In this post, I share how to train a dog to be a guard dog. The Lhasa Apso is a naturally bred guard dog. With a little extra training, your dog will become the perfect guard for you.

Would you like to train a dog to become a better guard dog? This is not as difficult as it may sound. Remember your Lhasa Apso is from a naturally bred guard dog family. These little dogs love this work. Read what I have learnt and how I was able to train my pet.

Applying these techniques will help improve your pet’s capabilities to guard you. I have spent many hours training Lucky. The reward for you is worth the effort so do follow the steps carefully below.


We all know that our pet is never going to be an attack dog because of their size. The Lhasa is a born guard dog and will alert you before any bigger dog even starts to bark. Likewise, if you do have an attack dog on your property, he will deter intruders after being alerted by your guard dog. Now we know the difference.

Characters for a guard dog

Characters to look for in your dog to determine if it will make the grade. A guard dog should not be aggressive, in fact, the opposite is best, they should be at ease in their environment and the ground they are protecting along with you. A good guard dog will always obey his/her masters commands. When taken to new areas or when meeting strangers for the first time your guard dog should not cower behind your legs, they need to have confidence that they know their place and job.

Confidence in a dogs character shows by the way they react to new surrounding and people, they should not be timid, they should be curious to know what is going on and who this new person might be? Not running off to hide, nor being aggressive. Take your dog with you to meet your friends so they become used to meeting people. If they learn this social behaviour early with the people you associate with then when a stranger approaches you they will know and warn you accordingly.

Socializing your dog

There is no other better way to train your dog to socialize than to take him with you everywhere, to new places, downtown, shopping, jogging etc, to meet people in your presence, this is a good way to teach your dog to become accustomed to new surroundings, making him calmer, and loyal to you at the same time. The more time spent next to you the more he will protect you later! When we excel at work our boss might give a reward for our good work, you should always have with you a bag of doggy treats to reward your Lhasa with some chews like these from Amazon.  You can give them one when they have performed well for you in your presence, they will remember and will only be too happy to repeat their action again because they know a treat is surely coming their way!

If your dog is still a puppy then it is excellent to enrol him in a puppy training class where he will meet other dogs and people, try to get your dog there before they are more than three months old as they do become more wary of new people and surroundings after this age, do not forget with all the diseases around make sure you have his health card and injections up to date, the identity microchip is implanted, have them wormed etc, a good club will always ask to see his/her health book duly stamped by your vet. Maybe your Lhasa is already one or two years old and has already learnt quite a bit of obedience training, they are on their way to becoming a good guard dog, well done.
Socializing with people

Teach them some simple commands to start with

Basic commands including stay, sit, lay down, are the essential early orders that you should teach your dog and do not forget to always reward them with a pet biscuit and lots of fuss and cuddles to show them you are pleased with their progress. Assuming your dog has learnt these basic commands then they will be even more receptive to go further and learn new skills. Do teach them these first steps to ease the way ahead. They are the first building blocks in their training.

Teach your dog to bark

You want your dog to warn you of any abnormality on their territory, the best way is for your pet to call you (no not on a cell phone :-)) ) but call to you when they bark, teach them to bark when things are wrong is one of the first thing on your list to teach them. Do not forget that all dog’s communicate by barking, it is their instinct to do this, we need to teach them to bark at our command to make them better guard dogs.

You will need a special voice command, so it could be ‘bark’ or any other word you wish but the dog has to learn when he hears this word from you then he must bark. I will leave you to think of something? This will be the keyword to make your pet bark in the future. Now you have your trigger command word use it in the same tone of voice each time, and do not forget those rewards each time.

Now use the command word you have chosen and start training your Lhasa to talk to you. have your treat at hand and start by telling him to sit, praise him, now back off slowly always saying stay, the longer you can move back the better. Call him to you, at the same time get low down and praise him all the time as he/she approaches you, give them their treat, lots of fuss and cuddles, you could let them play with their favourite toy as well, toys like these are super, after this has been done a few times I suggest you move on to this next step, walk away backwards until he can not see you and listen to hear if he barks, if he does then go back and praise him saying good ”your command word” and give him a treat and the fussy stuff, if you do this for a couple of days he will soon pick up that if he barks he will get a treat.

Just as we learnt at school it was hard to start with, just as you teach your children it does not happen overnight so you must persevere with your pet. Keep on doing the training repetitions each day and you will see your dog beginning to obey your commands. When you are out downtown for example stop and tell him with your command word to bark if he responds then bravo you are on the way to having trained your pet to obey your command. Reward him again each time he gets it right.
Barking at command

The proof test

Lets now try to verify that your dog knows the rules of being a good guard dog. Try this test, leave your dog inside and you go outside, now knock on the door and tell him to bark, if he does at your command then go inside and praise him giving him his treat at the same time. Do this a couple of times before taking a rest to play together so he does not get bored doing the same thing all the time, then after an hour go back to the training again repeating until he becomes obedient to your commands

Teaching them to be quiet is also a lesson they must learn

Now you have the best guard dog in the neighborhood great, but you do not want a dog that incessantly barks day and night, that will soon get on your neighbour’s nerves causing problems between you and them. Teaching your dog not to bark is as important as teaching them to bark, so how can we achieve this after spending so much time and effort teaching them to bark. The way to arrive at this is exactly the same as teaching them to bark, but now you will have a new command for them, stop, be quiet, silence, whatever you chose. Again once your pet has started to understand this new command word you must reward them.

All these lessons I have taught Lucky and he is a great guard dog, even barking at big toads that crawl past my window at night, I get up and praise him of course but I wish he could tell the difference between a toad and a burglar :-)) One thing he is very good at is when I am working the grounds and he hears the gate bell ring, he comes and finds me and barks. I know that he is there to tell me something, so I go and see and for sure there is someone at the gates. Now that is a good guard dog. Do not forget this takes time and patience to get your dog to obey your commands, and not hard to achieve, you can do it.
A quiet dog

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