How to Train Your Dog to Protect You

By D.M. Gutierrez

Training your dog to protect you can mean teaching him to alert you to danger, patrol your fence line, warn off strangers or stand between you and trouble. Never teach a dog to be aggressive. If your dog bites someone, it can result in fines, lawsuits, confiscation of your dog or even euthanasia. Teach your dog to be calm and friendly but firm when he wants strangers to leave you alone.

Train your dog to obey your commands.

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Socialize and obedience-train your dog. Get her used to all kinds of people, places, objects and other animals. Show her you are the pack leader by making her obey your commands before she can eat, go for a walk or play. If she knows you are in control, she will follow your orders in an unusual situation.

Terriers can be persistent barkers.

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Coach your dog to bark to warn you of approaching strangers. Most dogs do this naturally, but terriers and dachshunds go overboard, yipping insistently when someone comes anywhere near your home. Teach persistent barkers to stop once you indicate you've gotten the message. One method is to have a friend ring the doorbell while you hold your dog’s leash. When the dog barks three times, give a “no bark” command, tell him to sit, and then treat him. Most dogs find it hard to bark while in the sit position. Do this repeatedly until the dog understands that when you say “no bark,” his job is over.

You can train your dog not to rush the fence.

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Train your dog to guard your property without leaving the boundaries. Sometimes the mere presence of a dog in control of an area will protect your home from vandalism or burglary. Walk your leashed dog along the perimeter of your property, giving a boundary command (like “yard”) if she tries to cross the line. You will need to repeat this many times so she understands her boundaries. Enlist friends or neighbors to bike or walk by your property. Put your dog on a long, slack leash and stand back from the fence. If she attempts to rush the fence, give your boundary command and a sharp, brief tug on the leash. Have someone call her name from the other side of the open gate and repeat the boundary command and snap the leash if she tries to go to them.

Allowing your dog to sleep with you could confuse him.

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Teach your dog to sleep near you or at the bottom of the stairs. You may feel more relaxed if you have a dog snoozing nearby, ready to spring into action if danger appears. You may be tempted to let him sleep with you, but this will confuse him. Put a cushion next to your bed and tell him to lie down, treating him with praise or a small treat if he obeys. If he gets up, repeat the process. Catching him before he actually gets all the way up works best, so be vigilant and quick.

Some cities may require that you post a “Beware of Dog” sign if you have certain breeds.

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Research laws and regulations. Some cities and counties ban certain types of dogs typically used for protection, like pit bulls and Rottweilers. Even if these breeds are not banned, some insurance companies charge higher premiums if you have one on the premises. You may need to post a “Beware of Dog” sign or keep your dog on leash.