I have been wanting to explore these topics in a podcast episode for some time --- protection training and how this can be useful to help us understand aggression in dogs, and a deeper look into the German Shepherd breed.
I get to chat with none other than Mike D’Abruzzo about his experience with protection training, and I get to pick his brain about all things German Shepherds.
If you want to learn more about helping dogs with aggression, we offer webinars, courses, conferences, and more!
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As a breed, there's so many like different bloodlines within the breed, right? So like we're, as dog trainers, right? We obviously definitely want to know about what we're getting into before we deal with the case and a new client. So it's always good to know about different breeds of dogs or at least the different types of blocks right like, with propensity to the flock Guardian breeds have, which propensity to the terriers have? Now German Shepherds, I cannot think of any other breed of dog that has so many differences within the breed.Michael Shikashio:
I've been wanting to explore these topics in a podcast episode for some time, protection training, and how this can be useful to help us understand aggression in dogs. In a deeper look into the German Shepherd breed, I get to chat with none other than Mike D'abruzzo about his experience with protection training. And I get to pick his brain about all things German Shepherds. And this episode is sponsored by aggressivedog.com where you can find a variety of educational offerings with a focus on helping dogs with aggression, including the aggression in dogs master course, the most comprehensive course available anywhere in the world on helping dogs with aggression, and the aggression in dogs conference, a unique three day live stream event happening from October 22nd to 24th 2021. With 12 amazing speakers. You can find out more by going to the looseleashacademy.com. Hey, everyone, I'm Mike Shikashio. Welcome back to the Bitey End of The Dog. I'm super excited for this week's special guest Mike D'abruzzo` who I met, I would say it's been a few years now, Mike, where we were actually introduced by a good friend of ours, Bonnie Brown, she kind of made the connection and I went down to, or I should I say up to New York, to visit Mike and, and watch him train with protection train dogs. We're gonna get into that subject in a little bit. But it was a really great experience for me, because I got to see some of these aspects of working with aggression. And Michael, again, to dive deep into that topic as well in a different facet than what I typically do to help pet owners. And I've been following Mike actually, even before Bonnie introduced us, I've been watching some of his videos on his canine one channel, which he's got some really fantastic stuff on there. So I'll let Mike actually tell you a little bit more about himself and his background.Mike D'abruzzo:
Oh, hi, Mike. Thanks for having me on. It's a real pleasure to be here. A little bit about my background for your listeners is I've always been fascinated with dogs since a child like a lot of you. And I actually started off as a veterinary technician, went to school for Veterinary Science at 1993 because I asked my guidance counselor about being a dog trainer. And he looked at me like I wanted to join the circus, right? There's no file below for that at the time. So I actually I was lucky enough to get started because one of my professors was a professional dog trainer and ran an elective class on dog training. And that is actually where I got my start learning how to train dogs. In an elective class, we learned about the history of dog training, and different techniques. And we were watching like Ian Dunbar videos like when the serious puppy training videos were first out, it was really cool. But eventually, when I graduated from that particular school, I was working as a veterinary technician. And I was going through like my knowledge stage where I just wanted to absorb everything, and I was stacks of books. This is before the internet was really big. Eventually, I did go back to school in 1997. And I attended the Tom Roux school, we're actually got a lot of exposure, mostly to sport type training, which is where I got a lot of my knowledge about sport like training, even though they definitely dabbled in more realistic types of aggression training over there. And right after I graduated from there, I pretty much hit the ground running in 1998. And I work, I got hired right away by a company that was mostly training security dogs. So I was hired to train security dogs, and then run classes to certify security handlers, how to handle their new security dogs for private companies. And we would decide after each about the husbandry of the dog, how to handle and all this kind of stuff. And he was also a vendor for The Department of Defense. And so I would train and when there's a vendor for The Department of Defense, I'm not sure if this is the way they still do this. Like we're going back to like late 1990s that point is up. I would get a green dog that was important, which basically didn't know anything, he was just healthy and had the right tribes. And I was training him to do like basic bite work and to be able to locate a couple of voters and had to go and pass certain paths to be accepted into the military. So I was doing that mostly. And on my own. On the side, I was opening, I was running my own business. And just by because it was the only thing I was able to get when I just started, it seemed like everyone had aggressive dogs, everyone had aggression problems, it was like the bread and butter for me, or those were the ones that I would end up with at least. So I just happened to start off doing a lot of aggression cases. And I noticed doing working formerly protection dogs or security dogs and military dogs, and also working with dogs that were aggressive that owners did not want them to be aggressive, that it sort of goes hand in hand, a lot of things I was doing with the dogs that we didn't want to be aggressive went hand in hand with the dog that I did want to be aggressive because it was the same drives, it was the same instinct of the dog. And I was adding control towards bothof them. And training personal protection dogs on my own, actually became something that was like natural and just sort of snowballed, where I went off onto my own by like the early 2000s, I was full time on my own. And I was mostly working with aggression cases, and doing a lot of personal protection training for people because there were people that were seeking it out. I loved it. I always had a fascination with work and dogs. And that was really my bread and butter for just about 20 years. And mostly even though I was doing like a donation program for police officers and I went to seminars for police, I was mostly 95% of what I was doing was working with the public and doing personal protection dogs. The interesting thing, Mike is it's not that most of these people called me up asking for personal protection training. Often what ended up happening is they called me because they had a work in line dog or a dog with a propensity to be protective that they couldn't control. And it just made sense and sort of evolved that the owners after they got control over their dogs that they just wanted to learn how to give the dog an outlet, which, when you have a dog that's naturally aggressive, you're not making the dog more aggressive. By training them in protection, you're actually just controlling that instinct that they already have. All right. And that's mostly what I did for 20 straight years. And now, I made like a full circle right after about 20 years in the field, I was asked to work for career school, just high schoolers 11th and 12th graders and I teach mostly animal training during the day. So when they go to their guidance counselor, they don't have to look at the kids like they want to join the circus, right. And then at nighttime, mostly doing mentoring and running classes for other dog trainers that want to learn more about personal protection training and working with aggressive dogs very similar to you Mike with your aggression cases.Michael Shikashio:
