How to Train a Labrador Retriever Guard Dog

Hard
1-6 Months
Work

Introduction

At the moment, your Labrador Retriever spends his days shuffling across the floor trying to follow you into every room. They’re still young, unsure and highly dependant on you. You have to admit, you secretly love how attached they have become to you. In fact, you love nothing more than cuddling up with Max on the sofa after a long day at work. However, you also have other plans for Max. You brought them home because you wanted a guard dog.

Training a Labrador Retriever to be a guard dog comes with a number of benefits. First and foremost, you’ll have a fantastic way to keep yourself, family, house and valuable items safe. This means you can relax as you drift off to sleep in the evenings. This training will also increase your control and make it easier to teach the Lab a range of other commands too.

Defining Tasks

Teaching a Lab to be a guard dog is by no means the most straightforward training. It will require rigorous obedience training to assert your position as pack leader, ensuring the dog follows your instructions. You will also need to find an effective incentive to get them barking on your command. Finally, training will also consist of socializing your Labrador Retriever so they can distinguish between friend and foe.

If your Labrador Retriever is a puppy, then you could see results in just a month or so. This is because they should be particularly receptive and eager to please. However, if they are older and less interested in learning, then you may need up to six months. Another benefit of this training will be that you have a fantastic way to bond with your dog. On top of that, you’ll have yourself an effective burglar deterrent and a cost-effective means of safeguarding valuables.

Getting Started

Before you can start training with your Lab, you’ll need to get your hands on a few items. Stock up on tasty treats or break their favorite food into small chunks. Some toys and a clicker will also be required. As will a friend or two.

You will also need to set aside 15 minutes each day for training. Try and find a time where you both won’t be distracted.

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

The Full Package Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Start early
The earlier you can start training your Labrador Retriever, the sooner you will see results. That means start encouraging any promising signs from an early age. Any interest in strangers, including barking, should be rewarded with treats and praise.
Step
2
Obedience classes
Enroll your dog in group obedience classes. This will help socialize them with other pets and people. It is important they understand how to get on with pets and people they do know.
Step
3
Basic commands
Teach your Labrador Retriever ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘stay’ and any other basic commands they may need later on. This will also enhance your control, increasing the likelihood they will follow your instructions.
Step
4
Test drive
Practice having people approach the house or area you want the dog to protect. Draw their attention by pointing, whispering and getting animated. As soon as the dog barks, reward them with a treat. Do this each time and they will soon get into the habit of defending against strangers.
Step
5
Avoid punishment
It is important you do not use punishment during training. This may only make your dog aggressive and then potentially dangerous. Labrador retrievers respond best to positive reinforcement.
Recommend training method?

The Territorial Method

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Step
1
Morning walk
Secure your Labrador Retriever to a leash and walk them around the perimeter of the area you want them to protect. Do this each morning and any space within the area will soon begin to feel like their territory, which they will naturally want to defend.
Step
2
Evening walk
Go for the same walk again each evening. Remain calm and quiet as you go, you want your Lab to concentrate. This perimeter training can start proving successful in a matter of weeks.
Step
3
Get their attention
Whenever a stranger approaches the door, encourage the dog to go over. You can point, whisper and do everything you can to get them worked up. It may be time-consuming to start with, but be patient, they will eventually bark.
Step
4
Click
A clicker is a fanatic way to communicate with your Labrador Retriever. Simply click whenever they follow an instruction correctly or display the right behavior and you will have a brilliant way to speed up the learning process.
Step
5
Reward
As soon as your Labrador Retriever barks, click and then swiftly hand over a treat and give them lots of praise. Make sure they get the treat within three seconds of barking, otherwise they may not associate the action with the reward.
Recommend training method?

The ‘Bark’ Method

Least Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Watch closely
Spend a couple of days closely watching your Labrador Retriever. You’re looking for any situations which trigger a bark. You’re going to use these situations to teach them to bark on command. When they are about to be fed or taken out for a walk are common triggers.
Step
2
‘Bark’
Now place your Labrador Retriever in one of these situations and issue a ‘bark’ command just before or as they start to bark. Give it only once and use a playful tone. Dogs respond best when they think they are playing a game.
Step
3
Reward
As soon as the dog does indeed bark, be sure to give them a tasty treat or play with a toy for a minute. You can also give out some verbal praise. The happier they feel, the more likely it is they will repeat the behavior.
Step
4
Have someone knock
Spend a few minutes each day practicing the ‘bark’ command. Then have someone the dog does not know too well knock on the door. Once they have done that, point at the door and instruct the dog to bark.
Step
5
Reward
Have the person shout and then run away. It’s important the Lab knows they need to bark until they hear someone flee. You can then hand over a tasty reward. Now simply practice this a few times each week. Before you know it they will naturally bark at any stranger that approaches.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Tuffy
Labrador Retriever
9 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Tuffy
Labrador Retriever
9 Months

