German Shepherd Protection Training: How to Do it? (Steps)

Last Updated on July, 2024

German Shepherds are natural watchdogs and guard dogs, initially bred to protect people, property, and livestock.

They have all the qualities that make an excellent protection dog AND a great family pet.

If you have recently become a proud pet parent of a German Shepherd and are looking to train it for protection, you’re in the right place!

In this article, I will go over the different methods of protection dog training for a German Shepherd and how to implement these training methods so that you can be the proud owner of a phenomenal protection dog!

How to Prtection Train a German Shepherd Dog in 3 easy Ways?

Start by socializing your German Shepherd from a young age to help them distinguish between normal and threatening situations. Pair this with basic obedience training to ensure they follow your commands promptly, which is crucial for any protection dog.

Teach your German Shepherd specific commands to bark or alert you to strangers (“Speak” or “Alert”) and to cease barking or disengage on command (“Quiet” or “Enough”). This control is essential for managing their protective behavior effectively.

Engage in activities that build your dog’s confidence, such as controlled exposure to unfamiliar people in a way that encourages protective behavior, but also teaches them to stop when the situation is deemed safe by you. This can include having a friend act as an “intruder” and rewarding your dog for alerting you, then commanding them to stop once you’ve “checked” the situation.

Different Methods of German Shepherd Protection Training

German Shepherd Barking

Let’s start by clearing the air.

A protection dog varies from a guard dog to an attack dog.

A guard dog is trained to caution its owners of any intrusion, and an attack dog is trained to attack an enemy or intruder and stop attacking on command.

On the other hand, a protection dog combines these two behaviors. Protection dogs can identify threatening situations and respond appropriately while being sociable in non-threatening situations.

There are different methods you can use to implement protection dog training. Here are the three main approaches:

The Develop Guarding Method 

Training dogs for protection using this method focuses on building a solid foundation of obedience and socialization before jumping into guarding.

Unlike the other two methods, this technique does not teach your dog attacking behaviors. Instead, it trains your dog to alert you of intruders that encroach on your territory. 

The Develop Defense Skills Method

The Develop Defense Skills Method also dictates starting off training for protection with socialization and reinforcing obedience.

However, unlike the Develop Guarding Method, this training approach continues after teaching your dog to bark and alert you to intruders. It also dives into developing attack behaviors in a German Shepherd with the help of a protected assistant. 

The Combine Skills Method

The Combine Skills Method focuses on preparing your dog for anything that could be thrown their way. This technique involves practicing guarding and attacking behaviors with your dog in various situations and conditions.

This approach to training will ensure that your dog will be prepared for anything they face.

How to Train Your German Shepherd for Protection?

GSD dog sitting

Here are the steps you need to take to implement each of the three methods of protection dog training to train a German Shepherd.

The Develop Guarding Method

Step 1: Socialize

It would help if you socialize puppies from an early age. This ensures that your German Shepherd dog puppy learns the difference between neutral or friendly strangers and threatening situations.

To socialize your German Shepherd dog puppy, take them out with you and allow them to meet as many people and dogs as possible.

At the same time, try to keep your puppy safe from frightening experiences. Almost all dogs tend to be afraid of strange or new environments, and a dog who has not been appropriately socialized has the potential to bite and run away from a genuine threat.

Step 2: Obedience Class

Sign your German Shepherd up for obedience training classes or an online dog training program as early as possible and train your dog basic obedience. 

It is important that your German Shepherd dog is obedient, and it becomes vital when you want your dog to undertake guard dog training.

When teaching dogs obedience, you must use positive reinforcement to encourage your dog. Positive reinforcement refers to rewarding dogs for desired behavior instead of punishing them for undesirable ones. 

This practice helps make obedience training a fun activity for dogs. It also enables you to bond with your German Shepherd on a deeper level and satisfies their need for fun and work.

While bonding with your German Shepherd, it is also essential that you make it clear that you are the leader. You can do so by initiating and finalizing interactions involving resources.