So it's really come full circle, like you had that original guidance counselor that didn't really have an answer for you. So you created the answer for it. And now you're kind of filling that role. Kinda neat how that's all worked out. So let's kind of jump right into that topic of personal protection dogs. I think maybe people that haven't worked in that field or don't have a lot of experience might have their conceptions about that and what it looks like we think of working with a bite sleeve. What you think of bite sports Schutzhund, French ring, Mondio, those kind of things. So give us a little bit of your knowledge on that, like, what's the difference between what you do and then something that we might see in bite sports.Mike D'abruzzo:
There's actually very big difference between which you would see in bite sports and personal protection training, right? At least the way the way that I feel it works, it works best, right? Now every trainer you're gonna see different opinions, right? And, and some trainers will offer personal protection training, that's going to seem very similar to what you would see in sport training and in sport training. If someone is not that familiar, right? They're mostly working off of the dogs play or prey drive, depending on how you want to classify it. When they're puppies and it's immature. And they're, you know, the chaseing after tugs. I call it play drop, right? And you teach the dog how to bite and how to enjoy it. And when some dogs get mature with puppies and all predators, right, it's like, puppy play is practice being an adult, right? So it's practice actually grabbing and killing things. So, so a lot of sport training is not that different from even some police dog training, right? They're really exploiting that play drive when they're a puppy and then when they're adults. It very easily can become true prey drive where they're seeing people as prey. And that's the main instinct that the work that the dog is really working off. The other thing that you see in dog sports in particular, is the use of barrier frustration, which is used to get the dogs to bark. And this is important, this is important to realize the difference between some of the things we do when personal protection training and even in police and in sport training, and even when trying to understand what's going on with some behavior problems, right. So barrier frustration is what you see in sport training, is usually when dogs do things like bark and hold, right, they train the dog to go after the decoy. And they have to bark at the decoy and look aggressive. And then they're allowed to bite the decoy at some point. Now, because in sport training, it's mostly trained, and it's pretty fun, and the dog doesn't really think it is serious, it is difficult for the dog to look really aggressive unless you have a dog that easily gets frustrated when they're waiting to bark. Okay, now, that barrier frustration is something in my opinion, and actually, it's not even an opinion, you'll see breeders of sport dogs that will purposely selectively breed dogs that bark easily, when they're frustrated, they'll even give a rating to it, like I bought puppies before where their breeder would give a number value to how easily their dogs will bark. important to remember, right, cuz I know like a lot of you are dealing with dogs that are reactive and stuff like that. And you will find that dogs that come from heavy sport lines usually get much more barrier frustration for that particular reason. And that's any dog that you commonly see people do in sports. So it's not just the German Shepherds, you can get Doberman pinchers that are incredible, they're from sporting lines, very strong barrier frustration, you could see all different types of dogs now. So we're working with these dogs on different instincts. Now, in police dogs, they don't really need the dogs to bark for no particular reason. So this is interesting differences to some really good. I know we're talking about personal protection. But you can really, there's really huge differences between sport dogs, police dogs, and personal protection dogs. Although there are many dogs that can do great at all three jobs. But police dogs when I was working for another company, and training dogs as a vendor for The Department of Defense. Again, this is before the internet was very popular. We used to deal with importers that were usually like from Europe, and they would bring over green dogs. And when describing the dogs, a very common thing you would hear was this dog is clear headed. Like this is a nice clear headed dog. And what clear headed meant means what this term means is that the dog did not easily get frustrated and like spinning around in circles or bark its head off, but it was excited that it was very, very steady. So this obviously makes the dog easier to handle when you're training the dog. Especially when it's excited really good quality for police dog, right, there's no need for this dog to be barking its head off when they're about to use it. So those dogs are very easy. In the sport world. Those dogs don't do that great because they're silent. It's harder to get them to bark in the bark and hold. And you'll see people that are really into sport training, do all kinds of tricks to get this dog to bark easier, right when they needed to accomplish something like a bark and hold. Now, we go into personal protection training, personal protection training. If someone has a dog that was selectively bred and can easily see people as prey, you can technically and a lot of people do train things like Dutch shepherds and mountain laws that have been bred to be heat seeking firm muscles right? To be pretty similar to like a gun, right? Let's point this dog at someone and fire it and let it bite someone. However, you do not need that. And I actually prefer dogs that have a strong what I call protective instinct of the owners. It's a completely different avenue to go. And you would be surprised at the amount of pet dogs that do really well using this drive and actually even do better at being personal protection dogs, then dogs that have for generations been selectively bred to be used more offensively the point and chase after somewhat, because it is a completely different focus. And the way I discovered this is I would get clients that would want to do personal protection training with their dog. And I was used to doing work in dogs. And I have had a few clients that would come to me and they would have like an American show line, German Shepherd, right. Now, anyone who knows about German Shepherds, or isn't a sport training, if you if you mentioned an American line dog that was bred for the show ring, and you're going to do any kind of bite work with it, you know, they're gonna probably mock you, or they're going to blow you off, or they're going to think it's a joke. Now, if you're looking for that dog to be a police dog, and to run through gunfire, and to bite so on and take a beating, and just keep coming in coming and coming. Like, yeah, it's not going to do well, yeah, it's going to be very hard to find that American show line shepherd. However, these along with other lines of dogs that are not necessarily thriving in the sport world, or the police dog world, including the the German show line dogs, which I think are beautiful, alright, and do some