Security & guard training

Learning how to train a guard dog

So you have a new puppy in your home which you’d like to train to become a guard dog one day, rather than a regular family dog. What is the difference in raising and training a puppy so that one day your dog will be guarding you, your family and your house?

These are the things to consider before bringing a puppy into your home:

Types of guard dogs

Firstly, ask yourself what precisely it is that you expect your guard dog to do.

  • Do you want the dog to bark if someone comes near your property?
  • How do you want your dog to guard your property?
  • Or are you looking for a dog that not only guards the property but also defends his master and his family?

Self analysis

Are you an assertive and confident enough leader who’s able to train a guard dog and maintain control of such a dog? A trained guarding dog must be absolutely 100% obedient to the dog owner. If that isn’t fully taken care of, your dog may become a hazard to both you and others.

Once you have clearly defined your needs and have assured that you are the right type of person who can handle training a dog into becoming a guard dog, you can start thinking about choosing the appropriate dog breed for your needs.
Practically all dog breeds are able to bark to alert someone, but certain breeds are more naturally protective than others. Shepherds, Dobermans, Great Pyrenees and Mastiffs are generally considered to be among the best guarding breeds.

Once you have decided on the breed and have chosen the perfect puppy, it is time to start with basic dog training, including obedience training and dog socialization.

Your dog must first learn obey basic commands like sit, stay, come and heel before he can proceed to the more difficult task of becoming a guarding companion.

Once basic socialization has been covered and mastered, you can start taking your puppy to parks, city events and sporting events. What you’ll want to achieve is that your puppy feels comfortable and calm in environments with many people and distractions. He should also get accustomed to people touching and interacting with him. Staying patient is important here as well. As you will notice, it’s hard for a young puppy to stay calm all the time.

Levels of guarding

Alert bark

If you simply want to have your dog to alert audibly you when a stranger approaches, learn how to train a guard dog to give you a controlled bark. This means that the dog barks only when strangers pass by and stops when you tell him to.
You start by training your dog to “speak.” Get him excited enough to start barking at you and then praise him when he does it at your command.
If he continues barking, say “Enough” and then praise him when he stops.
Do this until he can bark on command and stop when instructed.

Then, enlist the help of someone that you know but who your dog has not yet met. Make this person approach your property and then give the bark command to your dog. Do this repeatedly until it clicks with your dog at the stranger crossing the property line is the signal to bark.
Make sure that you say “No” when the dog barks before the stranger gets in sight. Bear in mind that patience and persistence are required here as well and will ultimately lead to the desired result!

Perimeter guarding

To teach your dog to understand the boundaries of your property, you have to show him those boundaries clearly. Walk the perimeter together, and teach him to stay within that zone by using “Sit” and “Stay” commands.

From guarding to attack

If you need a guard dog that is trained to attack someone who is threatening, then it is highly advisable that you use a professional dog trainer. Deciding to keeping such a dog in your house is a decision not to be taken lightly as it comes with different life-long responsibilities.

If you have an attack dog living with you, you must post signs on your property that warns people who may not be threatening, but are still strangers to the dog (such as utility people and repair men).

Furthermore, always be aware that your dog could get alerted by noises or fast movements such as those made by playing children. Never leave your trained attack dog near children!