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Norwich Dog Training School thoughts on What training should I do with my dog?

Norwich Dog Training School – What training should I do with my dog (or what should I avoid)?

Norwich Dog Training School Retrieve Training

I often get asked, what should I train my dog for? What would be appropriate or not as the case might be? The thing is – do something you’ll both enjoy – but please be sensible about it and try to use a little logic.

Firstly, when purchasing a dog try and find a breed (or type) that is appropriate to your needs and lifestyle – not just your Ego. It’s really not clever – to go out and blindly purchase a dog based on what your Ego desires and to then sit back in the cold light of day, and to then really have to think about, what you should now do with this dog of yours…. Was your purchase a rational decision or did you let your imagination run away with you, after seeing a film or watching YouTube? Making the wrong choice, can so easily become one the worst decisions of your life.

Unfortunately these days, so many people seem to lack any form of common sense when it comes to buying a dog. They often applying more logic to buying a simple piece of furniture for their home, rather than a fast thinking intelligent dog, that might just destroy it. Countless people are misguided by the by the so-called ‘expert advice’ of a complete stranger they may have seen on YouTube, Facebook or they may have been misled after seeing the choreographed ‘performance’ of a ‘dog actor’ in a film or TV commercial.… Good sense should matter here, and it pays to remember that the Kennel Club categorised breeds for a reason here and not just by accident – ‘Working breeds’ were developed to do a job of work – they were not developed to be pets! Gun dogs were selectively bred to assist hunters and so on…. Think about the breed and its history very, very carefully, before you go out and blindly acquire a dog (please also read our article ‘Guide to buying a dog’).

The following are just a few examples of where people have contacted us for guidance or advice regarding their particular dogs training:…

“I’ve got a Labrador – I want to send him off and get him trained up as a gundog….”

My response was “Have you got a gun – and do you go shooting?” The person replied “No, why?” I tried to sensitively explain that perhaps they should consider training for something that is more relevant to both their needs and something they could enjoy doing together, rather than simply going out and killing innocent animals for the sake of it.

Another person with a German Shepherd, said she wanted to train her dog up to herd sheep. I asked her whether she had a farm – and importantly did she have any sheep? Her response was similar to the above – she didn’t have either. Once again, I tried my best to tactfully suggest that she finds more appropriate training for her dog.

I receive countless and often ‘scary’ calls from people who buy a dog and then for some inappropriate reason want to train it up as a ‘protection dog’. What’s even more frightening is that so many of these individuals have never trained or even owned a dog before, and yet for some bizarre reason they wish to embark on training for one of the most complex, demanding ‘and risky’ activities you can undertake with your dog. In essence, they’re novices with a desire to weaponize their ‘pet’. They’re usually following their ‘Ego’ desire after watching YouTube or a film, rather than listening to any common sense their brain might offer. Most folk these days seem to be totally unaware of the risks protection work offers, not just to themselves, their ‘pet’ and the wider members of society – who sadly might just fall victim to their often poorly trained dogs. 

We get calls from people who have moved to Norwich from ‘the big cities’ with a plethora of different types of dogs which they have purchased, as they deem them to be ‘intimidating, hard or aggressive’ and alas, these are so often poorly bred. So called Malinois, Dutch Herders, German Shepherds (so many are just examples of some very poor mixes).Others include Cane Coro types; Bandogs and various Staffie / bully crosses…. and what is quite surprising is that their owners want these often nervous and ‘nervous aggressive’ dogs trained to protect them with their lives. You may even had the misfortune of seeing some of these dogs first hand – barking and lunging at you, as you innocently walk through the pleasant Streets of Norwich or the wider Norfolk area.

When I’ve questioned these owners “Why?” they want to undertake this training, their responses are often absurd, irresponsible and even dam right stupid. In my humble opinion, YouTube, Facebook, tiktok and the film industry has much to answer for when it comes to attracting some very ignorant people to want perceived aggressive types and protection dogs. No doubt this is the main driver why the UK is witnessing a huge increase in the number of innocent people (and other animals) that are being attacked by dogs. 

In response to the question, several people have commented ‘Well that’s what they are bred for’ and even that ‘the dog would benefit from the training’ which is quite astonishing, as most of these dogs have clearly come from puppy farmers or other dealers that couldn’t care less about what they’re breeding or who they are selling these dogs onto. Would be buyers should realise, that immoral people will say virtually anything to make a sale, and what’s not so surprising is that so few of these dogs actually carry the genes one would hope to find in a sound, well balanced and healthy working dog.

So many of these ‘would be protection dog owners’ really don’t have a clue as to why they want one – it’s just that they want one (and usually now!…). They’re often misguided by someone’s crackbrained comments or something they’ve seen on the net. As a great friend of mine, who was well known in the ‘Norwich Dog Circle’ (Doris Ware) used to say many years ago, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. This statement was true back then, and is arguably even relevant today. So often these people have little clue or any real understanding of both the effort and risks involved should their ‘pet’ be trained up in this role.

Some of the common statements we hear include, ‘they’ve been in the military, and know all about these types of dogs’ or ‘they’ve seen police dogs working (usually on social media)’, and they want their dog to be trained up just like these for protection work. Our caveat here is simple one, both the military and police have their dogs trained to bite for a reason – ‘they have a profession and a job to do’ – and they’re most certainly not pets. One guy who has been pumping out so called ‘Belgian Malinois’ (non pedigree / unregistered dogs) in the Norfolk area, said that he wanted his unregistered dogs to do protection work as a ‘Sport’- even though he had no intention to enter a trial or had any concept of why pedigree, registered working breeds undertake similar training (it’s to prove that their pedigree dogs carry the necessary genetics to make them worthy of breeding from to improve working lines – not to simply train dogs to bite someone for ‘fun’ or other sinister reason). Neither did he have a clue as to what ‘Sport’ he was actually referring to…. Unfortunately he is just another irresponsible person who wants to weaponize his pet to bite someone, while breeding poor quality animals to make some fast money at the same time.

