Have you adopted a dog with a highly developed guarding instinct and would like to tone it down? Here are five tips on how to do it!
Tip #1: Accept your dog’s true nature
As you know, an instinct cannot be suppressed, but it can be reduced and mainly controlled.
Having a dog with a strong guarding instinct can have its advantages and disadvantages, but the most important thing is respecting your dog’s true nature.
If you adopt a German Shepherd, for example, don’t be surprised to see a protective instinct sometimes significantly developed in him! If you don’t want to have a dog that behaves like this, choose a “calmer” breed.
The choice of your dog’s breed will be decisive, and the dog’s physical appearance should not be your primary criterion! Indeed, most people who wish to attenuate their dog’s instinct are people who have opted for such or such breed based mainly on physical standards, let’s face it. And this is not a problem at all, as long as you are aware of your dog’s true nature and decide not to suffer but to work for a cohabitation that suits everyone.
Moreover, accepting your dog’s true nature also means getting that he is indeed rather suspicious of strangers or that he barks when he hears an unusual noise, for example. On the other hand, what is, in my opinion, not acceptable, is the excessive side that these behaviours can have.
For example, my dog (rather a guardian) barks when someone knocks on my door: ok, it doesn’t bother me, it’s an alert. But be careful, when I ask my dog to go to his place and be quiet, he must cooperate! He has to understand that his job ends here and that I take over!
To do this, and we will see in more detail later, it is necessary to set up educational rules and meet the basic needs of my dog!
Advise n°2: Do not reinforce an already present guarding instinct
When you have a dog with a strong guarding instinct, there is no need to “teach” him to guard or strengthen it. You should know that it is forbidden to teach a dog to be a deterrent: either it has it in its blood or it doesn’t. Period.
Moreover, guard dogs are often wrongly considered mean and dangerous dogs when they are not at all! They are simply doing what they believe to be their job: guarding a herd, guarding a house or protecting their master. These dogs are only likely to become vicious if the following advice is not followed or if they have particularly dangerous owners and who will encourage and reinforce violent guarding by teaching their dogs to attack rather than defend.
Did you know?
If you wish to indicate the presence of your dog using a sign in front of your door, do not choose the inscription “vicious dog” but rather “guard dog” because by indicating “vicious dog”, you recognize the potential dangerousness of your dog and this can be turned against you if your dog comes to bite someone within your property, even if it is a burglar!
Tip #3: Offer your dog an early and quality socialization
From his youngest age, within the kennel and then at home, your dog must benefit from quality socialization. He must, by your side, live a maximum of positive experiences, in various places, with multiple people and multiple animals so that he will not consider these elements as potentially dangerous.
Be aware that a dog will naturally be afraid of what he does not know, so you must make sure that he evolves in various situations to be accustomed to novelty and change. There is nothing worse than “locking” a dog predestined for guarding into a routine because he will assimilate it to danger at the slightest chance, and therefore his guarding instinct will take over.
Tip #4: Meet your dog’s basic needs
Responding to your dog’s basic needs will help reduce his guarding instinct. Indeed, meeting your dog’s needs means taking him out every day, having him meet other dogs, taking him to different places, maintaining and reinforcing his obedience, especially by walking on a leash, etc.
In short, it helps to continue his socialization daily and, therefore, to get him out of his routine! As mentioned before, there is nothing worse than a guard dog that is “used” only for that and that never leaves home and for which one pays very little attention.
Tip #5: Learn to control and frame your dog’s instincts
If you have a guard dog, you can’t stop him from barking when he hears a noise, moving in front of you when he senses a threat, etc. This echoes the first tip in this article. On the other hand, your role as the owner of a dog with a developed guarding instinct is to make sure that you have some control over your dog and not let your dog’s protective reflexes overwhelm you.
Thus, this requires educational rules taught from a very young age:
the indication “in the basket” will be significant to make your dog understand that he must be in his place when you ask him,
the expression “you leave” will allow your dog to give up an action that he wants to carry out,
the term “heel” will be used to prevent your dog from taking the lead during a walk. For example,
the sign “you keep quiet” or “stop” will be helpful to stop your dog’s excessive barking and to keep only the barking of alert,
Finally, place your dog’s bed in a place where he cannot watch all the comings and goings inside and outside your home.
To sum up, all the “basic” indications will help you control your dog and not let yourself be overtaken by this instinct, which can sometimes be very developed. But here again, with the respect of the present devices, this instinct will not be suppressed but only attenuated and canalized.