At What Age Do German Shepherds Start To Guard?

German Shepherds are considered one of the top ten guard dog breeds by the AKC.  The breed is smart, loyal, protective, fast, agile, and eager to please. Therefore, they are great working dogs. Their strong instinct to protect makes them the perfect guard dog.  You should begin training your dog almost immediately after you bring them home.  There are many tips and tricks to assist you with your training of your German Shepherd.

Why are German Shepherds Good Guard Dogs?

German Shepherds have been bred since the 1800s to guard. They were initially used to guard flocks of sheep for the German shepherds. Since then, the lineage of German Shepherds has been used to guard and protect.  They have been utilized to protect the police, military, and even the Mob.  German Shepherds have been bred specifically to have the perfect balance of drive and discipline to instinctively guard your livestock, property, or family.

German Shepherds need to work and love to please their owners.  In the 1800s, when this breed of dog was initially conceptualized, they were bred to work.  Since then, German Shepherds have had very serious jobs serving and protecting.  Now, they will instinctually serve and protect from a very young age.  It is our job to train them and ensure they know how to protect us properly. 

They are instinctually curious, devoted, and protective. They have a great sense of smell and hearing. They will throw themselves into danger to protect their owners. All these qualities, plus their natural strength and agility, make them the perfect guard dog.

How Do German Shepherds Guard?

German Shepherds can guard in different ways. Below are the most common ways your dog is guarding.

Being Alert

Your German Shepherd is always watching and listening to ensure safety.  Even when they are sleeping, they are constantly listening for sounds that may be dangerous.  As very curious animals, they will investigate to see where sounds are coming from and make sure there are no trespassers.


German Shepherds use their bark for many reasons. The first is to scare off any attacker or intruder. The second is to alert you of any situation that they see as possibly dangerous. Their bark is loud and asserts dominance.

Standing in Front of You

Your German Shepherd has an instinct to protect the leader of the pack. Your dog will stand in front of you if it senses danger. They also are impeccable at reading your body language to understand when you are uncomfortable.


If an intruder or violator does not respond to your German Shepherd barking and continues to become a threat, your dog may attack the person or animal.  It is imperative to train your dog when it is appropriate to attack.  You do not want a biting accident to occur.

German Shepherd on guard

When do German Shepherds Begin Guarding?

German Shepherds begin to exhibit their guarding traits right as they come into their adolescence. This usually happens right around six months old, depending on the puppy. By this point, your dog has already begun to learn how your household is run.  They know the house rules, who comes by often and have learned to read your mannerisms fairly well. They will come to an age where they will begin to want to protect their territory and their family.

Look for signs that they are ready to defend your home or person. They will begin to bark at noises, strangers, animals, and possibly objects. They will watch the fence and door to make sure there are no trespassers. When you begin to see these signs, let your dog know they are doing a good thing by being alert and helping you safeguard. But also show them that you are watching the property as well. If your dog feels as though they are the only defender of the house, they may not be able to relax.  This may increase barking and possible unpleasant interactions with your dog and your guests within your home. Showing your dog that you will take control of these situations also helps to show them that you are the leader, and they need to follow your lead. If you are calm, they will calm down and understand there is nothing to fear.


You can begin your guard training with your German Shepherd at home. Your training sessions should be no longer than 20 minutes in the beginning. This will ensure you won’t lose your canine’s focus. You can increase this time when you feel your dog is ready and capable of handling longer sessions. Make sure to do training at least once a day. Twice or three times daily will help reinforce the training at a quicker rate if you have the time to do so. End each session with positive reinforcement. Here are some helpful tips:

Basic Training

It is very important that you have already begun basic training with your German Shepherd before they begin their adolescence. When your German Shepherd is a puppy, its brain is a little sponge that will soak up information at a rapid pace. Beginning basic training with them such as potty training, command training such as “Sit”, “Speak”, “Stay”, etc., and leash training right away. This will help you bond with your dog but will also reinforce to your puppy that you are the leader of the pack. It is highly recommended to use positive, not negative, reinforcement for your puppy. You want training to be a fun experience for them, as it will make training your dog much easier.

Socialize your dog

You will want to make sure to socialize your puppy and introduce them to new situations. This is a vital step to take before you can even begin training a German Shepherd to become a guard dog. You want your dog to build confidence and not be fearful. Introducing them to different locations, people, and new situations will make their world seem less scary for them. You should also introduce them to new sounds as well. You should do walks down new roads or paths, car rides, take them around loud cars, and take them to the dog park. A confident pup will be able to assess a situation better and will help you avoid having an aggressive dog. If your puppy begins to bark at other people or animals on your walk, you will want to turn away and take your dog away from the situation. You will need to gain control of the situation and show your puppy that this is not the time or place to bark or guard. 

