By​ ​Courtney​ ​Emken
co-written​ ​by​ ​​Bart Emken, CPDT-KA, Jen​ ​Larson,​ ​KPA-CTP, and Amanda Ott.

At DogBoy’s, we frequently get asked about how to train a guard dog, or which breed is best for protection. Today, we’re going to go in-depth about the misinformation surrounding this issue. We’ll break down why you don’t want a “guard” dog and explain how to properly train a dog to protect you and your family. Let’s dive in!

Why You Don’t Actually Want A “Guard” Dog

First, we’d like to say that we completely understand the desire to get a dog for home defense, especially for those who are at higher risk for burglary or home invasion. Having a watchdog at home can help people feel safer and allows them to sleep easy at night.

Unfortunately, many people have a misconception about what the term “guard dog” actually means. If you’re imagining a dog with killer instincts who’ll attack intruders and frighten burglars through sheer intimidation, then you’re barking up the wrong tree.

Dogs are actually one of the least effective security measures available. Surprisingly, bigger dogs are even worse for home defense since they’re less likely to bark and deter an intruder. If you don’t believe us, just watch this video to see how family dogs react to a faked home invasion.

Furthermore, dogs who are trained for guard work also have trouble turning their defense reflex off. You can’t predict how they will react to stressful situations like:

This can easily lead to incidents with neighbors, other dogs, and even family members being injured.  Dealing with a dog bite is complex, time consuming, and costly. If your dog becomes a repeat offender you might be legally forced to put them down.

Of course, you may not be looking for a police dog to patrol your property. You just want a dog who you can rely on to watch your back. Well, you’re in luck! Dogs are naturally protective of their owners, no extra training required. Just be sure to treat your dog well and they’ll happily return the favor.

If you’re primarily concerned about home safety, it’s far more effective and significantly less costly to just buy a security system for your property. Dogs aren’t tools, they’re living creatures with complex feelings. If you want to secure your home, use a computer- not an animal.

How To Teach Your Dog To Be Watchful And Alert

Instead of focusing on turning your dog into a guard dog, we encourage you to teach your dog certain home defense behaviors like barking at noises outside or when strangers come to the door. To do this, use positive reinforcement to train speak cues like:

  • “Alert”
  • “Badman”
  • “Stranger”

Training these cues won’t increase reactivity or cause any emotional harm/discomfort unlike bite training and other guard work. Many dogs will actually enjoy these exercises. Even the most gentle dog can become an intimidating (but harmless) deterrent to would-be criminals using these simple cues.

If you need help training home defense cues like “badman,” or have more questions about why pets and security don’t always mix, please contact us today. Our experienced trainers would love to discuss what training is best for you and your dog.

Image Permissions

Guard Dog by Phillip Cowan

Castle Guard Dog by stanze

Guard Buddies by Steve Banfield