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Thread: Training as a guard dog

  1. #1
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    Apr 2013
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    Default Training as a guard dog

    I pick up my puppy tomorrow. Now, we are moving into a new area, and want to train Mini to protect the yard. Is there a way we can teach her to growl at anyone that goes into the yard if we are not there? I was thinking we can have a safe word we can say to her and then she will know they are ok. Also, we want to train her not to take food from strangers without a safe word. As she will be out in the yard during the day when we are at work. And she will be in there with our smaller dog and our rabbit in a hutch. There have been a lot of thefts of rabbits and smaller dogs for dog fighting lately in my state. So I want to be sure Mini (who is a border collie) will protect the house and smaller animals, and fight back if anyone tried to steal her.

  2. #2
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    Also, I asked this on a facebook group and got jumped on and called a bad dog owner for wanting my dog to do this. I am asking whether it is possible to train them in this. NOT saying I will do it. The food training I will be doing. Just curious about getting them to protect yards.

  3. #3
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    Hi Allie Fay

    I worry about my dog on her own in my back yard. There's a laneway at the back and it would be quite easy for someone to chuck something toxic over the fence. And there are a few people who hate dogs that bark all the time around here.

    So when I'm out, my dog is locked inside the house where she's much safer.

    She's also mostly cattle dog - so barking at strangers and growling and putting on a hell of a show for door to door sales people comes naturally to her. I didn't have to train it at all.

    Any behaviour you want to encourage - you reward it with praise or a treat.
    Any behaviour you want to discourage - you interrupt it, ask the dog to do something else that makes the first behaviour difficult and reward that.

    The way to teach food refusal (and I admit I have failed stop my dog foraging), is to play lots and lots of a game called "its yer choice" aka "leave it".

    Puppy Leave It- Clicker Dog Training Tips - YouTube

    For only eating with permission - you don't want a command for "leave it", you just want the dog to do it.

    With Frosty I have rewarded when she sits next to something she wants and barks at it - which is called "indicating" - what drug dogs do when they find some drugs - that they've been taught gets them what they want (a fun game with the boss). My dog gets a better food treat for leaving the other food treat she indicated.

    To take this game to the back yard, you have to test your dog's understanding ie give your dog the opportunity to make the wrong choice where you have some control over the outcome (ie you can stop her from finishing the contraband food or it's in a box so the dog can't actually eat it, but if she paws at the box she gets nothing and if she does what ever you want her to do with it, you reward her.

    And any food you do give her - needs to be paired with permission eg "geddit", "eatit", "hook in" etc.
    Last edited by Hyacinth; 04-30-2013 at 09:45 AM.

  4. #4
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    PS If I was you, I'd encourage your dog to bark at strangers (reward her for it). But I wouldn't encourage her to let them get anywhere near her or to try to protect the rabbits.

    People who take animals for dog fights don't care if they hurt your dog to get what they want. She's much better staying out of their reach. And if you're worried, you need to get some farm guard cameras and maybe a web cam and stash them around your yard.

    And make sure you have good fences and locks on your gates, so nobody can say that they just walked in, or it was open. They have to jump a fence or break something - which makes proving they did the wrong thing, easier in court.
    Last edited by Hyacinth; 04-30-2013 at 02:25 PM.

  5. #5
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    Great advice, thanks I'll encourage her to bark if she is outside and a stranger comes down the driveway or something. We have a long driveway to get to the backyard. The front yard has 6 foot high fences. The house is also alarmed, not sure if it extends to the yard though. We have a dog door that goes into the laundry that is unarmed. So if the dogs want to run away they can get in there. The only thing is my little dog is so silly that she would run up to greet anyone that came into the yard. But if someone is at the front door she will bark.

    My previous BC would sit and look at you if she wanted food. And would only eat once I said Ok. I could leave a bowl of food on the floor and leave for a couple of hours and come back and she would still not have touched it. Its just been so many years since I've had to train a puppy!

  6. #6
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    Ive owned collies, rough and bc, rotties, GSD's.
    None have had to be taught to gaurd. It has occurred naturally around 16 weeks (3 months) of age.
    My rottie x bordeaux will growl on command, and it does not sound friendly at all! It is, its actually a part of a behaviour that was occurring naturally. When i come home, she will run to stuff a toy in her mouth, then parades it in front of me growling in greeting. With that wriggling excited body sashaying all over the place. ie. friendly. We clicker trained her to growl on command by catching her doing her growl, with toy in mouth and shaped it up to without toy in mouth. LOTS more volume.
    Its her piece.
    Bernie is a GSD, and he has a "im huge, and live here, and you are not coming in" bark. Sounds scary. But then licks them to death on entry. Useless gaurd when we are home. Very very dangerous when we are out, as our air conditioning man informed us.

  7. #7
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    In a word, when you're not home - no. You picked the wrong breed anyway to have a 'guard dog'. As for teaching your dog to bark when people are around, you're asking for a barking complaint if you live anywhere with high foot traffic.

    What you're asking from her to protect the home and fight back if someone wants to steal her is protection training. It's a long process and not for many dogs, if you're that worried lock her in the house when you are not home and your rabbits too.

    Food refusal is easy, you should be following the working method of food refusal which can be a little more reliable in real life situations. Michael Ellis on Food Refusal - YouTube is one video to start with

  8. #8
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    Yeah I personally wouldn't want to encourage a dog to bark. I hate when my dogs bark and I am sure my neighbours do to.

    I have never taught them and I think protecting property is something that comes naturally to all dogs anyway.

    There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.

  9. #9

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    ummm .. you got a border collie as a gaurd dog??? Border collies will most likely put on a little barking show which will deter some undesirables but when it comes down to it a border collie is firstly unlikely to actually take on a human and even less likely to come out on top. IMO you should increase your home security, have a good level of insurance cover and hope that if someone does break into your home that you dog is alive, secure and uninjured when you get home. You can replace most items, but it's impossible to replace a dog.

    I have a dog that could do some serious damage to a human, I am doing my utmost to ensure that as he matures he will at worst, help carry the TV out to the burglars car. I would much rather come home to a house empty of replaceable items and a happy dog than a house full of replaceable items and a dead/injured dog. If you really need a gaurd dog then I suggest you get professional help

  10. #10
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    I have found that most dogs will bark at strangers coming in to their homes naturally. But i also really wouldn't suggest teaching and encouraging her to bark or growl at people. I encouraged my Australian Shepherd to bark and growl at strangers when he was a puppy and now he is aggressive towards anyone who comes to my house... he even nipped one of our close friends on the hand Its taking a lot of commitment and training to erase his aggression now, and i really do wish i had not encouraged him as a pup because i am sure that it contributed to his issues now. Next time i get a pup i'll be discouraging any form of dislike of people that the pup shows... i want a dog that will attack people with kisses not teeth
    I'm not saying that all dogs will become aggressive when they're taught to guard their house... i'm just saying that you never know what will happen as the dog gets older, every dog is different.
    Either way, good luck with your new puppy

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