sport work, but they generally cannot compete on the same level as the other sport dogs. What I happen to notice, especially early in my career before people were really importing a lot of these work in lines when the internet became popular, the work in line dogs that I was dealing with, we're mostly coming from straight importers, you know, that we're selling to police departments and military and stuff like that. Now, these were my dogs that had fear, aggression, overly protective of the owners, these kinds of things. And if you swung around a tug, tried to really get them to do like really good bite work in a traditional sense, they didn't really thrive. But what I did do troubleshooting years and years ago, is I had a dog, it wasn't a German Shepherd was actually a Doberman Pinscher. Alright. There's a Doberman Pinscher that came from a pet store, I was running like a protection club. And it was mostly at that time, German shepherds and dogs that were just better at it that were from working lines and so on, showed up with a six month old petstore Doberman Pinscher that was neutered. And he wanted to join the club, he had his Doberman Pinscher they just got from the pet store. And sweet dog, he was like a lamb name was Luke. And with puppies, we were starting off with just play or teaching them how to buy teach as a game, this dog, you'd swing around the tug it would barely look at it, it might paw at it, we might get like little bit of sparks of things every now and then. But the guy wanted to stick through with it. And he was very, very satisfied with just the dog doing the bare minimum because it was something it was a bonding experience for him and the dog you get out of the house. And so we're also doing obedience training. And it wasn't very serious. We're making it mostly fun for the dog. And because the dog was so good natured was not reactive, like we weren't going to do anything at the dog naturally was not showing. But then one day, we were doing a drill with the other dogs, where we were doing attacks on the owners, where we were basically beating up the owners in front of the dog, and then letting the dogs come and protect the owner. Now that particular day with that dog, and this dog now is like two years of age, coming mostly for fun. It was the first time we actually beat up the owner in front of the dog. It was supposed to be a fun drill that we did with the owner, anyway, the dog lit up like I never seen him before. And when the dog came in and took a bite off of us, it was his bite was as hard as as the Rottweiler as the as the giant Rottweiler that were working at the at the time was like one of the hardest bites that I ever had at that time with the dog. And at that moment, things started clicking with me. And it became really the core of the personal protection program where I was able to work much more with pet dogs. Alright, and I know I'm talking my head off here, Mike so you could always like yeah,Michael Shikashio:
I just want to pause there for a second to to just so people get the right idea of what "beating up the owner" looks like now I've seen you do that I get the shots, maybe define that. A little further before we move on.Mike D'abruzzo:
Okay, Mike, alright. I could sound really weird. Alright. So a lot of you have dogs, right? Like when I get a knock at the door and the dog barks, right, if someone goes up the driveway, the dog barks. A lot of people just play around this, like, Who's there? Who's that, then the dog like barks right at the same time, then eventually, what ends up happening is even if there's not a car there, you say, Who's that? or, What's that? and the dog perks up, right? It's a, it's a conditioned response. So they start barking. By beating up the owner, this goes through different stages. Alright, so I'll explain this a little bit better, if I say "beating up the owner" it's a lot of good acting, right? And we're doing realistic training, I would tell the handlers that you have to be a good actor, to make it believable for the dog. Because with the protective instinct, we are trying to trigger we're working off the state of mind from the dog. So we're basically given them a command that triggers our particular state of mind, similar to when there's a bark on the door. So what we do when we start off with dogs is... and this, is you will not see anything like thi s in sports training, and I'm not saying it's better or worse, I'm just saying, This is what I've done for years. And it worked really good for the clients gave a good experience to the dogs, very great bonding experience, and 100% worked off of what these dogs were originally selectively bred for what we would do, instead of showing aggression towards the dog, we would show aggression towards their owners. And we would have the dog either held by someone on the opposite side of the room, or hallway, or wherever we're working, but a distance, a far enough distance where the dog does not feel directly threatened. And then we would have the owner away from the dog. And we would have a bad guy go over and not look at the dog, but act threatening, in different ways, either by yelling or approaching and shaking the owner. And the owner just had to be believable enough to crumble to the floor, or makes to see noises. And if a dog is old enough, we do not do this with puppies, I don't do this with dogs under two years of age. And with some dogs, it may even be older than that, you will usually if the dog loves the owner, it's hard for them to ignore that. And you will generally get a spark. Some dogs, it may simply be the slightest little woof out of the dog to try to intervene. And then we have the bad guy run away. And that is our spark that we work with. And then we give a command just before that happened. So right so then we make give a word like watch. And right after the dog hears the word watch, someone appears that approaches the owner, not the dog on the other side of the room, and the dog lets out the woof. And the agitator runs, then you slowly build up the dog's confidence by making the interaction between the owner and the dog more and more intense. And the dog learns that their intervention, their aggressive display definitely drives off the person. And that's the spark we work off of untill eventually, we bring these dogs closer and closer to the action. And I generally do it with a muzzle. And we let the dogs use their natural behavior. Sometimes it's simply splitting, they may run in between and just run in between the owner and the agitator would run off. But we work with Mother Nature with the dog. That's how we started with the dogs. Eventually, only after the dog goes well with that, will we then have the agitator sometimes turned towards the dog, but the dog's confidence is now built up enough then you know, we allow that we allow the dog to win, right? We call it win. Now, my best analogy for this is why it works so well is if we were to take a dog, your average adult pet dog, and directly threatened the dog to try to teach it protection. Eyeball that dog and try to protect it. The vast majority of dogs are shown when you're showing no fear at all. They do not want to fight anyone for no reason. It's kind of like if you were walking down the street. And some thug was just eyeballing you when you're by yourself. If you can look the other way. Do the equivalent of a common signal, right? You're just gonna go we're not looking for trouble dogs. Most dogs are not looking for trouble. All right. But now if you're walking down the street and you're with someone that you love, a child, a spouse, and a thug grabs that person that you love. I don't care if it's Mike Tyson. you're much more likely to intervene. And this is a natural instinct of dogs, right? And you can see them. I mean, you could pull up videos of German Shepherds jumping in swimming pools to drag their owners out of water by the hair. And all these stories you hear about dogs dragging people from fires and all kinds of crazy stuff. Like this stuff actually, really happens. And it was it is a survival instinct. There's studies, you could even look up studies, if you want to go way back into theology. Before dogs were domesticated. You can even see studies where you could even see wolves show this behavior, protecting each other when they're attacked by other wolves or their pups are attacked by a bear. Right. So this is a natural drive that people generally don't pay attention to. Right, people always talk about prey drive, and territorial aggression. But protective aggression is a real thing that you can definitely work with, with a lot of pet dogs.Michael Shikashio:
