when selecting a breed for guardian work is if you can handle the aftermath. Dog vs human = a mess. It ain't pretty. When the breed I can tell you there are many people who want a dog for this work but they are in no way prepared for the time commitment, the way you have to live when you have such a dog, & you are to some degree "on" more than the dog is. LOL. When someone is at your home, you are all ears, eyes, feel. Yeah, you do this long enough your dog comes to attention you can almost feel it.
 

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Discussion Starter #54
Floofypoodle,
The good news is that having a large breed that looks like it will give you trouble is most of the times enough & that is a blessing. I have talked to a number of former prisoners or those still behind bars to find out exactly what made the monster pick this lady instead of that one. Of course there are the serials who are picking a type. That's one thing but over all the biggest answer was, dogs make noise & draw attention to what you're doing. For what you want, most of the guarding breeds can do it, you'll just want to find something not too hot & that you can live with should they ever have to do it.
 

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Luluspoo,
Thank you for taking the time to tell me about your perspectives and motivations regarding guardian breeds. I am sorry to hear that you have been on the receiving end of criminal behavior by people. Those are terrible experiences you have shared. Since I think perhaps I have been interpreted as believing my life is a Disney movie, I will share that I too have been the victim of crimes in the past. I was shot on my college campus with a pellet gun, my home was robbed when I was away, and I have been assaulted more than once (minor injuries only)- all of these things were very awful experiences for me. They play a part in my risk assessment, though interestingly they do not play a part in my current dog choices.

The thing is, a guardian dog doesn't give any reassurances about life. Neither does a gun I guess. I am somewhat accepting of the "no guarantees" clause of real life. I have a safety plan based on realistic risk assessment. I will say that despite some bad experiences, the vast majority of my days do end safely (if that's what you mean by a happy ending).

It sounds like you believe that guardian dogs ideally would be well trained enough to not be threatening to innocent people. I also agree that this is important. I wish everyone felt this way and effectively trained their dogs.

I think the main thing I have learned from this exchange is that my assumption that there may be some fear-based reasons why people keep guard dogs, in addition to an affinity for the breeds. It seems like there isn't much recognition of what the experience is like for the truly innocent people who must interact with "guarding" behaviors from dogs. It is threatening to have a guard dog give you the hard stare and move towards you with posturing. I personally dislike it very much. It feels similar to having a gun pulled on you.

For a person who never goes to a home that I am not invited to, and who does not trespass- this should never happen to me, right? But it has. It kind of seems like by making me feel unsafe, the dog's owner feels more powerful, and therefore safer.
I agree with you on that, it can be traumatizing for those who aren’t (and sometimes are) experiences with these sort of breeds and wonder if they’ll harm a truly innocent person like themselves. I cannot speak for most trainers or even dog owners, but I hope the interaction would be dealt with in a polite manner. That goes for any dog too since people just don’t feel safe around large animals period. I’m no expert, but I feel the best any owner with common sense can do is put the animal in a different room before and while a guest remains in their household. I mean, I don’t even have a large dog but I always thought it was the right thing to do even if my dogs are little ankle biters; if my guest do not feel safe around my dogs, I’ll put them away.


Unfortunately, the average person's exposure to guard breeds is rarely ideal. Around here, more often than not, they are poorly bred, poorly placed, poorly trained, and poorly managed. I've been on the receiving end of the hard stare, while minding my own business, strolling in the sunshine at a classic car show. The owner was oblivious and yet my skin still crawls at the memory. I was never afraid of dogs until I moved to rural America.

I appreciate this discussion. I just wish everyone were so thoughtful when it came to these breeds.
It really sucks too. I don’t want to sound cliche, but they’re not all ready to attack immediately, even if it is their job. However, poor breeders and trainers have given them this reputation. Everyone talks about pitbulls and I truly loved that breed as a child. My family didn’t get them from top breeders when I was little, but most we owned were raised in family homes with parents that had a great on-and-off switch to their aggression. Yes, pitbulls are aggressive. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s very much present. It’s all about redirecting with this breed though and keeping it there! I’m no professional trainer, but I know how to handle a good pitbull. Emphasis on good.

