Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
About Premier Personal Protection Dogs
How to Spot a Con Artist!
Having a top ranked Protection Dog website in a search engine does not mean that the dogs are also top ranked. Paying for advertisements or Google placement is more about marketing than quality trained or quality bred dogs. Another word of caution: everyone in the Protection Dog business considers themselves
- an expert
- highly regarded, etc
The internet is also churning out Protection Dog businesses with the speed of light! My jaws can only drop so many times in awe before it starts to hurt. If these businesses are as immense powerhouses as their websites claim to be – why have I not heard of them? Now you ask, who is Ivan Balabanov to know? I invite you to read my About Ivan page, and fact-check my Credentials before investing money and getting attached to a dog. I also encourage you to take the time to read the following common questions on this subject:
If I am in the market for a protection dog, how can I identify a reliable dog company?
First things first – there should always be an “About Us” page on the website, and it should be easy to locate. This page should clearly give you the following information:
- The Person behind the operation
- Their credentials
- Their experience
If all you can find is general statements or breed characteristics, I seriously recommend that you close that window or browser, and move on to another company. It is important that you do not confuse brags and fancy titles with true and real-life credentials and accomplishments. Titles such as “CEO”, “President”, “Head Trainer” of a company with a catchy name, or stating that they have sold hundreds of dogs, means nothing when it comes to well-trained, quality Personal Protection Dogs. Do not read the testimonials or references on the website. Instead, do a simple Google search with the person’s name and you may be surprised what you will find. It is too easy to open a business with a captivating and snappy name, pay someone for a state-of-the-art website and marketing that will target a buyer, such as yourself, to buy a “fully trained Level 3 dog” with many guarantees. To avoid being a victim of such a scam, be vigilant. Do your research before investing $30,000 to $60,000 in a dog. The cost of the dog does not guarantee that the dog is worth this kind of money. A well-trained Protection Dog can be expensive, but such a highly valuable dog is very rare.
Are European Imports better?
It always has amazed me how easily people get impressed when they hear “European import”, unfortunately, I am going to break this myth for you. Buying a dog from Europe is NOT the same as buying a Ferrari or whatever luxury car or boat comes to mind! Here is the most typical scenario, dog sports are more popular in Europe than in USA when a dog is not suitable for top competition then they are offered to dog dealers who then go on to offer the dogs to protection dog companies in the USA and the army. Yes, these dogs are basically rejects. What does this mean?
- they have failed to be competitive,
- probably lack courage, or
- have poor quality biting,
- possible health problems, or
- fake pedigrees, etc.
There are many reasons why a dog would be for sale but the truth is, no matter what the reason is, this dog was not selected, bred, and trained to be a Protection Dog. The average buyer has no way of finding this out, and will always be presented with some amazing story as to why this particular dog is so special. However, let us not forget that even the person who is trying to sell the dog has limited expertise and if you learn to pay attention, you will catch all the inconsistencies in their stories – from intentional lies to some inconsistent details purely because they lack expertise. I, personally, have no interest in bringing a rejected dog here and then try to sell it as the next super dog. I have much more access to dogs for sale around the world than any of these protection dog companies. Why? For the simple reason that I am very well known in the dog world as one of the few true experts in the field of Protection Dog training. I go to Europe to give seminars and workshops on the subject and teach those who attend to become better dog trainers. I also compete very successfully against Europeans.
Do Taglines in Marketing or Websites mean anything?
My advice – watch out for the misleading taglines! Some commons ones to keep an eye out for are:
- 30 years of combined experience
- Master Trainer
- Expert Trainer
- Training Director
- Members of XXXX Club
I will explain each of these individually.
“30 years of combined experience” – If someone has 30 years of successful experience (or, in the case of “combined” experience, if several people together have worked for a sum total of 30 years), one would expect numerous valid accomplishments that can be verified easily. The statement on its own means nothing. What has been achieved? That is what counts.
“Master Trainer” is one of the most misused titles in the dog-training world. For example, it can mean that someone is in charge of the training of a large number of dogs and handlers in the army. It can also mean that someone has his own business with one employee and he is in charge of the training. The second obviously has no merit. Remember ANYONE can call themselves “Master Trainer”!
