Whether you’re worried about a break-in or just interested in adding a little extra security to your home, a guard dog can not only be a great alarm system, but it can be the first line of defense against a home invasion. Labradors are very popular pets, but do they make good guard dogs too?
Labrador Retrievers are not good guard dogs, although they can be trained as guard dogs. Labrador retrievers are friendly, so it’s difficult to teach them to be defensive. They are loyal to their family and are at times protective towards their owners and homes, but they aren’t typically guard dogs.
There are definitely ways to make a good guard dog out of a Labrador retriever. It all comes down to training and personality. Find out more about guard dogs and Labradors to see if training your lab to be a good guard dog is a possibility for you.
Difference Between Watchdogs and Guard Dogs
Both watchdogs and guard dogs make great additions to your home security, but we should note the distinction between a guard dog and a watchdog. No, they are not the same thing. Lots of dogs are good watchdogs, but being a guard dog is something that is bred and trained into the dog. So what’s the difference, and which job is a Labrador Retriever best suited for?
A watchdog will warn of intruders. This can mean your son coming to visit, or it can mean a burglar. You can train a watchdog to bark only at people they don’t know. It all depends on the level of training and the dog’s personality. Watchdogs, however, don’t engage strangers. Instead, they alert you that there is something potentially wrong. Watchdogs are like alarms that cuddle. (Source)
Because labs love to be busy and helpful, you can train them to be effective watchdogs. If they’re not well trained, they may get bored with watching the house and begin nosing around the garden or something else. Generally, Labradors make great watchdogs.
Unlike watchdogs, which will only bark at strangers, guard dogs will attack. They are trained to be on the lookout for danger and to defend against it. If you’re looking for more than just an alarm to add to your security system, a guard dog might do the trick. They are brave, strong, and generally larger than other dogs. The one downside to guard dogs is that they aren’t generally good children or guests.
Labradors are the right size for a guard dog, but they are very friendly. While it might be possible to train one to be a guard dog, they are not usually the best choice because they want to make friends with everyone.
What Makes a Good Guard Dog?
There are many factors that go into a good and effective guard dog. The dog should be one that fits well with your family dynamic, is well trained, and is capable of defending your home. Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors.
Family Dog: Whether or not you have children might be an influence on what type of dog you choose to be your watchdog. Watchdogs tend to be aggressive, so you’ll want one that is also safe for your family.
Well-trained: You don’t want your guard dog attacking everyone who walks past your fence, but you also don’t want them to back down from a fight when a fight is necessary. A good guard dog is trained to be in the middle of the spectrum.
Size: Not every dog is built to be a guard dog. Your choice should be a large dog that is brave and fiercely loyal. Small dogs don’t really have what it takes to be a good guard dog.
Many dogs fit into these criteria. An article on Cove provides a long list of dog breeds that are well suited to the task of keeping your home and family safe. We have listed a few of our favorites here:
- German Shepherd
- Pit Bull
- St. Bernard
Labrador Retriever Personality
You’ll notice that Labradors are not on Cove’s best watchdog list. This is because labs really aren’t the best watchdogs, especially when compared to a Great Dane. It is still possible to train your lab to be a guard dog, but their breed and personality are better suited for jobs such as fetching the paper or finding Easter eggs. (Source)
Labradors are hunting dogs, not attack dogs. They were bred to catch small birds or even dear, but not people. In fact, they have been bred to love people. They either need to know they’re doing their job well, or that you love them. (Source)
They are fiercely loyal, which can make them defensive of you, but they are also friendly. They are more likely to run up to a stranger and beg to play fetch than they are to attack.
How To Train Your Lab to Be a Guard Dog
If you are interested in training your family Labrador to be a guard dog, it is possible. And it might be the perfect thing for your family since labs are some of the friendliest and most loyal dogs. They have the potential to be good with kids and visitors, but still attack intruders when you need them to. You can train your Labrador to be a guard dog by following the 7 steps given by Little Paws Training:
- Train your dog in basic commands like sit, rolloever, and stay.
- Wear appropriate protective gear.
- Put your hand in front of the dog’s face and say attack. Repeat until the dog understands.
- Reinforce the behavior with rewards like affirmations and treats.
- Repeat the same training exercize but with a dummy of somekind a good distance away.
- Train your dog to “stop” on command by telling him to attack, then holding him back and saying, “stop.”
- Have a friend put on the protective gear and stand a distance away, then tell your dog to, “attack,” and then, “stop.”
Repeat each step as frequently as necessary for your dog to learn the behavior. Remember, labs need positive reinforcement. They need to know they are doing a good job, so make sure to give them lots of love and treats when they do something right.