A common misconception made by many people is that only some breeds of dog can be security or guards. The reality is that most breeds of dogs can be extremely effective security dogs with the correct training.
For us to understand what makes a good guard dog, we must first understand what it entails. Guard dogs work as a deterrent and scare off intruders. This means that it doesn't really matter what size, shape or how big their teeth are! Some of the best guards are tiny but the burglar doesn't even get close enough to see them!
To be an effective guard dog, it is what inside that counts and the smaller dog could have a piercing bark that you can hear ten blocks away!
So how old do they have to be? There is no doubt that the younger a dog receives training, the easier it is to train. Also, the quicker they trained, the better - often a squealing puppy can be far more effective alarm than a moaning old dog!
There are more benefits of having a smaller, less likely guard dog than a bigger more stereotypical guard go dog too. Not only will they take up less space, they will probably put less strain on your clean home and also be safer around your children. Contrary to popular belief too, smaller dogs are just as valuable when ridding a house of vermin and rodents - after all, a rat can't tell if a poodle is cute or not!
Getting along with your neighbours is essential (which of course is where the correct guard dog training comes in), so when deciding on whether to have a guard dog, many opt for an alarm instead. In a busy city centre for example, having a dog roaming around is not practical and so people find different methods of protecting their home.
If you live in an area where walking the dog may cause problems then perhaps the latter option is the best for you too. You can often gauge whether your neighbours will be receptive to the idea of having dogs in your neighbourhood but if not, it might be worth asking them. Even the most understanding of neighbours can get annoyed with a dog barking - especially if it happens regularly for no reason at all!
How good your dog is at being a security dog comes down to the training it has received. The basic principles employed when training a dog to "'Come" or "Heel" are used in training a dog to become a guard dog. Positive reinforcement is the key to it all and rewarding certain behaviours is fundamental. Training your dog to bark only at what you as the trainer deem to be a threat is extremely important. Having your dog bark at every strange noise is less than ideal and is likely to cause conflict with your neighbours too!
There are many benefits to training your dog to be a guard dog. Having peace of mind when you leave the house is an obvious one. The bond you will form with your dog whilst doing guard dog training will also be improved but it will take a great deal of patience and persistence, primarily on your behalf!