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Protection Dogs and the Use of Force Continuum

barking german shepherd

Police and Security Officers are familiar with the Use of Force Continuum. There are some critics of the utility of the Use of Force Continuum. The argument against it is that it encourages officers to utilise a higher level of force than necessary because it’s often taught as a gradient. i.e. start low and end high. However, I find that is a result of poor training and understanding of the continuum. The Use of Force Continuum doesn’t require you to only escalate, if your attacker brings their level of aggression down, you can bring your level down too. The advantage of the continuum is it gives you a framework for making decisions in the heat of the moment and a common language that is often taught to jurors so that you can justify your actions later.

The levels of Force Continuum are below.

  1. Presence – The presence of your dog is the first level of the Force Continuum. The goal here is that simply having your dog next to you prevents an attack. 
  2. Verbal – Your warnings towards a threat and the dogs barking are the Verbal level. The idea here is that you can deter or negotiate your way out of an attack before using force. 
  3. Open Hand – This could be pushing a person out of your space or having your dog lunge to the end of their lead to create space. If you don’t have a dog, you have more options in this space. However, controlling a dog takes up one of your hands.
  4. Closed Hand – This is when you start punching, kicking, and your dog muzzle strikes. 
  5. Weapons – Some versions of the Force Continuum distinguish between “non-lethal” and “lethal” weapons. I think this is problematic because all weapons have the potential to be lethal. Dog Bites fall into the category of weapons and can potentially be lethal as they are causing grievous bodily harm. 

It’s important for everyone to be aware of this continuum and to think about your actions during a conflict and your defence afterwards. Because even if you’re attacked and defend yourself, you may have to justify your actions to a court. Failure to justify your actions could result in legal and civil penalties and the destruction of your dog.

I am absolutely not a legal expert. I’ve read the Queensland Criminal Code and had to attend multiple Use of Force training sessions as a Security Officer. One company I worked for asked their lawyers to determine appropriate uses of force for specific arbitrary situations and the advice from the lawyer made no tactical sense whatsoever. And that advice failed to take into account the Use of Force Continuum.

In my opinion, when faced with a threat your safety comes first legal ramifications come second. I’ve utilised this continuum successfully in my work as a security officer for over ten years. Using this continuum has allowed me to resolve most conflicts without violence and I’ve never been taken to court over any of my actions as a security officer. I am only aware of one case where a dog has bitten someone in a conflict situation that resulted in prosecution and I believe that was a civil case as the offender didn’t have enough for a criminal case against the handler.

We train ourselves and our dogs for the worst-case scenario so that we don’t experience that scenario. But our skills are subordinate to our tactics. We need to keep in mind how we enter and plan to end a conflict so that both our dogs and we are safe and free afterwards.

If you’d like to discuss protection dog training with me, contact me below.

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Exercising Your Dog

Dogs love to exercise, however exercising your dog often becomes a chore. And anyone who has or was a small child knows that chores are best avoided. But that doesn’t help your dog out. So how do you exercise and stimulate your dog without it becoming a chore?

Paying me for exercising your dog

This is the easiest way to exercise your dog. Delegate responsibility to someone else. On my services page, you can see my rates and book a service. This is an excellent option if your dog is boisterous, time-poor, injured/ill, or going on holiday. Hiring me to exercise your dog ensures they will remain happy, healthy and fit.

Dog Walking
Dog Walking

Exercising your dog on your own

This requires some discipline. But it doesn’t have to be hard work. You may be shocked to read this but humans enjoy exercise too. Dogs probably enjoy it more because they don’t have a neocortex over thinking everything. The trick to enjoying exercise as a human is to find the middle spot where you aren’t exhausted or injured but you have still got your heart beating over 100bpm. If you can do this with your dog, then you’ll both enjoy your exercise more. Unless you’re an athlete, if you push yourself too hard then you will stop enjoying your exercise.

Exercises to do with your dog

There are lots of ways to exercise your dog. The simplest way is walking. Maybe you don’t like your neighbourhood? You could take them on beach walks or bush walks. You can even get doggy-treadmills. You can use a human treadmill for dogs however, the dog treadmills do offer some advantages. They tend to be longer, so they work better with the dog’s gait. They also have fences so the can’t jump off the sides. If you use a human treadmill don’t let the dog go faster than a trot.

