Copyright 2013. Slee Canine Training & Security. All rights reserved.
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Todd A. Slee
POB 462 / 210 N. Church Dr.
Roann, IN 46974
ELECTRONICS OR DOGS?
An article on the advantages, and the arguments against, using canines for security.Click Here.
ARTICLES AND ESSAYS ABOUT CANINES
SLEE DOG TRAINING
An article discussing the incidences of canine bites, why they occur and what to do to help prevent them.
Canines for Protection and Related Problems
Canines have been used for various types of protection for probably the past 4,000 to 5,000 years. They have been used to guard and herd livestock, detect intruders and snipers, safely guide the blind and personally protect people against assailants. Unfortunately, a segment of the population is against using canines for guard duties, due to unwarranted bites and attacks by dogs which seriously injure thousands of innocent people, and kill a number of innocent people, every year. Because of severe and deadly incidents, the opposition to guard dogs is comprehensible.
Another supposed strike against the canine for security purposes is the notion that
canines are somehow less effective than humans or mechanical/electronic devices. While electronics have proven to be extremely reliable most of the time, there are opportunities for a downfall.
Much of the demonization of guard-type dogs is overblown, when comparing statistics, and is far overrated concerning deaths from dogs, though any injury to an innocent person should not be discounted. At the same time, there are far more serious injuries and deaths from more common causes every year than there are from dog attacks, such as automobiles at the high end of the scale, and bicycles at the lower end, at 774 deaths in 1994. On a more current statistic, there were 6,800 deaths from automobile crashes during the first quarter of 2014.
The following lists causes and the respective numbers of fatalities by common causes in 1994: cars at 43,730; falls at 14,440; choking at 5,555; fires at 4,310; drowning at 3,334; guns at 791; bicycles at 774; parents and other caregivers at 826. Even an uncommon cause of death, from lightning strikes, is five times the number of deaths from canines. This does not make allowance for unwarranted canine attacks, because the problem is an often grave issue.
All too often, during the heat of the moment, the individual canine or the breed is blamed for the unfortunate circumstance. And if not the dog, then the problem is assumed to be the fault of the owner, which is often the case, though not always and maybe not usually. Studying these situations has shown that the source of this nation-wide dilemma is frequently a combination of the owner and something other than the animal.
There are two main things which can likely prevent most of these occurrences: dog owners/handlers/trainers need to implement sound training practices, and; the public needs to become educated about the nature of canines and implement that knowledge, thereby reducing the possibility of a groundless bite.
Around 75% of dog bites occur on people who are a friend of the dog owner, or one of the family which owns the dog. This indicates, in these cases, that there are, in all likelihood, some sound practices which are being neglected, of which many people are unaware. Many children are not taught essential safety practices to follow when around dogs, and many parents are not supervising children, who are too young to be around dogs unattended, which often leads to unnecessary bites and even maulings, which could be prevented not only by supervision, but by teaching the children proper behavior and protocols toward dogs and instituting strict rules and
Canines do not like to be teased, intimidated or have their tails and ears pulled, though some will tolerate it by young children, but that should be firmly forbidden by parents. No animal, even a beloved pet, takes it kindly to have their food taken away, or for someone to be near their food, or a bone, unless specifically trained for that particular task.
Many dogs, especially those possessing guard duty traits, will view it as a threat to their owner and/or family when a visitor is play-fighting or sparring with a member of the dog's household. There are a substantial number of dogs which will not let parents discipline the child when the dog is in the same room. Violations of these natural laws governing canines is inviting problems. When someone attempts to bend these naturally inherent traits or ignores them, and aggressive or vicious behavior from the dog results, it is comparable to expecting not to get burnt when touching a hot stove burner.
There are two main types of canine training methods, which are dominance-based, or alpha
training, and positive reinforcement only training. The latter of these two methods does not instill any real discipline concerning distractions and stressful situations, especially for guard and sentry related duties. Positive only training could be likened to neglecting to train soldiers in simulated battlefield conditions and expecting them to perform their duties without wavering. They might become afraid and run or else they might just start shooting at everything, including their fellow soldiers, lacking the necessary control.
The most efficient method for canine training is dominance-based training mingled with positive reinforcement for obedience. This, coupled with negative reinforcement for misdeeds and unwanted actions which are not outright disobedience but undesired for the dog's intended use, including a praise withhold system in certain instances, in order to provoke perfection, produces a canine which can achieve maximum performance, according to each breed's capabilities.
