Guard dogs and watchdogs are a great way to improve your home security. Alarm systems are a helpful security measure that a lot of people choose to take. However, if you want a more comprehensive security solution, you have several additional options.
Guard dogs and watchdogs are a couple of those options, but dog trainers can be rather expensive. Luckily, there’s always the DIY option! You can train your very own guard dog or watchdog from the comfort of home for an added security measure.
However, before training a guard dog or watchdog, you need to determine which you prefer. Yes, there’s a big difference between guard dogs and watchdogs, but you can still train either of them yourself!
Guard Dog or Watchdog?
Guard dogs and watchdogs are both types of protection dogs. The main difference between guard dogs and watchdogs is each dog’s training. Guard dogs are trained to protect their owners, and they’ll intervene in the case of a hostile intruder.
Watchdogs, on the other hand, probably won’t intervene in such a situation. They’re trained to watch for intruders and will alert you if someone is approaching the premises.
In other words, watchdogs are trained to alert their owners of intruders, while guard dogs are trained to both alert their owners and neutralize the threat.
Why Get a Protection Dog?
A lot of people choose to get protection dogs such as guard dogs and watchdogs. Owning a protection dog comes with several benefits.
First, buying a protection dog can be seen as a home security investment. A watchdog will alert you of intruders, and it’ll do so more effectively than a simple alarm system. Your watchdog will know the presence of an intruder before they even enter the house, and often intruders are deterred by the presence of a dog.
If you want to take your protection dog’s training a step further, you can train it to be a guard dog. Not only will your guard dog alert you of intruders, but they’ll keep the intruder occupied until law enforcement arrives.
In addition to being an extension to your home security system, protection dogs make great companions. A good protection dog isn’t aggressive or mean. They’re trained to evaluate situations and respond accordingly. They aren’t just great protectors. They’re a great addition to any family.
How to Train a Guard Dog
Hiring a dog trainer can be a very expensive investment. However, it’s possible to train your own guard dog! There are several considerations that you should take if you intend to go through this process. These considerations should start with choosing an eligible guard dog breed.
Choose a Guard Dog Breed
Most dogs have at least some potential when it comes to being a guard dog. However, certain breeds are known to excel in this area. On the other end of the spectrum, there are dog breeds with little to no guard dog potential.
If you’re getting a dog with the intention of training them to be a guard dog, you may as well pick a breed with potential.
Guard dogs do best when they’re raised in optimal conditions, so it’s best to get a puppy if you want to train a guard dog. This way, you can make sure it’s ideally raised to be an effective guard dog.
When it comes to choosing the right guard dog breed, you have several options. Here’s a brief list of a few dog breeds that are known to make excellent guard dogs.
- Doberman Pinscher
- Tibetan Mastiff
- German Shepherd
- Australian Shepherd
Socialize with Other Dogs
Raising an ideal guard dog starts early on. It’s good to let your soon-to-be guard dog socialize with other dogs. Socialization builds the confidence that they’ll need to judge potentially dangerous situations in the future.
You should start introducing your dog to new atmospheres and different social situations once they’re 16 weeks old.
Your dog will be very curious about their new surroundings. Let them explore and become accustomed to changing surroundings. Eventually, they’ll learn to be comfortable and remain calm in a wide variety of different circumstances.
Teach Your Dog to Bark on Command
Next, you’ll need to teach your dog to bark on command. To do this, use a trigger word like “speak” or “bark.” Use positive reinforcement to build this skill. When your dog successfully barks on command, reassure them with a treat or a scratch behind the ear.
This is just the first step recommended by dog trainers. Psychologically, building this skill prepares your dog for the next steps. When they learn to bark on command, they build the confidence needed to be an effective guard dog.
Teach Your Dog to Protect You
Once your dog has learned to bark on command, practice instructing your dog to bark at approaching strangers. To do this, use a friend that your dog has never met. Tell your friend to approach you, and instruct your dog to bark at them as they do so.
Your dog should put the pieces together. They’ll begin to alert you of approaching strangers naturally. After doing this for a while, they’ll develop a protective mentality that will prepare them for the next step.
Once your dog becomes vigilant enough to alert you of strangers, it’s ready to protect you from danger. You can now teach your dog to attack in the case of a threat. Once you’ve done this, you’ve almost trained your guard dog! There’s just one step left.
Teach Your Dog to Back Down
If your dog has learned to attack on command, it’s important to teach it when to back down. Dogs are fairly intuitive and can usually infer from your tone whether or not they should stop. Use a trigger word such as “heal” or “stop” to call off your guard dog.
When your guard dog in training backs down on command, let them know they’re doing something right! Positive reinforcement is key when training a guard dog. Give them a treat or an encouraging pat on the head.
How to Train a Watchdog
Before we get into how to train a watchdog, we should get our definitions straight. A watchdog isn’t trained to attack intruders, and it isn’t trained to bark at everything. Ideally, a watchdog is trained to warn you of present threats.
The last thing that you want is a dog that goes ballistic at the sight of any living creature. There’s a particular way to train your watchdog that discourages unnecessary barking while encouraging appropriate barking.
The “Bark At” List
The first thing you should do when training a watchdog is to decide what should and should not be barked at. Make a list of things that you want your watchdog to alert you of.
When your dog barks at something on this list, reward them! When they bark at something that shouldn’t be barked at, it’s important that you discourage this behavior. Over time, your watchdog will learn to alert you of only potentially dangerous situations.
You’ll notice that a lot of the recommended guard dog breeds also make great watchdogs. That’s because both types of dogs rely on a similar skillset.
If you’re thinking about buying and training a watchdog, these are a few breeds you should consider:
- Airedale Terrier
- Great Pyrenees
- German Shepherd
- Doberman Pinscher
- Cairn Terrier
- Cane Corso
How Much Does It Cost to Train a Guard Dog?
While training your own guard dog is the most cost-effective way to get a guard dog, some people just don’t have the time! If that’s the case, your only remaining option is hiring a professional guard dog trainer.
Typically, dog training costs anywhere from $30 to $80 per class. You’ll need more than one class to train your guard dog correctly. Plus, you’ll need to participate in refresher courses to keep your dog’s protective skills up to par.
A six-class course will cost you anywhere from $200 to $600, and you’ll end up spending a little more on future refresher courses.
Training a Guard Dog or Watchdog
As we’ve learned, there’s a big difference between guard dogs and watchdogs. That said, they’re both very helpful! Not only are these fantastic dog companions, but they’re extremely effective home security options.
As helpful as these animals are, they come at a price! If you’re not willing to pay the incredible price of a professional trainer, you’ll be paying with your own time.
While professional trainers are more convenient, you still have the option to train your animal at home. It’s the best option for those on a tight budget. Whichever route you decide to take, guard dogs and watchdogs are effective and accessible home security options.