Training the Reliable Watch Dog How to Get Started Today Part I

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Training the Reliable Watch Dog How to Get Started Today Part I

by Aidan Bindoff

If Home Security is important to you, then you may want to train your dog to be a reliable watch dog. Some dogs are natural watch dogs, but these dogs will still need training otherwise they can quickly become nuisance barkers. Other dogs are not natural watch dogs, but with training can become excellent watch dogs

The two things we need to train a watch dog are to (1) bark and sush on cue and (2) discriminate between normal sounds and possible intruders. Once we have trained our dog to bark and shush on cue, teaching discrimination between normal sounds and possible intruders is made much easier so it is important to teach bark and shush thoroughly before attempting discrimination training. This installement will focus on teaching bark and shush.

The easiest way to teach a dog to bark and shush on cue is with Clicker Training. A clicker is a small plastic noise maker which tells a dog exactly what he is being rewarded for.

Have some small, extra yummy treats ready and plan your training for a time when you know your dog will be hungry. There are several ways to get a dog to bark, most involve 'capturing' the behavior somehow. If your dog barks at a door knock or door bell then you can use a door knock or door bell to elicit barking. Other dogs will bark if tied up outside while you play with a ball in front of them, temptingly, but without letting them get the ball until they bark.

At the instant you get a bark, or even an attempt at barking, click the clicker once and toss a food reward (or let them get the ball).

Once you have done this several times you should get fairly reliable barking promptly. At this point, start introducing your cue for barking just before your dog barks. Let's use "speak" as our cue. Click when your dog barks and give the reward as you were before you started using the cue.

Repeat the exercise with the the cue until you can get the behavior of barking without knocking on the door or playing with the ball.

Now try asking your dog to bark in a new location, you might need to go back to eliciting the barking with knocking or tying out and playing.

Next we need to teach our dog to shush on cue. Let's use a hand-clap on our thigh to cue shush.

First we ask our dog to "speak!" then clap our hand loudly on our thigh and click as soon as the barking stops. It is likely that the thigh-clap will interrupt our dog's barking, so be prepared to click the clicker straight away with your free hand.

If the clap doesn't interrupt your dog's barking, simply wait the barking out and click as soon as all is quiet again. You can try the clap later when your dog has got the idea that we don't want him to bark for too long - most dogs figure out the sooner they stop barking, the sooner they get the treat!

Note that throughout this article I have placed emphasis on timing. Successful dog training requires good timing. Wherever I suggest "as soon as", "at the instant" or "just before" I really mean it and want to impress on you the importance of good timing.

Here's a drill to improve your timing. Do it with a friend, it's really hard to tell if your own timing is good or bad. Toss a tennis ball into the air about head-height. Try to click your clicker at the precise moment the tennis ball hits the ground. With practise, you will improve - I promise!

In the next part of this two-part article we will look at teaching your dog to discriminate between normal sounds and possible intruders.

Aidan Bindoff is Editor of, a free resource for people training their own dog. Each edition is packed with helpful tips for training your dog using the latest pet-friendly methods that work fast and don't require a degree in animal behavior to use.

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