Having a dog can be great for putting your mind at ease, especially if you live in the country or a rowdy area.
If you want to feel as safe as possible, it’s a good idea to train your dog to be a “proper” guard dog.
This doesn’t mean just letting him bark at whoever he wants, but rather, it means training your dog to follow your lead, i.e., if you see someone walking by that looks a bit suspicious – you need to be able to use a command word to put your dog on guard.
Equally, if a friend walks up to your gate and your dog starts barking, you need a command that lets him know that this is a friend, and he can relax!
What Are Guard Dogs?
There is a debate on what a guard dog indeed is.
For some, it’s a dog that will defend you from intruders, or those trying to harm you – for others, it’s a dog that looks the part, and makes noise to deter trouble.
Upon researching the definition of guard dogs, we saw trainers using two distinctions to describe the difference in function between these two canines, and these are – the guard dog and the attack dog. Pitbulls are excellent at both!
The Difference Between Attack and Guard Dogs
Attack dogs are generally used by law enforcement to track down criminals and to subdue them upon finding them.
They’re trained to bite down on one area – normally the arm, and take a criminal down until their human partner can put cuffs on!
Whereas guard dogs can be one of two types:
- The family dog also has the role of protecting their family by warding off would-be troublemakers.
- A pure guard dog, usually kept at business premises to deter thieves.
Step By Step Training Your Guard Dog
It takes time to train your dog to harness his protective instinct, and if you want a great guard dog, you have to be consistent in your training.
But above all, you have to be patient – this isn’t going to happen overnight, and sometimes you’ll feel as though you’re going backward; but if you stick it out – you’ll have a great guard dog in no time!
Step 1 – Socialization
To get started on your journey, you need to get that cute pup of yours out into the big wide world!
Some owners make the mistake of thinking that by socializing their dogs, they will lose their guarding instinct and wariness of strangers, but actually, by introducing your dog to lots of people – it will build up his confidence which will make him a far better guarding pooch.
Step 2 – Obedience Training
The first step to having a great guard dog is to make sure that your dog is an obedient fella that listens to your commands without hesitation.
This should start out as things as simple as sitting down, lying down, staying, and waiting.
One of my favorite ways to combine obedience training with the previous step of socialization is by taking him to a dog training class.
You can find these just about anywhere, and many trainers also offer to follow up classes for guard dog-specific training.
Step 3 – Advanced Obedience
The more obedient your dog is, the easier it will be to train him to guard.
Some greatly advanced obedience commands that you can teach him are:
- Quiet – Stop barking on command
- Speak – Begin barking on command
- Jump – Go over an obstacle
- Search – Teach them to find specific objects, i.e., the phone
Step 4 – Learning His Territory
It’s all fine and dandy teaching your pooch to bark when you tell him to, but what you really want to do is make sure that he knows his territory so that he actually wants to guard it.
Running the perimeter is a good exercise for this, and teaching your dog to do this is easy and a great way to exercise your pooch, and yourself too!
- Start by taking your dog out on the leash, and walk him right on the perimeter of your land boundary.
- You’ll want to use a command word as you’re clipping your dog’s leash onto his collar to begin to get him accustomed to running this certain route. A good idea is “Run the fence.”
- When he has become accustomed to walking this route, you can then jog with him on the same route – keeping him at your heel and not pulling in front of you.
- When you feel as though you’re ready – you can remove the lead and again, walk the route again before moving up to a run together.
- The final part of the training involves you moving further and further away from your pooch as he “runs the fence,” this is with the goal of then being able to stand in the center of the yard and giving the command for your dog to “run the fence.”
The outcome from all of this training will result in your being able to let your dog out of the house and tell him to “run the fence” without you having to go out with him – an incredibly handy command for scaring off would-be intruders or just putting your mind at ease.
Step 5 – Announcing Strangers
When anyone comes calling, it’s important that your dog knows that it’s his job to announce to you that someone is there.
Teaching this command is easy, but you absolutely must ensure that you follow all of the steps and don’t stop halfway – otherwise, you’ll likely end up with a yappy dog that drives your neighbors insane!
Begin by being in your home, with your dog; now ask a friend to come and knock on the door.
You then want to encourage your dog to speak up, and bark – when he does this tell him he’s good, and that he can be quiet not – then reward him readily.
Once he has barked, and you’ve given him a pat and told him he’s a good boy, invite your friend into the home to also tell him that he’s a good boy.
Repeat this step a few times to build up his confidence on the first day.
Continue asking him to bark every time someone comes to the door, and pretty soon he’ll be doing it all by himself.
Step 6 – What To Do If Your Dog Gets Scared
During any kind of guard dog training, it’s completely natural for your dog to get nervous or scared at times.
The worst thing that you can do in this situation is to tell him off, instead; when this happens, skip the exercise that is making him uncomfortable and go back to one that he’s very confident with.
Let’s say, for example, he’s scared of barking when a stranger comes calling, you can take this back a step by inviting your friend inside, and then just asking your dog to speak on command.
Taking it back, and then slowly building up to the intended exercise will build up his confidence in himself.
The Legal Ramifications
If your dog bites someone, you must remember that you can be held legally responsible and even face charges for this.
In certain circumstances, your dog can even be seized and euthanized.
For that reason, it’s best to seek training from an experienced dog trainer that can teach your dog how to guard, without causing injuries.
Is Appearance Enough?
Pitbulls have had a bad rap because of few bad owners that mistreated or neglected their pooches, and from this – many people now see Pitbulls and assume that they’re dangerous.
While this is generally annoying, it can be quite handy for avoiding trouble, as people will likely see a Pitbull and back off.
Many people hear of Pitbull guard dogs and think that it’s irresponsible to train such a breed to guard, but alas – provided that positive dog training techniques are used, and your dog is correctly trained this is, in fact, one of the most responsible things that you can undertake as a Pitbull owner.
You may be wondering why?
Well, it’s because you’re training your dog exactly when he needs to guard, and teaching him commands for when everything is OK, and he can just chill.
Not many owners can say that their dogs are that obedient, can they?!