Positive reinforcement key to security dogs training

15 Oct, 2021 - 00:10 0 Views
Positive reinforcement key to security dogs training Dog training


Last week we published an article on our security column about dog training, parts of which have raised concerns among our readers particularly where our writer gave training tips which included restraining the dog “within their kennels and chains” and using phrases such as punishment and the use of jag etc,  all of which are considered to be unnecessary and cruel. This week we publish an article from an approved dog trainer to correct the worrisome parts of last week’s article. – Editor 

Contrary to what most dog trainers out there think as the best way to train security dogs, with experience we have noted that  dogs that are trained using motivational methods they actually perform better that those who are trained using force e.g. using  training aids  such as prong collar , choke chains and kennel confinement  as corrective measures. 

Dogs learn good behaviour by being rewarded for doing well. And punishment doesn’t have to come in the form of a harsh reprimand or physical force.

Well before I dig deeper let me first define what security dogs are or should be like once trained. These dogs represent the deadliest level of canine training. These animals either walk with a sentry, or patrol alone in an enclosed space. Their primary function will be to deter, apprehend and neutralise any human intruder. They do not stop biting when the suspect stops resisting; they stop only when the human stops moving or as the handler/owner instructs. 

They will be either trained to go for the arm, neck or genitals. 

The dogs will be trained to kill and maim. They will be trained to be so vicious that they will only obey its handler /owner, but at the same time they should be friendly to friendly people like family members and anyone who doesn’t pose a threat to its master, we call them Home/Personal Protection Dogs. In other words they should be able to get into aggressive mood on command and vice versa. With the level of training and obedience you should be able to walk with the dog at a public place without the dog barking or posing a threat to a passer-by, with the same level of training the dog can still be able to socialise with other dogs without poking a fight. 

The training is good if it’s done from as far as 12 weeks of age, by introducing the puppies to the puppy tug and sausages tugs etc. The training has to be developed in a game style, to the extent that the dog will always be thinking that you are playing, and yet you will be training. 

In the process Kong or balls can be used as additional rewards to verbal reward, soon after each and every bite session. 

At that age great care has to be considered not to damage the puppy teeth, as they will be still weak, any force might lead to bleeding or broken tooth, which might lead the dog to refrain from the game due to induced pain.

It is the responsibility of the trainer /owner to grasp on how the dog’s mind works and assess progress, you do not have to move to the next stage of training until the dog masters the initials, make sure the training sessions are not being over stretched otherwise the dog will get bored and loose interest .

I can safely say 5-20minutes per session is ideal for an adult dog and hence you increase time depending on the dog’s endurance.

The dog has to be well socialised on different environment to boost the it’s self-confidence.

Like human being we are not all born fighters, hence there is need to evaluate the dogs capabilities before you start the training some dog might have jaw issue, some might have poor nerve strength etc, so capability evaluation is very essential if you are to get good results. Above all as a dog trainer you need to have a high degree of patience and some level of consistence for you to be able to measure progress in everything you do.

Dominant training and techniques focus too much on “bad” things a dog does and force the animal to figure out, through trial and error, what they must do in order not to be punished, Where as positive reinforcement make the dog feel like repeating the good behaviour in return of a verbal or resource reward.

If you train using positive reinforcement, you’ll get a trained dog and you will maintain the spirit of that dog. We often  use verbal cues, hand signals, treats, clickers, toys, and even games to help modify the dog behaviour, correct bad habits, and even to teach tricks. We use both positive reinforcement (giving rewards) and negative reinforcement (taking away rewards.)

What people should understand is that dog behaviour has voiced concern that training programs based on dominance or punishment can be ineffective and possibly dangerous, especially in the hands of unskilled non-professionals. 

I have noticed very horrible methods of dog trainings happening within Harare especially on security (Guard Dogs)

It is of great paramount to make sure that before you start the training you get the requisite knowledge, the proper training aids eg. Sleeves and bite suite for aggression training. It is true that some of these training tools are expensive, but that is not any excuse for abusive type of training.

Good trainers will assess the environment, what motivates the dog, and your goals and expectations.

My advice to the dog owners/lovers out there is to look into the following before engaging a dog trainer.

Think about your own philosophy and ethics. How many philosophies or training techniques have you heard about? Which ones are you comfortable with?

Get referrals and check the trainer’s certifications if possible.

Make sure the trainer includes you in the training process.

With the risk associated with Aggression training, it is advice that you always seek the guidance of a qualified professional dog trainer.

Readers who wish to seek advice and assistance  with training are encouraged to contact  any of the following approved trainers and are urged not to follow any of the training methods alluded to in the article.

Working K9 


Ryder Security Services 

Peter Maguwu 0772107081

Stan Maguwu


Michelle Chidzuu



Peter Maguwu : [email protected] or whaatsup 0772107081 email www.ryderprotectionservices.com

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