Should I Train My Dog as a Guard Dog?
Who wouldn’t feel safer knowing their family pet was also a trained guard dog!? If you have small children, live alone, or in a less than safe neighborhood, a trained protection dog can be an extra element of protection for you and your family.
If you don’t like guns, or worry about whether you’re skilled in self-defense, think about training your dog to be a protector. While you should have a full line of home protection options (security cameras, good locks, alarms etc.), a dog is an important part of your security options.
There are pros and cons to having a personal-protection dog.
Cons of Having a Personal Protection Dog:
- Before you even consider training your dog to be a guard dog, they must be rock solid on all their basic commands, like sit, stay, leave it, heel, and lie down. Don’t even think about training them to guard or protect until they have the basic commands down.
- Once a dog is trained to be a guard dog you must keep up their training daily. It’s a lifetime commitment to your dog.
- A true protection trained dog cannot make friends with anyone but his or her primary handler. Some do well in a family, but they perform better when they only have one handler.
- While trained guard dogs may appear calm and friendly when with their handler, they are still guard dogs and shouldn’t be allowed to be left unsupervised with outside people.
- The best guard dog breeds are large, working breeds and require a lot of exercise and room to roam.
- A trained protection or guard dog may be considered a liability and open you up for lawsuits if they do bite someone.
Pros of Having a Personal Protection Dog:
- Guard dog breeds, when raised from puppyhood, tend to be extremely loyal and protective of their owners, and often of their owner’s positions.
- Many guard dog breeds are just intimidating because of their breed – like Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, and Bulldogs, Boxers, and Doberman Pinschers and don’t really even need training, although they should be trained in all the basic commands.
- You don’t have to worry about a protection guard “jamming” or running out of ammunition like you would a gun.
- Dogs can sense invaders outside the home and alert you before you even know someone else is around.
- You will rarely, if ever, be surprised by a stranger walking up on you, or getting close to your home while your dog is around.
- Dogs can go where guns can’t.
- You can feel safer knowing you and your family are protected wherever you and your dog are.
Contrary to popular belief, the mere fact you have a dog will not make him/her a natural protector. Some dogs will naturally protect a family member, but most will not — and some will even run and hide if a stranger breaks into your home. So, while not every dog has the personality or temperament to be a guard dog, there are things you can teach your dog to do to appear protective.
Train your dog in the basic commands like sit, stay, lie down, leave it, and heel. Once they have those down pat, teach your dog to bark and/or growl on command using a word and/or hand signal only the two of you know means to bark. This ability alone can convince all but the most determined of attackers or burglars to turn and run away. If you want a dog that will do even more, then consider additional training.
Before attempting to train your dog to be a guard dog, it’s important to have a professional trainer evaluate them for the skills, temperament and personality to see if they would make a good guard dog. Some breeds are naturally friendly and trusting and can’t really be trained to be a guard dog, while other breeds are naturally protective and take to the role of guard dog like they were born to it — which of course they were! Some questions to ask yourself:
- Does your dog enjoy playing? Dogs that like to play are easier to train as they see learning as play, and fun.
- Is your dog even tempered, or aggressive or shy around other dogs? Even tempered dogs make better guard dogs as they are less likely to be too aggressive. Even tempered dogs know when to be calm, and when to be aggressive.
- Is your dog calm, but attentive when approached by strangers? Dogs are incredibly skilled at spotting dangerous people. Dogs that don’t lunge, or don’t run or hide, but remain alert and curious are good candidates for guard training.
- Do you love your dog and show it? The more attention, affection, and interaction you have with your dog the more loyal they are likely to be. If you treat them as just another part of the furniture, leave them crated or chained in the backyard all day, or don’t play with them daily, they’re less likely to make a good guard dog.
No one can tell if their dog is a good candidate for guard or protection training just by reading an article or taking a quiz. If you’re serious about finding out if your dog would be a good candidate, have them assessed by a trainer who trains guard dogs.