Nowadays, most are poorly bred, dramatic and almost too much to deal with. They’ve kind of dropped to my least favorite breed. I’m too tired to deal with one and I can’t stand half the people that own them! The ones that own the biters are usually people that sympathize with the breed, rescue or buy one with no research then they’re aggressively playing with the dog. I’ve seen people play biting games with their pups, thinking it’s just a cute, harmless activity.
 

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Raven's Mom,

Imagine being in the bite suit with a full grown one who is being trained to eat you. I have joked before that I do NOT taste like chicken. There used to be a picture used at the place they train military recruits with K9s. It is a picture of the quad muscle removed from the leg bone of an adult soldier. This was done by a Malinois. The photo was used & every potential dog handler had to go look at it very closely to understand the power of what they handle. The Molosser breeds (like the Cane Corso) are capable of doing damage to bones. My wrist is x-small. I have dogs I cannot work in a bite suit or I have to wear special bite bars & that puts the dogs' teeth, jaws in jeopardy. The Beaucerons I worked were brutal. The Cane Corso & some of the others like the Kengal would be pain, lots of tons of pain. When those molossers don't release wow. That Cane Corso pup may be among those who have little of the true Cane Corso Italiano blood & may have the boxer & the Pit Bull to thank for his clamp. I'm still working with breeders to learn to distinguish the difference. Thanks to this discussion I am fascinated. The owner would likely not know, in fact there are breeders in the US who believe they have the true CC but do not. I met one during my search & he had dna tests & found zero CC in his line.

You bring up a very important point in this discussion in this encounter with the Cane Corso puppy. Imagine that much power except in an adult. What you have to decide when selecting a breed for guardian work is if you can handle the aftermath. Dog vs human = a mess. It ain't pretty. When the breed I can tell you there are many people who want a dog for this work but they are in no way prepared for the time commitment, the way you have to live when you have such a dog, & you are to some degree "on" more than the dog is. LOL. When someone is at your home, you are all ears, eyes, feel. Yeah, you do this long enough your dog comes to attention you can almost feel it.
I dunno how this slipped my mind, my uncle used to own a mastiff. I want to say it was a neapolitan mastiff. Almost the spitting image of Fluffy from Harry Potter LOL. I wonder if their temperament is similar to corsos? My uncle’s dog was pretty intimidating. I used to shake a little upon first site as a child. He would put the dog up during Christmas parties then bring it out once all the guest were gone, excluding my family. This dog would stand at a distance, give you a lion’s roar then wag his little tail before sitting on your feet and demanding attention.
 

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PtP, Newport - very much appreciate your concerns. I too, have seen some worrying guardian breeds. Most I have seen are either very aggressive with clueless owners, or very nervous and ,in my opinion, though not threatening me at that moment , a bite risk. And I admit - I have no desire to work with or own some of the dogs dogsavvy has worked with! I dont think anyone is advocating for dogs who attack people without provocation, to me, that would be an example of EXACTLY what i dont want. I like dogs that communicate. I personally like like dogs who will stand off a problem better than those that hide or cower. The ones that hide or cower are the ones i worry about biting, as people are stupid, and will chase them.

I don't have ethical qualms about owning a guard breed - with care taken, and an understanding of the responsibility of it. A stable, confident guardian should not be a threat to most innocent people. Yes - dogs posture. And yes they escalate if their posturing isnt respected. a stare turns into a growl turns into a snarl and a lunge until they figure out what it takes to fix the problem. I think that is good - this is what I want. I don't want an attack dog, i want a dog that tells things that are frightening to go away or else - with good judgement to figure out what is truly frightening or threatening. And a dog that settles when it determines the thing is not a threat. And yes, a dog who will follow through if a threat continues to approach despite their best efforts to get it to go away (though I hope this never happens, and it is my job to make sure it doesnt need to happen if at all possible).