Other ways to exercise your dog

  • Dancing with Dogs – This has become a fun sport for many people and their dogs. They create fantastic routines with their dogs and even compete. (I have no rhythm so I don’t train in this)
  • Retrieving Games – Most people are familiar with playing fetch however, you can mix it up a bit by throwing multiple objects and directing the dog to retrieve each one in turn. You can move position while the dog is running towards one object so they also have to find where you are.
  • Tug Games[BITE WARNING] Dogs love biting and catching. You can make this into a very fun and rewarding game with your dog. However, especially when their learning to target, you may get bit. It is an accident and the dog is sorry and you shouldn’t punish them for it. But if you don’t want to get bit then don’t play tug. If you do want to play tug and would like to learn how to do it safely and effectively, then you can either book a training session with me or lookout for class announcements on this website.
  • Search Games – I’ve talked about search games before. You can search and do scent discrimination work outside or inside. Having to use their nose will make the dog have to think more, so they will get tired faster.
  • Tracking – You will need a friend for this. Your friend lays a trail and then the dog finds them. This is a good teamwork and bonding exercise for you and your dog and they have to use their nose and stick to a trail.
  • Sheep Herding – If your dog has any herding instinct I highly recommend taking them to herding facilities. My preferred Sheep Herding School is Sheep Herding for City Dogs.


There are many ways to exercise your dog. You can hire me to do it or find a fun activity you enjoy with your dog. Many experts say that your dog needs between 30 minutes and two hours of exercise per day. This can be challenging to do. You can shorten the amount of exercise your dogs need by increasing the stimulus and arousal levels during their exercise. But both you and the dog will fell better if you know your dog is fit, happy, and healthy.

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Entertaining Dogs on Rain Days

Dog in Bed

The rains are finally here. And it looks like it will be raining all week. I stopped walking around in the rain when Fred and I stopped patrolling train yards. However, without their daily walks, entertaining dogs on rain days is difficult. So, to stop you pulling your hair out and to stop your dog destroying your house. Here are some training games you can play with your dog to entertain them when you can go for walks.

Come Find Me

This is a great game to play with your dog. You either need a dog with a really solid stay (so they’ll stay in a room while you go hide) or someone to help play the game with you. Using their nose and searching is one of the most exhausting things a dog can do. It requires a lot of brain power. And because the whole house smells like you, it will make it more difficult for them. It’s the perfect game for a rainy day, especially if you have kids that will do the hiding.

  1. Start off simple, while the dog is learning the rules of the game you want to make it easy to win. So hide behind the door in the next room or something so they almost run into you. When they find you give them lots of praise.
  2. Once they understand “find me” means they have to search for you, become more creative about where you hide. Move furniture, hide in boxes, under bed covers, in cupboards. If you can find away to hide above the dogs normal line of sight so they have to think in three dimensions.
  3. If you’re playing with the kids, teach the dog that they have to find only the kid who’s name you call. The way you do this is that only the kid that is called is allowed to react to the dog, the rest of the kids have to play statue.

Rain Day Puzzle Treats

This requires some investment and planning. You will need a toy like a Kong or any number of puzzle games that you can hide treats in. Once you have taught the dog how the game works they will have to unlock the combination to get the treats. Unless they’re like my security dog and they just throw the puzzle and pick up all the treats. A Kong with peanut butter does take them a decent amount of time regardless of their destructive capability. Dogs find chewing relaxing and entertaining, so anything that they are allowed to chew is a good treat for rainy days.

Scent Discrimination

This is like the shell game, where you put a ball under a cup and then move the cups around and someone has to guess which one has the ball.

  1. Get some party cups and poke holes in the bottom. This is so the scent can come out.
  2. You need an old rag or hanky. Wipe some sweat off you and then place the hanky with the sweat in the cup with the holes facing up. Let your dog see what you’re doing the first few times.
  3. Start with one cup only. Let the dog smell you then say search. If the dog immediately shows interest in the cup reward them. Otherwise you may have to lead them to it a few times to give them the idea.
  4. When they go to the one cup with the smell reliably on ‘Search’. Add another cup about a ruler distance away from the first cup. Keep the smelly item in the first cup for now. The goal is for them to ignore the not smelly cup so we want to make it easy while they’re learning.
  5. When they ignore the not smelly cup and go for the smelly cup in when they’re in the same position then swap them. When they figure out that you changed it start moving the cups around the house. And stop letting them see which cup you put the smell in.
  6. 15 minutes of this game will tire them out for many hours.

I’ll add pictures to his post later guys. And I’ll probably edit it a bit too. I just wanted to get it out quickly encase anyone needed to amuse their dogs when they can’t walk them. If you have any other ideas for entertaining your dogs on rainy days, share them in the comments.