Training a German Shepherd is a complex process, requiring time and patience. This training process needs to be carried out properly for the safety of you, your dog, and anyone they come into contact with. Here is your guide to turning a German Shepherd into an attack dog:
What Should You Know About Training Your German Shepherd To Attack?
Always check your town or state rules regarding attack dogs. Many regions ban such dogs. If your dog is caught engaging in a physical attack, you and your German Shepherd can be punished.
You also need to be careful about how you train your German Shepherd. They should never attack someone unprovoked and should only ever be trained to do a minimal amount of damage. Failing to get this right can cause lawsuits, criminal charges, and other issues.
Your German Shepherd’s primary role isn’t to function as an attack dog. This dog is a pet and should be treated as such. It is simply a bonus that they can protect you in the event of an assault or crime.
It is unwise to teach your dog attack commands if you have children in the house. Children tend to unintentionally antagonize dogs. This can trigger your dog’s attack instincts, causing them to lunge towards, snap at, or even bite kids who do so. Serious injuries and fatalities are far more common with little children.
What is the Function of an Attack Dog?
Many people are unclear about the function of an attack dog. This is because the role has been twisted in the media.
The first thing to be aware of is that attack dogs should never be aggressive. When a German Shepherd “attacks” a perpetrator, their goal isn’t to physically harm or maim that individual. The main objective is to get that person to back down and eventually go away.
Your German Shepherd shouldn’t be trained to hurt people. Their function is to appear aggressive and to prove they are capable of being a physical threat. When a German Shepherd “attacks” a perpetrator, there shouldn’t be any signs of aggression in them. They simply need to be following a command.
You may imagine that an aggressive German Shepherd makes for a good attack dog but this isn’t the case at all. A dog that can’t control its emotions has just as much of a chance of turning on you. There is also the increased risk that your dog will go too far during an attack and do serious harm to someone else.
Can All German Shepherds Be Trained to Attack?
Not every German Shepherd is a good choice to be trained for this role. There is some discrepancy in every breed and even within a litter. Proper training can help your dog to gain the appropriate skills, but temperament matters a great deal as well.
As previously stated, you should teach an aggressive German Shepherd to attack. They may not be equipped to reign in their emotions during a pivotal moment and may fail to obey your commands.
On the contrary, a shy German Shepherd will not be suitable for this role either. Socialization can help a wary dog to come out of its shell, but there is no guarantee. You will also have to cross further obstacles by teaching them the necessary attack skills.
When specifically looking for a dog to train to attack, keep an eye out for a dog that is calm, approachable, friendly, and intelligent. These are signs that your dog will be easy to bond with and ensure they are trainable. These are important traits for a guard dog.
What Should You Consider Before Teaching Your Dog to Attack?
Here are the top things you need to take into consideration before teaching your dog any attack commands:
Why is Bonding a Fundamental Step?
What a lot of people don’t realize is that one of the key elements of training your dog to attack is bonding with them. German Shepherds have a naturally protective streak, but this is only activated with people they care about and trust.
This is why your first step in attack training is to create a good relationship with your German Shepherd. A natural bond won’t form overnight. You have to begin to make a connection with your dog from the moment you bring them home. It can take weeks or even months for this bond to create and solidify.
How can you bond with your dog?
It is easy to bond with your dog – German Shepherds are people-centric and love spending time with people. The first thing to do is to make sure their basic needs are being taken care of. This includes food, water, exercise, and attention.
The fundamental way to bond with your dog is to spend time with him or her. The more time you spend, the closer you will become. Fun activities such as fetch will certainly help to cement this relationship.
Positive reinforcement should also be the driving force in your interactions with your German Shepherd. Your dog values it a great deal and will take your reactions to heart. Raising your voice or showing any signs of anger or aggression can cause them to be wary of you.
This is why your focus should be on rewarding positive behavior. Avoid using punishment and instead, find gentler ways of letting your dog know they have done something wrong.
What is the Importance of Socializing Your Dog?
Many individuals assume that a guard or attack dog should be wary of all people. This isn’t the case at all. A good guard dog needs to be properly socialized starting at a young age.
The last thing you need is for your German Shepherd to consider everyone a threat. This can make it difficult for you to go on walks and will also increase the chances of your dog accidentally attacking an innocent person.
