Yesterday evening our neighbor stopped by to say hello. He absolutely loves our Family Protection German Shepherd Dogs and was inquiring into their training. As he was standing there – a man we know well, welcomed into our home, and were having a casual conversation with – he looked down at protection dog in-training Freya who was lying next to me and cautiously whispered, “So if you told her to, would she, you know, attack me?”
And much to his surprise, my answer was “No.” Protection dogs, while they are most certainly weapons, are not guns. And here’s why:
1. Protection dogs have the capability to read and assess situations.
Unlike a gun which can be fired indiscriminately, confident and well-socialized protection dogs are intelligent beings who understand social settings. They know what is normal and what’s not, what’s usual and what’s not, and when danger is lurking. They have excellent situational awareness and are incredibly perceptive.
2. Protection dogs are body language experts.
They know what you’re feeling before you do. They read everyone they come in contact with and are constantly in-tune with their owners and family members. They know when someone has ill-intent and they sense when their owner is tense, nervous, uncomfortable or afraid. They can quite literally smell both fear and malice.
3. Protection dogs think before they act.
Did you know service dogs do something called “intelligent disobedience”? It’s when a service dog, like a guide dog for the blind, is given a command from their handler that the dog determines is not a safe or correct command. Like when the handler tells the dog to cross the street, but the dog sees a car coming that the handler didn’t hear, so the dog refuses to move: intelligent disobedience.
It’s not different with protection dogs. They are highly-trained but also highly-intelligent and capable of assessing a situation. They will never just turn on someone and attack because someone jokingly or halfheartedly gave the attack command.
Protection dogs act on instinct, situational awareness and training. They are a living, breathing tool, not an inanimate gun that’s incapable of thinking.
Protection dogs and guns are both weapons and have countless similarities when it comes to their use and usefulness. But while they are very similar, they are also incredibly different and serve different purposes in their day-to-day use, deployment and most importantly safety.