4. How to Build Your Guard Dog During the First Year - The Crucial Months
A guard dog’s need for training is crucial, and so is the time frame in which that training is received. Just as with humans, dogs are more likely to absorb information permanently as puppies.
In other words, the earlier you can begin the training process, the better. Training a guard dog is unlike regular dog training.
It requires more time, more attention, and very careful method delivery. As with all good things, excellent guard dog training does take more time.
Take advantage of your puppy’s sponge-like brain during the first year of his life. He will be very receptive to anything taught him, both good and bad, so be willing to spend this first year weeding out the bad habits and implementing the desirable ones.
It may take a little more effort than what non-working dogs require, but go ahead and devote your time to this intense training process. You’ll be glad you did.
Your Guard Dog’s Physical Preparations
As most dog owners know, a guard dog is not successful unless he is strong, fast, and healthy. These traits are due not only to genetics, but also to a great diet and exercise program. Feeding your dog a high protein diet can help, but a raw diet is also highly recommended. Raw diets tend to provide more nutrients, and dogs often benefit from the way these diets work naturally with their bodily systems.
When preparing a raw diet, however, be very careful not to include foods that could pose a hazard to your pet. Many everyday ingredients that humans use are toxic to dogs, and can cause permanent injury or death very quickly. Ask your veterinarian for a complete list of foods dangerous to dogs. In general, stay away from the following:
- human beverages
- any fruit pits/seeds
- caffeinated products
- coffee (caffeinated or non-caffeinated)
A regular exercise regimen is equally important in your guard dog’s optimal physical development. Every day, your guard dog should have at least a moderate amount of rigorous exercise. A walking route is always an excellent choice, however a bit of more strenuous exercise can help turn your guard dog into an example of physical fitness.
The body will become more toned, and will have greater muscle mass. The well tuned guard dog is trim, muscular, and in superior shape. Therefore, make the use of strenuous exercises, such as continuous toy retrieval, a part of your dog’s regular routine.
Your Guard Dog’s Mental Preparations
A guard dog requires as much mental preparation during the training process as he does physical preparation. Ideally, your dog will become extremely alert, loyal, and controlled. Guard dogs must make quick decisions, and mental sharpness is key in preventing mistakes and disasters. Instead of hoping that your dog does not make the wrong choice when deciding whether or not to harm a human being, take the proper precautions yourself.
Loyalty is an essential trait in a guard dog. A dog must be treated with respect and care from his owners. This is usually all that is required to obtain a dog’s devotion and to create his willingness to defend the family. Alertness and mental sharpness are traits that your dog should possess from birth, however there are steps you can take to fine tune those assets. Several exercises that you may wish to try include:
- Silent listening-Turn off all distractions (TV’s, radios, cell phones, etc.) and teach your dog to listen to his surroundings. He will learn to distinguish the normal from the abnormal, an essential skill for a dog that must listen during silent nights for trouble.
- Concentrated listening-With distractions, make a noise in another room to gain your dog’s attention. You might tap your foot, dangle your keys, or even turn a doorknob. Do not call your dog or make your presence known. Instead, allow him to find you.
- Reward him with a treat when he does. This may take several attempts. Once he starts finding you every time, make the noises more subtle and quiet. An intruder is rarely loud and obvious.
- Focusing-Hold an object above your dog, such as a favorite toy. Keep his attention, swaying the item up and down and from side to side. Give him a chance to retrieve the item from you if you wish, being careful not to put yourself in harm’s way.
Professional training must be incorporated into your dog’s routine as soon as he is ready. He must be able to fully cooperate with this stranger for the best results, therefore it may be best to hire a trainer to come to your home to work in a familiar environment. While this may be a pricey venture, it is usually well worth the price.
If in-home training is not an option, there are great training day camps and programs that will take your guard-dog-in-training under their wings. These facilities often use group methods of training, therefore the amount of time your dog receives with the professional may be limited.
However, most are willing to allow owners a chance to get in on the action and to be present during the training process (also giving them a chance to see if training methods are up to par). Regardless of which method you choose, make sure to properly train your pooch the safe way with a guard dog training professional. This will help ensure his success as a protector, as well as the safety of innocent visitors and family members.
Continued Training and Development
Your dog’s training and development must not cease once he has acquired the desired build and mental capabilities. Continued practice and training are a must for his health and sharpness. Without them, your dog can become complacent, out of shape, and less alert. Keep him up to speed by exercising his body and mind every day.
As you continue to train your dog throughout the first year, keep a look out for any signs of unwanted behavior. These may include unnecessary alerts, aggressive behavior, and disobedience. A guard dog must be highly trained and ready for action at all times.
That being said, he must also be easy to calm down when the owner is present in case of a mistake in predator identification. If you are to come across a problem at any time that you find yourself unable to correct, call your training professional immediately for correctional training assistance.