From the moment your puppy is brought home, they should be introduced to people of all shapes and sizes, wearing all types of clothes. Once your pup has been fully vaccinated, it can begin to meet other dogs and animals.
Why Should You Put Your Dog Through Obedience Training?
Attack commands are one of the last things you should teach your dog. To become a competent guard dog, your German Shepherd must first be obedient.
One of the reasons this is so important is because of the “Stop” command. It is easy enough to teach your dog to attack. Getting them to stop in the middle of an altercation can be an entirely different matter. You need your dog to be obedient enough to cease the attack the moment you say so.
This is why your dog should first undergo extensive obedience training. This is something you can tackle by yourself or hand over to a professional dog trainer. You should start on obedience from the moment you bring your puppy home.
You get to decide what commands you want to teach your pup, but it is a good idea to teach them the “Stop” command at a young age. This can be about anything – stop while walking, stop before eating food, stop jumping on people, etc. The earlier your puppy recognizes this command, the easier it will be for them to follow.
Practicing similar commands such as “Down”, “Off”, and “Come” are also important as they can help you to establish greater control over your dog.
Do You Need to Invest in Protective Gear?
When teaching your dog attack commands, you will be the first attack “dummy”. This means you will need to equip yourself with the appropriate gear.
Particularly when you begin, your dog may have little control over its bite or attack. You will only be able to teach them about depth and ferocity later on. To avoid getting hurt, you will need to cover important and exposed areas.
You can construct protective gear, but this isn’t necessarily a good idea. Professional attack safety gear will have the appropriate level of padding to prevent injury. You will also be able to find attire that can protect every part of your body.
How Can You Teach Your German Shepherd To Attack?
Here are the steps to follow for German Shepherd attack training:
Step 1: Create Simple Commands
Whether attacking or stopping, you need to get your German Shepherd to react to these commands immediately. Choosing simple commands will make it easier for your dog to understand you and respond accordingly. It will also make it less likely for your dog to mistake one command for another.
Figure out what works best for you and stick to it. Your dog will require clear and consistent commands or will end up confused.
Step 2: Wear the Protective Gear
You need to wear protective gear from the first lesson onwards. You are in uncharted territory and can’t be certain how your dog will react. Consistently wearing your protective gear will ensure that you stay safe and that your lessons don’t go awry.
For the first few lessons, make sure that your entire arm is covered and even most of your torso. Once you teach your dog to only attack certain parts of the body, you can wear less protection. In the beginning, safety is key.
Step 3: Gently Antagonize Your Dog
Wear protective gear. Raise the arm that is wrapped up and wave it in front of your dog’s face, gently nudging their nose as you do so. Do this long enough and this should antagonize your dog, causing them to bite you on the arm. When they do this, shout the “Attack” command.
Don’t let your dog bite you for too long. Give them the “Stop” command so that let you go. Praise them for their response with treats or affection.
Repeat this process several times, yelling “Attack” every time your dog lunges towards you and bites you on the arm. They should receive a reward every time they bite you.
Step 4: Test the Attack Command
Once you have carried out the above scenario many times for a few days, it is time to see if the command has sunk in.
Put on your protective gear. Get your German Shepherd to sit down and stand a short distance away. Shout the “Attack” command. Your dog should respond by running towards you and biting you on the arm.
If you elicit such a response, it means that the first part of your training was a success. Reward your dog for their behavior. You will have to reinforce this reaction so carry out this exercise several more times over the next few days.
If your dog doesn’t react, you will need to go back to Step 3 and repeat this process for several more days. Some dogs can take longer to pick up on the appropriate response.
Step 5: Teach Your Dog to Attack an Intruder
For this step of the training, you will require a dummy of some kind. This can be a mannequin, cardboard cutout, etc. It should roughly be the right shape and size of a human adult.
Your goal here is to get your German Shepherd to attack out the dummy when you give the “Attack” command. It may take a while for your dog to realize that it should attack the dummy and not you. Until your dog gets this right, make sure to wear your protective gear.
Set up the dummy a short distance away from your dog. Get them to sit still while you are setting the dummy up. Stand next to your dog and shout “Attack”, pointing at the dummy.
Your dog may head for you, but give them the “Stop” command if they do so. Point to the dummy again before shouting the command. When your dog gets this right, reward him or her.
