How to Train a Labrador Puppy to be a Guard Dog

Medium
2-6 Months
Chores

Introduction

Imagine that it's the middle of the night and you are sound asleep in your bed. You are suddenly awoken by the sound of your puppy's barking and growling. Your puppy is past the age where he tends to bark at night to be let out and there has recently been a string of burglaries in your neighborhood, so you grab a weapon and wake up your spouse. You head downstairs to the front door where your puppy is barking and look around. After making sure everything is secure inside, you peek through the windows and go outside to do a check around your property. The tension floods out of your body when you discover the source of your dog's alarm. Young, teenage vandals have decorated your car and lawn with toilet paper and shaving cream. You grin and let out a sigh, a bit annoyed to be woken up and bothered with the mess, but proud of your puppy for alerting you to the potential danger. 

Defining Tasks

Knowing that your dog is on the lookout for intruders can bring a lot of peace of mind. Just having a dog that barks at any suspicious activity can ward off potential threats. 

There is a huge difference between a guard dog and a dog that is trained for protection work. A guard dog is trained to carefully keep an eye on your property and alert you when something is out of place. A protection dog is trained to protect his owner and to bite and hold down an attacker. Protection training should only be done by experienced and professional individuals. A protection dog must be extremely well trained and under control at all times. 

While you are teaching your puppy to guard your property, continue to socialize him around people outside of your home. When he meets a new person tell him to 'Say Hi' and have that person feed him treats. Do this so that he will learn the difference between normal human behavior and suspicious behavior so that you can let him know when someone on your property is supposed to be there.

Getting Started

To get started, you will need an assistant that your puppy does not know, a location where your dog can see your property boundary, and lots of tasty treats. You may also need a front room window where your dog can see the boundaries of your property. You may also want to teach your dog 'Speak' and 'Quiet' before engaging in guard training. You may also need a fenced in yard where your dog can see your property boundary. With all of the methods, you will need a bit of theatrics to get your dog excited about strangers and then calm again. You will also need patience and consistency!

The Window Method

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Step
1
Get set up
To begin, recruit an assistant that your puppy does not know, grab some treats that she loves, and go to a window in your home that has a good view of your property line or neighborhood sidewalk.
Step
2
Encourage watching
Call your pup over to the window and have your assistant walk around outside off of your property. Whenever your puppy watches your assistant, praise her and give her a treat. If she barks, ignore her at this point since your assistant is not on your property.
Step
3
Encourage barking
Have your assistant walk toward your house on your property. As soon as he does this, get your puppy excited and encourage her to bark at your assistant. If she needs more encouragement, then have your assistant jump up and down, wave his arms, wear strange clothes, or generally act suspicious. When she barks at him, praise her and give her a treat. Encourage her to continue barking at him until he leaves your property.
Step
4
Add a 'Quiet' cue
As soon as your assistant walks off of your property, then tell your girl 'Quiet' in a soft and calming tone of voice. Get in front of her and down at her level to block her view and help her calm down if needed. Praise her and give her a treat when she calms back down, then continue to reward her for quietly watching your assistant who is off of your property.
Step
5
Practice
Practice having your assistant walk around off of your property while you encourage your puppy to quietly watch him and having your assistant randomly walk onto your property while you encourage your puppy to bark at him. Do this until your puppy will bark at him while he is on your property and will quietly watch him while he is off of your property on her own.
Step
6
Add more people
When your puppy will quietly watch your assistant while he is off of your property and will bark while he is on your property, then recruit new assistants to walk on and off of your property one at a time. Do this until your puppy will pay attention to strangers and alert you when a stranger walks onto your property.
Recommend training method?

The Cue Method

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Step
1
Get prepared
To begin, teach your puppy the 'Speak' and 'Quiet' commands. When he understands both of those commands, grab lots of treats, recruit an assistant who your puppy has never met, and go to a location on your property where he can see your property boundary line. Ideally, this location should be in a fenced in yard or at a front room window where your puppy regularly hangs out.
Step
2
Encourage alertness
Next, have your assistant walk around outside where your pup can see him. Encourage your pup to pay attention to the person and reward him with a treat when he does so. If he barks, simply ignore his barking at this point since the person is off of your property.
Step
3
Command 'Speak'
When your puppy has learned to pay attention to the person, then have the person walk onto your property and begin to act strangely. Get excited yourself and tell your puppy to 'Speak!'. When he barks, praise him and give him a treat. Continue to tell him to 'Speak' and reward him for doing so until the person leaves your property.
Step
4
Command 'Quiet'
As soon as the person walks off of your property, tell your puppy 'Quiet' in a soft and calming tone of voice. When he becomes quiet for even a second, praise him and give him a treat.
Step
5
Practice until it's automatic
Repeat having your assistant walk on and off of your property while you tell your pup to 'Speak' and 'Quiet'. Do this until your puppy will automatically bark on his own whenever your assistant walks onto your property and will automatically become quiet when your assistant walks off. Continue to reward him for quietly watching your assistant while he is off of your property.
Step
6
Add strangers
When your pup will bark at your assistant while he is on your property and will watch quietly while he is off of your property, then practice all of it around other people too. Do this by either recruiting other assistants and encouraging your pup to quietly watch strangers who walk past your property and to bark at strangers who walk onto your property.
Recommend training method?

The Fence Method

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Step
1
Go outside
To begin, recruit an assistant who your dog does not know, grab some treats, and go into your fenced in yard where your puppy can see your property boundary or sidewalk from.
Step
2
Encourage altertness
Have your assistant walk around off of your property where your puppy can see him. Draw your pup's attention to the person and whenever he looks at the person, praise him and give him a treat. Gradually increase the amount of time that passes between treat rewards so that he has to watch the person for longer and longer periods of time before he earns a treat.
Step
3
Repeat
Encourage your puppy to watch people until he will automatically notice when a person walks by and will watch that person until he leaves the area. If he barks at someone, simply ignore his barking for now.
Step
4
Add barking
When your dog will carefully watch your assistant when he walks around, then have you assistant randomly walk onto your property. As soon as your assistant steps onto your property, have your assistant act strangely by jumping up and down or making loud noises. When your dog barks, praise him and give him a treat. Continue to encourage him to bark until the person leaves your property.
Step
5
Add quietness
As soon as the person leaves your property, tell your dog 'Quiet' in a calm, soft, and soothing tone of voice. Get in front of him to block his view if necessary. As soon as he becomes quiet for even a second, praise him and give him a treat. Repeat encouraging him to bark and then quieting him back down while your assistant walks on and off of your property.
Step
6
Practice
Practice until your pup will vigilantly parole the yard and keep watch, will alert you when someone comes onto your property, and will remain quiet when someone is not on your property.
Step
7
Add people
Recruit other assistants to practice with and encourage his new skills in everyday life. Continue to socialize your dog with people off of your property by having people feed him treats after you tell him to 'Say Hi' to them. Do this so that he will learn how to differentiate normal human behavior from suspicious behavior and so that he will welcome your guests into your home when you tell him to 'Say Hi'.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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