I think this whole discussion started out of the question - how do you find a good breeder of stable, confident guardian dogs and what do you look for in a puppy? What breeds are better?

I have felt as much threat from someones poorly handled chihuahua or small terrier as most guard breeds. Other than the odd clueless owner who picks up a shelter dog with aggression issues "to save them", without a firm grasp of body language, and brings their dogs into situations the dogs are uncomfortable in, or pitbull owners who refuse to believe they have a guard breed, most guard dog breed owners who i have met seem to understand what they have and treat their dogs somewhat responsibly.

Do i need a guard dog? No, not right now, and right now, it would be irresponsible to have one . I am not set up for it, as i still have to take Annie to a dog park for exercise as i dont have a fenced area to run her, and i dont think most guard breeds are good fits for a dog park.but, i grew up with dogs that would take on a bear for me, so guarding is a trait i value.

In a few years, maybe 10 years, when i live alone, have a large well fenced yard, or maybe live in the country? Yes, definitely, espeically if in the country. Rural crime is a major issue, even here in Canada. Its good to have a watchful dog to warn people off and deter them, rather than call and wait for the police to drive and arrive 30-45 min later. And yeah- a gun in the house isnt much of a deterrant but a dog, especially a guard breed, definitely is.

Regarding occasionally making someone uncomfortable? I admit I am callous enough that I dont mind, if i have control of the dog. Especially if i am also feeling uncomfortable. I agree dogs shouldnt make people uncomfortable most of the time. But even walking Annie down the street in a busy area, her tail wagging, eyes happy and bright - my very good natured poodle - i meet people who are afraid of her. She is big, and black, and a lot of people (especially recent immigrants from countries where guard dogs and feral dogs are common, and pets are not) are afraid of dogs. Our St. Bernard - easily the friendliest, most people friendly dog I have ever met - people would cross the street to avoid her.
If I were to limit my large dog ownership to only those not considered "guard" breeds, I would limit to retrievers, pointers, collies, and hounds. Other than not being fond of most of those breeds, all of those breed types(ok, all dogs) can be aggressive too- even poodles! Labs are some of the most common biters - just because of how common they are, and two different houses with labs are my least favourite places to walk past right now. Herding breeds can nip children.

In my apartment - Annie scared the downstairs tenants. Annie is a sweetheart, i dont think she ever even barked at them, i always had her leashed and kept well away from them. They were from the Middle east, had no friendly dog experience. If they came home while i was in the front yard- Annie and I would back off, to the other side of the yard, with Annie in a sit or down stay, while i chatted with them, her thumping her tail, or went for for a short walk and they went inside. I felt badly for them, but later had the woman admit having Annie upstairs made her feel safer when she was home alone, as my dog would bark and scare people off if someone tried to break in !

I like big dogs, and unfortunately, not everyone is comfortable with that. I do take precautions. I will cross the street if someone is uncomfortable, or take her to the side and put her in a sit, or put my dog behind a babygate or a closed door if people who are uncomfortable are over or I am expecting a parcel. But, no matter what I do, I own a big, black dog, and she scares some people. And honestly, I am content with that.

I do need to have control enough i can switch off the dog if i deem it is safe (and yes, sometimes that means i need cooperation from the person she is uncomfortable with). I also definitely think it takes two to cause an issue most times. Yes, threat discrimination is a really important thing to learn (hence tons of early socialization and confidence building stuff). But people are stupid, and people advancing on a posturing dog are extra stupid. All the dogs i have ever had - if they are unsure, or posturing, and i speak nicely to the "threat" - crisis averted, its ok. Same as most times I meet someone across the street with a dog- not reactive barking, but barking/posturing from fear or uncertainty and a desire to guard? "Hi, how are you?" And a few words of friendly chat as i veer away and give space usually diffuses it. But those who silently follow or silently approach, heading strait for the dog? Dumb. Bad human. Honestly, the most practice/observations I have with this are with Trixie, our yorkie - hardly a guard breed, but a dog who is very unsure about a lot of things.

