German Shepherd Protection Training


Protection Dog Training is a unique, elite form of training in its own right. Contrary to Schutzhund Dog Training it has not been "degraded" to a sport, conversely it has only been developed in recent decades to better meet the modern needs of family protection dogs in real-life situations.

There are of course many different grades of trained protection dogs, and each protection dog trainer will probably have developed his or her own array of grades or categories. You may come across three different grades, four, or even eight. There is no universal standard that would allow to classify each individual dog in a consistent way.

Therefore this article assumes that trained protection dogs have received comprehensive protection dog training over the full spectrum. In reality however, certain trained protection dogs may have received far less. This is understandable when you consider that comprehensive protection dog training will require 12 to 18 months and can cost anywhere between $5,000 and multiples of $10,000.

Protection Dog Training is very different to the Protection phase in Schutzhund Training. German Shepherd Schutzhund Training relies on dog commands, Obedience Training, a set environment, and a formal routine process.

Conversely, German Shepherd Protection Training relies on:

  • an equal partnership between you and your dog, not master-servant relationship
  • autonomy of your dog, not dependence on you giving direction or commands
  • protection in real-life situations, not in an artificial environment

What does this mean?

Family protection dogs and other trained protection dogs require a different kind of understanding and attitude of the owner. These dogs need a lot of freedom to fulfil their role as Protection dog, not an obedience-focused owner.

On the flipside, trained protection dogs can deal with all real-life situations autonomously. For example, they are trained to understand different kinds of situations like attack on the owner or family, home invasion, abduction, or maybe even searching for a lost child. They have learned to think for themselves, to take the appropriate action, and to adapt to abrupt changes in the situation - like a home invasion turned into an attack on a family member, or an attack turned into an abduction attempt.

Family protection dogs and trained protection dogs in general are not stressed out or hesitant in an unknown situation or environment, because they have not been trained in a set environment and with a repetitive process, but instead in many different environments and ultimately with no formal process. As a result, family protection dogs will for example not be irritated by the fact that an intruder or attacker doesn't wear a protective sleeve that the dog can target for the bite. They have not been trained to bite into a sleeve, they have been trained to do full-mouth bites into any exposed body parts of the intruder or attacker.

Family protection dogs can differentiate between an attack with a stick, a knife, and a gun, and they will take the appropriate action autonomously. They will not cower upon gunshots, like for example most Schutzhund-trained dogs would do. In addition, family protection dogs are trained to handle multiple attackers at the same time too.

You could say, genuine trained protection dogs are trained in real-life street fights, while all other dogs are trained in formal sparring like in a training dojo. That is a world of a difference. Trained protection dogs will take on any attacker, and any number of attackers they can handle. They will apply the utmost force to counter an attack on the owner, family members, or house.

Is a Trained Protection Dog for me?

After reading this, you may think that family protection dogs are no longer family dogs, but instead you would suddenly have to deal with German Shepherd aggression or dog biting problems or whatever. However, this is far from the truth: Family protection dogs still make loving, caring, and playful family companions. They are fantastic with small children too. Nonetheless, they can switch immediately into alarm state when they sense danger.

Although German Shepherds are thought to be one of the most appropriate dog breeds to serve as trained protection dogs, actually only few German Shepherds have the right personality and intellect, as well as sufficient strength, courage, and endurance in order to become effective and reliable family protection dogs.

If you feel you need a genuine protection dog for your and/or your family's safety, you need to consider several factors in your decision, as a minimum:

  • You will need to provide a life-long bonding with your protection dog
  • You will need to treat the dog as an equal member of the family, and give the dog a lot of freedom
  • You must be able to spend many hours each day with your dog to socialize and bond
  • Your dog will require at least three hours of outdoor exercise each day, in varying environments
  • You cannot lock away your protection dog when you feel like it
  • You also must afford significant amounts of money, both one-off (easily $5,000 to multiples of $10,000 subject to age and level of training) and ongoing (subsistence and refresher training about every 12 to 18 months: easily $2000 each plus travel arrangements)
  • When you go traveling, your protection dog should be with you, so you always need to make appropriate travel arrangements as well

You may then realize that a protection dog is right for you, or you may realize that other means of protection are more suitable in your situation. If you decide to get a protection dog, you will need to undertake intense research in order to separate the kennels that sell trained sport dogs from those that sell effective and reliable trained protection dogs (that will really counter real-life threats).

