How to Train a Staffordshire Bull Terrier to Protect

Hard
2-4 Months
Behavior

Introduction

Most dogs are instinctively protective of their owners and families.  However, not all dogs know how to effectively protect their family in a threatening situation.  Training your dog to have the skills he needs to warn off an attacker before the situation escalates provides effective protection. Some breeds are more naturally protective than others and harnessing and directing these behaviors so you have an effective protection dog will prove more successful than training a dog that lacks confidence. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is one of those naturally protective dogs. Sometimes 'Staffies' are referred to as 'The Nanny Dog' because of their ability to guard and because they are naturally good with small children in their home. This trait can be harnessed to make a 'Staffie' an excellent protection dog as his instinct is to guard and protect his 'people' from threats. If you are interested in training your Staffordshire Bull Terrier to be a protection dog, make sure you have the resources available, the assistance of a reputable professional trainer, and that you are aware of regulations in your area involving 'bully breeds'.

Defining Tasks

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is fearless, tough, and oddly enough, nurturing of their people. This combination of traits will make an excellent protection dog, providing that their protective behaviors can be controlled and directed. This is where training your Staffie is important. You will want your dog to respond immediately to threats and, with complete control, to directions to break off aggression. Staffies are very loving dogs and training them with attention and praise can be effective. You will not only need to teach your dog to 'heel', 'sit', 'stay', and 'come', but also to 'Leave It', 'Sit-Stay', and 'Down-Stay' so that you can call off protective behavior when it is misplaced. Exposing your Staffie to lots of different situations is important. To be protective, you will train your dog to bark when necessary, and if you feel that further protective behaviors are required, you can train your Staffie to attack to protect you. But you must also ensure you can call off attack behaviors. Attack training should only take place with the guidance and resources of a professional trainer.

Getting Started

Although Staffordshire Terriers will work for affection, treats are a good idea to positively reinforce obedience commands. An assistant who is a stranger to your dog and who can act threatening in a controlled situation to elicit protective behaviors will be required. Someone who is experienced training dogs, and specifically protection dogs is recommended, as their approach and timing will be more precise. If you are training your dog attack behaviors, you should seek the assistance of a professional trainer that will have the knowledge, facilities, and equipment to safely train your dog to perform these potentially dangerous behaviors.

The Threaten Strangers Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Teach obedience commands
Teach your Staffordshire Bull Terrier obedience commands such as 'sit', 'stay', 'heel', and 'down'. Expose your Staffordshire Bull Terrier to lots of different situations and people so he is well socialized and is not fearful or aggressive in new situations.
Step
2
Bark on command
Teach your Staffie to bark on command. Wait for a barking trigger to occur naturally, or create it, and pair a command for 'speak'. Reinforce this command and gradually you can remove the reward. Add a 'quiet' command so you can stop your dog from barking.
Step
3
Have a 'stranger' approach
Engage an experienced assistant to approach you and your dog out on a walk and behave in a threatening manner. The assistant may need to wear protective equipment in case your dog becomes overly aggressive. However, before conducting this training exercise, you should have good control over you dog so this does not happen.
Step
4
Trigger barking
When approached, command your dog to bark. Let him continue barking while the 'stranger' runs away. The retreat of the intruder acts as reinforcement for your dog. Ask your dog to stop barking after the assistant leaves.
Step
5
Practice
Practice his protective, threatening, and warning behaviours with your assistant on several occasions. If possible, change assistants and environments.
Recommend training method?

The Complete Control Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Teach 'leave it'
Having complete control of your dog is necessary, as Staffies are strong dogs with powerful jaws and can do serious harm if you lose control of them. Teach your dog a strong response to the 'Leave it' command. Hold out a treat in a closed hand and command your dog to leave it. When he leaves the treat, reward him with a different treat from your other hand.
Step
2
Practice 'leave it'
Practice 'Leave It', making the behavior more complex. Use different treats and toys left out on the floor. Practice out on walks with different items your dog is attracted to. Make sure this behavior is 100% reliable.
Step
3
Teach 'sit/stay' and 'down/stay'
Teach your Staffordshire Bull Terrier to perform a 'sit/stay' or 'down/stay' command. Use treats to reinforce and practice in a variety of situations and when your dog is at different levels of excitement and distraction, until behavior is absolutely reliable.
Step
4
Teach 'quiet'
Practice 'speak' and 'quiet' at home and out on walks, directing your dog to bark and then asking him to be quiet. Reinforce behavior with treats and then with praise.
Step
5
Use commands to call off aggression
Practice allowing your dog to bark at assistants encountered on walks, and then commanding 'quiet', 'leave it', 'sit/stay' and 'down/stay' to ensure you have complete control over your dog's aggressive and threatening behaviours.
Recommend training method?

