How to Train a Great Dane to be a Guard Dog

How to Train a Great Dane to be a Guard Dog
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon4-8 Weeks
Work training category iconWork

Introduction


As the name suggests, your Great Dane is probably on the large side. This makes the fact he’s cute and soft on the inside even more appealing. However, it isn’t his soft nature you want to put to work. You want to use his size and somewhat menacing appearance by training him to be a guard dog. Great Danes are confident and devoted, this means they have the attributes needed to make an effective guard dog. He’s also full of energy, so it would be great to channel his energy into something productive.

Training him to be guard dog will come with a number of benefits. Firstly, you will have an effective security measure for whatever you want to protect. Secondly, this type of training is fantastic for instilling discipline, making it easier to teach him a range of other commands too.

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Defining Tasks

Training most dogs to be a guard dog can be challenging. Fortunately, Great Danes possess many of the qualities you need. So, training will consist of developing those attributes. You will need to start with straightforward boundary training. This will reinforce where his territory stretches to and therefore where he needs to defend. You will also need to train him to bark on command. You can then get him into a habit of deterring any strangers from approaching.

If he’s a puppy, he should be a fast learner and eager to please. So, you could see results in just a few weeks. If he’s older and not quite the keen student he once was, then you may need a couple of months. Get this training right and you will be able to sleep easy at night knowing you have a vigilant and capable guard dog downstairs.

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Getting Started

Before you start work, you will need to collect a few bits. A long leash will be required. Also, because Great Danes are so large, a body harness may also help. This will reduce strain on his neck while affording you greater control.

You will also need to stock up on treats. Alternatively, break his favorite food into small chunks. Then set aside 15 minutes each day for training, at a time where you both won’t be distracted.

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

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The Boundaries Method

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1

Rise & shine

Secure him to a leash and then walk around the object or space you want him to protect. If you walk him around the perimeter each morning, he will soon begin to feel that anything within it is his territory and therefore his to defend.

2

Evening walk

When evening comes, secure him to a leash and walk him around the permitter again. Remain calm and relatively quiet as you go, you want him to concentrate. This will further cement where his territory begins and ends.

3

Start early

The earlier you can start training him to be a guard dog the better. So, take him to obedience training classes from an early age. Great Danes are like sponges to begin with, so they should quickly pick up commands.

4

Encouragement

Give him verbal praise and treats whenever you see any guard-like behaviour. For example, taking an interest in strangers, barking or being protective should all be encouraged. This will help him naturally develop into a guard dog.

5

Never punish him

Due to the size of Great Danes, it is important you never punish him. This may only make him aggressive and since he’s so strong he could seriously injure someone. Instead, use positive reinforcement throughout training.

The Bark Method

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Look for a bark trigger

Spend a couple of days monitoring him and looking for situations which naturally cause him to bark. When you are about to feed him or take him out for a walk are likely occasions.

2

‘Bark’

Now put him in one of these situations and give a ‘bark’ command just before or as he barks. You can use any word or phrase you like, Great Danes can learn hundreds of different commands. Also, make sure you give the command in a clear, but firm voice.

3

Reward

As soon as he does bark, hand over a tasty treat and some verbal praise. Make sure he gets the treat within a few seconds of barking, otherwise he may not link the action with the reward. Practice this for 10 minutes each day. After a couple of days you can then start giving the command in a variety of situations.

4

Application

Now have a friend or neighbor approach your Great Dane when he is standing by the item or space you want him to protect. As soon as they come within 15 feet, instruct him to bark. Then have the intruder shout and run away. This is important--it will teach him he needs to bark until they flee. Then you can hand over a tasty reward.

5

Change it up

Over the next week or so, try and practice this at least every other day. Have someone different approach each time and give the ‘bark’ instruction. Do this regularly and it will soon become habit to bark whenever anyone approaches At this point, you can slowly cut out the treats.

The Environment Method

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Socialize

To start with, have your Great Dane meet as many people and pets as possible. This will help build his confidence. He won’t be an effective guard dog if he’s shy or nervous around people.

2

Basic commands

Teach him to ‘sit’, lie ‘down’ and ‘wait’. This discipline will cement your position as pack leader. Also, it will ensure you can control him in tense situations and train him to follow any number of other commands that will be useful when he’s a guard dog.

3

Long leash

Tether him to a long leash around the area or object you want him to protect. If he spends each day like this, he will soon begin to think of that space as his territory. He will then naturally want to defend it.

4

Encourage barking

Have people he does not know slowly approach. Then encourage him to take an interest and bark at them. You can do this by waving, pointing and getting animated when they approach. This will get him worked up. Then as soon as he barks, give him a tasty treat. Do this every time and he will soon naturally bark when anyone approaches.

5

Control the barking

It is important you do not let him bark at family or people that he does know. If he does, quietly remove him from the area and do not give him any rewards or attention. You need him to only bark at strangers.

By James Barra

Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Flash

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Great Dane

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6 Months

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Question

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I'm unable to let her take instructions

April 10, 2022

Flash's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Evans, Could you be a bit more specific please? What are you wanting to teach specifically? What issues are you running into while training? What's pup's general behavior and temperament like? Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

April 11, 2022

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Bella

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Great Dane

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8 Months

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Would like her to train to be a guard dog

Sept. 7, 2020

Bella's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Reluca, Are you wanting pup to learn to watch for and alert for intruders on a property or personally protect you and attack anyone who would attempt to hurt you - which is called protection training? For training a dog to be a guard dog and guard property, you can work on teaching pup a Speak command, commanding pup to Speak whenever someone enters your property and reward the barking (recruit friends pup doesn't know to practice being disguised strangers), then work up to rewarding pup if they bark before you command Speak to teach them to automatically bark whenever they see someone. Also, reward pup whenever you catch them quietly keeping an eye on strangers passing by, to teach more attentiveness. To teach pup to be a protection dog, which involves bite work, I highly suggest hiring a professional protection trainer to do this part. Done wrong the training can lead to a fearful dog who is dangerous around friends and family too. It needs to be done by a professional who has the right equipment like bite bags and body suits, and can utilize the dog's natural defense drive and use positive reinforcement to reward the dog for their defensive responses in the right situations and staying controlled and calm in other situations when told. You can also join a club such as IPA, Schlutzhund, or French Ring to be more involved with part of the training yourself. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Sept. 8, 2020


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