You are here because you want to learn How to train a German shepherd to protect you, or at least get an idea of how to pick the right trainer when typing “German Shepherd protection training near me.”
To understand what personal protection is, first learn the difference between GSD protection, how to train a guard dog, and How to train German shepherds to attack on command – points I will touch on after I develop on ppd’s (personal protection dogs) and several areas within the scope, starting with puppy bonding.
Bonding with your Pup Shepherd matters
Before we get into priming a puppy with Tug-of-war dog toys, let’s briefly discuss baby German shepherds.
Because German Shepherd puppy care is just as important as drive development.
After the nervous system is set in (21 days) there are several weeks where the puppies become slightly independent of their mother. During these few weeks, dominant/subordinate relationships are being established between pack members. If a puppy is separated from the rest of the litter for up to 24 hours it can have long-lasting effects such as insecurity, reactivity, and separation anxiety.
When the shepherd pup is 7 weeks he can begin positive reinforcement and even gentle use of a training collar. The Starmark training collar is an excellent choice. This is also the time the pup can go to his new pet parent.
Most people have at least heard of the fear imprint stage of 8 weeks (or critical period). But thinking generally, the more sensitive puppy bonding age overall ends at 12 weeks.
So if you were looking for signs your dog imprinted on you, just make sure you spent meaningful time with him at this early age.
Be the Pack Leader with Your Shepherd Pup so he doesn’t become Insecure later
You will need to be your dogs everything if you want to control protection scenarios. When you think of German shepherds protecting their owners either in class or in videos, consider who is making the decisions, The dog or his owner?
A dog protecting his owner can have mixed emotions. It’s not healthy for them to carry a heavy load and think they have the responsibility or anticipation to make decisions. instead, a dog should defend his owner because he was given permission. And he would perceive it that way because he depends completely on the owner.
of course, if a dog is doing advanced obedience training and someone attacks his owner his instinct to defend should override. But in general, he should know his place as a dog.
To establish your role as your dog‘s pack leader, initiate and finalize interactions involving resources. this will increase your bond by making him dependent on you. It’s also how to tell if your dog trusts you.
Initiate affection (affection is the resource/privilege). Don’t allow him to press his nose into you, and as a response, you would pet him. instead, ignore him, let him accept that, then call him to you and pet him for 10 seconds and then finalize it.
However, look at the body language when you give your dog affection. Generally, the ears should be back and the tail doing somewhat of a lower wag.
Another example would be not allowing your dog to bring you a toy. You know the story: my dog brings me toys and it’s adorable. In this case, the dog is initiating interaction.
Apart from bones, chew, or small dog toys, interactive toys like tug of war dog ropes should be put away and presented by the owner for play. After the exercise, the tug toy should be put up.
Other things you should initiate are outdoor access, where the dog sleeps when it is time to eat, and what direction he goes on the leash. Ethically, I should say that if you already have an adult male dog and question whether you’d have a German Shepherd biting owner, consider getting professional help.
German Shepherd Puppy Obedience Training
If you are planning as little training as possible to protect your family, at least consider a strong recall and technical leash handling. That said, here I listed the following obedience commands for reliable German Shepherd defense training. And the list doesn’t have to stop here.
Understand How to teach a dog to Come without treats. You should begin with some food reward but then move up to a prong collar for dogs. Herm Sprenger size 3.25 mm is perfect for most adult shepherds. And they can already begin with that same size at a few months old. Eventually, you will need your dog off-leash training. Your dog will jump the gun but to be able to turn around instantly and come back to you is important.
Learn How to teach a dog to heel. And not because your Shepherd needs to look pretty on a field. But because your shepherd needs to have a point of reference. He needs to stay behind your left ankle so he knows where you are, not next to you as in competitive sports. A couple more benefits to having your dog parallel with you – He will naturally be in more of a defense mode being closer to you, and facing the same direction as he will be able to see the threat.
Know-How to teach a dog to sit. This will help the dog be stationary. An example scenario for this would be a very protective shepherd sitting 6 feet behind you. Meanwhile, you are shaking strangers’ hands. Another scenario would be if your dog likes to bite, put him into a sit to build self-control then release him for the bite. The bite itself is the biggest reward for many protection dogs that enjoy it. The last tip I will give for this command is to have your dog sit from the bite itself. Many dogs do not have a good release command but would sit and let go of someone or a bite suit.
Understand How to teach a dog to leave it. It is a great way for a dog to disengage with something while not having to call him back to you. This allows the dog to continue doing what he’s doing. it’s especially useful if you have a multiple attacker scenario and the dog should leave certain agitators alone. For example, maybe your dog hypothetically went for the wrong guy when there was a guy closer to you he should have gone for.
