PHOENIX (KSAZ) - We all know a dog is man's best friend, but now it can be man's greatest protector as well. An Arizona dog training company specializes in training so-called protector dogs that are gaining in popularity. The trainers say these dogs are pets first, but they have an extra set of skills should you ever need them.
Abbie is like a child to her owners. The 11-month-old Belgian Malinois might look sweet and calm, but looks can be deceiving. She's a personal protection dog, and that type of dog is gaining in popularity.
"We feel like in today's society, you just never know," said her owner.
Neal Mestas is the owner of Armor K9; he's trained hundreds of dogs including Abbie.
"These dogs are protectors, their pets first and protectors second. We train personal protection dogs, they're not attack dogs; they're not trained killers," said Mestas.
A trainer at Armor K9 demonstrated what the dogs can do.
"This may be somebody that's threatening me or trying to attack me, so I'm going to give her a warning. She's going to go out and bark and basically hold him between the two of us and not allow him to proceed closer to me," said the trainer.
Abbie gets her commands from German words.
"The dog is a buffer between me and the threat. That way I can call the police or do what I need to do to get my family to safety, while the intruder is dealing with the dog," he said.
Some protector dogs can even be trained to search a home.
"We're going to have Ki search the house. Maybe you've come home and the doors open or there's a broken window, you want to make sure the house is safe before you go in," said the trainer.
As soon as the dog finds the suspect, she is trained to bark until given a command to back down.
The dogs don't come cheap. Training starts at $10,000 and for advance training, they can cost up to $60,000. But for some, it's worth every penny.
"The cost is so minimal when you think about the feeling of safety with her being here," said the Widmann's.
Man's best friend, now man's best line of defense.
"We wanted the whole package, we wanted a family dog and protection, and we got both, we're so lucky," they said.
The company says they like training Belgian Malinois' because of their intelligence, size, and strength.