Watching and guarding is instinctive to the dog, coming to him as a heritage from ancient centuries when he was compelled to guard his food and to protect himself. By the strange psychology of the dog and by his strong social instinct, what is his is his master’s and what is his master’s is his; and thus he has transferred to his master and all his master’s possessions his instinct to guard and watch.
There is no greater generosity than that in a dog toward his master, and no greater selfishness than that in a dog toward a stranger who seeks to carry away the master’s property. Dogs quickly learn what is their master’s property; even after a few moments they assume lordship over new possessions of the master.
Everybody is the puppy’s friend, so he believes, and he is everybody’s friend. If he is permitted to continue this spirit of universal friendship too far into life, he becomes a poor watch dog.
A dog should have one master exalted above all others, even from early puppyhood. This lord and master should establish sway from the first day the puppy comes into the household. Others he likes or tolerates but for this one, for his absolute dictator, he dies if it need be; and in family quarrels, he must take the part of his master, reluctantly of course, tho at the time his lord and master is being paddled by father, another dictator.
Too many masters, too many friends, too much meeting with strangers and the public, too much laziness, overfeeding, coddling—these blunt the sense o f watchfulness in a dog.
Unalert dogs are increasing in number. The causes are too much feeding, too little exercise, too much petting, and a general lack of training. Feed the lazy listless dog about two-thirds of his usual ration; keep him outdoors as much as possible; give him plenty of exercise.
From the moment be arrives as a trembling puppy, until his old days, one person should take him in charge, feed him, care for him, and train him-should assume all these responsibilities. To teach a puppy or dog to guard well, start to pull his bed away from him–a blanket, or rug, or sack, which has been his for some time. A few minutes each day of this taking, first in play, then by a stranger, in threatening manner, especially a stranger dressed roughly, will tend to make him aggressive.
Place an object of clothing, a baby or small child in a certain place. Have the stranger approach crouching, slinking, slyly. You come to your dog boldly and pet him as every few seconds you scold the stranger, who slinks away. If your dog is not too aggressive, the stranger, who of course, unknown to the dog, is a friend of yours, can tussle with you as the dog comes to your aid.
A careless dog may be changed into an alert dog by giving him less freedom. Tie him up at night or for a part of the day, especially in a place where he can not see what is going on about him. Have some one make strange noises near him, such as dragging goods or scratching on the wall or rattling doors.
If your dog is to be your watch at night, let him do his work on an empty stomach. The dog has two natural habits which could well be imitated by humans; be lies in the sun, and after a meal, sleeps. A dog with a loaded stomach does what every human should do-immediately stretches out, goes to sleep and forgets the world for a while. Feed the heavy meal of the day to your dog by noon, if he is to be your protector in the dark hours of the night while you slumber.
Another consideration which seldom receives attention is that the dog that is a beloved pet, is kept up until late hours, is fondled by all; so when lights are out and quiet comes, be is so tired that he sleeps too soundly- After his meal, put him in his quarters, darken them and keep him there rather than with the household and its music and conversation.
A good watch and guard dog need not be a fighting or vicious dog. The chief virtue is an alert dog that barks upon hearing strange sounds. The toy dog may be just as excellent warning dog as a Saint Bernard.
And when your dog does bark, perhaps unnecessarily, do not scold him; command him to be quiet but do so without seeming to punish him for doing what he thot was his duty.
If your dog is inclined to bark at night to neighbor’s discomfort, feed very lightly during the day and then a heavy meal at night.
Dogs usually are light sleepers; they doze rather than sleep. Their ears are more sensitive to noise than are human ears. Further, their bodies are exceedingly sensitive to noise and vibration. They detect almost as much with their bodies as with their ears.
It is not easy to tell whether a dog is deaf; any noise that causes vibration is detected by a deaf dog almost as quickly as by a hearing dog. Test the dog apart from other dogs. Avoid any sound which carries ground vibration, such as striking the floor. In a litter of puppies, it is almost impossible to detect deafness in one puppy as by instinct of imitation, be quickly does everything the other puppies do. A whistling outdoors when the suspected deaf dog is indoors is a reliable test.
Your dog may not be inclined to bark. Barking is an acquired habit of domesticated dogs and usually is learned by imitation of older dogs. The dog taken from its mates in early puppyhood and associating little with other dogs, may bark little or not at all.
Tie the barkIess dog for some time. Have a stranger, roughly drest, perhaps hobbling on a cane and carrying a bundle, approach from the outside somewhat noisily and then come upon the dog when he is tied. Let the stranger taunt him and threaten to strike him. Then let the master come out suddenly and pretend to fight and struggle with the stranger, pushing the stranger out of the house.
Dogs seem to be character readers. A man poorly dressed will incite a dog to bark; a man lame in his walk will arouse a dog: a man carrying a package is a temptation to a dog to bark; a man uncertain in his move ments arouses a dog’s suspicion: Tho on most occasions a poor watch dog, on these occasions the same dog becomes a barking guard. See also chapter 31, When You Meet a Strange Dog.
Dogs soon learn to acknowledge the stronger force; in this they are politicians. A stranger coming into the premises with a slow, uncertain step is pounced upon by the dog. Let this stranger walk briskly in and with a commanding air, even the vicious dog is deceived into thinking the stranger is a visitor to be respected.