Nicholas Sparks (author of “The Notebook”) with his two CPI-trained German Shepherds
Our Executive Protection Program is about reliability. The program prepares a dog to respond reliably anywhere, anytime to a potential threat. As the most common threat today (home invasion and armed robbery) often escalates into some form of violence, it is essential to have a dog prepared to respond to any type of threat. Our Executive Protection Dogs, therefore, are taught to respond to passive threats (the threat before it becomes aggressive) as well as aggressive threats. It is just as important, maybe more so, for the dog to be able to manage the violent threat once engaged (again, home invasions often escalate into some form of violence).
Our Executive Protection Dog Program includes our Naked Obedience program (as seen in most of our videos), the basics found in our Protection Dog Basics II program such as the Aggressive Alert, Attack, stop attack, release and “turn off.” In addition, we add to the program Basic fighting skills, Advanced biting skills and Advanced Handler Protection exercises including the “Secure” and “Protective Escape”.
On one hand we want you to have options as to how your dog protects you. We also want one exercise to be your fail-safe, the one that is called for automatically, and one that your dog performs as second nature. That exercise is the “Secure,” and it is at the heart of the Executive Protection Dog program.
It is in understanding the anatomy of the average threat (see below) that we created the Secure. Understanding this information may give a greater appreciation of what our Executive Protection Dogs provides when it comes to security.
Threats: 12 to 20 Feet
The most common threat today in most locations in North America or Europe is home invasion, followed by armed robbery. What both threats have in common is the distance covered by the attacker as the assault takes place. Whether the home invasion takes place as you are getting out of your car or answering the door, takes the form of a forced entry while you’re watching television, or unfolds as a robbery in a parking lot, most assaults will take place from a distance of 12 to 20 feet. And we know it takes approximately 2 seconds for an attacker to cover that distance.
The Challenge: Two Seconds
Recognizing a threat and responding may be automatic and seem instantaneous, but it’s not. Not with a dog, a handgun or any other means of self defense. It takes 5/8 of a second for your brain to recognize a threat and initiate a response. That’s if your response is automatic. Your dog requires the same synapse in his or her brain to connect the incoming information with the appropriate response. Therefore, your dog needs 5/8 of a second to hear your command and initiate a response. Already just the simple brain function of owner and dog have taken 1.25 seconds. Unfortunately, there is only 3/4 of a second left.
A Matter of Mathematics
At this stage, it is simply a matter of mathematics. Waiting for a dog to get to your side to turn him or her “on” isn’t an option. There’s no time. Instructing a dog to attack from a distance, and him or her covering that distance in 3/4 of a second, isn’t enough time either. Without hesitating, without taking time to find your children, reaching for your phone or anything else, you’re already out of time. The attacker has the upper hand.
This is the same criteria used to evaluate any form of defense within the security or executive protection field. It is with this understanding, and with our clients looking to us and our dogs for security, that led us to create the “Secure”.
The Solution: Secure
The “Secure” exercise solves the problem of time and distance. Owners are taught their first reaction in any situation is to move. Move both away and off the line of attack. This by itself buys seconds. As you begin to move you issue the command to “Secure.” This buys additional time, and a whole lot more! We’ll explain how.
Your dog performs six separate behaviors as a result of that one command to “Secure”:
- Your dog immediately runs to your side.
- Your dog analyzes the situation (for the potential threat) as he or she approaches.
- Your dog “turns on” aggressively toward the potential threat.
- Your dog remains by your side, “turned on” until told otherwise.
- Your dog moves with you forward, backward or sideways without the need for you to hold his collar or leash.
- Your dog positions him or herself between your body and the threat.
Your Executive Protection Dog will remain by your side without biting, unless you’re assaulted or he or she is instructed to attack. This means you can focus on what’s most important: getting yourself and family into the safest place possible. While you focus on what’s most important to you, your dog’s focus is on protecting you. Even when you’re picking up the children to go into the house or bedroom or where ever safe haven happens to be, your dog will remain by your side, turned on, positioned between you and the threat, even if it requires doing so while walking backward while showing aggression.
Next in importance are advanced biting skills. Advanced biting skills are taught using a bite suit so that a dog is comfortable biting anywhere on the body. That includes the front and backs of lower legs, thighs, abdomen, triceps and the inside of the upper arms. Dogs are taught continually to bite deeper and harder as a fighting tactic (different than simply teaching to bite full and hard). This is followed by teaching the dog that if all parts of the body are available, he or she should strategically target the inside of the upper right arm and/or shoulder. As most people are right-handed (85 percent of the population) the odds are good that this strategic bite will immobilize the weapon hand. This area also provides greater physical leverage and inflicts significant pain because of a nerve bundle in the armpit. .
If biting skills are likened to a person learning how to throw a punch, and advanced biting skills equivalent to becoming a skilled boxer, then fighting skills would be the equivalent of learning a series of blocks, footwork and entering (attacking) strategies. When it comes to our Executive Protection Dogs, the basic fighting skills include leg to arm transfers, arm to arm transfers (defend against strikes, grabs or weapons), strategic entering (strategy when attacking), overcoming static (still) and dynamic (moving) obstacles and overcoming objects used to block attacks.
(These basics of fighting serve as building blocks for those advanced fighting skills taught in our Elite Family and Estate Protection Dog program.)
Just as important as advanced biting skills, fighting skills and advanced handler protection exercises is our investment in the integration of these skills. We expose our Executive Protection Dogs to a wide range of environments and situations in which they must perform (without equipment on a decoy). That includes “turning on” in the midst of obedience, while playing with toys, while walking up and down stairs. They even have to “turn on” while having their bellies rubbed! At the end of the day those of us who may be faced with a potential threat seldom expect it when it occurs. Being able to go from “everyday mind” to “providing a formidable defense” requires preparation.
We take integration and reliability a step further. The next phase of preparation is to challenge a dog’s performance by attempting to sabotage it. In early stages, sabotage may take the form of a trainer instructing the dog to turn on while the potential threat takes out a toy or ball and begins bouncing it. We may use a bowl of food to persuade the dog there’s no reason to be “turned on.” We also use non-trainers, male and female, who appear “just as sweet as can be.” It may be that the person threatening the dog suddenly turns on a leaf blower and begins walking away, or begins vacuuming or even starts skipping across the room. Anything to confuse the dog into not turning on, not biting or both. Naturally, we also prepare our dogs to respond to aggressive threats. Remember, aggressive threats are the easiest for a protection dog to respond to.
Purchasing a CPI Dog
If you are purchasing a CPI dog, the price is dependent on the cost of the dog and time and effort invested in training. Prices for our fully trained Executive Protection Dog program start at $25,000.00.
Having your Dog Trained by CPI
If you want us to train a dog you already own, an evaluation will be required. Every dog is different; each dog’s training needs will be different. The price of your dog’s training will depend on the results of an evaluation of his or her natural ability combined with the level of training already achieved.
For example, the average dog experienced in European dog sports would require between 8 and 12 weeks of training at an average cost of $12,500. Dogs with more advanced training such as our Naked Obedience and Protection Dog Basics II would likely require less training, thereby reducing the cost of the program.
Despite our evaluation of your dog, and estimating the time and effort required for training, every dog will respond to training in his or her own way. This includes the potential that your dog will require more time or effort than we may have estimated. However, once you are given a price for your dog’s training after the evaluation, the price will remain the same regardless of the actual time and effort required.