Yeah, I think definitely, you know, it's kind of the theme of the last couple seasons here, we've been talking about theology and genetics and the things you know, we select for, for behaviors and dogs, and this protective behavior can certainly be one of them with many of the different breeds that we have out there. And I just wanted to unpack and define a couple things you had mentioned before. So the term green dog, just for anybody that's listening, that's never heard that term green dog just simply means the dog has had no training, right?Mike D'abruzzo:
Yeah, green dog is a common term for someone who's selling prospects for work and applications, and they're generally healthy adult dogs that X ray well, and show the right temperament for the work but don't have any real formal training. I think we use the same thing for trainers sometimes, too, you know, we wouldn't really talk about something new to training as green, which is a good thing. It means that you can learn new things. And then the other the other term that I think it really and this one can be controversial too. There's a lot of definitions or potential ways to define this, but prey drive, right? So that's a term that so if we start looking into certain schools of thought, like applied behavior analysis, we might think of that as a construct or a label, right? And so how are you especially coming from, again, the protection side of the dog training world, it's a very common term and that, you know, when we're talking about drives, so how do you define prey drive, What I do is, it's much easier for my purposes, where I split prey drive into play drive, and prey drive, so I would say most trainers if they hear the word prey drive, they're associated with not only the drive to catch and kill prey animals, a totally offensive sort of way. They also use the term when animals are like chasing after a ball, or they have high prey drive. They love chasing after a ball, or they like biting onto a toy and hanging on and we use them hear the word prey drive prey drive prey drive, but what I do is I separate it into play drive, which is like an immature version, I call it for instance, I have a Portuguese water dog that has tons of play drive. So she'll chase after things and bite things all day. But I would not say she has strong prey drive because I do not get the impression she's gonna go and like kill an animal chase after and kill an animal. Although some Portuguese water dogs will, alright, don't go let your Portuguese water dog go chase after the squirrels. But I have, for instance, a German Shepherd, that for sure, will have strong play drive and strong prey drive and he will, he's grabbed ahold of a couple of groundhogs like I know and he's killed them is killed them and actually consumed them before. So that's like, true prey drive. Now you will also find like I worked with a Dogo Argentino, for example, that had strong prey drive. But I would say didn't have very strong play drive. So this thing would hunt after boar and get very excited and turn into a different animal when he saw wild animals, but you could swing around toys all day with them. And he was very, like, he didn't care about them too much. And we do have to think about what we want these dogs for and what they were used for. Right? Like, for instance, dogos no one was really doing sport training with them or playing fetch with them. Like they were taking them out and they were hunting. So they needed a dog with these mature levels. Where if you notice, for example, a lot of like sporting breeds, right like the Labradors and golden retrievers, it's like they didn't want dogs really out there killing the birds, right? They wanted them to basically play right? Fetch them, you know, bring them back and not completely Maul them. So that genetic side of thing is very important to recognize that if you sort of split that drive up and you know and understand classify, play drive and prey drive a little Little bit differently even though they're very similar it makes it easier even when you're just like talking to other trainers about a prospect or with a particular dog maybe good at, because it trainers a lot of it, especially we have a job to do or working or working dog either right prospect or the job so if we're talking protection dogs or police dogs in particular, right you need a strong prey drive they need to see those people, those actual prey were in personal protection you'd be surprised because you don't really need the dogs to see the people's prey you could work with the dog that does not have a strong prey drive you could work with a breed like one of the many different flock guardians out there that notoriously are not supposed to have strong prey drive not supposed to be out there killing animals and things like that. However, they're been selectively bred to be very protective, right protective of those within their group so those things are like a cinch you know, those things are essential things for training with personal protection.Michael Shikashio:
I remember asking that question you know about certain breeds you know, have you ever had like a Labrador come through your program and like make it as a good protection trained dog and I think is that maybe one orMike D'abruzzo:
You know a lot of people don't even try they somthing like that. don't try to do it, but I did have it you know, you never know until you try just like a lot of the breeds you can't assume anything anymore, right? Because they're being bred less for what they originally were for. I mean, some of my most aggressive dangerous dogs that I dealt with, it happened to be Labrador crosses, you know, like I said, it's it just ends up happening, right, if you're training you will come across those killer Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers, cocker spaniels are classic example. Right? You go back to, you know, you go back and read studies, you go to Scott and fuller studies at Jackson laboratories. 