Discipline does not usually need to be harsh, and never cruel or brutal, but the negative reinforcement needs to be utilized in order for the dog to understand the difference between obedience and disobedience, creating full potential of the discernment ability which canines possess by nature. Canines are naturally territorial and many are naturally protective of their master.
Due to that trait and solid training, they have saved countless lives both on and off of the battlefield, in foreign countries and stateside. They have secured livestock against predator and prevented the assailant from assaulting the human. They have warned against natural enemies such as fire, and they have prevented deaths by discovering victims of avalanches and building collapse. They have prolonged the lives of shut-ins by providing comfort and companionship and they have prevented attacks from enemy armies by detecting scouts and guards for hostile military forces. Spotting snipers and finding explosives has kept many troops alive during many wars, and alerting a neighbor or passerby of their master's medical ailment has enabled emergency personnel to respond in time to save a life in medical peril.
One man, Thurman Spears, told a story about his daughter's dog detecting a gas leak in the middle of the night and, due to his incessant barking, she and her husband finally discovered that they had a gas leak in the residence. Had the dog not discovered the leak, either the gas would likely have killed them, or the explosion which would have resulted when the woman lit her morning cigarette.
Improper, inept and/or unethical training and/or handling techniques and/or cruel utilization has caused needless injuries, and cast a bad shadow upon certain breeds of dogs. The basic nature of a dog is the same, regardless of the breed, but sinister people have exploited some of the more primal abilities of certain breeds, resulting in, not only immediate injury to canines used in such activities as dog baiting, but in a line of dogs which are more prone to be uncontrollable and unnecessarily aggressive, possessing no restraint when owned and handled by naive dog lovers.
Many people in the population bring an attack upon themselves due to being uninformed of the characteristics and attributes of canines, thereby, often unwittingly, either “walking right into an ambush” or, in other cases, provoking the dog by their deeds. Teasing or intimidating a canine is soliciting an undesirable event. Presumptuously approaching a dog can cause the dog to feel threatened and often results in trouble.
Dogs are territorial and many are wary of people outside the immediate family and/or their circle of acquaintances. Putting one's face right in the face of an unfamiliar canine, no matter how friendly, is violating the dog's personal space and inviting retort via a bite. Even the family dog might bite a member of the family if mistreated or improperly treated, such as someone taking their food, a bone or a toy. A person's own dog could nip or bite if suddenly awoke when the owner is near. Any dog not your own should be approached with discretion or caution, and treated with the same reverence as a loaded firearm.
Ask yourself this question, before approaching a dog, any dog, even one with whom you are familiar: How would I want to be treated, if I were the dog? Bear in mind that canines are guided by one of two mindsets, or both: their natural instinct and/or training. Though truly man's best friend, they do not have the moral capacity or the ethical reasoning ability that human beings possess.
Guard dogs are not, as some assume, trained to recklessly attack and hurt or kill people. Guard dogs are conditioned to respond to an aggressor or other culprit by subduing them with the least amount of force required. An adept guard dog will disarm an armed intruder by applying pressure to the arm holding the weapon, not necessarily biting through the skin and into the muscle and tendons. Trained guards can trip a fleeing suspect by grabbing at the ankles or lunging into them, and then detaining the person until the handler arrives, not using additional force unless the culprit tries to run.
An untrained guard dog is potentially more dangerous than a trained one if it attacks someone, since a trained guard is conditioned to mainly subdue and only focus on certain parts of the body. It is unpredictable just what an untrained dog might do. The primal nature of a dog directs it to often aim it's attack against the throat area or the neck just below the base of the skull. The nerve center runs from the head down through the spine, which area is a kill point, something that dogs, and cats, are aware of.
One major pitfall to owning guard dogs is ignorance, on the owner's part, of certain traits of the breed. Not being aware of traits and characteristics is a hindrance to properly training the dog, which ultimately, can lead to difficulties, or even a catastrophe. Researching the capabilities, characteristics and needs of various breeds and matching yourself to the right one can help thwart future legal quandaries and other perplexities.
For instance, The Bullmastiff is an excellent guard dog and was once used to track down, subdue and detain poachers, all by itself, holding the culprit until human help arrived. This breed is easygoing, quiet, loyal, and intelligent. They are excellent guards but not vicious, and passive with people who the master approves of. They are also willing to please, but they will control an owner who is not strong-willed enough to be the true master.
