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

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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.
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The Territorial Method

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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.
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The ‘Bark’ Method

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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.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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