BEHAVIOR & TRAINING

Personal Protection Dog Training: What To Consider When You Want A Guard Dog

Dog personal protection
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Many dog owners want their dogs trained and most of them can train them to do simple tricks like sitting or playing dead. Others like to train their dogs to be friendly to everyone especially with their direct family. Still, most dog owners would most likely have their dogs trained for personal protection. This is actually one of the reasons why people get a pet dog in their home so that they would be protected in case of danger.

Training dogs for personal protection can be an issue for many dog owners due to lack of time and difficulty. Sometimes it’s hard to even make your dog fetch or sit so you can only imagine how much harder is going to be training him or her for personal protection. Can you imagine teaching your dog to be keen and protect you in the hour of need? That is why many dog owners settle for the basic training as this seems easier to do.

Of course, not all dogs are difficult to train; some even have a natural talent for obeying and understanding their owner’s needs. Anyways, proper dog training is still advisable to make sure that they can be controlled and is safe for the owner.

Dog protection training

If you want to train your dog for personal protection, you can have them trained by an expert or just do it by yourself as it is actually easy to learn how to do it with these simple tips and tricks.

Tricks on how to train your dog for personal protection

Teach your dog how to be obedient

The first step to training your dog for personal protection is to teach your dog how to be obedient. Your dog must be able to follow all the basic commands such as sit, stay, stop, bark or leave it. Training your dog to be obedient is one way of determining whether he or she is fit to become a personal protection dog. When doing the training, make sure to employ positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to behave properly.

Dog training basics

Through this, your dog will respond better and will be willing to have more training with you. He will also be more obedient because he knows that he gets a reward whenever he does well.

Walk your dog and let them see the world around them

Allow your dog to meet other people and let him learn how to judge people. This will help them learn how to determine a dangerous person and a friend. Also, the dog is able to recognize and be keener about his surroundings. You can introduce your dog to your family members so that he knows the people he must protect. Let your dog see you do your normal daily activities so that he can distinguish it from any unusual events that may happen to you.

Teach your dog when to bark

Let your dog bark at strangers. In fact, it is best that you tell them to bark whenever there are strangers passing by. You must also be able to make him stop barking. There are two common signs why the dog barks to other people. One would be that the dog is excited or happy or the dog feels threatened and tries to drive off the threat by barking. The barking of a dog may be a natural trait for them but to know when to bark is something that needs to be taught.

You can train your dog by asking some of your friends or family members to hide somewhere nearby and knock on the door or on the windows. If your dog bark’s at that unusual sound, then it is a good sign that he is learning when and how to bark. You do not want your dog to just bark at anyone, even at your family members, without being told to do so or if there is no threat. If your dog is not capable to stop barking on command then he or she may not be fit to become a personal protection type of dog.

Train your dog not to take food from strangers

This is important especially that thieves use this tactic to befriend the dog. This way they can go in your home undisturbed. You shouldn’t even let your friends or family that visit rarely feed the dog. Keep the feeding to yourself or assign someone to do it. It is even better to let all of your family members in your house to feed the dog so that your dog can recognize who to trust with food. This will make sure that your dog knows who to take food from and to whom not to.

Teach your dog how to defend, not to attack

Remember that you are training your dog for personal protection and not as an attack dog. Teaching your dog how to defend you is different from teaching him how to attack.

You would not want him to bite a friend you just coincidentally meet in the park. Also, dogs that are trained to attack are dangerous to keep as a pet. There are recorded events where dogs attacked some of their owner family members. You would not want your dog to do this to you right? So, teach him how to follow your orders and only attack when told so. Dogs that are too aggressive and attack without being told so are not good for personal protection.

Let your dog learn how to back off

This is one important thing to remember when you are training your dog for personal protection. Don’t just let him go and attack someone and allow him to finish the person off.

The main objective of the dog should be to protect you and you must also teach him how to back off when you tell him to.

Teach your dog to defend you

If your dog is on the verge of biting or have already bitten the person, you should be able to make him stop and leave the person alone.