In a similar vein, a thoughtless XL bully owner asked if we would teach his dogs to be protection dogs without having any appreciation about the implications of the Dangerous Dogs Act, and then again the arrogant Cane Corso owner who thought she could let trained attack dogs run around her unoccupied industrial unit at night to bite trespassers. This is all really scary stuff…. especially if you consider the ramifications of what could happen if an innocent child climbed over the gate to retrieve a ball or indeed if the Fire Service turned up to put out a fire! – Apparently some ill informed or uneducated security guard told her that ‘it would be fine’…. and she believed him. We’ve come across so-called breeders and trainers, selling Dogue De Bordeauxs, and attempting to sell Belgian Malinois in a similar vein as so called ‘Yard Dogs’ – The Guard Dogs Act was passed through Government for a reason, and it constantly amazes me of how careless some people can be when it concerns ‘protection dogs’ – So often, what is proposed or dreamed up is both illegal and very dangerous. 

As allured to above, there are enthusiasts who undertake sports such as Schutzhund / IPO / IGP to showcase that their pedigree, KC registered (and usually health tested) working breeds, carry the necessary genes to hopefully improve Working Breeds. But quite why, so many people without any real need, actually want to train up their pets to be ‘personal protection dogs’ beats me – I can only conclude, they they must be either very nervous individuals or they hang around with the wrong crowd or as I fear with so many, they have a serious Ego that must be caressed.

For most people, simply learning self-defence (we have excellent good contacts in this field, should you require) or being more sensible about your personal safety with regards to the way you live your life and with whom you associate is a far safer and more cost effective proposition, than having a trained ‘personal protection dog’ for most people. Many dogs may not provide the level of protection imagined (dogs are not infallible), and to reach a credible level, that is safe and sensible, requires dedication, a suitable dog (as we’ve touched upon, so many dogs are poorly bred and don’t make the grade), expertise, training, effort, time and money – and once trained the dog is no longer ‘a pet’ and will require refresher training.  

In a prefect World, there should be checks in place to make sure that not just anyone can have dogs that are been trained to harm others. The last thing our society needs is for yet another inexperienced dog owner with a big Ego to be walking round our streets with the equivalent of a loaded gun, knife or baseball bat – just waiting to let his (her) dog bite someone – for as we all know, not everyone in our society are well balanced human beings.

When I’m not provided with credible reasons for wanting ‘protection work’ training, my response will always be ‘No’. The owners either don’t care or have no conception about the implications, legal or otherwise – and the Dangerous Dogs Act doesn’t just apply to fighting breeds. My fear is, and has always been, ‘what if’ their dog bites someone and the authorities question where they have trained their dog – my reputation could be in tatters in an instant – if they were found to be negligent. Nonetheless, there has and will always be, countless people out there who’ll breed, train and sell dogs on – people that simply don’t care about the potential pitfalls or harm they could cause, and of serious concern here is that some of the individuals undertaking this have criminal records! At NDTS we would rather turn business away, rather than risk teaching thoughtless people protection work, since after all – hindsight is a valueless thing in the aftermath of a disastrous incident. 

In this current climate, owners should be very selective about what they train their dogs for and why. Make no bones about it, the Government is watching closely the statistics in relation to dangerous dog attacks, and I fear that it won’t be long, before other breeds or types are added to the ‘banned breeds register’. Alternatively the Government will be ‘forced’ to introduce yet further legislation to try and curb the crisis of dog attacks in the UK.

I personally feel that it is now about time the Government to introduced some real controls on dog ownership and protection work training – possibly along similar lines along to those required for a firearm certificate (which makes some sense, as the dog could be used as a  weapon) to prohibit people with serious Criminal Records from owing or training protection dogs.

With the ever increasing levels of dog attacks in the UK, something needs to be done to both protect the public and true breed enthusiasts – not the irresponsible dealers, who simply couldn’t care less about repercussions they cause. It’s about time we had some robust Dog Licensing to protect everyone in the UK.  Dog owners need to remember that in real life, dogs not behave as they do in the films or on YouTube – where much has been doctored or choreographed. Not to mention the extreme  measures some people will use to make their dogs perform – Dogs are not film stars, and they most certainly don’t rationalise in the same way as we hope a ‘sane and balanced’ human would – as they don’t read books on Law.

If you considering training your dog for protection work, then you must accept that your dog is no longer a ‘pet’ – so think about the potential risks and what harm could occur, if say a good friend or stranger surprises you and ‘pats’ you on the shoulder or someone accidentally trips and falls on you (or your dog) …. there is a real risk you could end up in jail for a long time, and the future for your ‘pet’ will be far from rosy. You should also check the position with your insurance advisor, since many policies will not cover third party risks in relation to both certain breeds and whether your dog has been trained to bite.

Whether you train your dog for fitness (CaniSports, agility…) or other Dog Sports (if you are competitive) – you should train because you enjoy the relationship it helps to forge with your canine pal; appreciating that the obedience learned and the level achieved will give you and your dog more freedom to do other things together. Maybe you need to train your dog for a job of work (herding, security, police etc) or to support another hobby (shooting…) or perhaps you require help with other activities (retrieving, finding lost things or people). But whatever training you undertake, we would strongly urge you to find something that you will both enjoy; find rewarding, interesting and relevant – but importantly, something that respects and doesn’t cause harm to innocent others.

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