How to Train a Golden Retriever to Guard

How to Train a Golden Retriever to Guard
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Time icon1-6 Months
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Introduction

It is true that your Golden Retriever looks like all cute and cuddly. He also bounds up to greet you whenever you walk through the door and wants to be everyone’s best friend. While you do love this about him, you also have another job for him in mind. You want to train him to be a guard dog. 

Golden Retrievers naturally possess many of the characteristics you need, including intelligence, loyalty, and obedience. Training yours to guard will also mean you can keep both possessions and people secure. That means you can fall asleep in the evening relaxed in the knowledge that your guard dog is on duty downstairs. On top of that, this type of training is a fantastic way to channel his energy into something productive. Furthermore, it’s a great way to bond with your canine pal.

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Defining Tasks

Because Golden Retrievers already possess many of the qualities you want from a guard dog, training isn’t as complicated as some people believe. The first thing to do is to encourage all the sorts of behavior he will need to be a guard dog. You will then need to incorporate boundary training into his routine. For training to prove successful, finding the right incentive will be essential. Thankfully, Golden Retrievers will do just about anything for food.

If he’s a puppy he should be easier to mold. This means you could see results in just a month or so. However, if he’s older and set in his ways, then you may need a while longer. It could take up to six months to yield consistent results. Get this training right and you’ll have an efficient means of guarding a whole range of things.

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Getting Started

Before you can begin training, you will need to get your hands on a few bits. A long training leash and a decent supply of tasty treats will be needed.

Set aside 15 minutes each day for training, preferably at a time where neither of you will be distracted. You will, of course, also need the object or access to the place you want him to guard.

Once you have the above, just bring patience and a pro-active attitude and work can begin!

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The Boundaries Method

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Morning perimeter walk

Secure your Golden to a leash in the morning and walk him around the area you want him to protect. Remain quiet as you go, you want him to concentrate. Do this each day and this will soon become his territory.

2

Evening walk

Do exactly the same thing in the evening. After a number of weeks, he will naturally want to defend anything that falls within this space.

3

Tether

In the daytime, you can also tether him to a long leash. Just ensure he has enough space to move around the object or space you want him to guard. Again, this will reinforce where his boundary begins and ends.

4

Obedience classes

It’s also important you take him to group obedience classes. You need to make sure he can still socialize with other people and pets. You do not want him to be aggressive with everyone.

5

Encouragement

You will also need to encourage the types of behavior you want to see, from an early as possible. That means handing over tasty treats and giving him verbal praise whenever the takes an interest in a stranger or barks.

The Verbal Cue Method

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‘Bark'

Put him in a situation which you know is likely to cause him to bark. For example, when you’re about to go out for walk or feed him. Then give a ‘bark’ command in a clear, up-beat voice as he starts barking. You can use any word or phrase you like for the instruction.

2

Reward & practice

As soon as he does continue to bark, quickly give him a reward and verbal praise. Now practice this for 5 minutes each day. He will soon start associating the command with barking. At which point you can start practicing giving the command when he isn’t already in a situation that’s likely to trigger a bark.

3

Have someone approach

Now take him to the place or object you want him to guard. Have someone slowly approach and then issue your ‘bark’ command. Also point and draw his attention to them.

4

Reward

Once he starts barking, have the person scream and run away. It’s important he knows he needs to bark until the person leaves. You can then hand over a reward and show him how happy you are with him.

5

Change it up

Practice this a few times each week. Try to use people he does not know. You don’t want him barking at family or friends. Keep practicing this and he will soon get into the habit of barking at anyone that approaches.

The Day One Method

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Start early

Golden Retrievers are most receptive when they are puppies. So start training then and you will see results much sooner. Use tasty treats and verbal praise to encourage any interest in strangers.

2

Draw his attention

Whenever a stranger approaches the door, call his name and then take him to the door. Whisper, point and get him worked up. This will help him develop a habit of being aware when new people approach.

3

Lead by example

Golden Retrievers learn by mirroring their owner's behavior. So if you start waving your arms around and shouting when anyone comes to the door, he will soon follow suit.

4

Reward

Whenever he does bark or head for strangers, hand over a treat or play around with a toy for a minute. The better the reward, the more likely he is to repeat the behavior.

5

Caution

Although you are training him to be a guard dog, it’s also important you stamp out any uncontrolled aggression. Do not reward him when he barks or is aggressive with family or friends. It’s important you retain control and channel his aggression appropriately.

By James Barra

Published: 02/28/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Coco

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Golden Retriever

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Thousand and One Week

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My dog is 40 days old . I want him to be guard dog like german shepherd . I know that goldens are not for guarding but my family took a golden retriever anyway. So please assist me to achieve this . Currently we are feeding coco with baby cerelac . My grandmother has given him milk boiled potato and curd . Due to this he is suffering from diareia. We have tried to make my grandmother understand the situation but she is not understanding please assist me with this also

March 21, 2021

Coco's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Ayush, Depending on where you live, I would switch pup to "Puppy Milk Replacer" formula. It's similar to Cerelac for babies but formulated for puppies. The milk replacer specifically shows and says it's for puppies, perhaps your grandmother would find it more understandable to feed puppy a formula that's only used for dogs. You could try explaining to her that dogs do not have the same digestive system as people, they lack some of the enzymes to break down certain foods that people can digest easily, so those digestive differences can cause them to get sick if fed human food, especially when very young. A young puppy can't even digest adult dog food due to the immaturity of their systems and lack of enzymes - much like babies not being able to digest a steak dinner when they are first born - even if you blended up the steak, the baby would still have issues digesting the fat and protein at that age. Your dog may never have the natural instincts to truly guard but you can teach pup commands on cue to intimidate, be watchful and alert, and even bite and hold on command. I would only pursue bite work with the help of a trainer to avoid creating an aggressive or fearful dog though. Confidence and good socialization are important for any guard dog. Teaching pup obedience commands and having reliability with those are also important during the first year. Once pup is several months old, you can teach pup to bark when people approach. To teach pup to bark and be more alert, 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 while pup watches from a window or fence. Command speak and reward with a treat when they do. Practice with telling pup to speak each time the person is on the property, until pup barks on their own when the person enters without saying speak. At that point, have the person step 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

March 22, 2021

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tucker

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Golden Retriever

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2 Months

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how to teach them how to guard

Sept. 24, 2020

tucker's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Vaagmi, You can either hire a professional protection trainer to train pup formally, or you can work on teaching pup to bark when someone comes onto the property and generally be more alert of surroundings, on your own. For any bite work, you will need to hire professional help though. To teach pup to bark and be more alert, 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 while pup watches from a window or fence. Command speak and reward with a treat when they do. Practice with telling pup to speak each time the person is on the property, until pup barks on their own when the person enters without saying speak. At that point, have the person step 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 If you are wanting to train to protect you, opposed to property, at this age work on socializing pup thoroughly so that they will learn what is normal human behavior and be able to tell when someone is acting suspicious later, and be confident and not fearful as an adult so you can take them places with you. Also, work on working up to an intermediate and advanced level of obedience so that pup has a high level of reliability listening to your commands. When those things are in place, then formal protection training with bite work can begin closer to a year of age as pup matures more mentally. You need pup to be confident and not fearful or reactive around normal people though. Protection training isn't about encouraging fear or aggression- that creates a dog who is a liability. It is a task that's trained to a well socialized, confident dog, like herding or service dog work. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Sept. 24, 2020


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