In case your dog keeps making a beeline for you when you ask it to attack, try standing next to the dummy. You can then tap the dummy or direct your dog towards it when the “Attack” command is given. This can make it easier for your pup to make the association.
When your German Shepherd automatically moves towards the dummy with the “Attack” command, they understand the command. Only once your dog has mastered this task should you move on to the next step.
Step 6: Create a Real-World Simulation
You now need to train your German Shepherd to attack potential intruders or assailants. While some dogs pick up on training well, they can freeze or be hesitant when faced with an actual threat. This is why they need to learn this skill in a real-world scenario.
For this purpose, you need to enlist someone who isn’t familiar with your dog. The volunteer should be comfortable with being attacked. Keep in mind that if the volunteer panics and fights back, this may trigger a more aggressive attack from your dog.
It can be better for all parties involved if you hire someone who is experienced in training guard dogs and is used to facing attacks from dogs.
Make sure they are wearing the appropriate protective gear. Have this person stand at the door. They should have one hand on the handle and be ready to close the door against your dog if anything goes wrong.
Point to the stranger and shout “Attack” – if your dog runs towards them, they understand the purpose of this command. Make sure to stay “Stop” the moment your dog lunges towards the other person.
In some cases, you may want to have your dog on a leash for this training exercise. In case your dog doesn’t respond to the “Stop” command or gets too aggressive, you can pull it away. Try this a few times with the leash and if your dog appears to be in control, then you can carry it out without the leash.
Step 7: Reinforce the Stop Command
During the real-life simulation, making sure that your dog obeys the “Stop” command is more important than understanding the “Attack” command.
As mentioned earlier, the goal of the attack command is to startle the perpetrator. You don’t want your German Shepherd to do any damage. This is why they must stop their attack the moment you command them to.
After yelling “Attack” and directing your German Shepherd towards the perpetrator, shout the “Stop” command as your dog gets close to them. Your dog should stop and wait for the next command when you do.
In case your dog goes ahead and attacks, you will need to repeat this exercise until it stops when you command it to. Reward your dog when he does obey you.
What are the Top Tips for Training Your German Shepherd To Attack?
Here are some major guidelines to follow when training your dog:
Why Should You Always Use Positive Reinforcement?
It is important to avoid getting angry or upset with your dog during this training period. This will only cause them to retreat or to be afraid of trying a particular task again.
Always stick with positive reinforcement and reward your dog for the right behavior. You know your dog best and what motivates them – use this during training. Some dogs respond well to cuddles and affection while others prefer treats.
Why Do You Need to Be Patient?
Not every dog will master these commands immediately. Keep in mind, you are asking your dog to go against its nature and attack you. This can be unnerving for them. This is why you should always be patient with your dog – avoid getting frustrated.
Take your time and work through the task with them slowly and carefully. If your dog appears hesitant, reward even the smallest sign of appropriate behavior. This may allow them to build up the courage they need to take the next step.
What is the Significance of Consistency?
It is important to be consistent in your training. Follow the same steps over and over. Only try to change things up if a particular technique is not working.
Constantly altering things will only confuse your pup and make them unsure of what they are supposed to respond to. Always use the same commands, same positions, and rewards as well. This will allow your dog to make clearer connections.
How Often Should You Follow Up with Your Training?
Your dog can forget their attack training over time. This is particularly likely if your dog has no cause to use their training in real-life situations.
To make sure that these connections remain strong, follow up with the training. You can do this every month or at an interval that you feel is appropriate. Some dogs have better retention than others.
Should You Get Professional Assistance?
Attack training can feel overwhelming and even dangerous. This is why you may want to consider hiring a professional for this particular task. They have a lot of experience in this field and have the necessary skills and protective gear. This drastically reduces the risk of you getting hurt.
The main advantage of a professional is that you can guarantee that your dog learns the right skills and how to use them appropriately. This means there is less of a chance that they end up aggressive or accidentally attack someone.
Even if you don’t want to hire a trainer, you may want to consult with one beforehand. They can walk you through the process, show you what to expect, and even offer helpful tips and techniques.
This is what you need to know about training a German Shepherd to attack. You can now begin to safely and carefully train your German Shepherd to protect you if you are ever assaulted or threatened.