For example, think of your affection as a resource. Do not let your German Shepherd illicit affection from you. Instead, always initiate the affection. Pet your dog for 10 seconds and finalize the interaction. 

Step 3: Obeying Commands

The next step in guard dog training a German Shepherd is to teach them obedience commands.

Firstly, you need to start training them to cease barking on verbal command. If your German Shepherd does not learn to do this, they will bark incessantly at EVERYTHING. Checkout this guide if you want your GSD dog to stop barking.

Train your dog to bark when they hear the “Speak” command, and give them immediate praise.

To silence your dog’s bark, use a command such as “Quiet” or “Enough.” Praise and treat your dog when they obey this command as well. This training eventually lets you have perfect control over your dog’s bark. 

Additionally, you can make your dog sit on command, disengage with something, and drop whatever he’s holding.

Step 4: Encourage Wariness Towards Strangers

To train the perfect personal protection dog, encourage your German Shepherd dog when they bark at strangers who come to your home.

When your German Shepherd dog barks, encourage them by making a big deal out of seeing what’s up and offering your dog praise. After this, issue the “Quiet” command to silence their barking.

While you should encourage barking when your German Shepherd dog alerts you of strangers in your home, you should not encourage this behavior away from home. Ideally, your German Shepherd dog should not bat an eye at non-threatening strangers you meet on walks.

Step 5: Build Confidence

Build on your dog’s confidence by having people your German Shepherd is unfamiliar with pretending to break into your house. 

When your German Shepherd guard dog barks, have the stranger look at the dog and run away. While this happens, ensure you hold on to your dog and praise them for their alertness.

Do NOT let your dog run after the fleeing stranger, though. Get your guard dog to stop barking once the person flees your premises. 

Step 6: Establish Territorial Boundaries

Take your German Shepherd on walks around your property regularly so that they come to their own understanding regarding their territorial boundaries.

However, ensure your German Shepherd does not bark at people outside your territory. Do not allow them to chase after any individual, either.

The Develop Defense Skills Method

Step 1: Socialize And Develop Obedience

Take your German Shepherd dogs with you when you go places and allow them to meet other dogs and people.

Strengthen the bond between you and your pet by exercising and playing together. At the same time, train your dog to obey obedience commands.

Step 2: Practice Using the “Attack” Command

Pull a pair of dog attack gloves and tap your dog on the face until he grabs the mitt. When he does so, use the “Attack” command. You can also use a different word reserved for this purpose. 

Trainers often use a word in a different language to trigger a dog’s protection drives to ensure that no one else will trigger your dog on purpose or accidentally.

Reward your dogs when they respond appropriately to the command.

You can also hone your German Shepherd’s ability to bite through tug toys and leash exercises. A dog flirt pole is another toy to help improve your dog’s biting skills.

Check out these 7 easy ways to stop a german shepherd puppy from biting, if your gsd puppy aggressively biting you.

Step 3: Practice Using The “Stop” Command

The next step is to train dogs to stop attacking upon hearing the “Stop” or “Release” command.

Similar to the “Attack”‘ command, this can also be in a different language to ensure no one else can issue the command to your dog. 

Test your dog’s obedience towards this command with a mitt and a sizable padded object or doll.

Step 4: Use A Protected Assistant

Engage the help of an experienced dog handler to be a protected assistant. You must get a trained individual to assist you; they need to know how to accurately use the safety equipment and avoid serious injuries.

Gear them up with safety gear and a padded dog attack suit, and have them advance toward you and your dog, specifically in a controlled environment.

The assistant should act aggressively in front of your dog to make them think they are being genuinely attacked.

However, ensure that the assistant only provokes your dog a few times per training session. Doing so will make your dog think he can’t get rid of the threat he is faced with.

This will, in turn, ruin your German Shepherd’s confidence and cause him to give up on attacking and alerting behaviors.

Step 5: Pair The “Attack” And “Stop” Commands

Use the “Attack” command and let the dog seize your protected assistant by a padded area. 

