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Your German Shepherd puppy is a bundle of joy. After hours of napping and drooling, they wake up to tear around the house, playing and chewing with everything they can get their paws on. Their tails seem to wag non-stop and your pup has undoubtedly brought joy into your home. However, while you love them being small and cute, you have plans for them in the future. You would like to train your German Shepherd puppy to protect. You may simply want them to safeguard your home and family or to protect a particular object or individual.
Fortunately, this type of training can give you that effective protection. It will also ensure the dog is extremely receptive and trained to a high level. This means you will find teaching them other tricks and commands far easier too. Finally, this training will build loyalty between the two of you.
Training a German Shepherd puppy to protect will require hard work and persistence. You will need to use strict obedience commands and training throughout. You will also need to test your pup using potential threats. But if you’re willing to put in the work and stay enthusiastic, then your German Shepherd puppy will be keen to please you.
Because your dog is just a puppy, they should respond swiftly to training, particularly if they already have a decent attention span. But if your German Shepherd puppy is a real handful and challenging to keep on task, then you may need several months. If you get training right, you’ll have an effective and highly trained German Shepherd to protect both people and possessions. You’ll be able to leave the home under their watchful eye without having to worry anyone will break in. Finally, training also makes for some great bonding time.
Before you get to work, you will need to make sure you have everything you need. The most important component will be food. So stock up on mouth-watering treats or break the pup's favorite food into small pieces. You will also need a friend or two that the dog doesn’t know too well.
Of course, you will also need regular access to the space, object, or person you want your German Shepherd puppy to protect. Then set aside 15 minutes each day for training.
Once you have all that, just bring patience and enthusiasm, then work can begin!
The Take an Interest Method
Whenever your Shepherd takes an interest in a stranger, go over and give a reward. You want to encourage any signs that they are taking note of and sniffing around strangers.
Draw their attention
Once they have taken an interest, point and whisper to get the dog worked up. Continue to do this until they bark or growl. This is the most time consuming part, so don’t be put off if it takes a little while.
As soon as they do bark, give them another reward. This could be a treat or it could be playing around with a toy for a minute. If you use a clicker when you train, now is the time to click too.
Now have someone approach the front door or area they are protecting. Stand close by and use the same encouragement as before to get them barking. However, when they start barking, have the stranger scream and run away. It’s important the pup knows they need to bark until the person flees. Continue practicing this two or three times a week. Before you know it, it will be habit to bark at strangers.
Use a leash
Until you are confident your dog can be trusted to only bark, you may want to keep them on a leash. This will ensure you have control in case things get out of hand. Then when you feel they can be trusted and understand how far to go, you can then lose the leash.
The ‘Bark’ Method
The first thing to do is watch your German Shepherd puppy for situations that naturally trigger a bark. This could be when you’re about to take them out for a walk or feed them a meal.
Now put the pup in one of those situations. But issue a ‘bark’ command just before or as they start to bark. Give it only once and give it in a relatively playful tone. You can use any word or phrase you like. For example, ‘speak’ is a popular alternative.
As soon as they do indeed bark, hand over a tasty reward or play with a favorite toy for a little while. The trick is really making the reward so enjoyable they’re desperate to play again. Then practice for a few minutes each day until they get the hang of it.
Now have a friend or family member slowly approach. Then get the pup's attention and issue a 'bark' command while pointing at the stranger. It may take a few seconds for them to catch on the first time, but they will quickly get the hang of it.
Once they start barking, have the friend scream and run away. You can then hand over another round of rewards. Again, keep the praise generous. You can then slowly phase out the rewards as they get the hang of it. Now simply practice a few times a week and your German Shepherd puppy will soon naturally start barking at anyone that approaches.
The Boundaries Method
Secure your German Shepherd puppy to a leash. You’re going to walk them around the perimeter of the space you want them to protect. Do this each morning and it will make anything within that boundary feel like part of their territory. They will naturally want to protect anything within that space.
You also need to take your pup on the same walk each evening. This will further reinforce where their territory begins and ends. Do this every day for several weeks and then you can start doing the same walk but off the leash.
In the day time, tether your pup with a long leash in the space you want them to protect. Again this will make anything within that area feel like theirs to protect. This means they will naturally take an interest in anyone that encroaches within that area.
Take your puppy to group obedience classes. Not only will it teach them useful commands, but it will socialize them with other pets and people. This is important, as you don’t want them barking at anyone and everyone.
Do not use punishment
It is important you don’t use punishment as a training tool. This could make your German Shepherd puppy overly aggressive and too challenging to control. Your puppy will respond best to positive reinforcement.
By James Barra
Published: 04/16/2018, edited: 01/08/2021