The Attack Skills Method

Least Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Get professional help
Engage a reputable, professional trainer to assist with attack training if you decide you need your Staffordshire Bull Terrier to perform more than just threatening protective behaviours. Only proceed once you have established complete control of your dog and on the advice of a trainer.
Step
2
Introduce 'attacker'
In a controlled environment or at a professional training facility, your trainer will have an assistant put on a protective padded suit and approach you and your dog in a threatening manner.
Step
3
Direct attack
When your dog responds with aggression, you can add a command to 'attack' and release your dog who will attack the assistant. An experienced trainer usually plays the role of assistant as someone who will not panic and knows what to expect.
Step
4
Call off attack
Use your call off commands such as 'leave it', or use your recall and 'sit-stay' command to get your dog to return to your side. Remember that this is the key to having a well trained protection dog.
Step
5
Reinforce following directions
Reinforce successful acts of breaking off of the attack. If your dog does not respond immediately, or completely, you will need to go back and work on control commands until they are fully established before proceeding with attack training.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Cali
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
11 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Cali
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
11 Months

She won't learn to stop using the bathroom in her kennel over night. Also, I want her to learn when to bark at a stranger or when to attack.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Dre Neal, First, make sure that her crate is the correct size and does not have anything absorbent inside it, including a soft dog bed or towels. If you want to add bedding, look into PrimoPads.com for tough, non-absorbent waterproof beds. The crate needs to be big enough for her to lay down, stand up, and turn around, but not any bigger. She should not be able to pee in one end and stand in the other end to avoid it. If she can, then the crate will not encourage her natural instinct to hold her urine. Also, clean the crate with a pet safe cleaner that contains enzymes. The enzymes will break down the poop and pee molecules that she can still smell if you used any other type of cleaner or no cleaners before. It must be enzyme based. Simply look on the bottle and something like Natures Miracle should say enzyme on it somewhere if it contains that. Look at her feeding and sleeping schedule, that could be the issue. Make sure that you are taking away all food and water two hours before bedtime, so that she will be empty by the time you take her to go potty last thing before bed. When you take her to go potty, take her right before you put her in her crate and turn out the light for the night. Not forty-minutes or an hour beforehand, but right before, and set up her sleeping area so that she will actually go to sleep when you put her in there and not be woken up by people, other animals, lights, or the TV. Her body is only able to hold her urine for longer while she is asleep. She should be able to make it ten hours overnight if you do the things above. Right when she wakes up the next morning, she will need to go potty because he bladder will become active again too. Take her out right away, don't wait. If she is still having accidents after that, then she needs to be check out by your Veterinarian, especially if she cannot go for longer than four hours during the day. She might have something medical that is going on that is effecting her bladder capacity. That could be as simple as an infection that could quickly be treated with antibiotics. To teach her to bark at strangers you can teach her a command that means "Speak" but use another word, like "Who's That?" or "Pay Attention", and whenever you see a stranger give her the cue to bark., with practice she should start to bark on her own when she sees someone, to get a treat. You do not want to encourage actual aggression, simply awareness and appearing intimidating. To teach her to bark, check out the article that I have linked below and decide what you want her cue to be, likely something more discrete than "Speak", and use your own command word in place of the speak command while teaching it to her. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-speak To teach her when to attack, take her with you to as many places as you can and work on her obedience while encouraging calm behavior and focus. You want her to observe a huge amount of all different types of people, so that she will learn what is and is not normal. When she is with you and around a lot of people and being taught to be calm and focused through obedience, she should become more aware of your own reactions to people, people's body language, smells, and what is and is not normal to watch for. When she understands what is normal, then she will be more likely to react appropriately when something is not right and people's body language and smells are different than usual. You can also do formal Schlutzhund or protection training with her for further help, but that should only be done through professional training, either a trainer or through a club, where you can learn from others with more experience. It involves high level training and control. The dogs who do it are not actually aggressive, they are rewarded for being extremely obedient and in-tune with their handlers and training, so that they react exactly as they are taught in certain situations. These dogs are very well socialized, highly trained dogs, who understand when it's work time and when it is not. These are the only ways that you should ever train a dog for protection, otherwise you create a dog who is dangerous to you and everyone, and not just dangerous people. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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