How to Train a Guard Dog

Most people think of dogs as wonderful and loyal companions, who are able to form a strong bond with their owners. However, owning a dog can also be a great way to increase your home’s level of security. A properly trained guard dog can help to deter potential burglars, and may also be an efficient alarm against intruders on your property. By following an effective training program, it is possible to train your dog to be a good watchdog, while still being a loving and affectionate companion.

The Function of a Guard Dog

It should be clarified that a “Guard Dog” does not necessarily have to be an “Attack Dog”. Many gentle breeds, such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers, make very effective guard dogs. The function of a guard dog should not simply be to attack intruders on your property. That type of training is extremely difficult, as it can be hard to teach your dog to discern between visiting friends and potential intruders. However, by training your dog to be alert to suspicious activity, you can help protect your home against burglars.

How To Train A Guard Dog: Step 1 – Socialization
Before engaging in a guard dog training program, it’s extremely important that you first effectively socialize your dog. This involves allowing your dog to become used to loud noises, traffic, thunderstorms, umbrellas, other animals and friends of your family. Without socialization, a dog will have an extremely hard time identifying threatening scenarios. Socialization training should be started as soon as your dog becomes a member of your family.

How To Train A Guard Dog: Step 2 – Choose a Training Program
After your dog is comfortably socialized, you can choose a training program. It’s best to start with basic obedience training, as this will establish your role as your dog’s teacher. After your dog has mastered basic commands, you can begin guard dog training. The best training programs will use a method known as positive reinforcement, which has proven to be the most effective method for dog training. With positive reinforcement, you will be rewarding your dog for desired behavior, while ignoring them when they participate in bad or unwanted behavior. This training method requires that you do not punish your dog by yelling, spanking, slapping, hitting or chaining them outdoors. Instead, your dog will learn that good behavior earns them treat rewards and attention – while bad behavior causes you to ignore them entirely.

How To Train A Guard Dog: Step 3 – Set Property Boundaries
When training a guard dog, be sure that your dog knows exactly where your property ends. If you want your dog to guard a specific area of your property (such as the front yard or driveway), you will need to enforce this in your training program. Once this is accomplished, your dog will recognize your property as their “territory”, and will only guard against intruders that trespass on these boundaries.

How To Train A Guard Dog: Step 4 – Controlled Barking
If you want your dog to alert you when there is someone at your door or in your yard, you will need to enforce the concept of “controlled barking”. This means that your dog will be trained to bark at any visitors, though will immediately stop barking on command. This can avoid excessive, uncontrollable barking which can be detrimental to both you and your neighbors. To enforce this, choose a verbal command which will announce to your dog that they are to stop barking. This can be “No Bark”, “Quiet [Insert Name of Dog]” or any other command that you choose. The important thing is that you consistently use this command when your dog stops barking, accompanied immediately by praise and a treat reward. For example, if your dog is barking, wait patiently until they are quiet. Immediately after they stop, give the reward as well as the verbal command. With a few repetitions, you can help them to associate this command with ceasing to bark.