20 years, like the cocker spaniel was the epitome of the non aggressive dog. They actually did test where they tried to get them to bite, right? And they couldn't get these things to bite but what ended up happening right, they were known to be so non aggressive, they were over bred and now Who cares? You get one, you know, you get one a resource guarding or things like that is, you know, they're still being they're still being sold. So, so you're gonna get that you're gonna get Labrador Retrievers, and golden retrievers, and ones that will definitely do personal protection training. They definitely will. I had one trainer that was there with her eimaraner, a goofy weima aner and she watched us do in raining. And she wanted to see what would happen if we beat h r up in front of her dog. Right? Her dog was older, I was like f ur or five years old. And I said I don't know, like, I don't, I was like, I don't think this d g is gonna do it, you know, ecause I didn't ever test with t e weimaraner. But usually the ow ers know their own dogs really well. And we took the owner to t e far end of some long hallwa . And we had someone come up to er and act aggressive. And su e enough, this dog, at the ve y least he was ready to interv ne. It was very easy to prompt him to do it. he barked his he d off, he ran up, we let him ch se the person away, he ran ba k to his mommy jumped all over h r. He had the instinct. So you would be surprised. And with p rsonal protection, this is the other thing that a lot of people don't know, you don't ever w nt to judge a personal protec ion dog based off of the things that they judge a good sport og or a good police dog for ri ht. So, for instance, in sport raining, we highly value the fu l mouth bite right, where the do is biting. And it's calm, an doesn't loosen up its grip un er pressure. Even police do s, police dogs, it's at a wh le nother level. You want a do to bite Hold on. These dogs ha e now been selectively bred to the point where they'll get st bbed and they'll die while th y're still biting. And for th for the purposes of what th y use these dogs for now. and la enforcement, whether you ag ee with it or not. It's how th y tactically use the dogs, ri ht? They're heat seeking bear tr ps. They keep the person bu y, wild team of people can al o jump on this person and put ha dcuffs on them, or whatever el e if it's used correctly. Now pe sonal protection, completely di ferent standards. And you wo ldn't even want that you wo ldn't want a dog to ne essarily bite someone and ta e and get stabbed with a kn fe right? To that point when pe sonal protection dog, becau e what good is your dog if it ju t could get stabbed and someo e could keep coming after you. ow, if you want a good book, a good history book to read bout German shepherds and even raining. I highly recom end Konrad Most's book. This is very old book and he's con idered the grandfather of dog tr ining. For sure you do not want o read that book and think of t as a manual for dog training ight you got to take in contex this is very long time ago. However, if you read it in my pinion, he's absolutel one of the greatest dog train rs of all time, he doesn't g t enough recognition. It is not the mechanics of how he trains it is his understan ing of the dog and his thoughtfu ness of knowing how they thin and using it to his advantage in training. Now, Konrad Mos It was one of the first peop e to really illustrate how to train a police dog. And t e way he trained police dog is actually more similar to how I would train a persona protection dogs. They don't use dogs the way they used to originally, the dogs were us d as bodyguards for the police o ficers, right so police office s were not armed. They may ave had a club, and they were by themselves. So dog was a bodygu rd. And he said in the manual, y u know what good is it when ou put all this training into th dog. And then someone breaks t e dog's bones, right? First time you have to interact wi h someone. So he did not like e did not want a dog that wou d bite someone and hang on while it's getting beaten. He anted a dog to be respectful of weapons stay out of the way. And we're going with Mother Nature, right, canines have been voiding antlers and horns like since the beginning of ime. Now you have to think abo t this. So if anyone's listenin and they're really into sport training, and into like police d g training, you have to like ethink certain things and un erstand why this makes sense. It makes sense why they do what t ey do for police dogs and spor dogs. But with a personal pr tection dog, the dogs job is to protect you and allow you to g t away to safety. Okay, so n w if you have a dog, that you gi e it the alert to show aggr ssion towards someone it's off l ash, the way Konrad Most train his dogs. And the way that I rain dogs or at least allow do s to be, I go at Mother Nature someone comes to me and hey have like a work in line Dutch Shepherd police lines and the dog wants to come in an hang on for dear life. I'm ike, I teach someone how to use hat dog in the best way possibl , right. But if someone has t eir show line American German s epherd, and the dog stand in front of someone and barks ts head off, but is not conf dent to walk into those swingi g kicks and punches and fra tic swinging of a stick or a ar to keep the dog away, that d g is still doing its job if th t person cannot turn their ack on the dog to get to the own r. And it works, it actually wor s and is safer. So that person s busy. And these dogs natu ally, just like a wild dog are ore confident when their back turns, right, the pert, the pers n turns away from the dog t attack the owner. Yes, th dog most of these dogs are go ng to bite. So when the same st ff you're dealing with when ou go to someone's home, and th y have an aggression case, right it's like these dogs are more ikely to bite someone who's goi g the other way or stuff like you know or stuff like that. So hese dogs would keep people t bay, they would keep they af er they would chase someone do n Konrad Most, when the person w uld stop and turn around to f ght the dog, the dog would sta out of reach to allow the of icer to get close to the dogs ot killed dogs not hurt, the p rson cannot run away because th y're gonna get bit in the butt o the leg and they cannot attack he officer or the owner. All right. And it works. If we're ta king about the officer, right, his allows them more easil to escort the person or put cuf s on the person or if we're talk ng about personal protection, it makes it easier for the pers n to get away from the situati n. And when they have enough di tance to call their dog back and they have their dog back with no injuries, call the og back into the car. These are he kinds of drills that I would be doing inside of these clas es and a lot of dogs can do it, all right, and dogs to varying egrees will engage in different ays. But the thing is like if ou go with Mother Nature, like d gs know a lot and that's w y the American we're talking abo t different lines of German S epherds, right. I actually sta ted to prefer when the lon er I was doing personal protect on training and not doing like ilitary or security dogs, t e more I would prefer when a do had some like American show ine slipped in, because his is what happens if you not ce what dogs do you deal with t at have like the worst separatio anxiety or cannot take their their eyes off of their owne s, right? A lot of these dogs li e the American lined German S epherds that cannot take the r eyes off the owners, go c azy. They love their owners. T ey love their owners so much tha those dogs if you have an o d enough American line German S epherd that doesn't have like eally like, sear, you know, a normal dog, it doesn't have l ke, serious genetic issues wit in typical normalcy for th t breed. They're watching tha owner like a hawk. And those ar the perfect hiking buddies and reat for personal protection, ecause they're watching people a ound them. And they're conce ned about the owner. And when ou teach those dogs, when y u hear command, someone's com ng after your owner, it's diffe ent, it's a much less selfish t pe of aggression, right, it's ve y easy to get these dogs to react and intervene, where y u will see a lot of police offi ers. It's not anything about rotecting the officer, right, it's about what the dog wants to go and do on its own unt. And it wants to hunt and bi e, so it has nothing to do wit the owner. And a lot of thes dogs if they're trained t e wrong way or not carefully, hey'll bite their handler just a easy as the bad guy, you know put the handler in a bite su t, he's gonna bite him. Or if y u put their own handler in the ine of fire, you'd be surprise how many dogs will bite the owner because it's about the joy of actually just biting somethin completely different drive, it' completely different.Michael Shikashio:
Yeah, so let's talk a little bit more about German Shepherds, you know, because I get a lot of flack for even having a German Shepherd as a logo on the on the podcast show. But I love German Shepherds, and I work with them quite often in my line of work as well. And so, you know, I'd love to spend a little time just kind of going through the different types of German Shepherds. So maybe you can get into that, like, first real quickly, the difference between maybe some folks are familiar with the difference between like, what the term show line, working line means. And then maybe even like, you know, for me, when I have a pet owner or a client that contacts me, and they get a German Shepherd because they love the dog, but they actually haven't done much research on, you know, show lines, working lines. And then I have some clients, you know, they're spending a ton of money, maybe they're importing, working line, Czech Shepherd, you know, I've had that happen. And they've had, you know, lovely German Shepherds in the past, but not from long lines. And now they're in for a completely different situation, so tell me more about that, like, get into the show on working line, and then the experience of the different you know, German, Czech, American in your, your thoughts on that. Broad question, I know.Mike D'abruzzo:
Ok so, Yeah, German Shepherds are interested in breed, because I would say, as a breed, there's so many, like different bloodlines within the breed, right? So like, we're, as dog trainers, right? We obviously definitely want to know about what we're getting into before we deal with the case and a new client. So it's always good to know about different breeds of dogs are different, or at least the different types of dogs right like, what propensity to the flock Guardian breeds have? which propensity to the terriers have? Now German Shepherd , I cannot think of any other breed of dog that has so many ifferences within the breed For instance, you can have erman Shepherds that have been electively bred as CNI Dogs or the Blind for gener tions and have very low prey rive and are very nonre ctive and are not as prote ted and things like that. And t en you will have other ones know people that purpo ely breed their dogs to be very eactive, because they want dogs ith really quick triggers for s curity purposes, and you get e erything in between. and it's ood to know about the diffe ent type of lines and even withi the lines, theres lines with n the line. So this could driv you crazy, right? But I'm goin to give you a cheat sheet is t e sport lines and work in line , when you hear work in lines, ork in lines and sporting lines, they can be almost one in the sa e so you got to be carefu , I would say that is the most d fficult line to get good at bec use sporting/work in lines. Pe ple generally study dogs within he pedigree to know what they're kind of going to get in the l ne breeding on certain dogs and this is if we're dealin with like a good breeder, rig t, you have to deal with a good reeder that knows what they're getting. Because like I said, they're almost they're cons dered the same thing. Howev r, some are much more much mo e barrier frustration, which I'm not a fan of because m st of my reactive dog cases wi h German Shepherds deal with li e strong barrier frustration nd you got to know they're pron to it. Unless you need a dog t at barks its head off for cert in things. I always tell people ou know, avoid dogs with strong arrier frustration that bark ea ier when you do that when yo do the temper tests will m ke your life so much easier. Look for the more clear headed dogs and a lot of dogs that th ir bloodlines even though they' e coming from very similar pedi rees that have been using, been sed more from military an police, you will generally s e what I call except the clear h aded dog not as much barrier fru tration. All right, and you cou d probably do a couple ther , I mean, I know there's the e's breeders out there that ould do podcast or seminars ust on trying to figure out th lines within the lines, w 're talking about sport and wor ing great. So that one be carefu of, but do your research. Now, the next line is the Germ n show lines, alright, you got he German show lines. And tho e are, most people recognize t ose now with the work in l nes, most people recognize t ose because those are like the sable and black ones. And where the German show lines, those are like your typical, re lly beautiful big head lik black and tan dogs that few oogle, German show lines, li e you'll recognize that kind of dog, those, I like t ose dogs, if you get a good one, right? If you get a good on , there are a lot of good one , if they're bred well by a goo breeder. Those, in my opinio , have a really great balance f a dog that you can have fu with, and do sports stuff and o clubs, but are not over the to necessarily for the average pe son and have a good balance of b ing protective and stuff like hat. However, like anything els , you have to research the bre der because I'm going to t p off this whole subject with so ething very important Ameri an show lines. All right, A erican show lines, which most eople know right, those are goi g to be like the longer more arrow dogs notoriously like ma e fun of for like not b ing used for work anymore, you w ll find it comes down to to he breeder, right, like I have dealt with a lot of amazing s ow line dogs, if the breeder ca es about the important tempera ent things you should care abo t with every dog, right? The com on denominator of any breed dog, any breeder I'm oing temperament test is fearfu ness, right? Any dog hat's overly fearful or skitti h, it's going to make it har to do anything with it. Alrigh . So if you look out for that, you're going to get a dog that d finitely usually has less str ve, better for a pet. But because these bloodlines like I would say the American sho lines, whenever they sort of i olated these American dogs, w at I did notice is one thin that is strong in their genetic , definitely is concerned for he owner, and protect them th s of the owner, although I s id you're not going to win any porting competitions, right? I d dn't get kicked off the field. But I did notice t e American lines, if you can, m st of them can do a minimal am unt of personal protection trai ing, people are going to say this guy doesn't know what he's talking about. But I'm tellin you, most of them could do a minimum amount that is enoug to do what they need to do. N w I'm going to talk about anot er thing is backyard breeder . All right? backyard breed rs. People talk bad about bac yard breeders. But this is wha I want people to consider befor just talking right off the b d about backyard breeders is anyone that gets a dog It d esn't matter what type of dog yo get, the most important thi g you want to say is does thi breeder do with their dogs? Wha you want to do with your dog? O ay, so if you're getting a Germ n Shepherd, and you want i mostly as a pet, is th s breeders German Shepherds, als mostly your pet? Or is it spinning around in a kennel o tside somewhere because it' hard to deal with inside f the house? So I've dealt wit German Shepherds that were ba kyard bred, but don't gro p all backyard breeders just because they're not showing the r dogs or doing anything fancy with dogs in the same c tegory? Right? health, right? I they're concerned about health and temperament. Next is what are they selectively breedi g the dog for? And if it's mo tly a companion and t e dog shows some protectiven ss, you know, look at tho e dogs because, again, going bac to the work in line dogs, my d gs that are bred to be poli e dogs, you know, some people ma find surprising is they want th dog to be a good watch dog. Let them know when people come n on the property. A