After some time, use the “Stop” command to get your dog to release your assistant. Practice this routine in various scenarios to ensure your dog knows to obey your commands no matter the situation.

Plus for a complete guide on German Shepherd training commands list, check this article here.

The Combine Skills Method

Step 1: Practice In Different Settings

To train a German Shepherd in protection work using this method, start by ensuring they receive training in protecting people and territory in various settings. 

Practice at home, in wooded areas, parks, and more, to ensure your dog’s alertness knows no bounds.

Step 2: Practice With Different Attackers

Introduce different attackers into your training sessions with your dog. Expose your dog to situations with more than one intruder with differing weapons so that they will not be caught off guard in the event of an actual attack.

Step 3: Introduce Curveballs 

Incorporate strange behavior or noises into your training sessions to ensure your German Shepherd can respond appropriately regardless of the intensity of the situation.

Step 4: Practice In Different Conditions

Have mock attacks take place during both the daytime and the nighttime so that your dog won’t be caught unaware in the case of an actual intruder. Practice during various weather and lighting conditions as well.

Step 5: Throw Distractions Into The Mix

Throw loud, distracting noises into training scenarios to reduce your dog’s tendency to get disoriented. Many dogs are fearful of loud and distracting noises. Therefore, practicing guarding, protecting, and defending behaviors in such conditions is essential. 

Tips and Things to Keep in Mind When Protection Training a German Shepherd

german shepherds running on the ground
  • Find a responsible group like a local Schutzhund club if you want the best personal protection dogs.

Schutzhund means protection dog in German, and it refers to a demanding dog sport that tests a dog’s protection skills. Dogs are also tested to ensure they have a sound temperament. 

Pick a reputable club that emphasizes creating a well-rounded working dog and is a national or international Schutzhund organization member.

Spend time interacting with existing members, watching training sessions, and learning more about the club before joining to ensure the club you pick is the best fit for you.

  • Remember that the critical factor in training dogs for protection is control. You need to position yourself as the dominant one in the relationship between you and your dog. To do so, you don’t have to exert any additional energy.

Your position as the leader will be naturally solidified when you engage with your dog in fun activities. And fun activities include obedience training! Initiating and finalizing interactions involving resources should also solidify your leadership position.

  • Stand up straight and maintain direct eye contact when giving commands to your dog. Use a confident and assertive tone when making these commands, too.
  • Do not make your dog aggressive by mistreating them. Such dogs will not be loyal to you, becoming extremely fearful or running out of control. If your dog wrongly bites someone due to this, it will all be on you.

Tools and Equipment Needed to Train a German Shepherd for Protection

You will need the following tools and equipment to start training German Shepherds in protection:

  • A leash.
  • A collar.
  • Treats.

Related articles: 

FAQs

Yes, German Shepherds are naturally protective, with males often being more territorial. Proper training and socialization are essential to guide their protective instincts positively.

German Shepherds should start protection training at around 10 months of age.

Yes, German Shepherds are excellent guard dogs due to their strong protective instincts, intelligence, and loyalty. However, proper training is essential to maintain their natural protective behavior.

A German Shepherd can start protecting you at 18 months old, with protective instincts appearing around six months.

Yes, German Shepherds are naturally protective of their owners due to their territorial instincts, but training is essential to refine these instincts for optimal guarding behavior.

Bottomline

If you have been unsure how to train your German Shepherd for protection, this article has cleared things up for you!

You can train your German Shepherd dog for protection using any of the three methods specified above, as they are all equally effective.

Enrolling your dog in a Schutzhund club can also help with the training process of making your German Shepherd an excellent protection dog.

If you treat your dog well and train them firmly, you can have a top-tier protection and guard dog in no time.

So what are you waiting for?

Start training your German Shepherd for protection now!

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Thomas Villalpando
Thomas Villalpando is the main author of Dogs Academy. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. He has been featured in MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Sun, Entrepreneur & More. You can find more about him here.

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