Have you ever wondered whether your Golden Retriever would make a good guard dog? I wondered the same thing before I adopted my Golden.
I knew that when I bought a dog that I wanted a breed that had a reputation for being good with kids, friendly, and able to protect me and my family, I wanted my dog to be a friend and protector.
With that in mind, I began doing some research, this is what I found out about a Golden Retrievers ability to be a guard dog.
Is A Golden Retriever A Good Guard Dog?
Yes! Golden Retrievers possess many qualities that make them great guard dogs. However, Golden Retrievers may require more training to become a guard dog, than some other dog breeds because they aren’t as aggressive in nature.
What Makes A Golden Retriever A GOOD Candidate?
There are four qualities Golden Retrievers possess that make them good guard dogs.
Size is probably the most obvious quality on a Golden Retrievers side. While some small dogs can be effective guard dogs, larger dogs tend to be more intimidating to criminals and deter more crime.
While dogs of every breed are noted for their loyalty, Golden Retrievers are exceptionally loyal. This strong loyalty makes the Golden Retriever a great friend and protector. Goldens with strong loyalty to their owners will fight off intruders if they perceive a threat.
Golden Retrievers are also exceptionally obedient. They follow commands well and aim to please. This obedience makes the Golden Retriever easy to train to become a guard dog.
Along with obedience, Golden Retrievers possess intelligence. This intelligence makes the Golden Retriever easy to train, but it also helps the Golden Retriever quickly distinguish between a friendly visitor and an intruder.
What Makes A Golden Retriever A BAD Candidate?
While Golden Retrievers can make good guard dogs, there are a few qualities these dogs possess that hinder them from being a “natural” guard dog. However, many of these qualities won’t be a hindrance if you train your dog properly.
In general Golden Retrievers are relatively quiet dogs. They don’t bark a lot. A guard dog’s job is to alert their owner of any perceived threat. Goldens may not naturally begin barking when they see a stranger, so you must train them to bark at suspicious characters.
Being affectionate hardly seems like a bad thing, but when you’re searching for a guard dog it can be. Golden Retrievers are naturally friendly and if you don’t train them to distinguish between a friend and an intruder they may just go up to the intruder and lick them rather than threaten them.
A Golden Retrievers natural instinct is to trust everyone until given a reason not to. It’s your job to show your Golden what an untrustworthy person looks like.
You would think that being protective would be a good quality for a guard dog to possess, but there are times where this can be a bad thing.
Golden Retrievers are very protective and when they sense threats their inclination is to stay beside you, which can expose you to more danger. Your guard dog should be a barrier between you and the intruder, not an arrow leading them to you.
How To Train Your Golden Retriever? In general, and for guarding
Thankfully all the issues above can be quickly and easily resolved by training your dog. The earlier you begin training your Retriever the better. Begin by encouraging the qualities that will help your Golden be a good guard dog. You can encourage your dog through verbal praise and treats.
Along with encouraging good behavior, there are two major training methods you can use that will teach your Golden Retriever to be an excellent guard dog: the boundary method and the verbal cue method. Use both training methods to have a well-rounded guard dog.
The Boundary Method
The first method is called the boundary method and it’s relatively easy. This method simply trains your dog to recognize the area it needs to protect. This method starts with a concentrated morning walk. During this walk, you should be quiet and let your dog focus on the area it’s walking around.
After you perform your morning walk you may take your dog inside or tether them with a leash that reaches around the perimeter. This does not mean you should leave your dog outside in the hot sun all day.
Use this as a way to get your dog more acquainted with the perimeter not as a place to hold your dog until you come home from work. Always remember to provide your dog with water when tethering them and take them inside or to their crate when you are done.
In the evening time, take your dog for another quiet focused walk. After a few weeks, your dog will begin to recognize that this is their area of defense. For the boundary method to work you must socialize your dog. This will help your dog begin to distinguish between your friends and potential threats.
You can accomplish socialization of your Golden in an obedience class or by visiting dog parks. As always reward your Golden Retriever, with treats when they successfully follow training instructions.
The Verbal Cue Method
The verbal cue method is another way to train your Golden to be a guard dog. This method involves conditioning your dog to bark at suspicious noises. You can teach your dog to do this by bringing them to something that they typically bark at.
Tell them to bark as they are barking and then rewarding them with a treat. Over time your dog will begin to associate barking with getting treats. Do this for five minutes every day.
As you continue training you will move away from things that naturally cause your Golden to bark. Begin commanding your Golden to bark, when there is nothing to bark at to train him or her to bark on command. Again, reward your dog when he does this successfully.
Eventually, you will bring your dog to a place he needs to guard and have someone approach (ideally someone your dog doesn’t recognize). Tell your dog to bark at the person. Once your dog starts barking, the person should scream and run away.
Teach your dog to bark until the person leaves and then reward him or her. Soon you’ll have your dog barking at any suspicious strangers they see.
Examples Where Golden Retrievers Have Been Used As Guard Dogs
Yes. Golden Retrievers have been recently trained to guard and protect in all types of jobs. Check out this article on Bud, the first working Golden Retriever for the Navy. Bud protects the Navy base perimeter and searches cars. He does this while still keep the Golden Retriever’s trademark friendly attitude.
Golden Retrievers have also recently been enlisted to work with police forces in the United States as support animals, but in India, these dogs have recently been added to their K-9 units. Golden Retrievers have been enlisted because of their hunting skills, intelligence, and good reputation.
Can A Golden Retriever Be Used to Protect A Home?
Yes, Golden Retrievers guard individuals on professional forces, outside, and in their own homes. Here’s Sadie’s story. She protected her family when she saw an intruder in her home.
The normally gentle dog fought against the intruder despite being punched repeatedly. Her owner states that she had never seen this side of Sadie. Clearly, Sadie like all loyal, well-trained Goldens, was willing to fight for the people they love.
Golden Retrievers have also been knowing to protect against intruders you may not see at first. Todd saved his owner from stepping on a rattlesnake.
The dog even took a bite from the snake himself. The most amazing part of this story is that Todd was just a puppy at the time. With that kind of instincts at such a young age, it’s hard to believe that anyone could think these dogs wouldn’t do their best to protect you and your family.
What Other Breeds Are Commonly Used As Guard Dogs?
If you aren’t interested in Golden Retrievers there are some other dog breeds that are traditionally good guard dogs. Here are five of the most commonly used guard dogs.
- German Shepherds
- Bull Mastiffs
- Great Danes
Golden Retrievers make excellent guard dogs because of their loyalty, intelligence, and obedience. Because they aren’t as aggressive as some other dog breeds, they also make great companions and family dogs.
After learning about this and seeing how easy it was to train a Golden to protect me and my family, I couldn’t resist adopting one. I have no doubts that my Golden Retriever would protect me from any danger.
I rest easy at night knowing that my Golden Retriever is ready to keep me safe and will alert me to anything suspicious.