“Expert Trainer” This must be someone who has expertise, right? So ask the person who considers himself an expert and see for yourself it this is true. People like this should provide you with references and credentials of the people and/or companies who see them as experts.
“Training Director” is normally associated with the person in charge of the training in Schutzhund, Ring, or any other dog sport club. He is generally also the helper or decoy who works the dogs in protection.
“Members of xxxx Club” – Being a member of a club in most cases involves simply joining the organization and paying annual dues. It is in no way a measure of training skill or achievement. There are many such dog clubs out there. Some, of course, are better than others. In some instances it takes three people to form a club, but not one of them may have sufficient knowledge of dog training. As with all other credentials, research the club to determine if the training director is likely to be a qualified trainer.
How can I compare dog trainers and companies?
As a client who is willing to invest serious money in a dog, you deserve accurate representation of the trainer’s expertise. Schutzhund/IPO/IGP, Ring sports, KNPV and a few others are competitive protection dog sports that exist to determine who the top trainers are. Some of these protection dog sports are recognized internationally and some are only local mediocre events. You will find that trainers will sometimes use the term World Champion in their credentials, as I do. The fact is that the last 20 years there have only been 20 world champions. Simply ask the question: “did you become world champion in the individual placement or as a team?” A team title means that at least two of the team members were good enough to put the team in 1st place. But it is the individual placement that matters the most. As an example, I have won 2 individual world champion titles, and the team from Germany was the 1st place team. The point is, I was better as an individual than all of their team. When it comes to Protection Dog training – Selecting the best trainer to teach the dog is paramount. As I am sure you have been browsing the internet to find information about Protection Dogs, I am sure you have already noticed that almost everyone who offers Protection Dogs for sale is a “World Champion”. But let me once again be clear – No one who lives and sells Protection dogs in USA has ever become a world champion! If they have stated that they have, then think about the fact that if they lie so bluntly about their accomplishments how can you trust what they tell you about the dogs they sell? Becoming a World Champion in conformation show or Karate, does not attest to the knowledge or expertise of a protection dog trainer. The average dog owner is not aware but, yes, Dog Trainers do compare each other’s skills and abilities, through a variety of international dog sports. A Dog trainer who wins first place at a local dog show does not say much. Winning a national or a world championship is a whole different story. Competing against the best 120 dog trainers in the world and winning is a statement for sure! While such win doesn’t bring any money, it brings the recognition and envy among other trainers. Check the credentials carefully when comparing companies.
Sport or Real World trainer, what matters?
Training the dog for real scenarios means the trainer has to know how to teach the dog to fight for real. Believe me, there is a huge difference between sport and personal protection training. This is where a skilled and honest trainer will tell you about the dog in question. Unfortunately most people who are trying to sell protection dogs are there to make some quick cash. Being a sport trainer is not enough! Working on a full body protection suit does not mean a dog will function in real situation. Bad guys do not look like the Michelin man! A dog that bites a hidden sleeve will also lack complete fighting education. So you have watched some cool videos on someone’s website of a dog that works great on a bite suit. Remember, there are few protection sports in which the dogs bite a full body suit. Please DO NOT be fooled – they are still sport dogs! For comparison, take a look at the training videos on our YouTube Channel to see some of the techniques and skills a dog must have. Another description would be Involvement with Police, SWAT teams, ATF tactical, Secret service, the army, all of which is valuable but also could be quite misleading … Just as in the Dog world competitions – don’t be fooled by someone who was holding the leash of an already trained dog during patrol. A K9 handler is much different than a dog trainer. Look for the instructors who teach them all. What you should be looking for is the combination of the two fields: Protection Dog Competitions and Police K9 work. I invite you to take a look at our Credentials, starting with our Why Us page.
What should I look for in the dog?
