Can Labrador Retrievers Be Guard Dogs? (Training Tips)

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Most dog owners know how friendly and loving Labrador retrievers are, and they are not the first breed you think of when considering a potential guard dog.

Having a brave guard dog that can alert homeowners about intruders is important for many households. It is not as easy of a take to accomplish with a Labrador retriever when compared to other breeds.

If you are looking for a guard dog, a labrador retriever is not the best breed choice but it is possible with proper training. You should teach your dog basic obedience at a young age, allow for socialization with other dogs, use positive reinforcement, and teach them property boundaries.

Labrador retrievers are very friendly and will be happy to meet people on their own terms. They are also very intelligent and will do well in training classes. Labradors also have an excellent sense of smell and hearing, which makes them a good choice for guarding property if they receive proper training.

Whether you have a Labrador Retriever already or plan to get one soon, these training tips can help you turn your dog into a reliable guard dog. This is especially important if you are worried about danger or home intruders too.

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Can Labrador Retrievers Be Guard Dogs? (Training Tips)

The Labrador retriever is one of the most popular breeds in the world. They’re lovely family companions with a goofy, pleasant disposition. They’re also kind and patient dogs that are great with kids.

As an intelligent, trainable breed, Labs make excellent companion guard dogs. Because of their loving and friendly nature, they don't make the best guard dogs.

However, we know better than to think any dog breed is incapable of guarding us against external threats. Any dog, including labs, can be adequately trained to act as a guard dog if that is your objective.

We’ll cover the pros and cons of whether or not your Lab can be trained to be a guard dog (as well as tips for training them).

Can Labrador Retrievers Be Guard Dogs?

There is a misconception about guard dogs. It is thought that they must be aggressive, but this is not always true.

An excellent guard dog is confident and loyal to its owner. They should be willing to stand against a trespasser or other threat without harming them.

Guard dogs should also be trained only to protect their owner and their property (not be indiscriminate about where they bark or who they bite).

Typically, guard dogs are large, powerful breeds that can be intimidating to potential intruders. That’s not to say that Labs can’t be intimidating. They can, but they’re usually more loving and goofy than fiercely protective.

It is not common, but Labrador Retrievers can be guard dogs with proper training.

How To Train A Labrador Retriever To Be A Guard Dog

Before you start training your Labrador retriever to be a protection dog, it’s important to note that not all Labs are suited to this training.

As with any dog training, you’ll want to start with the basics. Labs learn best when you break training into small, easy-to-understand steps.

You should also consider beginning training early because when your lab is a puppy, they are easier to mold into a proper guard dog. It’s harder to train a dog that is already a few years old with minimal training.

Start with getting your dog comfortable wearing a collar and leash. Once your dog is happy with those, you can move on to basic obedience training.

1. Start With Obedience Training For Your Labrador Retriever

Obedience training is a must for any dog you want to have as a guard. It is impossible to train a guard dog if they have no obedience.

The key to training your Labrador retriever is using positive reinforcement and extreme consistency at a young age. We suggest making a list of commands you deem essential for your dog’s growth and obedience.

If you are not sure, some of the most important ones include:

  • Sit, Stay, and Down
  • Heel
  • Attention or Name Recognition
  • Come
  • Leave it

These commands and basic potty training rules for the house should all be a top priority. It becomes difficult to teach your dog more advanced commands without a basic grasp of these first.

2. Teach Your Dog To Bark & Be Quiet On Command

Introducing your dog to more advanced commands is important for their development and well-being. They should be able to understand what you want them to do even if they are not always able to do it on their own.

For your lab to be a guard dog, they should know how to bark on command. To start, you should do something that you know makes your dog bark.

Once they bark, reward them with a treat. This is a reward trigger and after doing this the first time, you can start using a command word like “speak” each time.

Stay consistent with this strategy and always have a treat reward ready. The same approach can be taken when teaching your dog to be quiet.

You can initiate a reason for your dog to bark like a knock at the door. This will cause your dog to react and start barking, allowing you to teach them to be quiet.

Use the same approach with a treat as a reward and use the command “quiet”. When your dog listens, give the reward.

3. Teach Your Dog About Property Boundaries

Once your dog has a firm grasp over these obedience commands, it is time to teach them about property boundaries. Talk your dog for walks around the property outside as well.

Another tip that works well is leaving your dog outside for short periods so they can learn to protect these areas as their own.

4. Introduce New Distractions

One more thing you should do during training sessions is bring new distractions into play. This will teach your dog to still react the right way despite things going on around him or her.

For example, if you have a toy your dog loves you can hold this toy while teaching a command. Start slowly and build up as they continue to show improvement.

Guard Dog Training Tips For Labrador Retrievers

Guard dogs are trained to be able to protect their owners and home in case of an emergency. When it comes to training these dogs, it is crucial that the owner understands their needs.

The most important thing when training a dog is knowing what motivates them. Consider these tips below if you are struggling to keep your dog focused.

Allow Your Dog To Socialize Often

If you have a dog, you know that they need to socialize often in order to be a good guard dog. These interactions are crucial for them as they learn how to behave and act around other dogs.

Dogs can become very territorial and aggressive when they don't get enough socialization. This is why it is important to allow your dog to socialize frequently during their young age so that they can grow up with the skills needed for being a good guard dog.

Stay Consistent With Training

There is no need to worry about your dog’s training if you are consistent with your routine. Missing a day or two will not slow your progress, but an inconsistent schedule will hinder your lab’s ability to learn.

Always End Training Sessions With Positivity

Train your dog with positive reinforcement only. Use treats, praise and other rewards to train them instead of harsh training methods such as yelling or spanking. This will help them learn that the things you do

When ending all training sessions, using positivity is essential too. This tells your dog they did a good job and keeps them encouraged through the training journey.

Are Labrador Retrievers Protective Dogs?

Protective dogs have instincts based on their breed that teach them how to react correctly in situations. Generally, Labrador Retrievers are not considered protective dogs.

However, because they are so loving with extreme loyalty, they always will keep an eye on you. Though, they may not provide the same level of protection as some of the well-known guard dogs like German Shepherds or Rottweilers.

Despite the lack of protection instincts, a Labrador retriever can be trained to be a great guard dog if that’s what you want.

We recommend being patient and starting any training as early as possible, so they learn these behaviors at a young age.

Will A Labrador Retriever Attack An Intruder?

Labrador Retrievers will not attack an intruder without provocation but they will defend their family if they feel threatened. However, it is unlikely you will see a lab attack an intruder without any training.

This is especially true for a dog that has been home alone. If an unexpected intruder enters, many labs would welcome the guest with love. They are loyal and affectionate, eager to please their owners, and eager to please strangers.

If you want a breed of dog that would be willing to attack intruders and act fierce, you should avoid Labrador retrievers.


Mark Brunson

Mark Brunson

Mark is the founder of Everything Labradors and a husband and father of 3. He enjoys spending time with his family, including his dog Molly, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. He’s a big fan of the outdoors and loves to travel to new places.

Read more about Mark Brunson