Tips on personal protection dog training

  1. Train your dog at a young age – It is better to train your dog at a young age because they are most likely to retain what they learn and are more capable to learn faster. The recommended age of training your dog is at 7 to 12 weeks old. Training older dogs would require you more time for training because old dogs learn at a slower pace compared to young dogs. So, you might need to repeat the training over and over again if your dog is too old for it. But there is no harm in trying as old dogs are still capable of learning.
  2. Keep your training sessions short – If you are training a young dog for personal training, make sure to make our training lessons short. Young dogs have a short attention span and they get bored easily. When you observe that your dog is not participating and losing interest in the training, stop the training and don’t force your dog to continue. The average attention span of dogs before losing interest in an activity is about 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. End up your training positively – It is better to end your training on a positive note. Make sure that you end up on a positive situation before you end up your training session. Don’t end your training with reprimanding your dog. Dogs may be animals but they are also living beings and have feelings. Ending an activity on a negative note will affect their emotions, learning capability and interest for training. Be more patient in training your dog so that you may be able to end it positively.
  4. Make it a regular bonding time – Set a schedule of doing your training with your dog. This is to make him conditioned of looking forward to the training at the same time of the day, every day. The dog will gain more interest especially when he knows that the time has come for him to train again.
  5. Don’t use heavy leashes – Use light leashes when having your training sessions with your dog. Leashes with leads that are about 6 feet long. Heavy leashes will make it more difficult for you and your dog during your training.
  6. Use commands that are easy to remember and use them consistently – It is just the same as setting the same schedule of your training per day. Using the same commands during your training will make it easier for your dog to remember it, be able to recognize the command and the proper response for it. Dogs are able to remember words that they hear and associate it with what is supposed to do as it is taught to him during training.
    For instance, if you used a command ‘bite’ which would mean to attach a person, don’t change it to another command such as ‘attack’ to make him attack the person. This may confuse your dog and the command might not be done if you don’t use the command that he has already established.
  7. Use single command words and not negative and combined words – Always choose single word commands to train your dog, such as, ‘attack’, ‘bite’, ‘sit’ or ‘stop’. Don’t use negative and combined words as commands as this will confuse your dog. Examples of this kinds of commands are ‘don’t sit’, ‘bite him’, ‘attack now’, ‘follow him’ or ‘get him’. Confusing your dog with commands won’t do well for your training. Your dog might misbehave during training when you do these commands.
  8. Make it a fun learning experience for your dog – Make your training sessions for your dog one of the most enjoyable time of the day. This would maintain and may even increase the interest of your dog to doing the training. Have a game or an activity to do before and after your training which could involve rewarding your dog with treats whenever he wins the game or does good in your activity. Having this would give a positive reminder for your dog to remember and would stimulate his learning capability and can learn faster.
  9. Use consistent volume and tone – You must maintain the tone of your voice from when you trained your dog to when you use the command when you need your dog to do the command. Don’t use a harsh or soft voice compared to the one that you usually use during your training.
    Maintaining your tone of voice when saying a command to your dog, you won’t confuse the dog. But you can also train your dog to respond to different tones and volumes of your voice. This can actually be done so that the dog will not be confused when you suddenly or accidentally change your tone while saying the command.
  10. Train yourself to be capable for personal protection dog training – Seek professional advice on how to train your dog for personal protection. There are trainings that can teach you the different techniques and even advanced techniques on how to train your dog. This will help you be more informed about the proper ways of training your dog for personal protection. You will be able to device the proper personal protection dog training program that you can do for yourself.
  11. Or just let someone do it for you – You can actually hire someone who is experienced or well-versed with training dogs for personal protection. There are a lot of these kinds of people and they have the proper knowledge, even the facilities and materials to use, for training your dog for personal protection. This might come at a hefty price but if you are really eager to be able to have a dog to defend you when you ae in need of protection, then you may have to pay the price.
    Doing it yourself is also an option but it will take much of your time. That is why some would rather have an expert train their dogs for them rather than doing it themselves.
  12. Not all dogs can do it – Not all dogs can be a trained for personal protection dog training. Even if dogs are inherently protective, not all of them are capable of being trained to do so properly. Some dogs are just also too friendly, even to strangers, and whatever you do for the dog’s training, they still are very friendly, and you may have to give up training your dog because they just can’t be personal protection dogs.
    Some traits that you should observe from our dog to know whether they are capable of being trained for personal protection include: energetic, loves to play, patient, can tolerate pressure and has high respect for his owner. Although these are just some of the traits that should be present in a personal protection dog, they should be displayed by the dog in order for you to identify whether they are fit to be trained for personal protection.
  13. Reward your dog when he does well – Dogs respond very well to positive reinforcement and become more active if they know they will be able to earn something from doing something good. This is a simple tactic for you to do. Whenever he is able to do your command right, give him a small treat and your dog would want to have a go for more training.
  14. Make sure that you really want to have a dog for personal protection – Your answer to this question might be a yes but training your dog will take much of your time, require a lot of work and at times can come very costly. If you just want a pet for you to have at home, it is not necessary to invest too much time and effort just to train your dog for personal protection. But having a personal protection dog and a pet at the same time would be nice and convenient for you to have especially if you want to ensure safety for yourself and your home.

Training your dog for personal protection may not be easy but with these easy steps, it will not be that difficult, if you have the right knowledge. You will have to invest a lot of time, money and effort to do so.

Training your dog

Even so, if you need more motivation and help as to how to train your dog for personal protection, you can always follow the tips that would supplement and help you decide on some important aspects of training a dog for personal protection. With these simple tricks and tips on personal protection dog training, training your dog won’t be that tiring and hard for you anymore.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Natalie Barton

    I pretty much have a reputation as “The Dog Lover” so it’s not unusual that a friend would approach me regarding guard dogs. Now thanks to this article, I believe I can confidently answer his queries while learning more on my own!

    • Sharing what you know can be a learning process as well. We’re happy that you learned more from this article.

  • Florence Riley

    There’s a lot of reasons to have your dog trained and this is just spot on! I’m starting to train my little puppy simple commands like sit and stay. I wonder, what kinds of treats do you give them to stay motivated? Doggy biscuits?

  • anna willard

    Has anyone here ever witnessed an unconventional breed protecting its owner? My Mom has the gentlest pet ever. However her dog (Terrier) can be quite the guardian. She guards Mom like a hawk. Do you feel safer when walking a dog? Are you more relaxed if your dog is with you? How do you make sure you both enjoy the experience?

    • There are dog breeds that are more protective than others, but it still boils down to their individual personality. Having a protective dog by your side makes you feel safe and proud at the same time because not all dogs are like that.

  • Doggy biscuits are fine, but you have to control the amount of biscuits you’re giving them. While we want them to be trained as protective yet affectionate dogs, we don’t want them to gain so much weight in the process.

  • Leonora1

    We are in the process of adopting a Belgian Malinois. We do not have a clear history on him. He behaves like he has had done attack training. When we take him outside on a leash he becomes very focused and tries to jump on whoever is walking him, has jumped on us from behind many times. Not sure if this can be unlearned as we are not really comfortable with the behavior. We do not feel we can control this behavior and we are not sure we are comfortable keeping him without being able to control him better.

    • John Walton

      Hi, Leonora,

      As much as possible, it is best to know the history of the dog (from pedigree or line, to previous trainings) to help you understand its behavior more. While I am not absolutely sure that it can be unlearned, it can be alleviated with love and better socialization. Do it is baby steps and eventually the dog will loosen up and become more social and warm.

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