In the market for protection dogs

As we slip into autumn and nights start drawing in, at A1K9, our phones are starting to get busier with enquiries from people looking at the options of potentially incorporating a family or personal protection dog into their home.

Do your research

Our advice would be to anyone looking at purchasing a protection dog, do your research. Below are our top tips:

  1. Check out the suppliers.
  2. Check their experience and qualifications.
  3. Check references and testimonials.
  4. Find out about handover procedures and returns policies.
  5. Ascertain how long a dog has been with the supplier and how much training it has had.
  6. Do not base your selection on videos or photographs, meet the dog in person. Videos can and often are overly edited.
  7. If you have children, insist upon them interacting with the dog you are interested in.
  8. If you have other dogs, insist upon your existing dog meeting and spending time with a prospective candidate.
  9. If the dog is trained using foreign commands find out why, this can sometimes be an indication of a dog coming from a sports background having been imported and quickly turned over with little or no further training.
  10. The dog is supposed to be health tested/x-rayed etc, ask for the results.

Ultimately you are the customer and when contemplating buying a dog that is going to live among members of your family, some of whom are likely to be children, or potentially elderly, then in my opinion you are entitled to ask whatever questions you deem necessary to ensure the safety of your family. A dog that has been incorrectly trained or mismatched has the potential to cause detriment or damage to both the family home and those who live in it. If asking questions from a potential supplier appears to ruffle feathers or mix with inconsistent answers then my honest advice is to walk away. Equally, if you are the type of the individual who views buying a protection dog in the same way as buying a product from Amazon or eBay and does not want to engage in conversation about what is likely to be a highly specialised addition to the family home, then with respect please do not message me.

Our process

I am sometimes told that I live in the dark ages, as I refuse to get drawn in trying to sell dogs via WhatsApp or social media messages and insist upon speaking to potential clients on the telephone to drill down their requirements and ask about their family situation etc. before suggesting potential protection dog candidates and ultimately inviting them to our facilities to meet them, their families and to show them the dogs.

Trust me this sentiment is not born out of a cavalier attitude, in fact quite the opposite, A1K9 will only supply dogs that we believe are going to fit in with a client’s requirements, family and lifestyle. They are not machines, they are highly trained canine companions that when correctly matched will integrate into the family home seamlessly, living as any other obedient pet dog but with the capability to defend those in their care at will. These dogs are all individuals, what might be a great dog for one family, might not fit so well with another, it comes down to knowing your dogs and training and proofing over a long period of time, thus getting to know the personality and temperament of each individual dog.

Dog trainers

To my dismay, several people I’ve spoken to on the telephone recently tell me the conversations that they have had with either individuals or companies happy to sell their “trained protection dogs” to anyone willing to spend the money, without even first ascertaining what the client’s requirements are or what the dog may have to live with whether that be a small children or other dogs within the household. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of correctly matching a dog to its future owners and home life, equally I cannot believe how easily people get drawn into some of the hype deliberately created to confuse those clients who really do not know what they are looking at. I make this observation as someone who has been involved in training and supplying of family protection dogs for over 30 years a fact that can be easily verified.

One would assume that all dog trainers would have to be suitably qualified even for training obedience, a fair assumption, however, an incorrect one. There is no legal requirement for an individual who wants to call themselves a dog trainer or behaviourist to have any formal qualification, or believe it or not, any hands-on experience. With a plethora of websites offering dog training qualifications purely based on distance learning with no practical hands-on experience necessary to achieve a pass, even the websites who speak of their qualifications sometimes warrant further investigation.  To crystallise my point, a friend of mine a little while ago completed an online course in about 40 minutes, having drunk three large gin and tonics and passed with a distinction and for the payment of a fee would have been able to use the company’s logo to promote themselves as a qualified dog behaviourist/trainer.  It is bad enough if somebody is put into a position where they are paying for bad advice in an effort to rehabilitate/train their own dog, however, it is a whole lot worse when an individual puts their trust in an individual or company to supply them a well-adjusted, highly trained, protection dog only to find out that the dog is either not healthy, poorly trained, not fit for purpose, or worse still showing aggression to members of the family that it was bought to protect.

I was prompted to write this post today having spoken to a lady a little earlier on who had spoken to a couple of personal protection dog suppliers and was told that they had dogs there that were suitable for her before they even asked the question as to what she was looking for, whether she had children or not and their ages, whether she has other pets or not, or any other information that could potentially make a difference as to her suitability to have a protection dog.

Not all suppliers and trainers share the same principles, some just happy to get the dogs out the door and the cash in the till, willing to do whatever it takes just to get the sale.

If on the other hand you are looking for a superbly trained canine companion that would add to the family dynamic by being a wonderful pet that can deal with extreme adversity coming from the criminal fraternity, then I will welcome your call.

Contact A1K9 today on 01792 883 395 or fill out our online contact form.

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