Do service dogs require special training

Guard and protection dogs

There are many situations in which people need a companion at their side who not only gives them security, but also protects them. A Schutzhund is not only able to defend its human being in the event of an incident, but it has also gone through a demanding training in which it had to prove itself in various areas. A distinction is made between police service dogs and protection dogs used in dog sports.

Guard dogs have the task of independently guarding company premises, private property or livestock and, above all, making an impression by barking loudly when they notice approaching people or dangers in order to draw attention to them.

Areas of application

The protection dog, which is used in the police service, accompanies its permanent dog handler on critical missions, such as football games, where arguments between fans are expected. Here it should make an impression in particular, in order to keep people at a distance. The protection dog is also carried on missions in which suspects are to be found. If they try to flee, the protection dog is able to target the fleeing person and wait until the police arrive to take the person into custody.

The watchdog is often used on properties due to its independent work, without the influence of people. Here it is either used temporarily or it remains permanently on the property. The watchdog will make sure that no unauthorized person gains access and immediately report movements loudly, so that people usually leave quickly and do not dare to simply enter the property.


The training of a protection dog used as a service dog differs from that of a dog used in sport in terms of duration and type. During its training, the service dog is already prepared to point people specifically and on signals and to let them stay where they are. They also learn to attack a person without seriously injuring them. Of course, once they have completed their training, they must be able to let go as soon as they receive the signal. A guard dog on duty must therefore learn a particularly strong basic obedience and work reliably by the side of its human being, without being disturbed by noise or other environmental influences. That is why protection dogs go through various areas of protection dog training, including subordination. Due to the special use, service dogs usually have to go through their training faster, although they still have to have the advanced qualifications, which is why the training begins very early with the still young dogs.

Guard dogs used in dog sports are introduced to the so-called bite arm based on their prey and play behavior. They should also be able to place people on signal and bite the bite arm when called. These dogs must also show extremely pronounced obedience and immediately release the bite arm when they receive the signal to do so. After successful work, the dog is rewarded.

Contrary to what many people fear, these dogs are by no means sharp or even biting, but for them this task is nothing more than controlled training. Without the bite arm, they lack the incentive to bite or show signs of aggression.
This is a major difference to the guard dogs used in the service - during their training, these dogs learn to show the desired behavior even without a prey target (such as the bite arm).

Guard dogs are mostly chosen for work and training as guard dogs because of their pronounced territorial behavior. During the training this behavior is consolidated and strengthened, but also the obedience of the dogs is worked on in order to be able to use them in a controlled manner.

Train your own dog to be a protection dog

As a service dog, however, you will not be able to train your four-legged friend as a private person, as the targeted use of dogs against people is only reserved for state authorities.

Here the alternative remains in dog sports. But make sure that your dog is trained in a modern and animal-welfare-compliant manner. As with any hobby, it must be fun for both the dog and the owner. If your dog is also happy to work and learn, you have the perfect conditions to get started together. It is best to inquire about entry opportunities or trial training at a dog sports club in your area. Perhaps you will also watch a training session to assess whether this is something for you and your dog. You should make sure that only positive reinforcement is used during training, i.e. that the dogs are only motivated with praise, the bite arm or a toy, instead of pressure or even violence.

Kristina Ziemer-Falke is a certified dog trainer and behavioral advisor by the Schleswig-Holstein Chamber of Veterinarians and the Messerli Research Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. In addition, she has a lot of additional training and focuses and is on the examination board of the Lower Saxony Veterinary Chamber for dog trainer certifications.
Together with her husband Jörg Ziemer, she founded the training center Ziemer & Falke, in which they have been training dog trainers all over Germany with a lot of passion, passion and competence and offering many further training offers for many years. Many also know Kristina as a successful author of specialist books for dog trainers and dog owners as well as from articles in popular dog magazines.

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