How not to have a good guard dog
There is a common misconception that locking your dog in a cage all day will make it a better guard dog during the night. This stems from two false concepts, that:
a) If your dog doesn’t see people all day it will aggressively attack any people coming to harm you during the night
b) If your dog is resting all day it will be alert all night. Both of these concepts are false and will not make your dog a better guard dog.
Dogs, both wild and domestic ones, are pack animals with established territories. They will guard their territory against foreign ‘packs’, but this requires that your dog knows who belongs to his ‘pack’ and what his territory is. Your dog needs to relate to a ‘pack’ – the family it lives with and other animals in the household. If your dog is kept locked up or chained all day he will not relate to anyone in the household and will feel no loyalty or build an instinct to protect them. Caged animals are often either ignored or mistreated if they bark or “misbehave” in any way. This will make them either aggressive or cowardly but will not help build any relationship to make the dog loyal to his family when he is let loose at night.
A dog naturally spends time between periods of rest and action throughout the day and night. During periods of activity a dog wants to stretch his legs, relieve himself, and very importantly, explore the perimeters of his territory, often marking the area with urine and ensuring that he is aware of the full extent of his territory and that there are no suspicious smells. A dog in a cage will not be able to do any of this and will feel frustrated and unhappy. Once he is let out of his cage in the evening, he will most likely run around trying to find other dogs or company, bark at any noises and then run away and hide if anything menacing approaches, or alternatively try to attack normal household people or pets.
How to have a good guard dog
Give your dog lots of attention and make friends with him. Pat him, talk to him and build up his confidence. Make him feel a part of your family. Take care of his needs with good food, fresh drinking water, appropriate living conditions and kindness. Vaccinate and deworm him and take him to the vet if he is sick. If you are able to, have at least two dogs so they have company of each other when you are away. Let him roam around your house/compound during the day, so that he is aware of the boundaries and will feel confident in defending his territory. If you take the time to make your dog feel happy and secure, he will do his utmost to protect you if the need arises!
Occasionally it is necessary to specifically train a dog to attack, such as army or police dogs, but this training requires lots of time by a specialist with many years of experience. This is not something that can be taught in a few weeks!
If you are unable to keep your dogs inside the house or roaming freely around your house, make sure that their shelter outside is adequate. Remember that kennels are generally inappropriate as permanent homes.