2. Desirable Traits in a Good Guard Dog - How Does One Select a Guard Dog?
The best way to ensure not only your family’s safety, but also that you will have an excellent guard dog, is to select your pet at an early age.
While it may be tempting to choose a dog that is already full grown who can immediately intimidate predators, a dog is best trained while it is still a puppy.
Adopting an adult guard dog typically means selecting a canine that simply shows aggressive behavior.
Aggressive behavior, however, is not the only characteristic of a good guard dog.
In fact, it does not necessarily play the largest role in guard dog selection. When choosing a puppy that will one day fulfill the role of backyard guardian in your home, keep the following characteristics in mind:
- moderate aggressiveness
These traits come together to form a dog that is highly trainable and also safe for the family. Each has an equally important role in determining your guard dog’s performance later on.
When selecting a puppy, it can be difficult to quickly find one with each of these characteristics. When examining a litter, one may find that each puppy resembles the next.
All puppies are not the same, however. While you do not necessarily have to select a traditionally aggressive breed, you will need to look out for a puppy that is active, social, and engaging.
Usually, you will find the puppies in a litter that are most suitable for guard dog training will be the first ones to approach you during your examination of the batch.
Puppies that initiate “play” fighting with other dogs and those who bark at your presence immediately may also be good dogs to consider.
The Aggressive Trait
Aggressiveness in a puppy is often the first sign that a potential dog owner looks for when considering adoption of a protective dog. However, too much aggression may be difficult to overcome.
This is especially a danger if you have children in your home. It is not unheard of for even well-trained guard dogs to turn on their masters or their children on a whim. Therefore, it is imperative that if you detect intense aggression in one puppy or dog that you move on to the next for adoption purposes.
On the other end of the spectrum, it is not desirable to have a dog that is timid or afraid to defend himself when necessary.
If a puppy or dog will not defend himself when approached by a potential predator, how will he protect you and your family? He won’t. When selecting your guard dog, look for the following characteristics and actions as signs that he has a healthy aggression level:
- alertness upon human approach
- initiating active play with other dogs
- calm attitude toward friendly neighboring dogs
- calmness when being handled by a familiar human
- stature when approached (does he huddle by the wall or come to humans willingly?)
Alertness and Intelligence
Determining alertness in a puppy or dog is not a difficult task. Some dogs will continue to lie down or to engage in their normal activities when an unfamiliar person approaches.
This is a sign that the dog may be difficult to train. While he may become alarmed at times, he may not be quite alert enough to warn you of impending danger, when every second counts. Look for your potential new pet to be examining his surroundings intently. A good guard dog is always aware or what is going on around him.
Intelligence is generally easy to identify in canines. A good guard dog will have a sharp look in his eye, focusing directly on his subject. An intelligent, easy to train dog should also look at you when you are addressing him.
A dog that is less trainable will not have his attention held long, therefore try to engage in verbal communications with the puppies that you are choosing from. A dog that turns his head at your words or who looks at you intently is trying to read you.
A dog that quickly becomes engaged in other activities while you are still speaking may simply be disinterested. If that’s the case, you can count on him always being disinterested in your commands and attempts at communication with him.
A strong guard dog doesn’t have to establish his dominance upon the arrival of other neighboring pets...they already know. A dog that is confident will not feel the need to constantly defend his territory, as other dogs will likely already sense his superiority.
You may have noticed that small dogs are more prone to being hostile toward strangers, while larger breeds tend to simply watch strangers intently before engaging. A larger, more dominant dog knows his place among other canines, as well as with humans.
When selecting a guard dog, examine his behavior toward other dogs, as well as their behavior toward him. Do the other dogs give him space to roam when he nears them, or do they overpower him?
Does your potential pet take his space in front of you firmly, or does he shy away when others come looking for attention? Keep these questions in mind, and take a look at how your dog reacts to others in his group.
Loyalty-An Acquired Trait
Loyalty is an extremely important trait in a great guard dog. In fact, it is a dog’s level of loyalty toward his owners that causes him to want to protect his home. However, this trait is usually trained into a dog, rather than being one he is born with.
While overindulging a dog may affect his ability to properly protect your home, treating him like a family member will help him have a sense of belonging. This sense of belonging will, in return, create a sense of possessiveness.
Training your dog to be a loyal defender involves demanding certain actions and rewarding each and every one of them.
Let your dog know that he is appreciated, and that his willingness to defend the family is right on track. Before this training ever begins, however, there are a few signs to look for in the actual selection process.
When determining whether or not a dog shows the potential to become truly loyal to your family, keep the following questions in mind:
- Does he approach you looking for attention?
- Does he wish to stay by you while you are examining the other dogs?
- Does he offer friendly signs, such as licking or pawing at your leg?