lot of hese will not even bark when someone approaches someone s yard. Why? Because it's not valued necessarily in a po ice dog. They're not using them to protect property. So wit some lines, you do not see yo r strong instinct with it. And when I was because I used to h ve so many German Shepherd at my kennel, I wanted I wa producing for personal prot ction. So I was collecting Germa Shepherds from all over nd I wanted to see Whi h ones had the traits that I wa ted. And you would be surprise how little of like the sporti g lions showed the territoria instinct I wanted, where the og instinctively barked. An let me know when someone wa on the property, it was not as trong as much in a lot of the sp rting and working lines, but stronger in some of the show l nes, actually. Alright, so these are things to take into conside ation, theres so many thin s to take into consideration. B t someone likes a German Shephe d, you got to go to a go d breeder that is working with t e dog. It's not just you can ha e someone with pedigrees hat look great, and they're go na talk about the dogs, grandp rents and everything else. But they do not do with the dogs what you want the dog to do, and you may get behavior from that dog that are complet ly opposite of what you read, o what you're heard about the dog alright, like bad humor, you k ow, aggression towards family me bers or resource guarding or, t aits that you just don't rea ly want, you know, that yo really want. They should be te ting for these these partic lar breeders.Michael Shikashio:
Yeah, we could go down big rabbit hole there. I mean, I had Sue Sternberg and Trish Mcmillon, our last season talking about this, how we, you know, we do get on the backyard breeders and this, we can get into a whole conversation about that and how we're actually spaying and neutering to extinction. The good dogs, you know, so the, a lot of these these dogs, that could be lovely family dogs, or they'd be fitting what somebody is actually looking for in a dog. And we're seeing less and less than that, because we're demonizing certain facets of where we're getting dogs from. And, you know, we're seeing these real funky anomalies coming out of other places, right, and the behavior we're seeing coming from certain areas. So yeah, it's definitely something for a future conversation as well. So you mentioned you know, that's several different lines. If you were to recommend something like somebody's just looking for a nice pet dog German Shepherd, it sounds like you're saying American shortlands are probably one of your preferred for somebody looking for just a family pet.Mike D'abruzzo:
Totally, I know, lots of people that I mean, that have, I mean, I have a work in line German Shepherd as a pet, and I'm not doing anything crazy with the dog. So it's just, it's, if you do not want to research your butt off, right, I would say start with the German show lines, and the American show lines and crosses in between them. Obviously, we could you could do multiple podcast on like choosing a good breeder. But you need to remember, like these working dogs, like they were designed to work all day long. And they're happiest when they're when they're doing that. So if you know you're very active, and it's going to be a hobby, and you have an outlet for the dog, like even my work in line dog have a big yard and a Portuguese water dog he can run circles around with and you have to just choose wisely, you can find a good German Shepherd from any line. If you don't want to do tons of research, I would say look into, I would say German show lines, I would say less health problems than the American lines. But them and a lot of breeders have crosses between those between those two, the breeders that are primarily just breeding for the show ring and looks, you got to be careful with you know, like, that's why I said don't rule out something that first comes off as a backyard breeder, like, sometimes because I say people sometimes called backyard breeders if they don't have lots of trophies or they're not showing the dogs like there are some people that are fanatics that really have a love for the dog and truly are just breeding for our health and good temperament and like I really have seen gems, you know, so like, just don't rule out a certain line. But yet, do know it's easier if you look towards the nonworking lines, you go towards more of the show line side of things for for pets, but not necessarily that champions, right.Michael Shikashio:
So you know, what's gonna happen after this podcast there is you're gonna get like hundreds of requests for breeder recommendations, right. So, so one of the things I know the show is kind of coming to an end here, but I want to touch face on other breeds. So like you've worked with, of course, many different breeds in terms of what breeds are best suited for the type of work he does, like protection work, breeds that you would recommend at least even now, maybe, you know, breeding as soon as you and I were just talking about has changed over the years and the breeds have sort of morphed into different directions with both physical and behavioral characteristics. But what breeds do you look for now when somebody is coming to you for this potential work?Mike D'abruzzo:
I always recommend German Shepherds, but I'll tell you why. Specifically why I recommend the German Shepherd, and then we could go into other breeds, is because you have a greater chance of finding a dog that truly has like, eyes for their owner, you know, like, you can't lose the dog, right like, which is very important even in olds, even though I can't stand the book, The Bill Koehler book for dog t aining, right? The book is h rrible. The guy's attitude is h rrible. However, his section o choosing a dog for p otection, which he did a lot o like one of his first Don't d this. He said, you if you go w th an adult dog, it's like a opted, hang out this for a c uple weeks and open your front d or and go out your front yard i a dog runs away, don't it's n t a good prospect, right? Is G rman Shepherds tend to be a are of the owner and care a out them. The other thing is, b cause they were because of the s ort training and police t aining where historically they w re even having the mic picking u objects and metal objects and s uff like that a lot of a lot o lines you don't see is bad r source guarding. And a lot in, i a lot of the German Shepherds a you see with some of the o her dogs that are used as p otection. And I always tell p ople, you don't want to be m re likely to be hurt by your p otection dog than it actually p otecting. You don't want to t lk to the danger to your kids a d stuff like that. Which also b ings me to the next thing why I like them is you also have l ss of a tendency. I know, this i kind of like sort of like c uld, you know could be a d batable word, you know, d minance aggression, right. And n w what I mean by dominance a gression, I'll be more s ecific is dogs that show a gression over, over resources m eting over like, not something t ey own, but limited resources, m aning like, I see less a gression towards the towards t e couch or towards toys and, a d things like that. And what I c ll leadership progression, w ich people also sometimes I'm t lking about dominance a gression, I'm talking about c nflict over a limited resource l adership aggression, I'm t lking about conflict over w o's leading basically. So you s e less aggression with the dog g owls because you pet the dog a d it doesn't want to be pet at t at time, or you're trying to w lk out of the hat, your dog w nts to, you're trying to l ave, the dog doesn't want you t leave that kind of stuff, r ght? I just see less of that, a ain, you want, you want less o a propensity of that kind of s uff, because they were d finitely bred to follow. You k ow, they were, they