There are many different types of aggression that dogs can display, and the cause of the aggression is what determines its type. Personal protection dogs should only display one type of aggression, which is threat aggression.
What is threat aggression? The simplest way to look at it is justifiable aggression in the face of a threat to the dog’s handler or family, and this is the only type of aggression that should be taught and tolerated for family protection dogs. This type of aggression requires the dog to recognize what is and isn’t a threat, so if there isn’t an obvious threat, the dog doesn’t become alarmed and aggressive towards others. When the dog recognizes a threat, it then neutralizes it as quickly as possible to keep its handler or family safe from danger.
The other types of aggression have their uses in dogs, particularly dogs living in the wild or dogs that have a different purpose than protection. Many of these types of aggression are passed down as evolutionary traits, although they only remain in dogs when their trainers allow them. But for personal protection dogs, there is no point in these behaviors. Here’s why:
If your dog is aggressive towards other dogs, then it will quickly become more trouble than it’s worth. It will be dangerous in a family environment, and its tendency to go after other dogs means it won’t be focusing completely on protecting its handler or its family. A personal protection dog needs to stay focused on the task at hand, even while it’s around other dogs. If it’s dog aggressive, it can’t do that. Even if it doesn’t attack another dog, its attention is still elsewhere, leaving you without adequate protection.
If your dog is aggressive around food, then it could be dangerous in any situation where food is involved, and dangerous dogs are poor choices for family protection dogs. It doesn’t matter if your dog is the ultimate guard dog when it’s not eating, you still should never tolerate food aggression in a dog, particularly in a dog that’s supposed to be protecting you. Again, your dog should be focused on your protection at all times, as that’s its job. Getting aggressive around food takes away that focus, and could result in someone getting bit for going too close to the dog’s bowl.
A dog that’s aggressive towards men or people, in general, maybe the right fit for certain types of jobs, but protection definitely isn’t one of them. If you need to lock your dog in the bedroom whenever you have people over because of its aggression, it obviously isn’t going to be able to protect you and your family at all times, making it a poor choice as a family protection dog. Because of its aggressiveness towards people, the dog also won’t be able to distinguish between those who present actual threats and innocent bystanders, so it’s liable to attack anyone in its sights.
Finally, there is territorial aggression. Again, this is a type of aggression that can serve a dog well for certain types of jobs, but it doesn’t work out well for dogs that are living in a family environment. Maybe one of your friends or family members shows up without calling first and gets attacked by your territorial dog before they’ve even reached your door. Or perhaps your dog will go after the mailman or other delivery drivers, in which case you could have a lawsuit on your hands.
Many people immediately think of the German Shepherds that have been used by the U.S. military and the police when they think of personal protection dogs, but the reality is that those dogs are performing a very different job. Their training is completely different, so those aren’t the type of dogs that you use for protection.
There’s only one time that a personal protection dog should demonstrate any type of aggressive behavior, and that’s when there’s a legitimate threat to its handler or family. This is why it’s so important for you to choose a protection dog that has had proper training because it’s not always easy to determine what is a threat and what isn’t. Of course, if someone breaks into your home in the middle of the night, any dog, even one without any training, can identify that as a threat right away. But what about if you’re in a crowded area and there is only one person that poses a threat to your safety? Any personal protection dog must be ready to properly identify threats in the most difficult scenarios, which could mean situations with a large number of people, a noisy atmosphere or something else entirely.