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Training man's best friend to be your first line of defense

Guard dog training

More and more people are turning to guard dogs for protection. Local trainer Angel Soriano said it's a trend that goes up as crime does.

Soriano is the CEO of K9 University in Yukon. The business does everything dog-- from puppy and behavior classes to training dogs for personal protection.

Soriano said well-trained dogs are an effective, safe way to combat crime.

"There are 3 million guns in America and the question is: 'Where is yours?' 'Is it loaded?' 'Why is it loaded if you have kids?' That's probably not the safest thing to do so the idea of having a weapon is questionable. I like the idea of having a gun myself but that doesn't mean that I'm going to be able to do something with it if a crime occurs," Soriano said.

He said a personal protection dog can stop a home intruder or unwanted advances, giving you time to call 911. He said it will also stop a criminal, while stopping short of using lethal force.

"You can call back a dog after you sent them, where you cannot call back a bullet," he said.

For people who want a personal protection dog, Soriano said the whole family should be in on the training, so they can all learn the commands and conditioning that goes into making a well-trained dog.

He said it should start from puppyhood with a dog from a defensive breed.

"Protective breeds are German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Dobermans, Rottweiler, Boxers-- they're protective breeds. They're bred to do that kind of work," he said.

But, he said, don't discount a shelter dog. He said a mix-breed dog could work.

"A gentleman adopted this dog and it turned out to be a phenomenal personal protection dog," Soriano said.

A puppy will still need to be assessed to see if it's a good candidate.

"You have to start with a dog that typically has the drive, has the courage, has the ability to do that job. Then once that's determined, the training starts. The process in training a personal protection dog varies but it's anywhere from about eight months to 18 months worth of work," he said.

As Soriano puts it, it's not inexpensive. Getting a full bred puppy can run $4,000 to $5,000. The months of training can run from $8,000 to $11,000.

The dog is also a good family pet.

"It's a family dog first and protector second. Don't minimize the protection piece of it, but it's simply a dog that can get along with your kids, your grand-kids. We have a personal protection dog at home and I have two young grandkids."

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