Will your family dog guard your home? Most people assume the right breed is all it takes. To find out, KXLY conducted an experiment.
Asking the owners to step out, the film crew sent in a trained handler to “invade” the home with the dog present. Curious to see how they did? Check out the results in the video below.
Were you surprised by the results? Looking for more evidence?
Channel 5 News did a similar segment, but this time with “protection” breeds.
The truth is dogs are inherently friendly creatures bred to work with humans. As such, an untrained dog is unlikely to see a human as a threat, even when they enter their territory.
So how do we get our dogs to guard our homes while we’re away? The answer is simple: training.
Before attempting to train your dog, you must ensure your dog follows basic obedience commands at least 99% of the time. Your pet must not be using the toilet indoors and should have mastered sit, stay, stop and go. Some other good commands to know include heel, drop it and take it. You must ensure your dog is reliable off leash.
If you haven’t already, you need to take control of your dog’s barking. This will be the first line of defence and is a safe way to begin your training.
Start by rewarding your dog when he barks while teaching the new command “speak”. Then reward him when he’s relaxed and teach the opposite command “quiet”. These commands are best taught in pairs since it will be easier for the dog to understand.
For a detailed guide, watch the video below by professional trainer Zak George.
Teaching the Attack Command
There are a few different ways to teach this but the safest is starting with a toy rather than a real human.
When your dog is not actively engaged, approach him with one of his toys. He will instinctively go to bite the toy. At this stage teach him the command “bite”. Then teach him the opposite, “let go” by making the game uninteresting. Reward him with a treat.
If your dog doesn’t bite the toy, try agitating him a little by waving it in front of his face.
Repeat this until he is comfortable with biting and letting go on cue. At this stage your dog will associate “bite” with play. The next step is to try this on a human.
Testing the Attack Command
When you first approach this, ensure you’re doing this in a controlled environment with minimal distractions. Despite some popular opinions, you (the owner) should never be the person your dog is attacking. Recruit a friend or outsider instead.
If you have an attack or guard dog breed such as a German Shepherd or Pitbull, this is extremely important. You want your dog to know that attacking you is unacceptable under any circumstance. Please heed this warning especially if you have kids.
Prepare the “intruder” with appropriate padding and let him walk through the door. At first, stop your dog a few times to ensure he has mastered the “stop” command. It helps to have him on a leash so he doesn’t get a chance to disobey you.
Then the next couple of times try “bite”. Ensure the “intruder” sticks out the arm they want the dog to bite and that it is appropriately padded. Let your dog bite the “intruder” and reward him, then recall him and repeat the process.
When it comes to teaching your dog to bite a human, it is highly recommended to employ a professional trainer. This will ensure your dog doesn’t suffer aggression problems later in life.
The method explained above is one of the safest found online but still carries potential risks to your dog and the trainer.
Please see the video below of how a professional trainer would teach a dog to attack.
This type of training is dangerous and can result in injury to people and your pet. If you have the option, try and enrol your dog in a specialised school for safer and faster progress. However, it always helps to know what the process entails.
Lastly, remember that once you teach a skill it cannot be untaught. A dog trained to attack is more dangerous and extra care should be taken around kids and other pets.
Want to know the best guard dog breeds? The answers might surprise you. Check out this post!