How to identify Protection Dog Training

How can you differentiate effective protection dog training from say "protection sport training"? In other words, how can you be sure that you buy a dog that will indeed protect you and your family, in all circumstances, rather than a dog that requires a set environment and a familiar handler to attack in a formal process, but that would fail to protect you in real-life situations?

Insist on observing several sessions of the German Shepherd Protection Training from a distance if you can (you can take binoculars with you). Conversely, watching the dog training videos of the provider is entirely UNhelpful (that's marketing)! When you observe live Protection Dog Training sessions from a distance, seek out clues like the following:

  • Is the training team using protective sleeves for the dog to bite on?
  • Is all training done on an open field?
  • Is there always just one attacker at a time?
  • Is the attacker using a set routine, like an accented swing of the arm holding a stick?
  • Is it always the same type of attack, for example with a stick?
  • Is the training always in daylight, and in the same "attack zone"?
  • Does the dog have a chance to visually prepare for the formal attack-to-come?
  • Is the dog never exposed to significant distractions, say like multiple gun-shots from different directions?

If any of these clues gets a YES, you are probably seeing "trained sport dogs", not trained protection dogs! Because of the high demand and lucrative margin, many dog trainers have decided to train and sell "protection dogs", but they have little to no understanding what it requires to raise effective family protection dogs or trained protection dogs in general.

However, it should be obvious that there are huge differences between situations like all the ones above, and real-life situations that do not follow a formal routine in a set environment! Only dogs trained to the latter will be able to protect you, your family, and your house in threatening real-life situations. While dogs trained along those lines above will simply fail and cower, or run away.

More here:

Dog Training vs Socialization

German Shepherd Dog Training

German Shepherd Puppy Training

House Training Dogs

Clicker Training

Dog Commands

German Shepherd Obedience Training

Professional Dog Trainers

German Shepherd Schutzhund Training

Dog Bite Training



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  29 Site Comments, ZERO SPAM Add one


    sounds very much the thing I would like to do.
    I am getting a young German Shepherd dog soon


    Hey I just subscribed and am happy with that. Please it would mean a whole lot if you could link or redirect to information on how to train your dog for protection. My point is the trainers have their learning resources. Could you please share your knowledge on that. And thanks for the effort you're putting into this website


      Rafae, I am not a trainer, this is a GSD breed rescue organization with attached breed authority site, the largest globally. We do also have Periodicals on all matters revolving around Protection Dog Training, yes, but every dog owner first needs to understand a whole LOT before attending to protection work(!!), hence they all come later (many months after subscribing).

      When you look on our remedies pages here, you'll see a recommended protection dog training book from the genuine expert in this field. But he too advises: Learn everything else first!! Or you'll regret it...


    Wow, I have a former police dog who does protection work. I was never informed what was she trained on exactly but I keep discovering that she can evaluate for herself and according to the situation we are in. I am new to dog ownership, I kind of inherited my GDS from one day to another and I keep hearing that I need to be the master and she nees to always obey. However, I have been treating her as an equal and give her lots of space. I guess I did not mess up much after all; it fits with her former training.


    I have 6 months old GSD, he is.well socialised, cause of.that he never bark.on anyone. Can ot can be a problem in future, in case of protection?


      I am sorry I can't understand that, can you write in sensible English please?


        Rohit is saying...he has a 6 month old gsd that is well socialized and therefore doesn't bark at anyone, He is wondering if that will be a problem in the future should he need protection.


    I am interested to know more about GSD PROTECTION. Experts say not to cane for obedience but my GSD 'THOMAS' 7months old cannot let goats move/pass on the way.All time on leash.Please advise me.


    in regard to Rohits email above... what he was saying is that his dog is well socialised and doesn't bark and is wondering if that will be a problem if he wants to get into Protection work :-)


    i have had shepards for approx 40 years mostly they were with me at work basic obeidiance training was taught but they preety much learned what to do and not by being with me they came home with me sleep in bedroom with my wife and i were always good and playfull with my children but much prefered tto be with me. my last shepard was protection trained by a person who trained dogs in the army for protection and border patrol. unfortunatly he died early at age 8 i now have a puppy 5 months old the breeder i purchased him from sells 90% of her males to the state and local police, at 5 months old he is extremly alert loves to play and will go after any toy or such that moves very well socialized i learned over 40 years how important that is very loving inviroment in fact sleeps in bed with my wife and i also very athletic he needs a job and again i would like a protection dog at what age can he be started in training he is 5 months old now weights about 50 lbs long lean will proably be tall. also my experiance with protection training ( limited to one dog) was that it was fun for the dog and it built his confidence and he really enjoyed it. would you say 6 months is to young to start. thank you for your time and i hope response

    mike lewis


      Mike we have a Periodical on Protection Training. Lined up to come a good couple of years after subscribing for those who stay.
      6m is fine to set the mental state, you wouldn't start heavy exercise then anyway.
      If he isn't altered, no chance for good protection dog. If he isn't calm, no chance either.
      Most breeders don't understand what temperament is needed for protection dog. But then, most breeders breed hyenas anyway, those are no dogs.


