Can You Train A Labrador To Be A Guard Dog?

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As lovable as they are, one of the greatest indirect benefits of owning a large dog is the added security they bring. While it can be annoying every time a doorbell rings on the TV, or when a package is delivered, we should try to appreciate the created perception of what is behind our front door. A Labrador’s friendliness to humans may be a detriment if anything ever escalates beyond that. Therefore, discouraging the alertness and loud barking response should be the last thing we do. So the question becomes – can you train a Labrador to be a guard dog?

Labrador Retrievers can be trained to be a guard dog. In fact, most dogs can be a guard dog with the right amount of training. Training Labs to become guard dogs will be a bit more complicated than with other dogs, as they are naturally less aggressive and more friendly to humans. 

Training a lab to be an effective guard dog is a trying task. Although they’re brilliant, hardworking dogs, they’re also one of the most playful and energetic breeds. Through consistency, hard work, and the right set of tools/approach you can succeed. In this article I’ll share everything I’ve learned about how you can train a Labrador to be a guard dog.

See my Recommended Products page for my #1 training resource recommendation!

Lab Traits That Make Them Good Guard Dogs

Labs have all of the qualities that you’d hope for in a guard dog. However, some of these have to be harnessed through training in order to make your Lab an active guard dog. 

Size

Labs are big dogs. Part of a guard dogs’ responsibility is to be intimidating, which is why the overall size of a lab is ideal for the job. Labs already come with the right size to be a guard dog, so that’s one less thing you have to work on.

Trainability

Labs are exceptionally playful, but they’re also smart. Anyone with the time and the energy will be able to train a lab as a guard dog. It’s just a matter of patience and commitment. 

The Pros and Cons of Training Your Lab to be a Guard Dog

Some dog breeds are more capable than others at becoming guard dogs. We all know that Chihuahuas are very loud dogs that have a strong personality, but they are way too small to defend humans effectively. 

Labs, on the other hand, are loud and have the stature to back up their bark. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of having a Labrador Retriever as a guard dog.

Pros

There are lots of positives to training your Lab to be a guard dog, besides the fact that they’re just big loveable fur babies. Let’s investigate a few pros to training your Lab to be a guard dog. 

Energetic

Labs make for very energetic and playful dogs, which can make training them a fun exercise. It also means they can be very alert when it comes to suspicious activities around the house. 

Protective 

Labs are protective over their owners, their property, their toys, food, and water. A dog must be to be protective of their owners to be a guard dog.

Obedient

Labs are incredibly obedient dogs, as they were bred to be that way. Obedience training comes almost naturally to Labs, which should make the task of training them to become guard dogs more comfortable. 

Loud bark

Labs have very noticeable deep, loud barks that can serve as a warning to threats. This bark can also warn owners to remain cautious if trouble is nearby. 

Intelligence

Labs are some of the brightest dogs in the world. According to Stanley Corden’s Intelligence of Dogs, Labs rank 7th in overall intelligence, meaning they are one of the ten dogs that can obey first commands 95% of the time and can learn new commands in under five repetitions. 

Cons

There are really only two major cons to consider, and neither are deal-breakers. Not every Lab is the same, and some Labs may be more suited to be a guard dog than others. Training can improve these cons.  

Lack of aggression

Labs are known as some of the friendliest dogs in existence. They were bred to be this way. Their lack of aggression towards humans and even other animals is why they are one of the most popular pets in the world.

Many things commonly bred guard dogs perceive as threats are not threats to Labs. This is not a good trait to have if you want your Lab to being a guard dog. One example is when a new visitor enters your home. While your Lab may alert you through barking, usually a gentle hand and calming voice from this visitor can calm your Lab quickly. This is not necessarily a bad thing! However, if the sole purpose is to use your Labrador a a guard dog this can be problematic. With the right amount of training, however, Labs can overcome this. 

Slow to bite

Labs rarely ever bite people. This also is not a bad thing, and one reason why labs are such great family dogs. But, this is a problem with situational threats like dogs and humans who do not run away after a warning bark or an alarm that goes off. 

Why Train A Labrador to be a Guard Dog

Guard dogs can be a highly effective way of protecting your property when you are at home or away. Here are some reasons why a Lab can be a great choice:

Labs are quick to react

Dogs are quick to react when they perceive something as a threat. Dog’s natural curiosity will make sure that any unusual sightings will be sniffed and barked at if necessary, ensuring the protection of their owner and family. This means they can act as a natural alarm system, barking until the threat has disappeared out of sight and mind. 

They are loyal

As everyone knows, Labs are incredibly loyal creatures bound to their owner. This loyalty also comes with the natural urge for them to protect their owner when dangerous things come their way. This quality is even more critical when considering a guard dog, as they must protect what is dear to you.

Wide range of protection

In fact, Labs have a wider range of protection than most home security systems. As many alarm systems are only capable of alerting when a break-in occurs, a Lab, using its acute hearing senses, can find strangers and high-pitched threatening sounds like glass breaking and tires screeching much better than humans or alarm systems. 

Proactively eliminate threats

As we know, it may take a bit for help to arrive when an alarm goes off. Guard dogs are an instant help when an intruder arrives. A Labrador’s loud bark can serve to deter a potential intruder before the situation escalates.

While we all know that on our side of the door is a loving family pet, it is unlikely that a criminal can differentiate between barks!

Stress relief

Having an intruder can be an incredibly stressful situation. At some point, all of us will experience a fear of possible intrusion, or wake up to believing we heard something. Knowing that you have an alert and highly sensitive Labrador there can give you peace of mind. I’ve also pitched that benefit to my concerned children in the middle of the night! If Molly isn’t barking, I’m not worried!

Resources for Training Your Lab

As mentioned previously, training your Lab is crucial if you want it to become a good guard dog. While we talked about some of the challenges, I have found that with the right training those challenges can be overcome quite easily. Although, finding a guard dog trainer can be extremely costly.

Online training

Online training has become an effective new way to train your dog. Even organizations like the AKC promote it as being a beneficial way to train.

There are a few reasons why online training is preferred to traditional training:

  • It’s cost effective – trainers are expensive!
  • Energetic dogs (hint: Labs) are often more comfortable in their own home with their masters
  • You learn along side of your Lab

The one that I recommend is Brain Training For Dogs, by Adrienne Farricelli. Adrienne is an authority in the dog training industry and a certified dog training specialist.

While the training isn’t focused specifically on guard dog training, it provides an overall level of training that I’ve found to be extremely beneficial in learning to control behavior. This will be crucial in guard dog training, and the methods can be applied seamlessly. For only $47 as of the time of this writing, it is an absolute steal!

Additionally, it is the only online training that I reviewed and listed in my Recommended Products section. So go check it out!

The Verdict

You can train Labrador to be a guard dog with the right training tools. The pros of training them outweigh the cons, but it is important to keep proper expectations. Labradors may not serve as vicious attack dogs, but their alertness and loud bark can serve as a great deterrent. The sense of security they bring to a home can be extremely beneficial, and should be celebrated among the family!

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