Are You a Sheepdog?

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The analogy of the sheepdog, which oversees and protects the flock, was popularized in the law enforcement, military, security, and personal defense communities in the 1990s through the writings of Lt. Col. David Grossman, who has been a PDN contributor. Over the years, Rob Pincus’s beliefs about the sheepdog concept have evolved.

The Professional Sheepdog

Rob completely supports the idea of the sheepdog when talking about the armed professional — military, law enforcement, and security. They have distinguished themselves from the flock, put themselves in a position of overwatch and agreed to professionally take on the responsibility of protecting everybody else. They can truly say, “I am the sheepdog.” But are you really a sheepdog?

If you’d asked Rob ten years ago if the sheepdog analogy applied to personal defense, he would have replied absolutely yes. But over the years he’s learned that there really is a dramatic difference when he’s wearing his badge and uniform as a reserve deputy and goes out into the public space. He is then playing the role of the sheepdog.

The same applies when he is on an executive protection detail and during many other times in his professional life when he has worn a security uniform, a law enforcement uniform, or a military uniform.

I am the Sheepdog

But what are you, a private citizen, acting as when you put on a firearm and go out into the public space with the intention of defending yourself and your family? Is “I am the sheepdog” your motto? Should it be? On the contrary, Rob believes you are simply a member of the flock who is prepared to defend themselves.

Learn more about Lt. Col. Grossman’s self-defense concepts through his videos here at PDN, and get differing viewpoints in our extensive collection of self-defense training videos.

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5 Responses to “Are You a Sheepdog?”
  1. Howard

    Dear Mr. Pincus,

    Thanks for another great video. I may have told you by email that I present on emergency preparedness for people with disabilities and I address four categories: fire escape, medical, mandatory evacuation, and, depending on audience, anti-crime/terrorism. Though I speak mostly to an audience who is unarmed, what knowledge do you recommend that I present for armed professionals or citizens? Or would such a presentation be useful to you at all? And yes, I should take some classes from you.



    • cst

      Hello Howard, unfortunately, Rob is not very clear on the question at hand here.
      In regards to your inquiry:
      If firearms and their defensive use isn’t your area of expertise it is recommended try and present as if you are one. Look at your unarmed information and find what unarmed topics could cross over and provide value to those that are armed.

      Hope that helps! Have a great day!

  2. David Weaver

    I would hope that I was – in the case that the circumstance warranted it.

    The problem is that by simply professing that one is prepared and “willing” is liable to be used against you in a court of law – in the case that the circumstance warranted it.

  3. Jose

    I have heard another analogy that may be even more appropriate than the “ram”. I am actually a porcupine. In todays world I will defend myself and my family, but I am not willing to take the risk of defending others and spending $$ and time to defend myself from government and law enforcement intrusion.

  4. John

    Rob, I agree with your analogy. Sheepdogs are to protect the herd and Rams are part of the herd. As the gentleman below talked about the porcupine he would actually not be part of the herd. I would also like to think that those of us who are CCW holders are a cross between the sheepdog and more like a herding dog. We will do the part to protect when necessary but will more likely move the herd to a safer location if given the opportunity. There still may be a crossing in the terms yet.


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