The best protection dogs are the ones that have a switch “On” and “Off”. They can be ferocious when needed and chill out the rest of the time. We find this type of dog to be hard to find, this is why we prefer to breed and select dogs from our own Ot Vitosha Malinois kennel most of the time. It is important to remember that dogs that have done well in certain sports may actually not be suitable as a protection dog. In a nutshell, many dogs that do well in dog sports may be only “sport” dogs, meaning they will not protect you or your family if needed. They will not bite an intruder or attacker without a sleeve or a bite suit. Even police K9 dogs, with the highest performance records in Police K9 competitions, may find themselves chasing a suspect in a dark alley, but when the dog finally catches up with the criminal, it becomes highly confused and stressed, because it wants to bite him, but it doesn’t see the familiar equipment. These cases are NOT rare, they are the proof of how important is to select trustful source for your protection dog. Another thing to note here is that most Police and army dogs are not suitable to live in a family environment, because most of them are the “Go Go” type that will not settle down at your home and try to bite anything that moves too fast, and on the other hand, a very laid back, easy going dog will not protect you either.
Can I rely on videos and pictures of the dog for sale?
Contrary to what you may think, seeing photos and videos are not as important as reading the “About us” page, double-checking all the claims they make and by doing a simple google search on the trainer’s name. Being vigilant and researching this information will save you from all the incompetent people trying to make big money off of you. Beware of fancy marketing on a website that claims they sell protection trained dogs and where all you can see are pictures of pretty dogs with a high price tag. 99% of the people on the market for a protection dog will not be able to make a sound decision based on a video clip, and will usually judge the dog by the quality of the video and the looks of the dog. This will be a mistake. Many will not know what to look for. It is too easy to make things look amazing and impressive with the right tricks and gimmicks, creating a big Hollywood style production which makes any dog look good. Ultimately when it comes down to judging the dogs’ character and abilities, you will need to trust the company and trainer(s) you’re dealing with.
What breed should I look for in a family protection dog?
Pretty much any self-confident dog with sound temperament can be used to some extent as a protection dog, or at least as an alert dog. The smaller breeds (up to 50 lb) obviously would not be man stoppers. Any larger-sized dog could be a protection dog. Most dogs must go through vigorous training in order to understand when they are needed and how to be of help. The dog has to have natural protective instincts, be pack-oriented, and/or territorial. Even an Afghan Hound could do it (a rare case, but I have seen it done). Generally speaking, and only generally speaking, some breeds make better guard dogs, (meaning they would do well protecting their territory), and others would make better owner-protection dogs (meaning they would do well protecting their owners). The top two breed of dogs that have proven to be highly trainable and functional are the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois. At present, these are the two breeds that stand out from the rest. Around the world it is not an accident that 99% percent of the police and army dogs are mostly Malinois or German Shepherds. Yes, a Doberman Pinscher or a Bouvier des Flandres, among others, could do just as fine a job, but the temperament of these breeds has been compromised in recent years by breeding for their looks, and the prevalence of genetic illnesses such as hip dysplasia has risen dramatically. A dog from a mastiff breed can be very strong and a great deterrent, but their trainability level does not come close to that of a Belgian Malinois or a German Shepherd. Therefore, they are limited in what they can be used for in terms of protection. Another plus for the Malinois and the German Shepherd is that they have double coats, meaning they can function in any climate: snow or desert. They have been bred and used for protection from the late 1800s, and through the decades and around the world they have been selected for their temperament, trainability, agility, strong bite and scent work, and their lack of fear. It is a fact that in recent years, the Malinois has become the number one choice for protection work due to their work ethic, trainability, and natural protectiveness. In any case, you might find a dog of almost any breed that can serve as a protection dog. But please take the following qualities into consideration:
- Stable temperament – The dog should not be performing out of fear, and it should be easy to handle and live with.
- Balanced Energy Level – Your dog should not be bouncing off the wall at all times and at same time he should not be sleeping if someone is ringing the door bell.
- Good size – A dog has to be big enough to be effective.
- Speed – As with an athlete, the weight and speed of a dog have advantages and disadvantages. A dog that has a bit of both is the most universal type, therefore the Malinois are clearly the breed of choice.
- Health – The Malinois have fewer health problems than any other working breed.