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How to Train a German Shepherd Puppy to be a Guard Dog

How to Train a German Shepherd Puppy to be a Guard Dog
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Time icon1-6 Months
Work training category iconWork

Introduction

Dexter is totally full of life. From the moment you brought him home, he's charged around the house, eager to play and lick everyone. He certainly is not short of confidence. In fact, your German Shepherd puppy would go home with anyone. Now while you love that trusting nature, you brought him home for a specific reason, because you wanted a guard dog. And German Shepherds are the perfect breed for the job, as they’re obedient, strong, and menacing just to look at.

Training your German Shepherd puppy to be a guard dog will bring you a whole host of benefits. Most importantly, you’ll have an effective way to guard those you love, your house, and other belongings. The training will also help raise a well-trained German Shepherd whom you have considerable control over. Lastly, training simply makes for a great way for you both to bond.

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Defining Tasks

Training your German Shepherd puppy to be a guard dog will require persistence and will come with its challenges. You’ll need to teach a range of obedience commands and will also need to encourage the pup to take an interest in strangers and bark at them. This will be done with verbal commands and the right tasty incentive. Training will also require careful socialization as you don’t want your dog becoming overly aggressive.

Because your Shepherd is just a puppy, their brains should be like a sponge. This means you could start to see results in a month or so. But if your German Shepherd puppy is uninterested in learning and is hard to keep on task, then it may be six months before you have an effective guard dog. Get training right and you’ll have the ideal burglar deterrent. Not to mention, a fiercely loyal and highly trained canine companion that you can call on anytime.

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Getting Started

Before you start training, make sure you have the following things: A decent stockpile of treats or the dog's favorite food broken down into small chunks. You will also need a long training leash and access to the space you want them to guard.

You will need toys too, and around 15 minutes each day for training. Try and find a friend or two that can help you as well. The less they know your German Shepherd puppy the better.

Aside from that, you just need patience and a pro-active attitude, then work can begin!

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The Full Package Method

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Obedience classes

Sign your pup up for group obedience classes. This is a great place for them to learn basic obedience commands that they will need later on. It will also help socialize them with other pets and people, as you don’t want them barking at everyone they ever meet.

2

Encouragement

You need to reward your German Shepherd puppy with treats, toys, and praise whenever you see promising signs. For example, give them a treat when they take an interest in a stranger or bark.

3

Morning boundary walk

Secure the pup to a leash each morning and walk them around the perimeter of the space you want them to protect. If you do this every day it will reinforce that everything within this space is their territory and they will naturally want to defend it.

4

Evening perimeter walk

Repeat this step each evening too. Walk quietly so the dog concentrates and within a few weeks this space will feel like their own to guard and keep a watch over.

5

Tether

To further reinforce their boundaries, tether them to a long leash in the area you would like them to guard. Of course, make sure they have access to water and some toys to keep them entertained.

The ‘Bark’ Method

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Watch closely

Spend a couple of days looking for situations that naturally cause your puppy to bark. You’re going to use these moments to train them to bark using a command. Just before walks and meals are likely occasions.

2

‘Bark’

Now put your German Shepherd puppy into one of these situations and just before or as they start to bark, issue a ‘bark’ command. Give it just once in a clear voice. Note you can use any word or phrase you like for the instruction.

3

Reward

As soon as they do indeed bark, hand over a tasty reward or play with a toy for a minute or so. Now practice this for a few minutes each day in range of situations. Before you know it they will bark whenever you give the instruction.

4

Test

Now have a friend approach the area you want the dog to protect. Simply issue the 'bark' command and then have the friend scream and run away after the dog barks at them. You can then give over a treat. Practice this a few times a week and it will soon become habit to bark at any stranger that approaches.

5

Don’t use punishment

Too many owners think using punishment is the right way to train a guard dog. However, this just leaves you with a dog with uncontrollable aggression. Instead, use positive reinforcements, this will give you a canine you can control and that will only bark at strangers.

The Start Early Method

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Obedience commands

The first thing to do is teach your German Shepherd puppy basic obedience commands, such as ‘down’ and ‘wait’. This will reinforce your control and the instructions will come in useful later.

2

The approach

Now secure your dog to a leash and wait by the front door. Then have a friend approach and either knock on the door or window.

