Safeguard adopts modern guard dog training techniques

Safeguard adopts modern guard dog training techniques
Published: 31 May 2018 (1186 Views)
Safeguard Security, which has led the way in pioneering the adoption of new security techniques in Zimbabwe, has revolutionised the way in which its guard dogs are trained.

Its dog section manager, Jessica van Staden, worked for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) before she joined Safeguard last year. She and the other members of her team have a deep regard and love for the dogs they look after and train.

"We genuinely love our dogs. We look after our dogs like family," she said.

Motivational training, which is the latest approach to dog training, is the technique she and her team uses.  It is a technique through which a dog learns to be engaged with its handler and is motivated more by what its handler instructs it to do than by other distractions.

Motivation has always been part of dog training, with dogs given rewards for following certain instructions. However, in the past there was also an element of physical compulsion in standard dog training.

The more modern approach to dog training, which is what Safeguard is following, is to rely completely on positive motivation and on building a relationship between a dog and its handler that results in the dog's engagement with its handler to the exclusion of other distractions or opposing motivations. It is designed to ensure the dog enjoys its training.

When a dog bites the padded sleeve worn on one arm by one of the trainers acting as an intruder, it is seen as a game by the dog, Ms Van Staden said.

The dogs in Safeguard's dog section include Boerboels, German Shepherds and Rottweilers, all breeds well suited to being trained as guard dogs.

"These are highly recommended breeds for guard dogs, as they are not only fierce looking but also easy to train to follow commands," Ms Van Staden said.

She said that to be a good guard dog, a dog needs to be confident. Only those that are confident are selected.

"Not every person can be a soldier. Not every dog can be a patrol dog," she pointed out.

The dog's training generally begins as a puppy. In its first few months of life it is generally looked after in a home environment, so it becomes responsive to the love and attention it receives in a family setting.

After a few months, it is taken to Safeguard's kennels where it is trained to respond to its handler's commands and in particular to subdue an intruder by biting its arm and hanging onto it until its trainer tells it to stop.

They are trained to do this, Ms Van Staden says, through games, albeit games in which they are expected to bite the padded sleeve worn by the trainer.

The dogs are taught to pursue an intruder who runs away, even if this means pursuing the intruder inside a building.

Ms Van Staden and members of her team talk about the dogs in much the same way as one might talk about a person, referring to their different personalities and the importance of their mental stability and adequate socialisation.

 "The dog kennels we use meet the internationally recommended size that ensures the dogs have enough space to move around for improved mental stability," Ms Van Staden said.

She said the dog training and dog handler training met international standards. Of prime importance was the welfare of the dogs and the professional handling and control of the dogs, so that they can effectively carry out their guard dog duties.

"Our trainer was formerly a trainer in South Africa and trained to a high standard. We also have an external trainer who reviews training standards from time to time to ensure that we maintain a high standard that is in line with current best practices.

"At Safeguard we use motivational training techniques. Our dogs are trained to understand verbal commands and physical gestures by their handlers. If instructed, they will go after and apprehend an intruder, bringing the intruder to the ground. They are loyal to their handers and will attack anyone who manhandles them," Ms Van Staden said.

The dogs have regular socialisation periods with each other. They are taken, as part of their training, to different places so that they experience different environments and are not distracted or put off by the noise or activities around them.

The premises guarded by Safeguard's guard dogs are varied. They include business premises, homes, farms and mines.

The dog section is also often hired for diplomatic and school functions, especially to watch over areas where cars are parked during events.

"We have dog sections in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Gweru, which all maintain the same high standards to ensure our dogs are well taken care of," Ms Van Staden said.

She pointed out that one of the major advantages of having premises guarded by a security guard with a trained guard dog, was the highly developed senses of hearing and smell that dogs have.

"Even if a dog is sleeping, it will hear and react to the slightest sound," she said.

Dogs also had keen eyesight, she said, which meant they could notice an intruder even from a distance. They could therefore alert the guard to an intruder before the guard noticed him.

"At Safeguard we do not see our dogs as just animals used for protection but we see them as part of the Safeguard Security family," Ms Staden added.

- Agencies


You May Like These Videos


There are no comments.

Latest stories

Botswana President survives near-chopper crash

by Mandla Ndlovu | 22 July 2019 | 64 Views

Econet fires warning shot

by Mandla Ndlovu | 22 July 2019 | 70 Views

Panic as General Chiwenga is airlifted to China

by Mandla Ndlovu | 22 July 2019 | 111 Views

Botswana President survives near-plane crash

by Mandla Ndlovu | 22 July 2019 | 86 Views

The Gems deserve better than that Chipe... something

by Thomas Murisa | 22 July 2019 | 77 Views

The Avenues Clinic donates to Chipinge district hospital

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 73 Views

Should the Marriage Certificate incorporate an Expiry Date?

by Tondorindo | 22 July 2019 | 107 Views

Tsvangirai-Java's young brother guns for Glen View South seat

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 106 Views

Tshinga Dube refuses to vacate offices

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 122 Views

Mnangagwa's Youth league in sensational U-turn

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 148 Views

Mnangagwa escalates efforts to befriend USA, Europe

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 83 Views

DStv launches new 24-hr news channel

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 91 Views

Zimbabwe govt rules out nuclear power

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 92 Views

Convict Japajapa to apply for bail at High Court

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 82 Views

'Mnangagwa's secretary runs parallel government'

by Mandla Ndlovu | 22 July 2019 | 136 Views

New fuel prices announced

by Mandla Ndlovu | 22 July 2019 | 98 Views

Parliament of Zimbabwe exposed

by Nicholas Ncube | 22 July 2019 | 104 Views

WATCH: God appears live at Bushiri's church

by Mandla Ndlovu | 22 July 2019 | 133 Views

Unusual majors in US military academies

by Staff Writer | 22 July 2019 | 97 Views

High taxation threatens mining viability

by Dennis Shoko | 22 July 2019 | 76 Views

Talking Nkayi Development: 'No cry babies on their mothers' backs!'

by Nhlanhla Moses Ncube | 22 July 2019 | 71 Views

NPRC spells out Gukurahundi strategy

by Staff reportr | 22 July 2019 | 77 Views

ICT experts propose changes to Cyber Bill

by Stafff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 88 Views

'Rogue NGOs worry Mnangagwa's govt'

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 90 Views

'Masvingo solidly behind Mnangagwa'

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 82 Views

Manica strike late to denies Bosso maximum points

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 74 Views

Student loans re-introduced

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 81 Views

Corrupt passport officials warned

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 68 Views

'Beware of regime change agents'

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 66 Views

NRZ refurbishes 10 locomotives, 336 wagons

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 74 Views

'No fix to illegal forex trade'

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 84 Views

Zacc probes Lands Commission

by Staff reporter | 22 July 2019 | 78 Views