Sir/ma'am my labrador is 9 months old and is black in colour. He's very active but is over friendly. When the door knocks he doesn't comes into sudden action. I looked everywhere for this problem but didn't get any solution. Every dog barks when the door knocks but mine doesn't barks. If he's leashed and sleeping he doesn't barks on strangers arrival but only looks and sleeps back. It rarely barks when someone comes.
It's my humble request to please tell me the way to make him a proper guard dog and a little bit aggresive.
I searched many videos on youtube for this situation my couldn't find any solution. Please help me.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Thank you for the question. Take a look at this site: https://robertcabral.com/teach-your-dog-to-bark/ There are videos on many topics such as barking as I have shown here. You can also sign up for Skype instruction which may help. There are good methods here as well, to teach your dog to "speak." It's not a bad thing to have a friendly dog - once your dog gets a little older, he may be more protective. In the meantime, look at Robert Cabral's videos for pointers. Good luck!

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Question
Coco
Labrador Retriever
4 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Coco
Labrador Retriever
4 Months

my dog knows "sit" "come" "go" commands. depends on hwr mood she don't listen sometimes. i want to teach her "don't eat" "lay down" "bark" "hand shake" "stay" command.. but she don't concentrate well.. what should i do.. please help me out here.. thankyou.. waiting for your response...

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
836 Dog owners recommended

Hello Marrium, First, know that at 4 months, pup is still developing certain areas of her brain and thinks like self-control and focus take time to learn. Keep practicing to help her develop them but understand that this is normal. First, try breaking down the training into smaller steps for her. Reward when she succeeds even a little bit. Have more frequent but shorter training sessions, to accommodate her puppy attention span. Several 10-15 minute sessions throughout the day instead of one 45 minute session for example. Once pup can obey a command in a calm environment, very gradually make the environment gradually harder, expecting her to need more help and hints from you again at first, every time you increase the difficulty. For example, start teaching a command in a quiet room, then progress to a room with other people in it, then move training to your yard outside (on leash or in a fence for safety), then move to different parts of your neighborhood, then a park, ect... Pay attention to your body language. Keep your energy exciting and interesting to keep pup engaged. Training a puppy is the ideal time to act out all your best cheerleader skills. The best puppy trainers often look rather silly - but their energy and enthusiasm helps puppies focus and learn really well. Lay down and Stay https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Bark - speak: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-speak Shake paws: https://youtu.be/CRoDTUkzVpU Leave It - which means the dog never gets the food. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Wait - which means the dog will get the food but not until you say so. https://youtu.be/TsDy2a2YefE Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Rosie
Black Lab
1 Year
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Question
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Rosie
Black Lab
1 Year

My dog is not as protective as I want her to be and she doesn't really care when there are strangers she just barks once and then stands there and does nothing

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, if you are looking for a protection dog, it is best to consult a professional trainer who can work with both you and Rosie. This is the safest way to go about it - to keep both Daisy and others safe. Look online for a trainer that has the same philosophy as you as far as methods. In the meantime, training Rosie in basic obedience will also enable her to develop a protective nature. When a dog and owner train in obedience, a bond is formed and cemented. Again, taking her to training is the ideal way to get this - and the socialization that comes along with it ensures that Rosie is confident in her interactions with both people and other dogs. You can begin training her at home with basic commands: https://wagwalking.com/training/obedience-train-a-great-dane. All the best and happy training!

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Question
Bruno
Labrador Retriever
7 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bruno
Labrador Retriever
7 Months

He doesn't bark on strangers he cries to meet them

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Bruno is young and also a breed that is very friendly. Labrador Retrievers are often very sociable and that is a good thing because you want to be able to bring Bruno along with you on outings and walks. I suggest that you take Bruno to dog training lessons. Doing so will cement the bond between you and reinforce his loyalty. When a well-trained dog is proficient in all commands and has a strong owner/dog relationship, the innate desire to protect will be evident. He'll be more likely to have a protective nature as the training goes on. You can also ask the trainer for tips based on what they see in Bruno's typical stance and personality. Happy training and enjoy!

