How to Train a Pit Bull to be a Guard Dog

Medium
1-6 Months
Work

Introduction

You brought Lucky into your home for several reasons. Firstly, you wanted a trusty canine companion. You definitely got that. Your Pit Bull is playful, energetic and always eager to see you. However, you also chose Lucky for another reason. Pit Bulls are big and strong, and you’re after a guard dog. You may have certain objects of value that you want to keep safe. But you may also just want to keep your family and home secure. Dogs are thought to be one of the most effective burglar deterrents and not many are brave enough to take on a Pit Bull.

Training your Pit Bull to be a guard dog comes with more benefits than just an efficient intruder deterrent. You will instill a high level of discipline in your dog. Discipline that can be used to train them to do a range of commands and tricks. This type of training is also just a great way for you to spend quality time together.

Defining Tasks

Training a Pit Bull to be a guard dog isn’t going to come without its challenges. You will need to keep them focused and properly motivated for months. That requires the right food or a favorite toy. You will then use obedience commands to get the dog barking and taking an interest in strangers. You will also need to do some socialization work to ensure they don’t display any signs of aggression towards people or pets they do know.

If your dog is just a puppy then they should be fast learners and keen to please. As a result, training may prove successful in just a month or so. However, if they are older and not such keen students then you may need several months before you see consistent results. If training proves successful, you’ll have a fantastic way to keep people and possessions secure.

Getting Started

Before you can start training, you will need to make sure you have several things together. Firstly, you will need to stock up on treats or small pieces of your dog's favorite food. You will also need a secure leash and some friends your Pit Bull does not know too well.

Set aside 10 to 15 minutes several days a week for training. The more consistently you train, the sooner you may see results.

Once you have all that, just bring enthusiasm and patience, then work can begin!

The ‘Bark’ Method

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2 Votes
Step
1
Monitor
Spend a couple of days watching your Pit Bull. You’re looking for any situations which naturally trigger a bark. This could be when you feed them or take them for a walk, for example. You’re going to use these moments to teach them to bark on command.
Step
2
‘Bark’
Put your dog in one of these situations and issue a ‘bark’ command in a playful voice. Give the instruction just before or as they naturally start to bark. You can use any word or phrase you like. So you could also use ‘speak’, for example.
Step
3
Reward
As soon as the dog barks, hand over a tasty treat. In fact, try to reward them within three seconds. Then continue to practice this for a few minutes each day, gradually giving the command earlier.
Step
4
On command
Work toward giving the command without the natural trigger, so you can say "bark" and your dog will bark without an outside influence. As your dog improves, give the command in a range of situations.
Step
5
Have someone approach
Once they understand the instruction, have a relatively unfamiliar person approach the door. Give your Pit Bull the ‘bark’ instruction. Then have the person scream and run away. It’s important the dog knows to bark until they flee. You can then hand over a reward.
Step
6
Practice
Now all you need to do is practice regularly. Have different people approach and continue to hand over tasty rewards when your dog barks. Before you know it, the dog will be in the habit of barking at any stranger that approaches.
Step
7
'Quiet'
To avoid barking getting out of control or encouraging aggression, use the reverse approach to teach your dog to be quiet on command. Wait for him to naturally fall silent, introduce the command 'quiet' and give a reward. Work toward giving the command earlier, while the dog is still barking, until he will stop barking as soon as he is commanded.
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The Full Package Method

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Step
1
Start early
If you want the quickest results, then start training your Pit Bull to be a guard dog from an early age as possible. It is when they are a puppy that they are at their most receptive, so any work you do then will yield results far sooner.
Step
2
Obedience classes
Enroll your puppy into group obedience classes. Not only will this teach them a range of useful commands, from ‘down’ to ‘stay’, but it will also socialize them with other pets and people, which is essential to keep guarding behavior from developing into aggressive behavior.
Step
3
Encouragement
You need to encourage any of the types of behavior they will need to be an effective guard dog. That means handing out treats or playing with a toy whenever they take an interest in or bark at strangers that approach your home.
Step
4
Get them familiar
Make sure your Pit Bull is familiar with the item/place/people you want them to guard. If not, they will not feel like they fall within their territory, therefore, they will be less interested in protecting them.
Step
5
Avoid punishment
It’s important you do not use punishment as a training tool. Your Pit Bull will respond best to positive reinforcement and punishment may only make them overly aggressive and too challenging to control.
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The Boundaries Method

