Posted on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
What does it mean to be a blue collar working dog? National Geographic Newswatch interviewed working dog trainer Barry Hewitt to learn what they do and why we need them.
Blue-collar working dogs are, among other things, protection dogs, and Hewitt owns a retail company by the same name that provides dog-training equipment to trainers and handlers of protection dogs. Asked whether he noticed an increasing demand for protection dog services, Hewitt said he did.
“People are feeling the need to protect themselves and property,” he stated.
Protection without the panic
Although some people own guns for protection, Hewitt went on, many choose not to do so, since the chances of getting hurt with your own gun are greater than those of getting hurt by an attacker. Dogs are far less menacing than guns and have other advantages.
“Protection dogs are very popular with families that have kids. Parents feel that they could leave their child out playing in the front yard alone with a dog and not have to worry someone may come by and kidnap them,” said Hewitt.
German Shepherd leads the pack
The dog trainer also mentioned that the most popular breed for protection dogs is still the German Shepherd.
“They’re stable in temperament, have a medium to high drive, and they have a natural herding instinct. This calmer and more stable disposition makes them better as a family protection dog than the other more ‘militant’ working dogs such as the Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherd,” added Hewitt.
Athletes turned bodyguards
Working dogs, however, weren’t born that way: Most of the dogs Hewitt trains have a background in working dog competition sports, which were started in Europe as a way to judge the capabilities of police and military dogs, testing them for qualities like obedience, agility and courage. Even in this country, working dogs are often selected based on titles they earned in competitions, noted Hewitt.
The elite corps
When a blue collar working dog costs $230,000, according to the New York Times, she gets a new title: executive protection dog. The Times story featured Julia, a 3-year-old German shepherd and all-around jet-setter. Julia commutes by private jet between Arizona and an estate in Minnesota and earns her keep as a child-loving companion and ferocious protector, having much in common with elite military dogs like the one Navy Seal Team 6 took on its successful raid of Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.
This content post is provided by the pet experts at Hartz.