Sentry dogs are a passive form of security, being trained to detect an intruder, and give a
warning, either by barking or, as some canines are trained to do, go and push a button or trip a lever, sounding either an audible or silent alarm. Some canine owners who use dogs to secure businesses and other places, where humans are not present part of the time, prefer this method so that risk of injury to either the dog or the culprit is minimalized.
Sentry dogs can be trained to respond to threats which are near or far, threats from human, animal or other factor. A dog guarding livestock can detect a threat to the herd such as a wolf or bear, giving warning before the predator is near enough to gain access to any of the animals, or a rustler is able to steal cattle, sheep, hogs, horses or other livestock. Dogs can also let the master,hired hand or family know when a gate is open or if there is a fire, a vehicle sitting in a strange place or any number of other things amiss.
Canines have been used quite successfully to patrol areas of a jungle or forest, scouting for snipers. Once the sniper was spotted, the canine would silently cause, by body language, the handler, located several hundred yards behind the canine, to ascertain just where the sniper was hiding. The Doberman was the breed used for this purpose, due to his eyesight being superior, especially at night, to other dog breeds.
Concerning reliability, canines are tops when trained right. They still function when the electricity is off and, unlike most electronic devices, can stop a crime in progress by apprehending the criminal or chasing them away. Electronic devices certainly have their place, but they can be disabled, or ignored, without any immediate possibility to the culprit of being stopped, much less arrested. Used in conjunction, electronics and canines can provide superior security, exceeding the skill of humans, who, can be tricked or bribed, become tired and unobservant, and which species lack sentry duty prowess of the canine.
In the Philippines during World War II, the U.S. Marines were constantly under sneak attack by the Japanese. Their remedy was to employ Doberman Pinschers which had been trained to detect intruders, and instead of barking, go wake or otherwise warn the handler silently. Once these dogs were implemented, not one sneak attack ever occurred again there. Sentry dogs were used extensively during the Vietnam War, and saved countless lives. German Shepherds were trained by U.S. troops to detect, via sight, sound or smell, concentrations of enemy troops, one or more platoons or squads on patrol, or even a lone soldier, before they spotted or
ambushed the American soldiers. The canines were extremely successful, highly distinguishing themselves and their handlers, some even dragging wounded soldiers out of harm's way.
Canines have distinguished themselves in many wars serving many nations, some earning
medals,citations and commendations, including World War Two. Many different breeds were used in that war, among them the Airedale, Alaskan Malamute, Belgian sheep dog, Bouviers de Flandre, Boxers, Briard, Bullmastiff, Chesapeake Bay retriever, Collie, Curly-coated retriever, Dalmatian, Doberman Pinscher, English Springer spaniel, Eskimo, Flat-coated retriever, German Shepherd, German Short-hair pointer, Giant Schnauzer, Great Pyrenees, Irish water spaniel, Labrador retriever, Newfoundland, Norwegian elkhound, Pointer, Rottweiler, Samoyed, Siberian husky, St. Bernard, Standard Poodle, wire-haired pointing Griffin, and any dog that was a cross of the above mentioned.
There are many more uses for canines in the security arena than mentioned in this article, but one often overlooked use of canines security-wise, is the training and implementation of them for seeing eye dogs, originally developed by the Germans, to aid soldiers who had lost their sight during World War One. The German shepherd is the primary dog for this purpose, the guide for the blind position also being filled at times by the Boxer, Doberman or Labrador retriever. These specially trained dogs keep the master safe not only from assault and robbery, but also, and primarily, from becoming lost or run over by traffic.
Canines are, when properly trained, implemented and care for, a rather unique and highly efficient form of protection for people and other animals in many ways. Though problems do arise from the use of canines for protection, it is usually the fault of the people who train and use them, or of those who do not respect the “personal space” of the dog. Fatalities from canine attacks are many, many times less than the deaths from more common causes. The prohibition of canines for protection by either the civilian populace or government personnel, would be a national calamity fueled by it's travesty. On a more sentimental note, how many electronic or mechanical devices can furnish companionship?
There are two remedies for unwarranted canine bites and attacks: public awareness of and respect for the nature and attributes of the canine, and; proper, efficient and thorough training by dog owners and professional trainers.
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