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Question
Fred
Labrador Retriever
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Fred
Labrador Retriever
6 Months

Easily manipulated by strangers and no sense of vigilance

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Labrador Retrievers are friendly dogs all around so this is understandable. They are also very loyal and eager to please their owners. So, you should be able to develop a protective nature in your dog. This is best accomplished by taking them to dog training classes. Doing do cements a bond between you and your dog and deepens the loyalty. The important thing about dog training when aiming for a dog that will bark at strangers and thus protect the home, is that you will be able to easily let your dog know when the knock at the door or the friendly stranger met on the street when out for a walk is just that - friendly. Taking your dog to training also makes them receptive to following commands. So, I highly recommend it as Fred grows older and develops his personality. Here is a guide that instructs how to teach Fred to bark at the door. The Manage His Territory Method may be a good place to start. Good luck!

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Question
Maggie
Yellow Lab
9 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Maggie
Yellow Lab
9 Months

She is super aggressive to people , but at home she is perfect . I want to train her to new perfect .

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
836 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lillie, For this type of need I recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression and comes well recommended by their previous clients with similar needs. It would be ideal to find a training group that also has a team of trainers or staff to work with, so that pup can practice the training around a variety of different people who are experience with aggression and dogs, to help her generalize what's learned to people in general, instead of just one person, with safety measures and controlled scenarios in place. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Toff
Labrador Retriever
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Toff
Labrador Retriever
5 Months

Hi,
My puppy is very stubborn but friendly. She loves everyone but she bites me and doesn't listen when I say no. I think she could possibly be a good guard dog as she has a deep bark but I want to teach her to bark on command.

Kind regards,
Maddie

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Teaching your dog to speak on command can be a fun trick as well as a useful behavior. It’s easier to teach your dog to “quiet” once you’ve put barking on a cue. You also can reward your dog for just one bark, as opposed to barking non-stop for several minutes. Plus, it’s an entertaining trick that tends to be a hit with friends and family! Have Your Reward Ready The first part of training your dog to “speak” is to be ready with a reward, such as a treat or a toy. The idea is that once your dog barks, you’re immediately prepared to mark the behavior with a command and a reward. Get Your Dog To Speak This step will be easier for some dog owners than others. If you’ve got a vocal dog, there might be many occasions when they bark, like when you grab their leash or a favorite toy. The key is to get your dog excited enough to bark. If nothing else works, try running or jumping around with your dog to excite them enough to start barking. Mark The Bark As soon as your dog barks, immediately mark the behavior with a command like “speak!”, and reward them with a treat, toy, or praise. If you’re using clicker training, make sure to click as soon as your dog barks. Continue marking & rewarding the behavior until your dog understands how to “speak” on command. Add A Hand Signal Once your dog understands your verbal command for “speak,” you can add in a hand signal too. A commonly used hand signal for “speak” starts with an open hand, palm facing the dog, then repeatedly closing your 4 fingers against your thumb. When your dog has grasped that, continue to use your verbal command, hand signal, or a combination of both to reinforce the behavior and get your dog to consistently speak on command. Tips For Training “Speak” Unlike, say, shaking hands, barking is an instinctive behavior for dogs, so it can be a bit trickier to teach. The last thing you want is to encourage nuisance barking all the time. The key for owners is consistency. When training, you should only reward barking when you’re asking your dog to bark. Additionally, try to capture and mark only a single bark. You don’t want your dog to think “speak” means “start a barking frenzy.” Lastly, be mindful of your neighbors when teaching this trick. If you live in an apartment or in close proximity to neighbors, know that others might not find your dog’s barking as cute as you do, so practice in short sessions. Utilizing The “Speak” Command “Speak” is often used as a simple, fun, trick to show off to friends and family, but it can have more purposeful uses, as well. For instance, you can train your dog to speak to let you know they need to go outside to do their business. Furthermore, by teaching “speak” and rewarding with a command, you can modify the technique to teach your dog to “whisper” (i.e. bark at a lower volume). Perhaps most useful when teaching “speak,” you can also train your dog to be quiet on command using the same system of marking and rewarding once your dog ceases barking.

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