Bear in mind that while there are many breeds that historically make great guard dogs, canines are as individual as people. We may know the Mayans were brilliant mathematicians but I’m willing to bet there were at least a few of them who couldn’t count to 21 without dropping their shorts. Likewise, you may find yourself owning a German Shepherd that through some genetic quirk happens to have low intelligence. This is why it is important, if purchasing a purebred dog, to visit the breeder’s facilities and see the parents of the puppy you are selecting. However, if you still end up with a dog that doesn’t quite meet your expectations, I am of the strong opinion that owning a dog is a lifetime commitment. Unless there is a genuine safety issue, the dog deserves to have a home where it is welcome, regardless of capabilities. Just like people, dogs can surprise you by performing admirably when it would be least expected.
Whether you are considering a guard dog, a watch dog, or just a canine companion, they all need at least a modicum of training. Your dog should know, at a minimum, basic commands like sit, stay, come, and heel. As you progress through the training, you’ll also want to teach your dog to stop barking once you are alerted to a problem. Doing so will allow you to concentrate on the problem at hand without being distracted by continued barking. Further, there might very well be a time when it will be imperative your dog remains quiet.
One way to teach the “quiet” command is the following. Every time your dog barks, tell it to be quiet, then call the dog over to you. Reward it immediately with praise and a small treat. Keep at it and soon the dog will develop a habit or even a reflex of barking, then going directly to a family member. This, like any other command training, may take time to develop. In the beginning, it may be difficult to get the dog to cease barking long enough to hear and recognize a command to be quiet. If that’s the case, use what trainers call an interrupter. This is a device you can make yourself that will create noise and momentarily distract the dog. It can be as simple as a soda can with a few pebbles in it. If your dog is barking incessantly and won’t respond to you, shake the can briefly.
With the “quiet” command in particular, it is important the command is given in an even and firm tone of voice. Trying to shout over the dog’s noise may cause it to think you are “barking” right along with it. The end result is just more noise from both of you, with nothing accomplished.
Don’t forget to teach your dog a release word. This is the command you’ll give when the dog has completed the tasks you’ve instructed it to do. For example, if you tell your dog to sit and stay, obviously at some point the dog should be released from those commands. When choosing a release word, use something that makes sense to you but is not something that would likely come up in every day conversation, such as “ok.” The reason I mention this is, let’s say you put your dog in the sit/stay command while you’re talking to your spouse. He asks you how work was today and you reply, “It was ok.” The dog hears that and figures it has been released from the sit/stay, even though you weren’t even looking at it.
I highly discourage people from trying to teach their dogs to attack. It can be very difficult to do this effectively without having first received proper training in it yourself. Going it alone on something like that is running a big risk that your dog will bite a family member or innocent visitor to your home. Given that such occurrences can bring criminal charges to the dog owner in many areas of the country, it is something you should work hard to avoid.
Jim is the author of Prepper’s Home Defense. The above article is taken from the book. Prepper’s Home Defense may be found or ordered from anywhere books are sold.