How to Get Your Protection Dog Adjusted to Family and Friends

This is a guest post by our friends over at scottsk9.com. Scott’s K9 is a veteran owned business that provides trained protection dogs. Learn more by contacting Steve Scott at steve@scottsk9.com.

Like most homeowners, safety and protection are probably top of mind when it comes to your household – even if you live in a pristine, nothing-ever-happens-here neighborhood. Can you think of a more effective deterrent against criminals than the ferocious bark of a big, scary guard dog?  

You need to select a guard dog that can adequately safeguard your home from threats while you’re sleeping or away from the house, but you also want a pup who will joyously greet friends and family when they enter your home. So when looking at trained family protection dogs for sale make sure you find the one that’s right for your situation.

Think of all the adorable pictures you’ll capture of friends cuddling alongside your furry four-legged friend. 

And, let’s not forget about strangers. When you’re taking a stroll (or maybe a potty break), your dog should be exercising good behavior when greeting strangers. Otherwise, it can be a huge liability on your part. 

What Behavioral Goals Need to Be Achieved?

There are two behaviors you’ll want to target during the training process.  

#1. Teaching your pooch to recognize a threat and how to appropriately take action when a situation arises (i.e. barking). Many people leverage the assistance of training experts to help their dog understand what constitutes a perceivable threat – in which case they may pursue or even defend your family against an unwanted intruder.  

#2. Coach your guard dog on the different ways they can greet strangers. Maybe they greet them with affection or politely ignore the stranger. A big part of what determines how your dog will behave (besides focused and continuous training) is the breed of your pup. Some dogs are intrinsically protective and may stay by your side, while others relish the attention and little scratches behind the ear.  

At a minimum:

Your dog should learn how to quietly pass by other people, especially dogs, without adopting an aggressive posture. Instead, their tail should be relaxed, their eyes soft, and their demeanor non-threatening.   

The biggest challenge here is teaching your furry friend how to problem-solve on his or her own. Think about it from the dog’s perspective – what’s the difference between a potential burglar and a friendly woman walking down the street with her Golden Retriever? 

It’s a careful line your dog must walk – a.k.a when a situation calls for a predatory response versus a gentle, relaxed, maybe even eager greeting. 

How Do I Teach My Guard Dog to Accept Family & Friends? 

#1. Remember You’re in Control

When you’re having a guest over, prepare yourself by leashing your dog. When the doorbell rings (or knocking begins), it’s imperative to address and firmly correct any behaviors your dog exhibits that isn’t appropriate (i.e. charging the door, barking, etc.). 

Once your guest has entered, greet them – physically showing they are a friend – before introducing your pup. Once your doggie is settled down, let him/her sniff your guest and get themselves comfortable with this “stranger.”

#2. Rewards for the Win!

This goes for any type of training. When your pup exhibits good behavior, praise them and offer a treat. Let’s say, for instance, he is calmly sitting or lying down when the stranger comes into your living room – that earns him some tasty treats. 

You may even choose to let the stranger offer your dog the treat (you better believe your pooch will love your guest after that). 

#3. Keep First Meetings Short

Whether your guard dog is typically excitable or more on the anxious side, you want to take the meeting process slow. If he/she begins showing signs of agitation or aggression, you may want to keep him leashed for the entire duration of the visit. 

The best way to teach is to let your pup mirror your behavior – remain calm, don’t start yelling commands, and be supportive and encouraging.  

#4. Use Calming Techniques

If “stay,” lie down,” “sit,” or “off,” aren’t already part of your dog’s basic obedience commands then you need to find an expert or start from the beginning to get your pup up to speed. 

However:

It’s important to point out that it’s not just about vocabulary and demands, it’s also largely about calming behaviors.  

For example, ask your guests to refrain from direct eye contact with your protection dog for a couple of minutes upon their arrival. They should approach your dog slowly and keep you as the focal point of their conversation. 

Typically, dogs interpret this as disinterest, which helps calm their nerves. 

#5. A Little Space Goes a Long Way

If you’re feeling apprehensive and not sure how your guard dog will react to family or friends entering your home, you may want to start with a doggy gate. This way, your pup can still observe the situation, but they’ll be at a safe distance. 

Once he sees how you interact with your guests, he will understand there is no threat at hand, making him more open and comfortable to an introduction. 

A Word to the Wise

If your guard dog is exhibiting a lot of aggressive behavior around strangers, you MUST enlist the help of a trained professional, who will be well-versed in the techniques needed to correct the issue. 

If you ignore the issue, it could lead to serious consequences – your pooch may seriously injure someone and there is a slew of consequences that would follow.  

Otherwise, the above tips will greatly help your trained family protection dog get acquainted with family, friends, and strangers.