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You have a lovely home that you’ve worked hard to build and make your own. You’ve also got a family inside you want to keep safe and sound. You recently welcomed a big, strong Boxer dog into your house. He already looks the part, but now you want him to train him to be a guard dog. The only problem is he’s the friendliest dog you’ve ever seen. He may look scary from a distance but as soon as you get close he just wants to jump on you and say hello.
Training him to be an effective guard dog will mean you can rest easy at night. The obedience training it requires will also make teaching him a range of other commands easier too. This type of training is also a great way to provide bonding time for you both.
Training a Boxer dog to guard is surprisingly straightforward. They are intelligent and relatively easy to train. They are also known to be quite protective so you should be able to bring the guard dog out in him with ease. You’ll need to do some territory training to show him where he needs to guard. You’ll also need to use obedience commands to teach him how to bark. You’ll need food and toys to act as an incentive throughout training.
If he’s a puppy he should be a quick learner and you could see results in just a couple of weeks. If he’s older and never been very protective then you may need up to a month to see consistent results. Succeed and you’ll have an effective deterrent, keeping your family, home and anything else safe. You’ll also have a great way to help him blow off steam, as Boxers are well known for being full of energy.
Before you start you’ll need a few things. You’ll need a long extendable leash and a short secure leash. You’ll also need a person unknown to the dog to help during training.
The other main component is food. You can use some mouth-watering treats or you can break his favorite food into small pieces.
You’ll need to set aside a few minutes each day for training. The only other thing you need is patience and a positive attitude and then you can get to work!
The Boundary Method
Secure him to a leash and then walk him around the area you want him to protect. Do this once in the morning and once in the evening. You are reinforcing to him where his boundary begins and ends. He’ll naturally feel more protective of anything inside his territory.
Now secure him to a long leash. Tether it to a point where the object you want him to protect falls within his space. Again, the long leash will reinforce where his territory reaches.
Whenever you see any signs of defensive behavior, reward him. You can give him a treat or play around with his toy for a few minutes. You can also shower him in verbal praise. Any barking is precisely the behavior you want to see.
Never punish him
Boxers can have a temper so it’s important you don’t ever shout or scare him. If he’s terrified of you then you may find it harder to toe the line between defensive and aggressive.
After a couple of weeks of boundary training, have a stranger approach slowly. If your dog barks then give him a treat and lots of practice. Practice this every few days with different people until the habit becomes cemented.
The Bark On Command Method
Spend a couple of days watching him for situations where he naturally barks. This could be just before you go out for a walk or when you’re preparing his food. You’re going to use these moments to teach him to bark on command.
Now in those moments, start giving a ‘bark’ command. As soon as he starts barking you can give him a treat and lots of praise. Practice this for a few days.
Change the situation
After a few days he’ll associate the command with the behavior. Now you need to practice it when he’s not already naturally barking. Again give the command and then a treat. Practice this until he’s fully got the hang of it.
Now have him sit in the place you want him to guard. Then have a stranger approach slowly. When he reaches a certain point, give the ‘bark’ command while pointing at the person approaching. As soon as he barks, give him a treat and praise.
Practice this every couple of days but change the person that approaches. Try and use people he doesn’t already know. Once you’ve done this for a week or two it will soon become habit. You will then have your guard dog.
The Run & Flee Method
Enroll him into dog training classes from a young age. Not only will this help discipline him to respond to your instructions, but it will also mean he remains friendly and sociable. You don’t want him to be unable to spend time with other pets and humans.
Have strangers approach
Have people he doesn’t know approach the door. If he knows them already he probably isn’t going to bark or be protective.
When they do knock, point at the door and get animated. You need to draw his attention to the person approaching and encourage a reaction. This hurdle will be the biggest. You need to convey to him what you want him to do. Keep encouraging until he barks.
Have the person run away
Now have the person outside shout and run away. It’s important he hears them leaving. This will signal to him that he needs to bark until he hears them flee.
Once they have run away give him a treat and lots of praise. Now practice this every few days. As he gets the hang of it you can give him less and less encouragement. It will soon become habit to bark at them.
By James Barra
Published: 12/13/2017, edited: 01/08/2021