This page is part of the Watchdog section of the Advanced Course of the
D.S. Dog Training Workshop, and an element of the Dog Science Network

Comprehensive Behavioral Conditioning for Dogs
Section Three of the Advanced Course

How to Train a World-Class Watchdog
Page Four of a four-page article

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How to Select Your Watchdog-to-Be

Like father, like son. Or, in this case, it would be more correct to say like parent, like offspring. If either or both of your pup's parents and/or grandparents were great watchdogs, then, there is a very good chance that your pup will also will prove to have what it takes, once he is given proper training and a little time to grow into the task.

When it comes to gender, both male and female canines make equally good sentries. However, when it comes to breed, there is a world of difference between one and another. Some breeds are notoriously bad at watchdog work. Not only are they uninterested in watching for intruders, they seem actually not to realize that such things are important, while other breeds bark so frantically at everything that moves that their apparent inability to discriminate between a routine occurrence and an actual threat renders them worthless as far as sounding the alarms goes.

One of our sister sites,, offers a best watchdogs chart that lists all the most common breeds of dogs, with each rated for its watchdog ability. Obviously, you will be well ahead of the game if you select your watchdog-to-be from among the breeds that are genetically predisposed to do well at it.

If the dog you are considering is of mixed ancestry, then, more likely than not, his guarding potential will be equal to that of the sum total of the two breeds. So for example, if your dog springs from the union of a great watching breed and a poor watching breed, then, he would be likely to be mediocre as far as his own potential goes. Although, such things are never certain, since it is quite possible that the genetics of one side or the other will be greatly dominant in determining watchdog behavior in your particular dog, so you never really know until you see the animal in the yard.

Having someone attend to your dog's barking behavior throughout his critical stage of development is sure to have a remarkable impact on his development as a sentry. Therefore, while the type of dog you select is a matter of great importance, you should also never underestimate the importance of when you select the beast, and the essential effect of when his training gets underway.

How to Effectively Deploy Your Canine Sentry

When it comes time to deploy your watchdog, the important thing is to put him someplace where he can see and you can hear. After all, the function of a watchdog is to call your attention to the situation when he sees someone behaving suspiciously, so if your dog is barking his brains out, trying to warn you about a burglar climbing in the South side window, it isn't going to do you a heck of a lot of good if you are asleep on the North side of the house where you can't hear him sounding the alarm.

With that you mind, you need to take care to ensure that your watchdog is situated near key entry points and/or near strategic vantage points from which he can readily observe the comings and goings and general activity of your domestic landscape. However, it is equally important that you situate yourself so you will be in a position to hear his warnings, when they come, so you can act on them, accordingly.

If you train your dog properly, you situate him well, you rush to his side to see what the problem is each time he barks and, then, respond by either dispensing reinforcement or punishment, depending on what you find, you will soon bring the animal up to his maximum potential as a gatekeeper.

However, if you find that that what you have is a dog that barks pretty much at everything he sees, as opposed to a highly trained watchdog that barks only at specified stimuli, then, you might want to consider the opposite approach. If your dog barks at everything and you have no hope of training him, then, your best bet might be to confine him to a fenced area where he cannot see any of the outside world at all and, thus, there is nothing for him to bark at.

In that situation, if your dog does bark, that would tell you that there may be an intruder present on your property since, in theory, there should be nothing else out there to set the animal off.

Keeping the Kid Away From the Riff-Raff

This website strongly urges that you train your dog not to bark at the arrival of people he knows. That is an essential environmental consideration in today's densely packed urban landscape where the acoustic pollution will be off the scale if everybody's dog screams aloud every time somebody he knows comes home or drops by.

However, the down side of your dog not barking at the arrival of people with whom he is familiar is that if he gets to know some undesirable human types, and they later come back around, say - late at night - then, he may be less likely to bark at them, even though you would most certainly want him to.

That being the case, you should make it a point not to situate your watchdog where he will be in a position to fraternize with and, thereby, be befriended by undesirables.

Bringing the Neighbors In On It

If you are one of those rare individuals who has trustworthy neighbors upon whom you can depend, then, after your dog masters the art of watching and reporting, you should stress to your neighbors that the animal is a trained watchdog and ask them to hurry over and investigate if he barks, so they can call the authorities if necessary. If they are responsible neighbor's, they respect the animal's abilities, and they rarely hear him bark, they should be willing to do that. If so, that should serve to make your property immeasurably more secure.

The Cruelty of Isolation

By definition, a watchdog is one-half of a pair. But if there is no human partner present to hear the dog bark and respond to his warning, then, is he still a watchdog? Or, in that case, does he become a guard dog, or an attack dog, or just a lonely animal serving a dubious purpose, if any at all?

Dogs are highly social creatures at heart. They need to be included as part of a family unit and they need to spend at least the vast majority of their time with their loved ones.

For most dogs, being forced to sit isolated, away from their loved ones, with nothing to occupy their time, is akin to torture. Because it is a low-ratio activity, it can lead to depression and make for a dog that is unhappy to a pathological degree.

Needless to say, your dog's miserable emotional state is likely to come accompanied by a full array of behavioral problems. Therefore, if your plan is to purchase a dog that you intend to stake-out or lock-up somewhere to serve as a sentry in isolation, please rethink your strategy, because the animal will surely suffer horrifically if you do. If that is the case, perhaps you should think about installing an alarm system instead.

The Beware of Dog Sign

It probably couldn't hurt to put up a Beware of Dog sign. If your dog ends up biting someone, the fact that you have a sign up may help cover you somewhat in terms of liability. Also, it might help to discourage perspective burglars and other potential ne'er-do-wells.

This marks the end of both the watchdog training article and the close of the advanced workshop

Go to the watchdog training index

This page is part of the Watchdog section of the Advanced Course of the
D.S. Dog Training Workshop, and an element of the Dog Science Network