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Step
1
Morning walk
Secure your dog to a leash each morning and walk them quietly around the area you want them to guard. You are showing them the object or place falls within their territory. This will make them naturally want to defend it.
Step
2
Evening walk
Also secure the dog to a leash in the evening and walk them around the perimeter of the area. This will further reinforce the boundary training. They will soon be wary of anyone unfamiliar that wanders within the space.
Step
3
Tether
In the daytime, tether your dog to a long leash around the area they are to protect. This will only make the area feel even more like their territory to protect. Make sure they still have some freedom to roam around. Also, ensure they have access to water and food.
Step
4
Have a stranger approach
Now have a friend or person your dog does not know that well slowly approach. Point at the stranger, whisper and draw your Pit Bull’s attention to the person. Continue doing this until the dog barks. Be patient, it may take them a little while to catch on.
Step
5
Reward
As soon as the dog does bark, hand over a tasty treat or a toy. The happier they feel afterwards, the more keen they will be to repeat the behavior. Continue practicing this several times a week and they will soon be in the habit of barking at anyone that approaches.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Simba
pitbull
17 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Simba
pitbull
17 Months

Is it possible to train a Pitbull to be a guard dog since they like human beings?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
461 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sicelo, A good guard dog is actually extremely well socialized and motivated by positive reinforcement. Police dogs are rewarded for controlled holds, releases, bites, and alerting because they are motivated by their handlers and things that encourage their drive such as tugging and holding, not because they want to kill the person they are biting. True guard dogs are simply taught to alert to strangers appearing and are not protective in nature. For that role, you can simply teach a dog to bark or growl on cue, then pair that command with the appearance of new people, and practice it until your dog starts to bark or growl whenever a new person comes onto your property before you give the speak command. When your dog starts to bark on their own, you reward them for doing it automatically also and no longer give the Speak command, unless they seem stuck and need a hint - even if your dog is really a softy who just acts intimidating this can still be an effective deterrent without having to worry about a bite lawsuit. A truly aggressive dog is not a good guard dog because they are almost impossible to control by their handlers. A balanced dog makes a better protective dog. A truly soft dog might be easily scared by an intruder and cannot be training to do more than bark and growl though - opposed to dogs that are trained to grab and hold - that need more courage and tenacity for their job. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Hazel
Pit bull
1 Year
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Question
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Hazel
Pit bull
1 Year

My dog already protects me from close family if they hit me or touch me or if I show emotion. Is that a good sign and how do you make your dogs more alert. Also how do you train your dog not to run away without telling then to stay.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
461 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jason, Many dogs are naturally protective and it does not need encouraging. I do not suggest encouraging it further or it may turn into full blown aggression. I do suggest working on obedience commands so that he is responsive and attentive to you. Working on obedience commands can automatically help to build focus, but there are certain commands that are especially good to teach: Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo All of the above commands build respect and trust without being too confrontational. Check out the article linked below on teaching Come. Work on teaching Come, then use a long, 30' training leash (once he is trained not to pull) and take your dog to an open area and walk around. Randomly tell your dog to Come and reward him. Whenever he comes or chooses to heel without being told, also give him a treat. By rewarding him for automatically checking in with you and choosing to be with you, you are increasing his desire to be near you. Teaching Come also helps him understand the concept of being close to you and is important as well. Rewarding him for being close to you and working on the commands linked above to build respect, focus, self-control, and calmness are a good combination. Be sure to teach a Leave It command, Drop It command, and Stay to prevent aggressive displays toward the wrong people. Come: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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