    Hey I got a 6 months old German Shepherd dog. He is very good on keeping on alert and great with my family. But I wanted to better him up to be a very good Protection dog not only for me, but my family. We spend a lot of time socializing with him. He is still a puppy but already attacking. We had a home invation and he really attack both of the guys. The only thing he got hut real hard and almost break his feet. To better him up please help me. Thanks very much....!!!!


      First thing is you need to decide what your priority is:
      - a possibly dead puppy upon the next invasion??
      - or the dog as family member - whom you wouldn't want to die or get hurt??

      Your text suggests it's the first, but you need to be sure what you really want. You cannot possibly train a 6m old puppy yourself to become "a very good Protection dog". If you thought that, it's naive. Talk to some Protection Dog Trainers if you need others to convince you of what I am saying here.

      We have a Periodical on Protection Dog Training. As it should be, it's lined up after several years worth of more important Periodicals. Note that a (typically big) adult GSD who naturally will go into attack-mode when his Pack members are being threatened (unless those Pack members treated him badly!?), is all most dog owners want, and all most dog owners need - because the described GSD will thwart the goal of any bad person (whether to invade your property, kidnap your daughter, or whatever) - unless (now listen up) unless the bad person is prepared to kill or injure a dog who is in his way!

      Only for this type of criminal a TRAINED Protection Dog is needed. And that dog owner then knows very well that his dog might die during an attack - and accepts that fact.

      Now read at the top again. ;-)


    Hi iv been reasearching GSD's for the past 9months, learning about their tempermants, personalities, different appearances etc. and i am very interested in having a family protection german shepherd dog! Im just curious to know a few answers to my questions..
    Where is the best place to purchase your Gsd from?
    Should i socialise my gsd in every way possible for the first few months to dog parks, puppy training school, beaches, shops, other peoples houses etc?
    Should i allow many people to come and go during my house hold (friends and family)?
    At what age should My gsd be able to enter a protection dog training course? And what will my important requirements be in the training process?
    Once my gsd has completed his training, Will he still be allowed near children and walked everyday in social areas like the dog park etc?
    Will he then be able to differentiate the difference between an intruder and simply a friend or family member he may or may have never met before?
    What are the consequences of owning a fully trained protection dog, and what boundaries need to be in place?
    One day i hope to have a gsd (trained in protection training or not) and he will be my only dog whilst he is apart of the family, he will be an inside dog, walked daily, socialised well as a puppy and throughout his entire life, regular vet check ups and well fed!
    Thank you so much for your time and the effort put into this website, i am very keen to speak to an expert and learn more!


      Very sorry Monique, but no one here has the funds to have the time to write such an essay of answers for this and dozens others we're getting each day.


    I'm looking to get a German shepherd soon for my family of 5, and I want a Family Protection dog after reading this article. I'm in the Army so I go on a lot of training so there's times when I'm not at home. So I'm looking for a great pet, but I want one that also protects our family in case of an intruder(s). Thank you for the insight. This article is well written and easily understandable. If you know of any reputable breeders in the New Jersey area, please email me. Thank you in advance!


    Romeo Serback


    First and for most i will say this article was an eye opener for me. For as long as i can remember i have wanted a GSD to train in Schutzhund better known as IPO now; I have always thought that was the way to go when it came to training a personal protection dog. I now see how that is not entirely the case anymore. God willing, about 6-7 months form now i should be getting my first GSD. I would greatly appreciate any advice thrown my way or guide of anyone who knows of a club or a trainer/program that incorporates the kind of guides lines spoken about in this article. I want and feel the need for a real companion and who will protect my family and know how to do so on his own. I have always loved the idea of treating my dog as an equal member of my family as appose to a pet who is loved but commanded.