were bred t thrive following the commands o humans. So with a little bit o effort, it's pretty easy to f nd one that takes that very n turally. Of course, you can t ke a good dog do everything t e wrong way and bring out the w rst in the dog. Right. But i 's just, it's easier with a d g that was selectively bred to n t really show those things. A l right, again, why it's i portant to go to a good b eeder that pays attention and d esn't breed a dog that shows t at just because it's prettier a a bigger head or whatever. N w, other breeds, which I do l ke, which is I like the D berman Pinscher, right? Again, t ey have I mean, they're one of t e few breeds that were, that w uld, that's what they were b ed to do. Right? They were b ed to protect so you can find a lot of them that do have that i stinct to do it on some level, r ght? You don't see them with t e crazy sort of drives you see d ing police work, you know, t at are biting on and hanging o to their staff to death. But t e instinct to protect the o ner is pretty strong, with a l t of Doberman pinschers. Rock c assic Rottweiler, all right, a long as you look out for a ain, Rottweilers is more of a t ndency for resource guarding a d leadership, aggression, d minance, aggression, or h wever you want to classify it. A l right, like, because, again, i you have to go back, you have t go into the theology of the o the breed, you know, they w re more independent breed, t ey were used more for Guardium p otecting things that around t eir neck, you know, you know, I mean, you, you could go you c n go into the history of the R ttweiler. So, I would say it's m re of like a higher difficulty l vel. But it's kind of like if s meone likes cars, sometimes t ey want the fastest car, r ght? someone likes personal p otect, but you're more likely t crash it if you don't know h w to drive it. If someone's r ally into protection, and they w nt something very powerful and i pressive, right? Even though t ere's more than enough. You d n't people don't want to get b tten by 40 pounds. All right, b t if someone likes bigger, r ght, if someone likes bigger, j st be more careful choosing t e Rottweiler I prefer the f males. You know, I prefer the f male Rottweilers because it's j st less turbo boost with h rmones and testosterone. And t en you really cannot go wrong w th you know, not as popular a l t of the The Guardian breeds o t there. Anything that was b ed to like guard flocks and s uff like that. I've seen them a l do really, really well. A ain, they will all get laughed o f. For sporting field, never g ing to be a police dog. But if y u want something that'll get i between you, and you don't h ve to do much prompting to get t e behavior out of out of the d g. You know, some of those h ve to chase someone to the e ds of the earth, most of the G ardian breeds can be trained v ry, very easily. And even t ough they're not known to be t e most beautiful, if you have a good relationship with them, t ey tend to be easy to train t , you know, they tend to be e sy to train, I really like the I mean, I've seen really i pressive things with with a l t of the flat Guardian type a reements, and then the master. S if we can't leave out the m lasses breeds, alright, so C nnie corsos, and it all those t ings, but again, I caution, i 's the same idea as the R ttweiler like the Connie c rsos, I've probably dealt with m re, considers that many of t em out there, I probably deal w th more aggression towards the o ners, percentage wise, c nsidering the amount that are o t there, then definitely than l ke, you know, a lot of the o her breeds out there. So you h ve to be careful, where you k ow, where you get them from a l t of those molosser breeds, y u know, but you got to, you g t to do your research, or you g t to do you got to do your r search, but German Shepherds, i 's in their blood, you know, i 's in their blood, that's what t ey're being used for. And it's e sier to find breeders that k ow more about that dog, and i s parents, and his g andparents and his great g andparents, and there's forums a d his pedigree database, and t ere's, you know, that's sort o the dog to go to, I if you're s rious anyone, any of these c mpanies that are like selling p rsonal protection dogs, for l rge amounts of money, there's a reason why they're mostly d aling with German Shepherds. S it's like, they're not g tting as many returns Alright, o the dogs because there's, t ere's less, yeah, you know, o ce the dog starts showing a gression towards the owners, y u know, they end up getting s nt back and stuff like that. S it's the, it's the go to dog b t don't rule out anything. You k ow, don't don't rule out a ything. You'll find poodles o t there doing it if you look h rd enough.Michael Shikashio:
Like That was fantastic tons of great information there. I'm there's, there's so much to unpack. And we could talk all day about this, but I'm going to wrap it up there. But I do want to ask, Where can people find you and find out more about what you're up to? And what do you what do you have for projects lined up?Mike D'abruzzo:
Okay, um, best place to find me sort of like my, my internet junkyard we could call it is a dog training dot world instead. of.com does Dog Training dot world. It's been my playground for like, 13 years, you know, I have like, my own little forum on there. I collect studies, things like that I have a knowledge base. So I'm a big nerd. Like, I need to know the answers. You know, if I say something, or someone said, you know, if I hear something like I want to know the source of the information, so I click studies and information, and that's where I do live Q and A's and stuff like that. I mean, it's, it's, it's a membership, I have a membership site, but I have a front end that you can just search articles and anything that's I respect copyrights, it's just like, if there's published studies and stuff like that out there, I like to collect the stuff because I like I firmly believe that, like, once you learn something, and that should do it. You're doing it for a while, it's sort of our duty to teach. And you're looking for the next generation of dog trainers to be better than us, right. That's why we do it. Like I, when I when I'm working with like a new dog trainer. It's like, I want them, I tried to give them everything, it took me 25 years to learn. I tried to shove it all in a year, I was like, even if it was like, you have a head start is like, by the time you're doing it half the time that I've been doing it, you're gonna be far better trainer than me, right? And that's everything in the world, right? Like we it's our, it's our duty, like, learn it, do it. Teach it right. And that's I'm still learning myself, right. So never stop learning. You got to keep evolving. But I really have been trying to like, give other trainers a head start. So they don't have to make the same mistakes I have in in the past with training and just easier, make it easier for people to find, find their own, find their own way out there. That's a great deal.Michael Shikashio:
But I really appreciate you coming on and sharing that teaching part with me here on this podcast, I'm sure there's going to be I'm sure many useful pieces of information for people working with training, especially aggression, and understanding that that protection side of things, different lines of German shepherds and everything he talked about. It's just that doesn't get talked about enough in the dog training world. So it's great to hear your point of view and all the information you've got. So thanks again, Mike. I hope to see you in person at some point in the future when we can get together and I wish you well for the rest of the year.Mike D'abruzzo:
Yeah, Thanks, Mike. Kava. Have a great year too. And I look forward to seeing you again too. Thanks for having me.