3

Draw their attention

Point at where the friend is, whisper and do everything you can to get the pup worked up. Continue to do this until they start to bark. Don’t be put off if it takes a little while for them to start barking at the beginning.

4

Reward

Once they start barking, have the friend shout and flee. It’s important the dog knows to bark until they hear the threat has run away. You can then give them a generous reward and shower them in verbal praise.

5

Practice

Now you simply need to practice this regularly. Try and use different people each time, as you don’t want to encourage your dog to bark at people they do know. Once they get the hang of it, barking at strangers will become habit, and you can then gradually phase out the treats.

By James Barra

Published: 04/25/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Axel

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greman shepard

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2 Years

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Question

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i want to train my dog to walk obediently on a leash as well as protect and be a guard dog i want him to be less hyper when we go on walks

Aug. 16, 2021

Axel's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Malak, For the walking without pulling check out this article on heeling and the Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel I would also consider joining an intermediate obedience class to gain the general reliability and focus on you you want pup to have around distractions. Many dogs will naturally guard if it's in their genetics and you have laid a good foundation of respect and obedience, once they mature mentally between 1-2 years of age. If pup doesn't, you can also teach pup to bark automatically when someone enters the property and be more watchful in general using reward based training. For anything that would involve bite work, you would need to pursue training with a professional protection trainer who knows how to utilize pup's defense drive, build confidence, utilize rewards like a bite bag and tug, and have the right staff and equipment to practice things like arms holds - this training should only be done with a professionals help and should not encourage fear or true aggression when done correctly - it's more like teaching pup a task, teaching alertness, obedience, building confidence, and encouraging a natural defense drive - opposed to poorly done training that encourages suspicion and fear to get a bite from the dog. To teach pup to bark, first teach pup the Speak command. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-speak Once pup knows the speak command, recruit friends pup doesn't know to step onto the property or come to the door while pup watches from a window or inside somewhere. Command speak and reward with a treat when they do. Practice with telling pup to speak each time the person is there, until pup barks on their own when the person tries to enter without saying speak. At that point, have the person come onto the property, wait seven seconds to see if pup will bark on their own, reward if they do, and command speak if they don't - then reward but give a smaller reward when you tell pup opposed to when pup does it on their own. Practice until pup will bark each time someone enters the property. Practice with different people you can recruit, that pup doesn't know so that pup will learn to do this with anyone who enters the property and not just that one person. Draw pup's attention to people outside or people on your property, and reward pup when you see them watching someone in general - so that pup will begin watching people and staying more alert as a habit. Pup doesn't have to bark to reward this one - just reward when pup is watching someone and you notice that. I also recommend teaching the Quiet command, so that you can tell pup when to stop barking after they alert. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Aug. 17, 2021

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Dakota

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German Shepherd

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7 Months

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My German Shepherd puppy follows me everywhere, the kitchen, outside, upstairs and my bedroom. I've been trying to get him to stay in one spot while I go into another room but, it's not working so well. On top of that I've been trying to train him as a guard dog.

July 22, 2021

Dakota's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Egypt, Check out the article I have linked below on teaching Place. Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s You can also practice the Surprise method from the article I have linked below. This can be practiced with pup in a crate or with pup tethered to something secure (while you are home and just in the other room to ensure pup can't get wound up in the leash while unsupervised for long. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate A Down-Stay command using a 30'-50' foot training leash outside or in your yard is also a good thing to practice for building independence. With the long training leash you can attach the clip end to pup (collar or ideally back clip harness when working with a long leash), then run the leash around a tree behind pup, then bring the other end in front of pup, with you holding the end of the leash and backing away from pup thirty feet or more, commanding pup to Down, and Stay, then backing away. If pup tries to get up, you can pull the leash and it will work like a pulley around the tree to pull pup back a bit so they can't come forward toward you. Tell pup calmly "Ah Ah", while preventing them from coming toward you with the leash, then tell pup to "Down" or "Sit" again, and resume backing away. If you can get a couple feet away without pup moving, then return to pup and reward them. Gradually work up to you being able to take more and more steps away without pup getting up, before returning to them to reward, as they improve. You can also gradually increase how long pup must stay for to earn their reward. Pay attention to what distance or length of time pup seems to break command, try to reward right before you pup gets up, while still obeying, and gradually extent that time as you notice pup can stay for a little longer or you get slightly further. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 22, 2021


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