    I have a 2 year old GSD and Pitt Bull mix. She is very protective of my son and I want to know if that is enough protection for my son or if she needs more extensive training. We have had a few instances where he has been hurt by babysitters and I don't want this happening again. Please help me. She sleeps in my sons room plays with my son. They are extremely attached to each other. She is outside for four hours a day if it is pretty. She is only outside for 15 minutes a time when she goes outside to use the bathroom when she is in heat. That is our state law here. Please help me. I don't know if she is past the age for training or not.


      No she certainly isn't "past the training". But I repeat: Do NOT leave your baby or small child alone with a GSD-Pitbull mix, whether day or night, indoors or outdoors. Far too dangerous, no matter how much the animal loves your baby!


    German Shepherd Protection Training Article-

    As someone who is very active in "Professional Training for Police & Personal Protection dogs I can say that this article (don't know the author) is very well written , hopefully it will help people in making the right decision for their dog, themselves and their family.

    People should keep in mind that owning a "True Professionally Trained" dog comes with a great deal of Responsibility for Every Member of the Family. And also consider the legal liability aspect as well.

    Training a Protection Dog is easy, the owner/handlers/family is very difficult.

    As the author said, a true Personal Protection Dog is not a Sport dog, a professionally trained Personal Protection dog will actually bite and in some cases are allowed to make their own decisions on who and when to bite. And it can be very violent and upsetting for most people.

    In most cases, the average family simply requires a confident and healthy German Shepherd who is cared for and..... cares for its family.


    I have a male German shephard being flown to me October 9th. I will have him traine for obedience. I have a three year old autistic grandson. I am concerned how my male puppy will interact with him. Elizabeth Bell


      You didn't mention the age Elizabeth, but generally as a puppy he will be boisterous - unless scared by the breeder, then fearful. As you can see in My New Puppy Diary, GSD puppies grow rapidly not just in size but also in attitude: All his future behavior as a big adult dog will depend on how you educate him now as a small puppy.

      I suggest you get our free New Puppy Checklist to tick off that you are starting out right, not wrong. With a German Shepherd, mistakes are more difficult to correct later on.


    This is one of your best, Tim. It is very straight forward and very informative. I know someone who has a Schutzhund trained dog. She is a professional trainer, she trained her dog herself, and her dog is a world champion in the sport. Notice I said SPORT. This dog is a beautifully trained dog, and he hasn't got an aggressive bone in his body. I have never seen a dog more obedient and he seems like he would kill when he is ordered to attack. Except....he doesn't really attack! He goes for the sleeve, and when the sleeve comes off, he stops! This is how they are trained, and they are not trained to evaluate a situation, or to think for themselves. He is a German Shepherd and as such I have no doubt that he would protect his owner if need be. He is a pet, as well, and has such a bond with her that I cannot see him ignoring a threat to her. But he is not protection trained! He is trained for sport. His owner would be the first to say so.
    My German Shepherd is not trained for Schutzhund, nor is she trained for protection, but I have no doubt that she would protect me and her home. As you know from some of my posts, she is an independent thinker and I think she would definetly know a threat. I don't feel the need for a protection trained dog, and I don't think most people do. And I don't think that most people understand what a protection dog really is and how much training they, themselves, would need if they got one. As always with a German Shepherd, training is a lifelong process. Even more so with a protection trained dog. Constant retraining is a must, as if they don't use their skills, they will forget them. Unless you have a profession, or a situation that requires a professionally trained protecton dog, the chances of him needing his skills are slim to none.
    As always, you are right on top of things and this is a great one!


    Some very good points are made in your article, bad ones as well. For example, for a protection to attack multiple attackers it's owner has to be present and direct the dog. The training involved to teach a dog this takes a great deal of time, a skilled trainer and skilled decoys. And those professionals are few and far between.

    Anyone can be an expert on the internet, don't be fooled by fancy web sites. Actually take the time to visit the breeder/trainer and ask them to show you the dogs work in person.

    Research is a great tool, sadly most people don't use it.

    Mr. Kim Moore
    Canczech Dogs & Euphoricfx German Shepherds


      You missed to mention any "bad ones as well", which ones were you thinking of? There certainly are MANY bad trainers out there, indeed. Some of them manage to get up a website, but neither that nor their training, or indeed their breeding, is any good.
      MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG singles them out where we can, and they don't like that of course.

      Glad you managed to leave your kennel name without the link to your website, which indeed is neither allowed nor possible, sorry.


    LOL, Merry Christmas to you to Mr.


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