Learn How to teach your dog to drop it. Although in German Shepherd protection bites, call this command “out”. That way you don’t have the same word in two different commands (leave it and drop it). Your dog should not be confused between disengaging with something (leave it) and letting go of something he already has possession of (out).
As I mentioned earlier, start his commands gently as early as 7 weeks, and take your time! Do not rush this, lest you sacrifice performance.
Is your dog already older? How to train a 2-year-old German shepherd for obedience is the same movement. Meaning that you would have the same range of motions to position your dog for compliance.
To be on the safe side with an adult male, make sure you are solid on canine leadership. Knowing how to show your dog you are the pack leader is essential for obedience. How can you command his physical body if you do not have his mind?
How to Use Dog Bite Toys to Improve Bites
Begin as early as possible developing drive. many people say that they build a dog’s drive but the truth is that it is already within the genetics of German protection dogs. You’re not adding anything. You are helping develop what is.
I will give you a couple of exercises to do. For the first one, get a tug toy with a handle on the end of it. Then connect a Leash to it. From there, move backward in an engaged manner with your dog. You are essentially saying chase me. And your puppy must always come in for the bite. Do not jam the tug toy in his mouth. You have most likely seen this mistake before. It’s very common. However, if the pup attempts to rebite (regrip) let him. You are working toward the full mouth bite.
Once his mouth is on the dog tug, give it to him but continue to hold the leash handle, never giving him full possession. Continue to apply 25% pressure of least tension. When he moves back, minimize your tension to allow his muscles to contract. When he moves forward, move your arm away from you or toward you so the leash tension stays. this would be your tug-of-war strategy for now
Don’t allow the leash to go slack just because he moved closer. That continuous tension maintains the challenge. Once he tries hard to pull to the ground, shake, or move back forcefully, let your leash go limp. This will give him a win and encourage the behavior.
This will not teach your dog to be the boss of you, by the way. That would be you allowing him to take the tug toy with him at the end, which you should avoid by putting the jute, nylon, or leather tug up. this is how to win in tug-of-war.
Another tip about leash tension; if your dog is into the exercise but not pulling very hard, increase your lead tension. Ideally, in a few seconds, you would have pulled the tug away unless he pulled harder, thus earning a win. Usually, you would pull in an upward motion for this.
For the 2nd exercise, The owner would not move back with the dog as in the first exercise. but would have the dog on a leash with a leather dog harness.
An agitator or a friend of the shepherd’s owner can have the dog tug toy on a leash. Usually if he swings it around, teasing the dog it will create an excited dog. From there he can swing it in front of the dog and get him to bite. Another angle would be to swing it across the front of the dog like a capital “T”. The idea is to draw out the bite.
Ideally you would not want the tug going at the dog directly. From puppyhood you don’t want your shepherd to learn to move back at all.
Puppies can also start bite sleeves very early but I do not recommend the owner wear the sleeve. And the same concepts apply. The dog gets wins. The whole purpose of all of this is to build the dog up – A concept that is often replaced by searching for a dog with the “perfect” genetics.
The dog flirt pole Is another dog toy to develop your dogs drive. Simply have your puppy or adult GSD Chase it and give it to him as a reward by going limp. Your dog will most likely take his mouth off of it, try to shred it and put his paw on it. This is when you can take it back and begin another chase, leading him back and forth or in circles.
When to Introduce the 1st Agitator
Some German Shepherd working line puppies Will defend owners or at least themselves at 12 weeks of age. I have personally worked with puppies like this from various breeds that have fiery temperaments, even younger than that. Although for most dogs this is not normal.
Different levels of agitation should be introduced to your puppy at various periods of his development.
hormonal shifts in dogs are around 6 months (sexual maturity) 1 year (sub adult) and 2 years (adult) (Scott and Fuller 1965).
There’s many things that happen around these times. But from a protection standpoint; it’s when dogs become less likely to back down. And the bite gets better. That said, the amount of stress you put on a dog should be measured by their level of maturity.
Every dog is a little different. And the more insecure the dog is genetically, the longer you should wait to do GDS protection training. Ideally, you might consider waiting until 6 months to a year to bring in a agitator that challenges your dog and you. This is where you will truly find out if your German Shepherd will protect you.
How to train your German shepherd to protect you
When training a German shepherd to protect, it’s important to understand the actual motivation: It’s to protect! Not to defend himself or your house or his back yard or to bite because of prey drive.
German Shepherd protection is very powerful.
Think about it. If someone was threatening you audibly in public you may have plenty of options to run away. But if someone grabbed your toddler you might try to hurt them, quickly and without hesitation. It’s very similar to pack animals.
Consider beginning this exercise in a narrow pathway where the dog cannot ignore the situation. A very narrow alley or even a hallway in a building. Have the dog on a leash and harness or at least a very wide flat collar. Leather Collar is best. The dog can either be tied to something, in the control of a family member or a very good friend.