This is not to say i condone dog reactivity - Annie has a bad habit of frustration barking at dogs and some people walking by our porch. She doesn't think they are threats, she just wants to get to them. Still not acceptable, so I am working on it.
 

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ForWantofPoodle, by far if every person who came to me for training had your good sense, I would still be running a full scale training operation & enjoying myself. I am not saying that for any reason except it's the truth. You'll not have problems with a dog because you have a clear picture of what you need & how to get it.

The picture above of my Giant tells a story. It's in the eyes & the head wrinkle. Black dogs & their eyes, especially when they needed a brow trim (ugh) but this is an indication that someone is coming, she's identified them & she DOES NOT like the person (& the person has earned this opinion). It didn't occur to me until today how Newport might have been taking the comment when I said people who come to the house assist in training. See I've been doing this so long I forget people don't often do this anymore. So here's the type of training, it's zero contact with the visitor.

So lets say I have a visitor, a neighbor named Bob. I'm new to the area. Don't know if Bob is a good guy or not but he's come to the house to introduce himself. My dogs will have barked to let me know a stranger has arrived. That's true with most dogs. My guardians will be put away. My little Chihuahuas will likely be one in my arms, one in my husbands. Bob comes in, has a seat. If he is dog friendly & would like to be visited Boo goes & will likely end up in his lap. I'm telling you, if Boo Boo doesn't like a person get them out of the house quick because she loves everyone. Then Tink will circle & woof & grumble & finally touch them with her nose or sometimes will shock everyone & hop up in the lap. Because I don't know Bob my young Spoo will be in his crate & if Bob notices the dog we will ask him not to approach the crate, the pup is in training. (FYI: guardians in a crate with a stranger looming over them... not a winning recipe for the dog not to feel cornered). Most folks will back away from the crate, maybe peep in & say, "hi buddy" & go on. But the initial training happens when Bob leaves. Visits over. If he's nice we might say, "Come back & see us". Once his car is gone I will release the pup & observe. The pup will track him through the house & go to where Bob spent most of his time. You may get a wide variety of reactions. I've seen the pup growl (this is usually your super alpha guardian types) to the pup whimpering (if the pup does this you'll want to remember this. It could be illness or injury with your guest & you'll note this for future visits (not to embarrass Bob but to be mindful that pain meds or medication can throw a person's smell off & draw a reaction from your dogs that's not fun so you note it & are SUPER careful when Bob returns). Next I will let the senior boss hoss Giant out. Now she doesn't play. She's going to do her own dna tests & I'll know soon if Bob is tolerated. The fun one is you check the drive & let the pup go out the front door so he can trail Bob to where the truck was parked. Again, read your dog. THIS is an early form of training that guardian. I always tell mine "go see" & zoom their noses get to work & they are ON that track. I let them sniff & then recall.

One place we lived we did not know alcohol was such a problem there as were drugs with certain folks. This can trigger a response in a dog because the person is not 'okay' in the dog's perception. And yes there are times you'll have the dog wait or 'easy' the dog but you don't tell him it's okay.

Today we hired a man to do some work around our house. He had zero dog contact & it wasn't until he left that he heard more than a woof or two. My Giant had to go snorting & being all feisty but it wasn't because the man was there, she had to go zoom the fence to ward off ninja squirrels & watch for the rabbits she pretends to chase. And true guardian she got the high ground atop the hill before she let our worker know she had eyes on him. The key was I warned him I need to let the dogs out but they would be behind the fence at all times & I would be present, he even watched me check the gate before. He's worked for us before & now know he's not going to be put in harm's way. Now good friends of ours, yes, it's not uncommon tell them to go get lost :) I have a dog I need to track them with. But of course my friends know me & get a kick out of this. Oh the tales they tell about coming to my house & being told to get lost... literally, LOL
 
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