3. Training Your Puppy to be a Perfect Guard Dog - The Importance of Early Training
Many people feel that purchasing a guard dog that is already an adult is a wise option. However, even if the adult guard dog in question has been highly trained, there still may be a problem with controlling the dog’s aggression.
For example, the dog may not be able to quickly differentiate whether a person entering the doorway of the home is an intruder, or rather a friendly visitor.
In other words, it may take some time to develop his sense of loyalty and trust within the family.
Selecting a guard dog while he is still a puppy will help not only to ensure that he becomes loyal to the family, but also that the training he receives is up to the owner’s standards. Other benefits of selecting a guard dog early in his life may include:
- better adaptability to territorial limits
- better ability to learn master’s specific wishes
- more likely to have a friendly demeanor around “safe” individuals
Before your puppy ever comes in contact with a professional trainer, there are steps that you can take to ensure his cooperation. You can begin immediately training him to be receptive to commands, more alert, and defensive of his territory. Items needed for the following exercises include:
- rope toys
- tennis balls
- pet-safe plush toys
While any chew toy can be great for your dog’s dental hygiene, these specific toys can be tailored to your training needs, so purchase them immediately. First, introduce your dog to the “chase and capture” mentality.
This can be done with the tennis balls. Raise the tennis ball above your dog’s head (out of his biting reach), and taunt him for several seconds by shaking the toy. Use verbal encouragement for the capture of the toy with phrases such as “Are you ready?” or “Get ready to go!” before releasing it.
Throw the toy about ten feet away at first, allowing for a simple capture. Increase the distance as your dog matures physically. Next, introduce your dog to the rope toy by throwing it as well, however grab on to the toy’s other end when it is brought back to you. This will teach your dog to sustain during a struggle. Finally, give your dog pet-safe plush toys to “attack” during his free time.
Bad Habits to Nip Early On
All puppies are prone to bad habits. Do not let your guard dog’s unwanted habits discourage you, as puppies are easy to cure of them with repetitive training. Some of the less desirable habits of a guard dog that you will want to correct early may include:
- unnecessary barking
- overly aggressive behavior
- eating objects from the ground
Unnecessary barking is quite a nuisance. Not only is it bothersome to neighbors, but it can also create confusion as to whether or not a real warning is being given or if there is simply a cat walking by. This can become quite frustrating for pet owners. To stop the barking, simply wrap your hand around your puppy’s mouth, being very careful not to apply too much pressure, and give a verbal warning such as “stop” every single time.
This will not keep your dog from barking at an intruder, however it will make him think twice before barking unnecessarily. Problems especially associated with guard dog training include overly aggressive behavior and biting. If you notice that your dog is already exhibiting signs of unnecessary aggression toward “safe” individuals, call a trainer immediately.
This can become a dangerous situation, and usually requires professional intervention. Biting is a problem that can usually be cured with a strong, repetitive verbal command. Eating objects from the ground should be discouraged at all times, even if they are put there from another family member, as intruders have been known to lay poison out the night of their planned attack.
Therefore, always place food in a bowl, and discourage eating of anything other than dog food or dog treats.
Teaching Your Puppy His Territorial Limits
A good guard dog knows what he is defending. He is protecting his home, as well as the occupants within. A problem that may arise when your excellent guard dog is protecting his loved ones may come in the form of his chasing any predators, or what he thinks are predators, into an area that may pose a danger to him (such as a busy road).
Once a dog has locked onto a target, in can be difficult for him to stop. Instead of simply scaring away any potential intruders with a chase to the end of the property, which should be more than enough of a deterrent, he may instead continue until he has either captured the predator, or until he has gotten too far away from home to find his way back safely.
Controlling this problem lies in the form of an owner setting up strict territorial limitations. You may find a wireless fencing system very effective in this scenario. The wireless fencing system is nonintrusive, and simply gives your dog a warning through an electronic collar when he has gone too far.
If you do not wish to go the wireless fence route (some owners find that the collars are too powerful and cause pain), it might be best to simply set up a good physical barrier, such as a sturdy fence that cannot be climbed.
Privacy fences are best in this case. Be sure, however, to always post warning signs on your fence and throughout your property, letting innocent visitors know that a not-so-friendly companion awaits them inside.
The Reward Factor
Finally, all dogs respond to rewards. A reward is a treat of some sort, usually in the form of food, that lets your guard dog know that he is responding to training exactly as he is expected to. Use treats for all achievements at first, big or small, eventually limiting them to major achievements that are absolutely necessary.
In other words, reward your guard dog for chasing a tennis ball during your training exercises during the first few days of training, but once he understands the point of the game this is no longer necessary. The fun of chasing and retrieving the ball should be the reward in itself.
If your dog begins to lapse in any area of his training, refresh his memory through treat rewards. Give a verbal command, and wait for your dog to carry it out. Do not give your guard dog a treat before he has done as he has been told, and do not wave the treat in the air as a beckoning gesture. He is to be allowed the treat only when his behavior reflects that of a well trained guard dog, and that means following commands every time.