The owner would be acting out as The victim of an attack. The person hitting the owner can use a Styrofoam cylindrical object like a flotation device or even a wiffleball bat. But the attack should look real. The owner should lay on the ground and be completely helpless, squirming and arms flailing.
The instant the dog growls or barks at the attacker they should immediately disappear. It’s important to have an area they can go where they are visually not seen by the dog. It’s about timing.
After the dog is predictable, replicate the scenario and add more pressure to the dog. For example, A little closer to the attack or the dog has to bark more aggressively to make the bad guy go away. Also, after the dog predictably barks for the first time, add a verbal command. For example, the 2nd time the dog decoy returns and the dog begins scanning him, say “watch,” “get him,” or “attack.” This is how you train German shepherd to attack on command.
Again, the motivation is natural so most dogs will already bark. You do not need to teach
When the dog gets close enough he should have a dog muzzle for biting purposes. A good rule of thumbs, if the GSD is making contact, he would bite. To Train your German shepherd to protect to his full potential, get a trainer with a dog bite suit. This will help him break past some of the taboos of putting his mouth on human skin without the muzzle on.
Dogs definitely know when the suit is on and off and some make a game out of it. But if your dog has proven himself in an actual protection scenario it doesn’t make much of a difference.
Just a final thought. Do you see the difference from what I described here vs next to his owner while protecting? There’s a big difference. German Shepherd protection training cost Can quickly turn into the thousands. But if you have your dog under control first personal protection does not have to be expensive at all.
German Shepherd Guard Dogs
I will differentiate German Shepherd guard dog training from personal protection for the convenience of categorization. Obviously there is some crossover where another expert could disagree. I’m separating them by motivation.
Let’s begin by asking “Is a German shepherd a good guard dog?” and by that I mean a dog that is territorial around the house. German guard dogs already have it in the breed. But by training your GSD to guard you’re essentially doing territorial dog training. And a guard dog is just that. He is not protecting you while holding down the fort.
How to train a German shepherd to be a guard dog it’s probably easier than you think. Does your dog already bark at people when they come over? Does he scan your yard?
A simple exercise would involve a person acting suspicious at your door. You can also stage it where the person steps into the home or into the yard. But the dog should be on a leash and harness. This will build him up to thinking he’s tough. Otherwise if your dog was off leash he may not pursue the guy. Once the dog begins to bark, the guy should run away.
German Shepherd Attack Dog Training
Again, I’m classifying words to heighten your understanding on reasons why a German Shepherd will be in attack mode. So if personal protection is instinct regarding the owner, and to guard is to be like a junkyard dog, an attack dog would go for anyone on the street (also called green dogs). And of course a given dog can meet all that criteria.
How to train your German shepherd to attack is called training a dog in defense. This is because he is not actually protecting you or the house. He is defending himself! So you are literally learning How to make your German shepherd aggressive. This comes with a huge responsibility. You should have your dog fully trained in a couple commands first and muzzle trained first.
Begin by having your dog on a harness or a wide collar and leash. You would be the one holding the other end of the leash. Have a planned stranger approach him from around 30 feet away. They should walk slowly toward him. Their shoulders should be squared with the dog and staring at him as if they were going to pick a fight. The strange person would refuse to look to the right or left.
Once the dog growls or barks the person should run away out of sight. While the dog is snarling you should praise him. Once the guy disappears, give your dog affection.
After the guy returns and you add a verbal command, observe. Does your dog bark immediately? Once he starts to get better put more pressure on him. Eventually were the guy would get closer and the dog would need a muzzle. You can work on the physiology of his bite with a suit. Although I would not be the one to wear the suit with my own dog.
Attack dog training tip: don’t have the stranger pressure your dog more than a few times per session. Otherwise the dog will think he cannot make the threat go away. He will end up with a dog that gives up. So yes, only do few minute sessions for this at the beginning. That’s unless, of course, you have a neurotic, working line shepherd. In that case your dog would already have went for the bite.
German shepherd police training
German Shepherd police dogs have very high prey drive. There is no fear involved when chasing and are experiencing a predatory state of mind. Some of them are so fearless that they don’t have the natural worry to protect their own handler.
In fact, because it is not personal (in the dog‘s mind) some of them often reach up and bite the handler when there is a threat. this is why you may have heard of half of a police department getting bit by a certain dog. These lines of shepherds often come out fairly dominant as well. They begin as a Working line German Shepherd puppy. And that is their job they continue doing.
To give you a brief idea of dog selection within police and military dogs, look at the this excerpt from the Second World War.
During World War II 40,000 dogs were recruited, 18,000 were distributed and out of those About 8000 where we turn because of temperament or some other physical problem. Ultimately, about 10,000 were trained for the military (Waller, 1958).
To simply sum things up, a personal protection dog is taken up with his owner. His master is his world.
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