Speak and Quiet

It is important to begin your training by teaching your dog when to bark and when you be quiet. You can use commands like “Speak” and “Quiet”. This will help you take control of the situation. In order to achieve this, you will need to be calm and let them know that you are thankful for them alerting you of the situation, but they need to “Quiet”.  If they listen, give them a treat.  Continue this process until your German Shepherd understands the command.  If you are having a hard time calming down your dog, you can take them into a different room where they can relax and recalibrate.

Walk Your Dog Around Your Property Line

Walk your dog around your property line, so they understand where their territory is. They are very naturally very protective animals, so you need to show them where they need to defend. As territorial animals, it should not take long for them to grasp what area is theirs to guard.

Teach Your Dog to Bark at Trespassers

It is important that your dog learns when it’s appropriate when you bark. Ask a friend to come and help you. Ask them to approach your property from different sides. Use your “Speak” and “Quiet” commands to tell your dog when to bark and when not to. You don’t want your dog barking at someone on the sidewalk, but if they are on your grass or touching your fence, you want your dog to scare the intruder and notify you that there is something to be aware of.

Stage a Break in

Have someone enter your home through a window or an open door without notifying your dog that they are coming. Staging a break-in helps with your training in many ways. It will help show your dog that this is the appropriate time to guard. It also will eliminate the panic from the situation if it were to occur. Your dog will have confidence and know exactly how to handle the situation if they ever had to act in future scenarios.

Training for Attack

If you want a dog that will attack, it is highly recommended that you hire a reputable trainer to train your dog. You do not want your dog to be trained to be dangerous unless they know the appropriate situations to use force. You will also want them to know how to correctly use their bite. German Shepherds already have a bad stigma about them in society.  You do not want to increase the chance of an accidental dog bite injury to someone who is not a threat to you, your family, or your home.

Want To Train Your Dog With Peace Of Mind?

If you haven’t trained your dog properly, then this is the perfect time to start. Whatever bad behavior your shepherd has, whether it’s barking at night or other bad behaviors, using the right training program is the key to having an obedient and happy pup.

The training program I love and highly recommend is Brain Training For Dogs.

With Brain Training For Dogs, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your dog won’t listen, you’ll follow a path that has been tried, tested, and most importantly, that’s given proven results. Not to mention the fact, that you’ll be able to fit the course around your schedule, not fit your schedule around a trainer or obedience class.

So instead of worrying about whether they’re going to be well-behaved or not, you’ll only have to worry about how much fun you’ll have with them!

And in most cases, it’s still going to be:

  • Cheaper than hiring a professional.
  • Cheaper than replacing everything they might break.
  • And definitely cheaper than a lawsuit against you, if they decide to bite someone.

Just imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to trust your dog completely and never worry whether they’ll be naughty or not. Instead, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have a well-behaved pup, and the boundaries you set for them will always be there, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT.

And the best part is it also has a 60-day money-back guarantee! So there’s no reason not to give Brain Training For Dogs a try!

So if you’re tired of your dog’s bad behavior or how they react around other people and pooches, then give it a try! You’ll be amazed by the results!

(You can also check out a full review here to learn exactly what the course has to offer!)


Are German Shepherds Aggressive?

Not if they are trained properly. According to Wikipedia a review in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Magazine, stated that between 1971 and 2018, German Shepherds were responsible for the most purebred bites that required hospital treatment.  This is why it is so important to train your dog to know when to use their guard training.

How Long Does It Take to Train My German Shepherd?

Proper training for your dog could take about two years, according to the AKC. https://www.akc.or/epert-advice/dog-breeds/puppy-training-timeline-for-your-german-shepherd-dog/

Are German Shepherds Easy to Train?

German Shepherds are generally easier to train due to their intelligence and obedience. 

Do I Have to Use a Trainer?

You do not have to use a trainer, but it is highly suggested that you use a trainer for guard dog training.  According to Shield K9 Training, you should always use a well-respected trainer, as not all trainers are created equal. You do not want your got to learn bad habits.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for an amazing guard dog, you should definitely consider getting a German Shepherd. They will not only be a strong and confident protector, but they will also become your most loyal companion.  The positive reinforcement training will prepare your German Shepherd for its guard duties.  It will also build the bond between you and your dog.