How Are Attack Dogs Trained?

By Chris Sherwood

Introduction

Dogs have long held the title of "man's best friend." Their loyalty and kindness have made them a favorite choice as household pets across the globe. However, dogs can also be trained as fierce protectors of both person and property. With a little training, dogs can be taught to attack on command, making them both pets and sources of protection.

Breeds

Training an attack dog usually starts with selecting a specific breed. Some breeds tend to have natural evolutionary traits that make them easier to train as attack dogs. German shepherds, Doberman pinschers and Rottweilers are all common breeds of attack dogs.

Basic Training

Just as a soldier would go to basic training, attack dogs also need to undergo basic training. Dogs must learn basic commands such as "stay" or "sit" before they can learn more complicated attack commands. Teaching basic commands will also train your dog to obey you specifically and, in most cases, to be indifferent to others.

Attack Commands

Once the basic commands have been mastered, attack dogs start to learn attack commands. Starting on a leash, the dog is slowly taught both attack and release commands. To teach the commands, the trainer will often involve an agitator. The agitator works to bring out the natural aggression in the dog as the trainer associates the agitation with the attack command. The dog is then encouraged to chase the agitator on the attack command and is then pulled back on the leash during the release command. This is done until it can be completed without the leash.

Developing Abilities

Not only must the trainer teach commands to an attack dog, she must also insure that both the dog's body and teeth are fit and strong. Most attack dogs are on specific diets and are taken out for exercise on a daily basis. They also may be given toys or sticks to chew on to develop strong bite muscles in the jaws.

Practice

Once the attack commands have been mastered and the dog is ready, a human subject in a bite suit is often introduced to the dog. This allows the trainer to teach the dog where to bite (such as the arms and legs to help debilitate the person being attacked), as well as giving the dog actual experience with a running perpetrator. Practice is the most important part of attack dog training. The more the dog associates the attack command with the action, the more conditioned the dog will be to obey both the attack command and--more important--the release command.